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Is the End Nigh?

The youth of the Church are often told they have it much more difficult than previous generations. President Hinckley said: “Our times are fraught with peril. We hear frequently quoted the words of Paul to Timothy: 'This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come' (2 Tim 3:1). He then goes on to describe the conditions that will prevail. I think it is plainly evident that these latter days are indeed perilous times that fit the conditions that Paul described (see 2 Tim 3:2-7)” – General Conference April 2004

As a mother of two (soon to be three) this is worrying for me, because if this is the case, then my 4 and 1 year old have a bad (and worsening) world to look forward to. But is it really the case? Are there really more social challenges today than in the past? And if so, what is it about our day that is substantially worse? Three areas are often suggested as potential stumbling blocks for the youth today – drugs, alcohol and sexual immorality.

Drugs: Recreational drugs are not new. The use of cannabis goes back to the 5th century BC (the Scythians). Nicotine has been used in Asia and in the Americas for centuries. Charles Whitebread, a professor of Law at USC Law School has commented on drug use at the turn of the 20th century: “In 1900 there were far more people addicted to drugs [particularly morphine] in this country (USA) than there are today… there were between two and five percent of the entire adult population of the United States addicted to drugs in 1900.”

Alcohol: Beer and wine are as old as human civilization. Egyptian texts refer to the social problems associated with public drunkenness. The Babylonians had laws regulating drinking houses. 1930s Prohibition reminds us that social concern over alcohol is not new.

Sexual Immorality: Prostitution is, as the saying goes, "the oldest profession in the world". So-called sacred prostitution was supposedly practiced by the Sumerians (about 2000 B.C.). In Ancient Greece same-sex relationships were a societal norm, valued for their pedagogic benefits and as a means of population control. It is known that the sex lives of historical figures such as Alexander the Great, Plato, and Leonard da Vinci, included or were centred upon relationships with people of their own gender. Pornography has a long history too. Nude pictures constitute the world’s first art and anyone who has seen Victorian pornography will know that it was particularly salacious. In short, people have been experiencing sex out of marriage for as long as people have been experiencing sex.

So we see that the same old problems and temptations have been around for centuries. President Hinckley in the same talk said: “Perilous times? Yes. These are perilous times. But the human race has lived in peril from the time before the earth was created.”

So my question is whether there is something unique or different about the 21st century that makes it particularly perilous for our children? Is mankind more prone to sin today, or do times never really change? Is evil more accessible today? Is the end nigh? How worried should I be?

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Blogger Ronan said ... (November 05, 2004 3:18 PM) 

Mankind is mankind. Nothing has changed. Perhaps certain things are just more readily available today (e.g. internet pornography.) Each generation of believers is convinced that this is the last.

When Jesus says to watch for the signs of his coming, what exactly does he want us to look for? "Earthquakes in divers places" - something that has been around since God invented plate tectonics. "False prophets" - again, a perennial problem. So when can we can we know the End truly is Nigh?


Blogger Rebecca said ... (November 05, 2004 3:41 PM) 

This was kind of my conclusion too. I agree things such as pornography are much more available via the internet, but I don't think that neccessarily means the world is more wicked- it just got smarter, invented technology and abused it. We are told though that we live in the last days, but wasn't that also told to the saints in Joseph Smith's day?? The'last days' might be quite a long time!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (November 12, 2004 10:19 AM) 

I personally see little point in comparing the trials and difficulties of different generations, especially as there are so many variables in individual lives. However, I do believe that we ignore the counsel of prophets, especially living ones, at our peril. The scriptures warn of the perilous times in which we live and also about the protection available to us individually and within the stakes of Zion.

Posted by John McLaverty


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