“Complete honesty is necessary for our salvation. President Brigham Young said: ‘If we accept salvation on the terms it is offered to us, we have got to be honest in every thought, in our reflections, in our meditations, in our private circles, in our deals, in our declarations, and in every act of our lives’ (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young , 293). (Gospel Principles, p. 179)
The rest of the lesson in Gospel Principles gives examples of complete honesty. Here are a couple of excerpts: “We can also intentionally deceive others by a gesture or a look, by silence, or by telling only part of the truth. Whenever we lead people in any way to believe something that is not true, we are not being honest.”
“Copying music, movies, pictures, or written text without the permission of the copyright owners is dishonest and is a form of theft. Accepting more change or goods than one should is dishonest. Taking more than our share of anything is stealing.”
These excerpts demonstrate that this lesson is quite thorough in its description of dishonesty. I don’t know about you, but that phrase “intentionally deceive others by a gesture or a look” etc. really hits home. I will be the first to admit that my body language is not always an honest indicator of my feelings. Or how about all the Brigham Young quote? The more you consider each individual part of it, the more depressing it becomes. Honest in every thought. . .in every act?
But what really caught my attention was the last section of this lesson in Gospel Principles. It is titled, “We Can Be Completely Honest”. It states: “To become completely honest, we must look carefully at our lives. If there are ways in which we are being even the least bit dishonest, we should repent of them immediately.”
“When we are completely honest, we cannot be corrupted. We are true to every trust, duty, agreement, or covenant, even if it costs us money, friends, or our lives. Then we can face the Lord, ourselves, and others without shame.”
Here, my friends, is where I see the vast difference between Mormonism and Christianity. Christianity, like the quotes in the beginning of this post, also talks about the many different ways we sin. Right now we are in the Season of Lent – a time when many Christian churches encourage their members to take a good hard look at themselves for the express purpose of seeing their sins.
But Mormonism and Christianity end up in drastically different places. As this lesson from Gospel Principles so clearly demonstrates, Mormonism ends up by telling people that they can work and become completely honest. Being completely honest, that is one of the most discouraging things I have ever heard. I know myself. There is no way that I can completely do what this lesson all says. Being completely honest, I must confess that there is no way that I can work and become completely honest. But that is the message of Mormonism.
How different the message of Christianity! Christianity, once it shows people their sinfulness, instead of pointing them to themselves, points them to Jesus. Christianity takes people by the hand and shows them how Jesus was completely honest for them. It takes people to his cross and shows them all their sins, including their dishonesty, being completely paid for – and forgotten! (“Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” Hebrews 10:17). And Christianity doesn’t just do this once in awhile. No this is its main message, this is its beating heart. Day after day, week after week, year after year, it incessantly points people to Jesus’ perfect work for them.
In other words, I cannot imagine having a lesson on honesty in my church not stress the wonderful comfort we have in seeing what Jesus has done. But there was not a single word of that in this Gospel Principles lesson! For me, that is an example of the stark difference between Mormonism and Christianity.