John Lennon once sang about “watching the wheels go ’round and ’round.” It’s a song about disengaging oneself from the conflicts and movements that everyone else seems to be so passionate about. This intentional disconnection from the throes of societal upheaval is sometimes necessary to get one’s bearings and decide on a personal course of action.
During the tumultuous 1960s, Lennon faced criticism for “unplugging” from the revolutionary spirit of the times. Depending on your age, you may have already been unplugged from those movements, even though you lived through them. I was just a boy in 1968. I was too young to understand and appreciate what was going on in the world, though I was somewhat aware of the events of the time. I recall the assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King. My father was in the military and he served a tour in Vietnam from 1968-1969. Although I saw on television that there was a war going on, it didn’t register with me that my father might be in danger. He was just “not there” for a year of my young life and I was glad for him to come home.
I recall going on a fourth-grade school field trip to Washington, D.C. in 1969. As our bus took us around the Washington Monument, we peered out the windows at a disturbing site. There was a large crowd of what we thought were “hippies” with long hair, love beads, peace signs, etc. Several military helicopters landed near the monument and national guardsmen poured out of them, dressed in riot gear. The soldiers were beating the “hippies” with their riot batons. Some of the hippies fought back while others ran. More soldiers appeared and we were glued to the windows as our bus pulled away from the scene after a few moments.
Althought I was a witness to those events, my young age made it so that I was not a participant. I saw with some sense of detachment the passions on both sides and over the years, I sought to understand them. Certainly there was injustice, racism, poverty, and the war about which people were concerned. There were older people who felt their world was being turned upside down. They resisted the changes, hoping that their lives could go on unaffected. There were the revolutionaries who, by virtue of their age, sought to topple the “Establishment” which they believed perpetuated injustice.
As I have grown to know and learn from people on all sides of those conflicts, I have maintained that detachment to some degree. I think I understand them and the objectives they had at the time. I eventually came to see them in spiritual terms, a conflict of spiritual wills that cannot be reconciled. Both sides have adopted some basic spiritual errors, some false premises that will always leave them in conflict. That conflict is used by the Adversary to exploit immorality, corruption, and dishonesty and to maximize the amount of misery that inevitably results.
Today, it is important to understand the spiritual nature of that conflict to successfully chart a course through it and reach the ultimate goal of our mortal lives: to return to God and enter the celestial kingdom.
The conflict is about agency, our ability to choose. It was so from the beginning. In our premortal existence, we lived as spirit beings with God. We lived in his presence. We could see that he was different from us. We were his children. He was our Father. He revealed the process by which all of his children would have the opportunity to become as their Heavenly Parents. That plan involved coming to this earth, taking upon us a physical body, and walking by faith. We would leave behind the memory of that spiritual existence and be tested by life’s challenges. The result that we would grow and learn by experience, gain wisdom and knowledge, and choose between right and wrong. The test would reveal what we are in our essence. Those who seek light and knowledge would be drawn towards truth. Those who have little or no interest in truth would find the world so utterly distracting that they would find little time for such a pursuit.
The Bible tells us that there was a war in heaven and that Lucifer and his followers were cast down to earth. Modern revelation tells us that the battle was over agency. Lucifer set forth an alternative plan to the Father’s. It was a deceptive ruse that urged the spirits to surrender their agency to him and that he would guarantee a successful outcome. Jesus, on the other hand, sustained the Father’s plan and offered himself to be the Redeemer of mankind. We had a choice between the two plans and we also felt passionate about their prospects. The Father’s plan involved risk. Some of us would not make it back to his presence. Lucifer’s plan offered a “guaranteed” outcome and promised “social justice.” Jesus offered to mitigate the risks by offering himself as a sacrifice, satisfying the requirements for justice with his own blood. Faith in him would allow us to obtain mercy and balance the demands of justice.
This battle continues today. It has always existed in one form or another. Lucifer demands the surrender of agency and deceptively offers a guaranteed outcome. Christ allows us to choose between right and wrong, knowing the risk is ours, and offering to deliver and assist those who will have faith in him. Lucifer became known as Satan, a Hebrew name that means “one who opposes.” Opposition is a necessary part of our mortal lives. We must be tempted and tried. It’s part of the test. Ironically, the presence of evil in the world comes only because God permits it as a necessary part of the testing.
In a free society, based on Judeo-Christian principles, individuals are free to choose, yet there are are legal, ethical, and moral downsides to unrighteous actions. In totalitarian societies, man’s agency is removed in a quest to force him to choose what the leaders of the society consider right, true, and moral. Totalitarian societies represent Satan’s plan manifested in a temporal realm. The precepts are always the same: deny freedom, guarantee outcomes, enforce social justice.
When mankind is free to choose, Satan uses immorality, vice, corruption, and violence to bring misery upon us. He blurs the lines between freedom and licentiousness. I saw an interview recently with some of the famed pop stars of the 1960s music scene. They were reminiscing about their fond memories of traveling the country playing musical gigs in a bus. Between the gigs, they consumed drugs and engaged in group sex in the back of the bus. The passing of 40 years had not caused them to rethink their actions or to express any remorse for them. Their “revolution” was not just a movement for justice, to end racial discrimination, or the war in Vietnam. Their revolution sought to reject the foundations 5,000 years of human civilization, religion, the family, morality, marriage, gender roles, etc.
Satan knows this course brings momentary gratification of baser instincts, yet yields a harvest of sorrow over time. When that sorrow manifests itself, he advances his plan to end the suffering by the surrender of the agency which precipitated it. The real cure for the unhappy conditions is not the surrender of agency, but the using of our agency to repent of evil and to come to Christ in faith. Obedience to God’s commandments is the only thing that can bring lasting happiness, but Satan would cleverly represent that as a loss of your agency. He uses deception to convince you to surrender agency to him.
Today, those “hippies” of the 1960s are now our esteemed college professors, lawyers, and politicians. Consider Bill Ayers and Jeff Jones, confidants of President Obama who were part of the “Weathermen,” a domestic terrorist group that bombed government buildings and killed several people. Ayers once admitted after 9/11 that he wish he could have done more damage. The present Administration is filled with these unrepentant radicals who seek to bring to pass their Utopian dreams. Cass Sunstein, Van Jones, John Holdren, Mark Lloyd, and Anita Dunn represent this generation and their revolutionary dreams. For the most part, they are godless or else they worship at the altar of social justice. They see the power of the state to enforce social justice and guarantee outcomes. They unwittingly represent Satan’s plan from the beginning. They promise security and justice on their terms. All you have to do is surrender your agency to them.
Paul wrote, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
Sadly, the political landscape has divided America into left and right wings, which don’t really provide a real alternative. The only opposition to the leftist radicals is a corrupt political right that is dominated by an unlikely combination of conservative sectarian Christians, the military-industrialists, financiers, and corporate interests. There is an unnatural dichotomy that has been forced into existence.
The followers of Jesus would naturally gravitate towards morality, freedom, individual rights, as well as any movements that promote thrift, charity for the poor, and conscientious stewardship of the earth. However, the godless have taken control of the environmental movement and have coopted charity, supplanting instead a welfare state. They continue to push an agenda towards curtailment of liberty and compulsory behavior controls through government regulation and taxation, all the while decrying religious morals as restrictive of agency.
The whole system ends up becoming a panoply of contradictory values: A conservative Christian has to choose between saving the planet and at the same time embracing liberal abortion tenets. A liberal has to hold his nose in his quest to be a “peacemaker” when he has to embrace a military-industrial conglomerate’s agenda to prevent terrorism. It’s a contest of oxymora: pro-gun Christians, violent anti-war demonstrators, environmental activists who fly to conferences on polluting private jets, pro-abortion activists who support animal rights, a pro-family Republican who gets caught in an adulterous affair. Satan must surely laugh at this confusion.
I find it opportune that, as the world began down this road in the 19th century, God chose to restore the ancient Church of Jesus Christ, with the fullness of its gifts, powers, and authority. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been simultaneously courted by those on the Right and the Left, and at the same time, it has been attacked by both sides. The reason for this is twofold. First, it is the independent kingdom of God. Its authority comes from above. It has no need to rely on secular government for power. Second, it represents truth in its fullness, balanced, complete, and pure. That truth permits those with faith to identify errors within the religious and political movements around us.
Thus, a latter-day saint can realistically be an environmentalist, support restrictions on abortion, oppose war, yet be committed to defending a divinely inspired Constitution when it is necessary. We don’t care which political party represents truth. We ascribe to all truth. We don’t exclude anything that is good and true. We reject man’s efforts to counterfeit the truth, whether that be in the form of ancient religious creeds or political movements that oppose the agency of mankind.
As this Hegelian conflict between the Left and Right builds to a climax, there are those who imagine the birth of a new world order will result from the conflict. There will be a new conflict, a new dialectic. When mankind finally expects to achieve the aspirations of a unified, global governance, it will be the fulfillment of Lucifer’s plan to control, dominate, and to force compliance to his will. It will not be what the proponents of the new world order expect. The new dialectic emerges with the establishment of Zion.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will establish the Zion, a city of refuge, and it will be the long sought-for place of safety when man-made calamities and the judgments of God will fall upon the kingdom of the devil. For this reason, the most important place for us latter-day saints to focus our energies is not divisive partisan politics. This year, let our hearts be turned to God and the establishment of Zion. Instead of drumming up support for a political rally or a “Tea Party,” why not drum up support for food storage and preparedness classes? Instead of spending time arguing with political adversaries on the Internet, why not sign up and become an indexer for Family Search? Instead of canvassing for candidates, why not spend time with the missionaries, offering the gospel to friends and neighbors?
In conclusion, we already know the outcome of things. We know that the political and social movements of the telestial order will ultimately fail. We know that the Church will be triumphant, that the Savior will return in glory and that he will reign through the Millennium from Zion and Jerusalem. How much more blessed would we be if we were to focus our time, talents, and passions on the building up of the kingdom of God? The question is not what will be, but where we will be when the prophecies are fulfilled.