The most discouraging thing I saw last Sunday was roughly 1/4 to 1/3 of the children in Sacrament meeting being entertained with tablets. Tablets are easy. But they are not a solution to the challenge of taming children to church attendance. They are a way of avoiding the problem. The high road gets to Scotland faster, it turns out, because the low road does not get there at all.
Richard L. Evans’ talk from the Ocrtober 1971 conference took me by surprise. He spoke on “Should the Commandments be Rewritten?” He thought not. No surprises there. He rebuked those who want the commandments modernized to better fit with the truths of Progress and the Sexual Revolution. No surprises there either.
But he led off with a word of warning to faithful, earnest members of the Church who wanted the Commandments revised to better warn against modern ills. He said he’d been asked this a number of times. His response, at least initially, was not what I thought either. I thought he would have said that maybe these folks should try listening to General Conference. Plenty of instruction on modern ills there, he could have said. Instead he preached that the Ten Commandments were good enough pointers to timeless principles, and what was really needed was family effort to do the study and get the inspiration to apply them to family circumstances. The commandments, he seemed to be saying, were not meant to be as easy to follow as a GPS. GPS can get you to a destination. But it cannot give you mastery of the route, so that you can help your family and your descendants also come along it.
Why does not God want to spell everything out for us? The answers tend to look like answers to the problem of evil and discussion of the point of the Plan of Salvation. I do not want to re-address those here, though I recommend that you look at Bruce Charlton’s interesting post below. Instead, I want to ask why we feel the need to have God spell everything out for us? Because we want the way to be easy. It’s a natural and universal human drive. It’s even a divine one, in that the instinct to seek an easier way is an instinct for efficiency and therefore elegance. But like every other human-divine drive, in its mortal appearances it is distorted more often than not.
In the long run, there is only good solution to the drive to take the easy way. Recognizing that the hard way is the price that must be paid to get to Scotland is not enough. One must come to learn to value the hard way in itself. The view is incredible up there. Similarly, when we do the work of applying the Commandments to our lives, in cooperation with the Holy Ghost, we are creating something beautiful. What we help create, we are responsible for. What we are responsible for, we can be praised for and loved for. Our lives are becoming monuments. Idleness is becoming contemplation, and leisure is turning into sweet communion.