Speaking Hard Things

Jan 27, 2020
5 min read

I’ve noticed that pop culture has influenced us at church where we feel more inclined to walk on eggshells, afraid to offend others. True, we value kindness, but I think we err in thinking that it means that we must keep everyone happy around us at all times.

You cannot teach the truth without eventually offending others, not even if you are Jesus himself. (John 6:60-66)

And now it came to pass that after I, Nephi, had made an end of speaking to my brethren, behold they said unto me: Thou hast declared unto us hard things, more than we are able to bear.

And it came to pass that I said unto them that I knew that I had spoken hard things against the wicked, according to the truth; and the righteous have I justified, and testified that they should be lifted up at the last day; wherefore, the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center.

And now my brethren, if ye were righteous and were willing to hearken to the truth, and give heed unto it, that ye might walk uprightly before God, then ye would not murmur because of the truth, and say: Thou speakest hard things against us.

1 Nephi 16:1-3

Nephi was not afraid to speak the truth, and he often suffered physical pain because of it. His brothers often hated so much what he had to say they sought to silence him by physical restraint or attempted murder.

Nephi “triggered” Laman and Lemuel, or rather, Laman and Lemuel chose to be “triggered” by what Nephi had to say. Whatever one’s opinion may be, the truth remains, no matter how we feel about it.

Nephi’s example teaches a critical fact: the truth must be spoken clearly at all times, no matter how much it may offend anyone. It is evil to obscure the right way and refuse to justify the righteous to appease false ideologies.

The secular world has never had much use for prophets; in fact, they hate them. The mantra today mirrors identically the words of Isaiah:

“…say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things…”

Isaiah 30:10

In other words, “don’t trigger us.”

Though the secular world rejects religion, it still recognizes the need to identify and punish sins according to its own ‘gospel,’ one that some have labeled Wokeism.

A great definition of Wokeism that I like is:

…weaponized personal grievances masquerading as a genuine social concern. It’s defined by its fraudulent nature, as being distinct from legitimate social grievances. Wokeism only knows outrage — it knows not empathy for victims.

– Joe Duncan

Like Korihor, Wokeism espouses that while “whatsoever a man did was no crime,” (Alma 30:17) they contradict themselves by actively looking for people to label as criminals or even sinners.

Wokeism is blossoming into a literal manifestation of the caricature they paint the religious to be: intolerant, closed-minded, judgmental, hypocritical, self-righteous, and cliquish.

While Wokeism has an ever-expanding list of sins and commandments, it has yet to define any kind of doctrine of atonement.

This is also consistent with Korihor’s teachings that “there could be no atonement made for the sins of men, but every man fared in this life according to the management of the creature.” (Alma 30:17)

Once you have accepted Wokeism, you feel compelled to engage in the sacrament of “recreational outrage.” (thanks, Joe Rogan) Your new woke vantage point high above all others, makes you perfectly positioned to point your finger of scorn at all of the offenders beneath.

Considering all this and more, why should we feel cautious about offending such an ideology?

Jacob echoes the words of his brother, Nephi, while adding some additional insights:

Do not say that I have spoken hard things against you; for if ye do, ye will revile against the truth; for I have spoken the words of your Maker. I know that the words of truth are hard against all uncleanness; but the righteous fear them not, for they love the truth and are not shaken.

– 2 Nephi 9:40

Why should we ever fear to speak the words of our Maker?

While the Wokeists may seem like a great and spacious building filled with numberless crowds all shouting in disagreement against us, or simply two brothers who push back against all of our efforts, Nephi’s example demonstrates the power of speaking the truth in the face of opposition.

If there was ever a time where hard things needed to be said it is today. They must be spoken in our personal lives, at church, in the public arena, and anywhere ideas are exchanged.

It is critical to note that the Wokeists are not our enemies.

To paraphrase Peter Kreeft, the Wokeists are not our enemies, they are instead our patients. Hollywood, the mainstream media, politicians, social justice warriors, etc. are not our enemies either. Even though these run about poisoning other patients in the hospital, they are our patients as well. Our enemies are not the “woke” within the Church either, they are the victims of our real enemy. The real enemy is Satan and the spirits that were cast out with him.

Kreeft quotes the apostle Peter who wrote: “the Devil, like a roaring lion, is going through the world seeking the ruin of souls.” (1 Peter 5:8 ESV)

The apostle Peter followed that up with these wise words to those who may feel compelled to continue giving up ground to Satan:

Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

1 Peter 5:9-10

Like Nephi, we too can speak hard things, not against people but against the doctrines of the devil. Not seeing other people as our enemies, but rather as our patients, with a genuine love for their souls.

As Vader from Junior Ganymede once said:

Affirming choices that are damning is not an act of love.

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