Early LDS leaders taught that the Saints had brought Babylon’s follies with them to Utah and that, in order to build the prophesied latter-day Zion, those traditions had to be replaced.
In June of 1877, Apostle Erastus Snow stated, “Now the Latter-day Saints are gathering from all nations and tongues, with divers customs and habits and traditions, and we have brought them with us, unfortunately we could not leave ourselves behind, while we gathered to Zion. Having brought ourselves along we have the labor of separating the follies of Babylon, the traditions of the fathers and every foolish way, learning something better as fast as we can; and this is the duty that is upon us.”
Elder George A. Smith stated it even more plainly in the April 1856 General Conference when he said, “Incorrect traditions, though long followed, have to be surrendered, and we have to build up Zion.”
In the April 1855 General Conference, President Brigham Young explained what it would take to overcome their “old traditions”, and, what would happen to the Saints if they failed to do so. He said, “Suppose that every person who comes into these valleys should come with a determination to be led by the Lord, from day to day; suppose they should say, ‘I will serve my God and keep His commandments… and this will I do from this time, henceforth and forever;’ and then let each one faithfully maintain such a determination, and we could truly say that we have the Territory of Zion… and that the God of Zion dwells with this people. But if we bring our old traditions with us… and say, ‘I will do so and so, this is the path I will pursue, and I am determined to walk in it, regardless of everything else,’ then we may expect to be overthrown, and the spirit of the holy Gospel will depart from us.”
Seventeen years later, in August of 1872, Brother Brigham asked the Saints, “If [the last] forty years has brought a large percentage of Babylon into the midst of this people, how long will it take to get Babylon out and actually to establish Zion?”
President Young then answered his own question, “I can inform you on that subject—Until the father, the mother, the son and the daughter take the counsel that is given them by those who lead and direct them in building up the kingdom of God, they will never establish Zion, no never, worlds without end. When they learn to do this, I do not think there will be much complaining or grumbling…. much pilfering, purloining, bad dealing, covetousness or anything of the kind; not much of this unruly spirit that wants everybody to sustain its possessor and let him get rich, whether anybody else does or not.”
Let’s choose to overcome the traditions of Babylon that we might assist in the building of the prophesied Zion.