Admitting to ourselves that we live in a Babylon-style society allows us to see that our day-to-day environment is saturated with Babylon’s pride-based values, and more importantly, that they are rubbing off on us, and, leading society in the opposite direction of Zion.
One such pride-based value early LDS leaders tried to teach the Saints to avoid was Babylon’s mantra, “Every man for himself!” Brigham was the first to point this value out, along with it’s damning consequences for us, in 1874 when he said:
“Are we going to be prepared for the coming of the Son of Man? Not so long as we live according to the principles of Babylon. Now we are every man for himself. One says: ‘This is my property, and I am for increasing it.’ Another says; ‘This is mine,’ Another: ‘I will do as I please; I will go where I please and when I please; I will do this, that, or the other; and if I have a mind to raise grain here and take it to market and give it away, it is none of your business.’ It will be said to all such persons, who profess to be Latter-day Saints—’I never knew you; you never were Saints.'”1
That same year, Apostle Orson Pratt explained that individualism is a Gentile value and won’t be part of Zion. He said, “But will they return [to Jackson County] after the old order of things that exists among the Gentiles—every man for himself, this individualism in regard to property? No, never, never while the world stands.”2
Even Apostle Joseph F. Smith, in the April 1883 General Conference, echoed Brigham’s warning about individualism’s consequences for the Saints:
“Now, so long as the Latter-day Saints are content to… use their time, their talents, their substance, in honor to the name of God, to build up Zion… so long our heavenly Father is bound by His oath and covenant to protect them from every opposing foe… but the moment a community begin[s] to be wrapt up in themselves, become selfish, become engrossed in the temporalities of life, and put their faith in riches, that moment the power of God begins to withdraw from them, and if they repent not the Holy Spirit will depart from them entirely, and they will be left to themselves.”3
Apostle Erastus Snow, in 1877, described the problem of individualism in terms of Babylon’s ever-present conflict of Capital vs Labor:
“This is the way of the world, and the warfare that is going on all the time; and why? Because they comprehend not how to promote their mutual interests; covetousness of capital on one hand, and covetousness of labor on the other, each trying to enrich itself at the expense of the other.”4
If we Latter-day Saints are to assist the Lord in building Zion, we must overcome Babylon’s covetousness of individualism and practice working together cooperatively to promote our “mutual interests”.
- Journal of Discourses, vol. 17, p.42.
- Journal of Discourses, vol. 17, p.112.
- Journal of Discourses, vol. 24, p.174.
- Journal of Discourses, vol. 19, p.186.