Elder Christofferson Addresses Growing Need to Defend Truth

Mormon apostle speaks to religious educators in live broadcast

News Release

“It has always been important not only to teach but to defend truth, and in our time that need seems to be growing,” said Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

 

Elder Christofferson spoke to Church Educational System (CES) religious educators and missionaries Friday night, January 26, 2018, in the Tabernacle on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. The one-hour event was also broadcast to seminary and institute teachers around the world.

“The first thing we should understand about truth … is that a knowledge of truth in any significant measure requires divine assistance, either through the Light of Christ or by the aid of the Holy Ghost,” he said.

He referred to a recent Pew study that indicates that for the first time, more than half of Americans think it is not necessary to have a religious belief to be a good person.

“I’m sure we would agree that people who are atheists or who otherwise have no professed religious belief can be, and most often are, good and upright people. But we would not agree that this happens without God,” said Elder Christofferson. “[Each person] is imbued with the Light of Christ and therefore possesses a common sense of right and wrong that we sometimes call conscience.”

Elder Christofferson said people may attempt to rationalize their behavior. “We see it in people pretending that what they know to be wrong is not wrong. They may intentionally repeat a sin again and again in an attempt to drown out the voice of conscience. Some may pursue perpetual distraction by immersing themselves in social media, video games, or constant music in their ears to avoid any quiet moment when conscience might speak.”

The Mormon apostle told the Church educators that it may be challenging to teach truth, especially spiritual truth, when “relativist thinking has become a dominant philosophy.”

“In a pluralistic society, we may debate what values should be enshrined in laws or regulations and what is right, wrong, or true, but in the end, on any given issue, someone’s view, or some group’s view of truth, prevails and everyone becomes bound by it,” he explained.

Elder Christofferson continued, “Moral relativism just doesn’t work if there is to be order and justice in society. Can murder be wrong for most but right for some? … Or taking note of something very much in the news today, is a man entitled to sexually harass a woman because he finds it fulfilling and consistent with his personal sense of right and wrong?” (Related commentary: “The Quest for a Common Moral Framework.”)

The senior Church leader then mentioned how he began his legal career in the early 1970s as a law clerk to U.S. District Court Judge John J. Sirica, who presided over the trials in the Watergate scandal.

“Even now, I remember the sense of disillusionment and sadness. This was some months before [President] Nixon’s resignation, but we knew then that the president would be impeached if he did not resign first,” Elder Christofferson recalled.

He said the life lesson he learned from the experience is to never make an exception and put one’s integrity on hold.

“A weak conscience, and certainly a numbed conscience, opens the door for ‘Watergates,’ be they large or small, collective or personal — disasters that can hurt and destroy both the guilty and the innocent,” said Elder Christofferson.

“Resisting, rationalizing, and pretending will not do. Only repentance and obedience to truth can deliver the ‘authenticity’ many covet. Only repentance and obedience to truth can preserve and enlarge our happiness and freedom,” he taught.

A recording of the broadcast is archived on lds.org/si/broadcasts. That recording may be streamed or downloaded at any time.

Also see the related commentary “Treasuring All Truth.”

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.