Obtaining and living a more righteous life challenged me at the age of 18. I was preparing to participate in sacred ordinances and make sacred covenants with Heavenly Father in a temple for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The Church’s Las Vegas Temple stands on the climb of the east mountain of the valley. Day and night, the temple and the adventures of downtown and the strip contrast each other. The difference is plain in my opinion. Having grown up in Vegas I have seen the splendor of both, and know the Savior was clear when He said there are “two masters.”
You most likely have heard the cliché: “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” I am sure many hope this is true. Time has taught me that bad behavior will eventually be revealed—even “spoken upon the housetops.” A righteous life, for me is illustrated in a temple life. It is a life that requires self-control not self-indulgence.
What is a righteous life? I wish I had the means and the time to travel America and ask people what they believe and feel righteousness means. What is the process of becoming righteous? Where does it lead personally? Collectively?
I like this thought from Elder Richard G. Scott who recently passed away.
To be righteous is to seek intently to be obedient to the commandments of God. It is to be clean in thought and act. It is to be honest and just. Righteousness is shown more in acts than in words. A righteous life requires discipline. Discipline is that characteristic which will give you the strength to avoid giving up what you want most in life for something you think you want now….Discipline is easier to acquire when it is rooted in faith in Jesus Christ, when it is nourished by an understanding of His teachings and plan of happiness.
Righteous lives matter. Drawing distinctions between races does not. Nightly panels setting up strife does not. Undercutting law enforcement does not. Disrupting public events does not. For these reasons and many more, I consider the “black lives matter”—“all lives matter” rhetoric a bunch of gobbledygook. People are disturbed and anxious in spreading rumors and contentions in our land. It fosters animosity and division.
I am trying to be fair here, but I see too many people professing to be of God, or for humanity, and they are no more than fools operating with vain ambitions and darkened hearts (see Romans 1:21-22). Our dilemma seems to be what the apostle Paul saw in his day: “[Some] be ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God” (Romans 10:2-3). Lineage, heritage, traditions and political alliances that establish their own righteousness cannot trump God’s righteousness. As I recently heard someone say, “Man’s laws cannot make moral what God has declared immoral.”
We see plenty of zeal in our day from the populace, pundits, media representatives, and politicians frantically seeking to be passionate for justice and decency as if they are on God’s errand. Sadly though, the sincerity and genuine intentions don’t always align with the zeal.
Today, very few—very few, are saying “righteous lives matter.” But that is not surprising. A majority of Americans refuse to look inwardly at their own private lives. We readily perceive corruption and ignorance in others, but rarely want to confront it personally. Righteousness is conveyed all throughout the scriptures. But, Americans aren’t reading the scriptures. This is one of the reasons we are laying aside the commandments of God and the principles of righteous living.
The Lord sternly rebuked the Pharisees “for being like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity” (Matthew 23:27-28)
Look at so much of our entertainment. “Whited sepulchres,” or righteousness? Look at the current political realm. “Dead men’s bones,” or righteousness? How about the halls of higher education, the high rises of corporate America, and dare I say, some of our religious institutions. “Hypocrisy and iniquity” within, or righteousness?
The Savior promised the Holy Ghost to those who hunger and thirst after righteousness (Matthew 5:6). We are hungering and thirsting. The appetite seems to be strong for sensuality, perversions, and gluttony. We have a propensity to not only feed the carnal mind and cold heart, but to act out in crude, immoral, and violent ways.
Righteous lives matter. Morality matters. Honesty matters. Loyalty matters. Hard work matters. Discipline matters. Sexual purity matters. Marriage matters. Having children matters. Parenting matters. I think it is time we submit ourselves “unto the righteousness of God” and see if we can rid ourselves of the deplorable trends and behaviors instigating societal calamities.