Brothers and Sisters, we are at war. Or rather, a war is at us, and most of us fail to realize it or treat it for the very real threat that it is. Satan, the leader of the opposition, has many earthly cohorts. Together, they are well aware that YOU are unaware, and it works to their advantage.
In his well-known treatise The Art of War, military mastermind Sun Tzu offers the following advice:
All warfare is based on deception.
Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable;
when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we
are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away;
when far away, we must make him believe we are near.
Hold out baits to entice the enemy...
If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him.
Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.
If he is taking his ease, give him no rest.
If his forces are united, separate them.
Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.
Right now, as Americans, as Christians, as Mormons, we face attacks from countless enemies, from countless angles. The sad and frightening truth is that we waste our days in frivolous or meaningless activities, sedated in our belief that the threats either do not exist, or are not as bad as people say.
In 1942, the First Presidency issued the following message to the Church:
Satan is making war against...the very foundations upon which society, government, and religion rest...He plans to destroy freedom–economic, political, and religious, and to set up in place thereof the greatest, most widespread, and most complete tyranny that has ever oppressed men. He is working under such perfect disguise that many do not recognize either him or his methods...He comes as a thief in the night; he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Without their knowing it, the people are being urged down paths that lead only to destruction...
(First Presidency Heber J. Grant, J. Reuben Clark Jr., David O. McKay, Conference Report, October 1942, p. 14)
Several years later, Ezra Taft Benson wrote the following in his book An Enemy Hath Done This:
[W]e cannot fully live the gospel and not be involved in the fight for freedom. We would not say to someone, ‘There is no need to be baptized-all you need to do is live the gospel.’ That would be ridiculous because baptism is part of the gospel. How would you have reacted if during the War in Heaven someone had said to you, ‘look, just do what is right; there is no need to get involved in the fight for free agency." It is obvious what the devil is trying to do, but it is sad to see many of us fall for his destructive line. The cause of freedom is a most basic part of our religion. Our position on freedom helped get us to the earth and it can make the difference as to whether we get back home or not.
(Ezra T. Benson, An Enemy Hath Done This, p.314)
Often, we allow ourselves to believe that the Lord will take care of things. This is a wonderful thing, an expression of faith. The Lord WILL take care of things. Where we diverge from truth is in allowing ourselves to believe that the Lord will take care of things WITHOUT OUR HELP! If this were the case, there would be no need for home and visiting teachers, or for missionaries. In truth, such a situation would effectively nullify every position in the church. No, indeed, for although the Lord is fully able to get along without us, He has made it quite clear that our efforts are required.
Pres. Benson provides this additional counsel elsewhere:
"The devil knows that if the elders of Israel should ever wake up, they could step forth and help preserve freedom and extend the gospel. Therefore the devil has concentrated, and to a large extent successfully, on neutralizing much of the priesthood. He has reduced them to sleeping giants…
"Don't worry," says the devil; "the Lord will protect you, and besides, the world is so corrupt and heading toward destruction at such a pace that you can't stop it, so why try?" Well, to begin with, the Lord will not protect us unless we do our part. This devilish tactic of persuading people not to get concerned because the Lord will protect them no matter what they do is exposed by the Book of Mormon. Referring to the devil, it says: "And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well--and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to Hell" (2 Nephi 28:21).
I like that word carefully. In other words, don't shake them---you might wake them. The Book of Mormon warns us that when we see these murderous conspiracies in our midst, we should awaken to our awful situation (see Ether 8:24). Now, why should we awaken if the Lord is going to take care of us anyway? Let us suppose that it is too late to save freedom. It is still accounted unto us for righteousness' sake to stand up and fight. Some Book of Mormon prophets knew of the final desolate end of their nations, but they still fought on, and they saved some souls, including their own, by so doing. For, after all, the purpose of life is to prove ourselves, and the final victory will be for freedom.
(Ezra Taft Benson Teachings of Ezra T. Benson Chapter 5 Pg 659 – 661)
So, we are at war. Satan and his earthly minions have us surrounded, and the Lord expects us to stand and fight. Let us turn our attentions to just one of the many battlefronts, particularly poignant on this day set aside to celebrate mothers and motherhood: the push to eradicate the family unit. Well, you say, this in nothing new; Satan has been attempting to break down the family for years. This statement is true, but while you have allowed yourself to become so unalarmed at Satan’s familiar efforts, he has been making headway.
Karl Marx, the father of Marxism - upon which both Socialism and Communism are based – focused his venom on three main institutions: Capitalism, religion, and the family. In his most influential work The Communist Manifesto, he calls for the abolition of the family, and refers to the “bourgeois claptrap about the family and… the hallowed correlation of parents and child” as “disgusting.”
Within the past several decades, similar individuals have launched movements designed to weaken our society, including the feminist movement, designed to free women from the so-called shackles and slavery of children and home life. Currently, efforts are underway both nationally and internationally to remove from parents the ability, and indeed the right, to parent their own children.
“Parental rights are under attack in our nation,” says the pro-family website,ParentalRights.org.
Across the country, many judges are beginning to deny the vital role of parents in the lives of their children, instead inserting the government into a "parental" role in a child's life. This dangerous assertion is leading to the severance of the child-parent relationship in numerous instances across the nation...
With cases like these filling the courts, every parent should be concerned about the protection and preservation of their rights.
But another storm is rapidly forming on the horizon.
International law that seeks to empower the government to intrude upon the child-parent relationship is becoming an increasing threat.”
Brothers and Sisters, the responsibility for our children has been laid before us by the Lord in undeniable terms:
Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live.
(The Family: A Proclamation to the World)
PARENTS, we are told, have the sacred duty to rear, to provide, and to teach, and we must never allow these sacred duties to be taken from us, for, as the First Presidency declared nearly fifteen years ago:
[W]e warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.
(The Family: A Proclamation to the World)
We are seeing the fulfillment of this prophecy unfold all around us, as the effects of many of our past actions, as a society, become more apparent. Now, more than ever, it is absolutely essential that we, having the Gospel in our lives, cease to sit back and merely glow in the corner, but instead rise up and let our light shine for all the world to see! To anxiously fill the frontlines in this war, which, if lost, will cost us all that is dear to us!
“There is a real sifting going on in the church,” said Pres. Benson, nearly 35 years ago
it will sift the wheat from the tares, because we face some difficult days. And those days are going to require faith and testimony and family unity, the like of which we have never had.
(Conference Reports of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ezra Taft Benson OCT:1974).
“Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37)
To begin, we must devour the scriptures. The time for dalliance has long passed, and it is necessary today that we understand exactly what the Lord has spoken. This will enable us to recognize the tactics of the devil, particularly important because we are told that in the last days, Satan “shall deceive the very elect, who are the elect according to the covenant,” BUT “whoso treasureth up my word, shall not be deceived” (JS-M 1:22, 37).
Next, we must be on the lookout for the influences of Satan in the world around us. Remember, “[a]ll warfare is based on deception.” Have you unwittingly allowed inappropriate messages to enter your home via television, music, movies, or the internet? It may be necessary to reassess even your favorite sources of entertainment. Remember, “[a]ttack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.” Our home, we have been told, should be a heaven on earth. Ask yourself, would this be allowed in heaven?
Finally, get involved with, or start, an organization that is taking an active stand against evil. Many such groups exist already, speaking out against unnecessary abortions, inappropriate education in public schools, pornography, and many other things. Other groups exist specifically to stand FOR righteous causes, such as parental rights, motherhood, clean entertainment, and even clean language. Do NOT wait for the prophet to demand your efforts.
For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.
Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;
For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. (D&C 58:26-29)
Brothers and Sisters, it is my hope that we will all rise to this most unfortunate occasion, and give Satan a terrible opposition, the likes of which have not been seen since the War in Heaven!
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.