What is honesty? Brother Petersen answered the question in his Ocrober 1971 general conference address from the Saturday morning session, Honesty, a Principle of Salvation.He taught that honesty was essential to salvation.  He taught honesty as a broad principle that went beyond simple lying.

  • He repeated several times that most sins of lust involved dishonesty.  Either because the two lie to each other in the process of bringing the barriers down–seduction as dishonesty–or because they lie to themselves.  I think they always have to lie at least to themselves because sexual love wants to be forever and lust wants to be love.  To indulge purely in lust, one has to wall off part of oneself.
  • Theft is dishonesty.  Concealing information in business transactions is dishonesty.
  • Hypocrisy is dishonesty.  Our culture lies a lot about dishonesty.  First we made a muddle of the vice and then we used the muddle to promote more vice.  But hypocrisy is still a deadly vice.  Elder Petersen teaches that hypocrisy is a fundamental disconnect between the life we profess and the life we live.
  • He also teaches that impenitence is a serious form of lying.  The failure to repent means embracing the sin, embracing the lie.  Repentance is what explains why not all sin is hypocrisy.  The person who is trying to repent is making their whole life, including their sins, comport with their faith.  The individual who is “faking it until they make it” is orienting their actions towards the gospel, even if they are not exemplars yet.
  • He preaches a stern reminder that the Devil is the  source of the lie.  Lying is not a purely local, human phenomenon.
  • He teaches that the lie comes from selfishness.  So, ultimately, pride.  I admit from my own sad experience that there is a kind of sick pleasure in getting away with a lie, a sense of having put one over and having raised oneself at the expense of who you lied to.  Lying is a form of contempt.

I see two other reasons people lie, which ultimately tie back into Elder Petersen’s teaching about the Devil.  First, I see people lying as a way to avoid the consequences of their own choices.  Second, I see it as a way of controlling others by controlling the information they have.  I said two reasons, but then you step back and consider the two, and you see that they are really one.  Both are attacks on agency.  The first reason for lying is an attack on one’s own agency.  Trying to wriggle out of consequences other than through repentance is a denial of meaningful choice.  The second reason is an attack on the agency of others.  One lies because one does not like the decisions people make and wants to coerce them into another decision.  Both are attacks on agency and so it is appropriate that it is the old enemy of agency who is the father of lies.

Other Posts from the Saturday Morning Sessions of the October 1971 General Conference

The Word is Mightier than the Sword http://difficultrun.nathanielgivens.com/2016/02/02/the-word-is-mightier-than-the-sword/
LDS Conference October 1971 – Cultural, Intellectual, and Spiritual Fads http://www.sixteensmallstones.org/lds-conference-october-1971-cultural-intellectual-and-spiritual-fads/
The Guiding Light https://symphonyofdissent.wordpress.com/2016/02/02/the-guiding-light/
Sincerity, Signs of the Times, and South America http://goodgazette.blogspot.com/2016/01/sincerity-signs-of-times-and-south.html
The Fullness of the Gospel for the Fullness of Life http://patheos.com/blogs/soulandcity/2016/02/the-fullness-of-the-gospel-for-the-fullness-of-life/
“God…is at the Helm” http://mormonwoman.org/2016/02/02/god-is-at-the-helm-ldsconf-odyssey/
Love and Lies http://rainscamedown.blogspot.com/2016/02/love-and-lies.html
Prophets Forewarn: Stand in Gospel Light http://www.ldswomenofgod.com/prophets-forewar…-in-gospel-light/

Continue reading at the original source →