Articles of Faith: Thirteen

12 May

In my first post of this series I went over the origin and history of the Articles of Faith. I have also discussed Article of Faith 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12. Today I will discuss briefly the thirteenth of the Articles, as given below.

We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

This final article is the great declaration of moral character and behavior that all true saints strive for. It lists those things that define our behavior, or motivation, and our very being. Looking at each one individually we can see how all encompassing this statement is.

Honest: To never knowingly give a false statement; to correct any false ideas or impressions we may have inadvertently given.

True: To always fulfill that which we say we will do; to never take an unfair or unjust advantage over another because of their words or deeds.

Chaste: To never engage in sexual actions outside a legally and divinely sanctioned marriage; to never entertain thoughts of such actions; to never engage in crass or vulgar language that demeans and denigrates the sanctity of marriage and the sexual relations between a man and wife.

Benevolent: To help others in their need and in their want; to give freely without thought of reward or recognition; to speak kindly and not to ridicule or deride.

Virtuous: To make thousands of small choices to do the right; to follow a course of moral purity in all things.

Doing Good to All Men: In our striving to do those things that are listed we do not shun any man or woman, but seek to help all, regardless of faith, race, or nationality. No one should be beneath us or above us, but all should be equal in our eyes.

After listing these things Joseph Smith states that we follow the admonition of Paul, which is given in Philippians 4: 8, where Paul writes to the saints at Philippi

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Notice here that everything that Joseph Smith says we should seek after are the very things that Paul tells these saints to think on. Either way it has the same meaning. As our conduct is, so should our motivation be. We should seek after anything that upholds our standards, and shun that which does not. If our entertainment is not virtuous we should end it; if the company we keep is not chaste we should seek out new friends. If we find anything that promotes the moral standards we espouse, regardless of the source, we should welcome it.

Finally, I would like to comment on the middle section of this article.

Joseph Smith states that we believe all things. We must not take this to mean that we literally believe every idea or theory that was ever espoused by man. Joseph Smith himself stated clearly that there were many things that he did not believe to be true. Rather, we take this statement to mean that we believe all things that are true; all things that really exist.

Again, when Joseph Smith states that we hope all things we do not take this to mean that literally, as there are many hopes and desires that are not in line with the moral behaviors he outlined. Rather, we understand this to mean that we hope all things that are good and righteous and that God has promised.

The same is true about our hope to be able to endure all things. There are many things that we hope we never have to endure, and so this statement means that our hope is that whatever we may be called on to endure we will have the strength to do so.

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One Response to “Articles of Faith: Thirteen”

  1. robinobishop June 20, 2014 at 12:02 am #

    Folks from other denominations of Christianity are left stunned or disbelieving about the idea that masturbation can be defeated personally through the force of will in choosing the right in what rolls through my head. Huge challenge.

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