Sunday, May 4, 2014

Notes on Being Mormon: The Adversary

The definition of an adversary is: "One's opponent in a contest, conflict or dispute. Synonyms: opponent, rival, enemy, antagonist, combatant, challenger, contender, competitor, opposer."

Often in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, we refer to Satan as "the adversary", and tonight I have a few new thoughts about him. 

In recent months, the missionary work of the church has increased like crazy. Our leaders lowered the age for both men and women to serve as full-time missionaries, and were immediately flooded with applications. Over 80,000 faithful young Latter-Day Saints are now serving full-time missions, teaching the good word, preaching the Gospel of Christ, serving our fellow men and showing the Savior's love for God's children. 

I have also recently become aware of a sharp increase in young men who are nearing the age when they could serve who have been stalwart, faithful, happy members of the church, but who recently have decided the gospel is not true and are leaving the faith. 

Perhaps because of my personal social anxiety, my circle of friends and family is a small-ish one, but the number of young men who have lost their faith in that circle is surprising, and very sad.

A friend pointed out to me tonight that it's logical that as God pushes forward the work of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, Satan will also push harder in his work to deceive, to draw the righteous away from that path. (Please, don't think I'm implying that only members of my church are righteous-- Satan is hard at work pulling on righteous people of all denominations, I know this.) And if he can capture the minds of our young people, before they serve missions, he probably celebrates a great victory.


Satan never stops, never sleeps, and never, ever gives up his work. And what is his work? He is the great deceiver. If God and Jesus Christ represent all that is good in the universe, then Satan is the enemy, the opposer and the adversary of all that is good. 

So why do people listen to him? Why do we allow doubt and fear and temptation to wriggle between our hearts and our faith? Why do we set aside our faith and give Satan a chance to argue his side of things? 

Maybe people forget that he is never fully honest. Sometimes he'll give you truth. Sometimes he'll give you a lot of truth, only to bind you slowly and softly with a single deception. You won't even see it coming. In order to resist Satan, we have to be more vigilant than he is. We have to never stop and never, ever give up the good work. 

Is there good in the world outside the LDS church? Of course. I believe there is good in almost all people. I believe that everyone has something to add to discussions of faith.
I also believe that my church has more truth and true doctrine than any other, but that doesn't mean that there is nothing of value outside of my religion. However, I believe so strongly that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true, that it makes me sad when anyone leaves the faith.

So when I see young people leave the faith, and follow paths of unrighteousness, it makes my heart ache. When did they stop being vigilant against Satan? When did they start taking that first step away from their faith and why didn't they stop when they realized where they were headed? Maybe they didn't realize, I don't know. 

When I was a young adult (18-ish), I went through some difficult personal trials that tested my faith. I spent a lot of time--months-- pondering the gospel and trying to decide if it is true. I received my own personal confirmation that it is true, and I have never left since. 

Doubt is a normal part of growing up. We all want to find out if what our parents taught us is true-- this is not only normal, but good. But if you don't ask in faith, you won't get a true answer. If you seek to know God or Jesus Christ by searching outside of scripture or faith, you won't grow closer to them. It's like trying to learn algebra by taking a pottery class. You just won't get anywhere.

My point tonight is this: To all people of faith: Buckle up. Stay true to the faith. Your parents taught you their faith because they love you and want you to be safe and happy. Trust them. Trust God. Ask in faith and follow paths of righteousness. And hold on tight, parents. It's going to be a bumpy ride. 

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