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Idiots and doofuses

I received the following email yesterday:

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Could you stop referring to doofuses...and idiots?

....It's just many of us do often feel like doofuses and idiots (I guess we all are compared to God) and we want to feel like we have a bit of a chance as well. It may sound funny to you, but when you said a while back in a video that no doofuses would make it to heaven it really discouraged me. Because I am one in many ways, and probably in the way that you meant, more than I would normally care to admit.

If I knew how to easily overcome this condition I would have already because I've put a substantial effort into not being one. I know God can't look upon sin with the least degree of allowance, but I was hoping he'd have some mercy on idiots.

I wouldn't want you to lose any sleep over this. You haven't offended me, it was just a bit discouraging for a little while is all. Then I decided that I may as well keep trying because the alternative sucks. I really appreciate all you do. I know it isn't easy.

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There is nothing funny about it. And these words are the nicest ones I can think of. I could use phrases and terms that those who came before did: fools, reprobates, hard-hearted, wicked, perverse, children of the devil, vipers, hypocrites, foxes, dogs, etc.[1]

It is important to make the distinction between choice and capacity.

I have not and will not chide anyone over their capacity. I will not stop chiding over choices.

A wolf in sheep’s clothing would happily lighten up, but a true shepherd will give his life for the sheep (see John 10). When you truly love someone, you will do what no one else is willing to do for them, even if that means they will hate you for it. I will not back down because I know what awaits you, and I will do everything I can to persuade you to prepare yourself for that day. This is the order after which all ancient prophets operated.[2]

Even though you've wrapped your message in niceness, the underlying spirit within you is anti-Christ, for while you have the capacity to recognize the fidelity of my message with the message of Christ and his ancient servants, you have taken issue with it rather than rejoiced in it.

If you loved Jesus, you would love those who he has sent to earth who are like him.

Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. (John 8:42)

He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. (Matthew 10:40)

...if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. (John 15:20)

He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me. (Luke 10:16)

For the Lord hath heard thy prayers, and hath judged of thy righteousness, and hath sent me to declare unto thee that thou mayest rejoice; and that thou mayest declare unto thy people, that they may also be filled with joy. (Mosiah 3:4)

Yea, and the voice of the Lord, by the mouth of angels, doth declare it unto all nations; yea, doth declare it, that they may have glad tidings of great joy; yea, and he doth sound these glad tidings among all his people, yea, even to them that are scattered abroad upon the face of the earth; wherefore they have come unto us. (Alma 13:22)

44 Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me.
45 And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me.
46 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. (John 12)

God has blessed you with a living demonstration of the ancient faith, and you are reacting by wishing he would send someone less conforming to his character. This reaction is nothing new in the world, but you know better.[3]

In the pattern the Lord provided,[4] I have never criticized anyone without also elucidating the path to overcome what presently overcomes them. It is the job of a righteous priest to describe the cost and benefit of all things, and to demonstrate the value of choosing what is right with his own example. 

Jesus said "...To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice." (John 18:37) (In Greek, "witness" is the same word as "testify" and "demonstrate," and to "hear" means to perceive, receive, value, and do).

If what I say about your choices bothers you, channel that into your motivation to change:

And now, my son, I desire that ye should let these things trouble you no more, and only let your sins trouble you, with that trouble which shall bring you down unto repentance. (Alma 42:29)

I will continue to speak with greater sharpness as the clarity of what I’ve taught over time increases capacity. This is what the Lord wants, and it is what he would (and did) do. 

You say that if you knew how to change, or if it were easier, you would. But this is the precise problem shared by all who are not yet reconciled to God. You are looking for some other way than to make the choice, and there is no other way. You are hoping for God to make the choice for you, but that is Satan's plan. You can't have a fulness of joy when someone else decides for you. The entire creation was set up to afford you this choice. It's the whole reason we are here. There isn’t something you can do where God will make the choice for you, and he has already given you everything you need to make the choice. Your failure to do so is your choice.

He has already made you free:

Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself. (2 Nephi 2:27)

He has already given you all reason to hope:

Therefore, cheer up your hearts, and remember that ye are free to act for yourselves—to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life. (2 Nephi 10:23)

He has already given you power to choose. You do know how to choose, you just don’t want to do it. Put differently, you know what God wants, but you care more about what you want. He cannot change that for you. You are here to choose for yourself. It’s a right purchased with the highest price: the life of the Lord, who laid down his glory with the Father to come here and suffer all things while being completely innocent.

As for making easier, the good news is that he is in the process of doing precisely that. The bad news is that it won’t happen as you and your fellows hope. It won’t be a magic change in what you want. It will be more and better reasons to demonstrate why you should. And that’s not the end of the bad news. Some of that information will come as clearer arguments as to why you should change, particularly as warnings as to what will happen if you don’t. Most of that information will come in the form of suffering as God exposes the world to greater shares of the consequences of sin that have been mercifully held back until these things could be plainly preached. And with every increment of evidence, the opportunity to exercise faith and the blessings for doing so are significantly diminished. 

You mentioned that you hope the Lord will be merciful to those who willfully sin. He has provided you with the greatest possible mercy he can, and you are responding to it by wishing it would go away.

Those who reject the voice of reason will receive in its place the voice of violence, famine, pestilence, war, and the desolation it brings.

This passage will prove as true for America in our day as it did for Jerusalem in ancient times, for this nation will be judged against the same law found just as wanting:

5 “Thus says the Lord God: ‘This is Jerusalem; I have set her in the midst of the nations and the countries all around her. 6 She has rebelled against My judgments by doing wickedness more than the nations, and against My statutes more than the countries that are all around her; for they have refused My judgments, and they have not walked in My statutes.’ 7 Therefore thus says the Lord God: ‘Because you have multiplied disobedience more than the nations that are all around you, have not walked in My statutes nor kept My judgments, nor even done according to the judgments of the nations that are all around you’— 8 therefore thus says the Lord God: ‘Indeed I, even I, am against you and will execute judgments in your midst in the sight of the nations. 9 And I will do among you what I have never done, and the like of which I will never do again, because of all your abominations. 10 Therefore fathers shall eat their sons in your midst, and sons shall eat their fathers; and I will execute judgments among you, and all of you who remain I will scatter to all the winds.
11 ‘Therefore, as I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘surely, because you have defiled My sanctuary with all your detestable things and with all your abominations, therefore I will also diminish you; My eye will not spare, nor will I have any pity. 12 One-third of you shall die of the pestilence, and be consumed with famine in your midst; and one-third shall fall by the sword all around you; and I will scatter another third to all the winds, and I will draw out a sword after them.
13 ‘Thus shall My anger be spent, and I will cause My fury to rest upon them, and I will be avenged; and they shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it in My zeal, when I have spent My fury upon them. 14 Moreover I will make you a waste and a reproach among the nations that are all around you, in the sight of all who pass by.
15 ‘So it shall be a reproach, a taunt, a lesson, and an astonishment to the nations that are all around you, when I execute judgments among you in anger and in fury and in furious rebukes. I, the Lord, have spoken. 16 When I send against them the terrible arrows of famine which shall be for destruction, which I will send to destroy you, I will increase the famine upon you and cut off your supply of bread. 17 So I will send against you famine and wild beasts, and they will bereave you. Pestilence and blood shall pass through you, and I will bring the sword against you. I, the Lord, have spoken.’” (Ezekiel 5, NKJV)


[1] For example:

1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,
2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:
9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
10 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. (Matthew 3)

Often, we gloss over the roughness of the adjectives used by the ancients. Here is a better rendering of the Lord's sermon in Matthew 23 that makes it plainer. It is as relevant to the religious people of today as it was anciently:

2 The scribes and Pharisees cite Moses as the source of their power and authority,
3 but they don’t live according to what he taught. Therefore, don’t live as they do, but live as Moses did.
4 What they claim is essential for salvation is a burden so heavy that even they can’t lift it, in spite of it being their only burden. What Moses gave you is a burden all men are capable of lifting, no matter how weak, poor, or encumbered he may be, and yet not one of them does so.
5-7 They do not do what they do to please God, but so that all men will see and praise them: they excessively indulge in every meaningless sign of outward obedience, but they won’t make even the slightest change to actually become better people.
8 Do not take anyone to be your example or teacher unless he is actually more like God than you.
9 Always remember that the worth of anyone—most especially religious leaders and teachers—is in how much they help you know and become more like God.
10 Do not seek to be more like God for the sake of ruling over others, for it is Christ who is king over all.
11 You can find the one who is greatest among you by finding the one who pays the greatest price for your benefit.
12 Whoever seeks to rise above others will descend below them, and those who descend below in order to help others will be lifted up over them.
13 But woe to you scribes and Pharisees—you hypocrites! Any who believes your teachings or follows your example are permanently cut off from the path to heaven, just as you are.
14 Woe to you scribes and Pharisees—you hypocrites! You prey on the people you are meant to feed, who like widows must live off of what remains from a better time. Because your money comes from the time you spend in your religious duties, you make them extra long, pretending it is for some other reason than your devious greed. And for this, you will receive extended condemnation!
15 Woe to you scribes and Pharisees—you hypocrites! You will range the entire world to bring one convert to the faith,  but rather than lead him to repent of his wicked traditions, you add your own to them, making him twice as bad as he was before!
16 To whom will you be a guide, when you are yourselves so blind? You see no contradiction in absolving an oath made by the temple while considering an oath over the gold in the temple unbreakable.
17 You blind idiots. What is greater? The gold or the temple that makes it different than any other gold?
18 You repeat the same mistake in considering an oath on the altar of God to be absolvable, and an oath over the gift upon an altar unbreakable.
19 You blind idiots. What is greater? The offering, or the altar that makes the gift any different than it was before it was placed there?
20 Any oath over the altar must include all things thereon.
21 Any oath over the temple must be made with the same solemnity and gravity that would attend an oath to him directly, and according to his perfect will and righteous judgment.
22 For any that swears by heaven does not merely invoke the power of God in enforcement, but also the righteousness of God in its cause, as his power flows from his character. (Matthew 23, Author's Reflection)

[2] For example:

51 And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,
52 And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.
53 And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.
54 And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?
55 But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.
56 For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village. (Luke 9)

He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation. (2 Nephi 26:24)


25 And now when ye talk, ye say: If our days had been in the days of our fathers of old, we would not have slain the prophets; we would not have stoned them, and cast them out.
26 Behold ye are worse than they; for as the Lord liveth, if a prophet come among you and declareth unto you the word of the Lord, which testifieth of your sins and iniquities, ye are angry with him, and cast him out and seek all manner of ways to destroy him; yea, you will say that he is a false prophet, and that he is a sinner, and of the devil, because he testifieth that your deeds are evil.
27 But behold, if a man shall come among you and shall say: Do this, and there is no iniquity; do that and ye shall not suffer; yea, he will say: Walk after the pride of your own hearts; yea, walk after the pride of your eyes, and do whatsoever your heart desireth—and if a man shall come among you and say this, ye will receive him, and say that he is a prophet.
28 Yea, ye will lift him up, and ye will give unto him of your substance; ye will give unto him of your gold, and of your silver, and ye will clothe him with costly apparel; and because he speaketh flattering words unto you, and he saith that all is well, then ye will not find fault with him.
29 O ye wicked and ye perverse generation; ye hardened and ye stiffnecked people, how long will ye suppose that the Lord will suffer you? Yea, how long will ye suffer yourselves to be led by foolish and blind guides? Yea, how long will ye choose darkness rather than light?
30 Yea, behold, the anger of the Lord is already kindled against you; behold, he hath cursed the land because of your iniquity. (Helaman 13)