I am writing about what I consider to be a great threat to the church these days.
In former days the number of members of the church involved in immorality at any given time was relatively limited. But these days pornography has become a plague among our members. One Bishop I know estimated 1 in 5 of his members were having pornography problems, another thought that 1 in 5 was a minimal estimate.
Now the Lord has spelled the matter out quite clearly in the scriptures. In D&C 63 he lists off various sins, and tells the church
D&C 63:19 And now behold, I, the Lord, say unto you that ye are not justified, because these things are among you.
He goes further and warns the church before closing the revelation that they may be cut off if they will not repent.
D&C 63:63 Wherefore, let the church repent of their sins, and I, the Lord, will own them; otherwise they shall be cut off.
Now that verse 19 is interesting. It says "ye are not justified, because these things are among you". What are the things in question? Well certainly adultery and sign seeking are among them, but we also read:
D&C 63:16 And verily I say unto you, as I have said before, he that looketh on a woman to lust after her, or if any shall commit adultery in their hearts, they shall not have the Spirit, but shall deny the faith and shall fear.
17 Wherefore, I, the Lord, have said that the fearful, and the unbelieving, and all liars, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie, and the whoremonger, and the sorcerer, shall have their part in that lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.
Note the connection between verse 16 and 17. The Lord said those who look upon a woman to lust after her, or commit adultery in their hearts, shall not have the spirit, but shall deny the faith and shall fear. The next verse is connected to this one. The Lord says "Wherefore, I, the Lord have said the that fearful, and the unbelieving,... shall have their part in that lake which burneth with fire and brimstone". The Lord uses the word "wherefore" because he is explaining why he included the "fearful, and the unbelieving" when he said the sort of things found in verse 17 at other times in the scriptures. He is explaining that the "fearful" refers to those who look upon a woman to lust after her or commit adultery in their heart and therefore fear. He is explaining that the "unbelieving" refers, at least in part, to those same individuals who thereby do not have the spirit and deny the faith.
And the conclusion is that "ye are not justified, because these things are among you".
Now in these days we face a plague of pornography. It is not just in our teenagers. It is found in our elders and our high priests quorums. It is found in our Relief Societies. It is found among members who have exhibited, previously, a lifetime of faithfulness.
And that is the great problem. Loyalty in the old boys club is strong. When one member is involved in some immorality that loyalty is not likely to overcome the groups willingness to lay down the law of the gospel. But when it becomes a larger number of of them consistently, the loyalties of the old boys club may win out. No one will call it that. It will be called love and mercy instead. But what it will really be is the old boys club winning out over the Lord's decrees for his church.
Has such a thing never happened before?
3 Nephi 6: 21 Now there were many of the people who were exceedingly angry because of those who testified of these things; and those who were angry were chiefly the chief judges, and they who had been high priests and lawyers; yea, all those who were lawyers were angry with those who testified of these things.
22 Now there was no lawyer nor judge nor high priest that could have power to condemn any one to death save their condemnation was signed by the governor of the land.
The loyalty of the high priests and the lawyers to the old boys club won out over their willingness to lay down the gospel law in 3rd Nephi. We have been told by Ezra Taft Benson that the events in 3rd Nephi are a type of the second coming. And it is not so much that I worry about the verses above being repeated that precisely, as much as that when I look around we seem infatuated with friendship and excusing sin in preference to what is found in the scriptures in a way I think has the potential to go very wrong. I hope it will not. I hope that, when the 5 foolish virgins are revealed, even though there may turn out to be Judas's near the top, there will not be too many of the good old boys that commonly form the local leadership among them. Sadly, the opposite was true among the Nephites, as the those who destroyed the government were, in fact, the lawyers and the high priests.