Crucial to the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the idea that Jesus Christ will come again. We believe that he will come soon, thus the “Latter Day” part in the name of the church.
The scriptures emphasize time and again that these days will be filled with wickedness and attempts to deceive the righteous. We can see that happening in our world today, and thus many talks at church will emphasize the moral degeneracy and religious doubt that seems to be common place in society. (Whether it is more common place is up to debate, I prefer to think that it is more accessible and less hidden.) Often, Mormons will hear about the trouble of living in the last day and the “constant” onslaught of evil that we are faced with.
Maybe I’m alone in this, but I get pretty tired of always hearing about how terrible our time is. Listening to sacrament meeting talks and conversations between members would lead non-Mormons to assume that for church members, living in the 2010’s is a terrible chore that they just have to endure until Jesus comes again.
I don’t believe that. In fact I reject it.
I am glad to be living in the 2010s. I would not want to live in any other time. And no, it is not because I believe that Jesus Christ will come back soon. It is because I believe that there is no better time to be alive than the 2010’s.
So I wanted to rant for just a bit about how great our time is. Because it is awesome.
Just a cursory comparison of contemporary society to the past shows the advantage and superiority of modern times.
Right off the bat, technology is what strikes me as giving us that superiority. Communication technology alone has reshaped human interaction, for the better. Sure we might complain about teenagers with shortening attention spans and ease of access to pornography, but I would honestly rather have those issues than having to communicate with people via letters. Pine for the olden days if you will, but being able to Skype my girlfriend while we are separated will always be far superior. Instead of being isolated from other countries, cities and continents, our modern technology has enabled everybody to come closer, giving ideas and culture the ability to transverse distances that would not be possible otherwise. For members of the church this has to be an obvious advantage. Church internet sites, Facebook groups, and Instagram accounts spread the word in a way that is far superior to any other PR or outreach campaign that the church has envisioned. The biggest advantage of social media presence is that it tends to be less invasive than having missionaries knocking on people’s doors. A web link is a much easier and softer way to get the message of the Restoration in the lives of non-members.
Never in any time has this been possible. Up until our generation, Church membership was centralized to small geographic regions. The only exposure that people had to the church was through our small band of missionaries or word of mouth. But now, we really do have worldwide reach. So complain if you want about how the internet has opened the door for sin or how social media has taken over people’s lives. I’d rather have the benefits with a bit of risk.
Even if we look at the church now, we can see that this is the best time to be a church member. You wouldn’t know with how often Mormons act like they are persecuted by “moral degeneracy”. As much as people may think otherwise, our church is not being persecuted. Sure there are circumstantial examples of anger or unfairness, but there is no current institutionalized persecution against members of the church. People may think we are weird and backwards and even desecrate our sacred buildings, but the United States government is not declaring war on us like it was in the 1850s. Members may feel like they are under attack (and they might be, who knows) but I am sure that most of us would not trade having to defend traditional marriage for having to defend our houses against angry mobs. Even when church members oppose like they did this conference, that was only 5 members as opposed to the 1830s, when most of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles left the church at some time.
So we are safer, and we are growing more than ever before. Every conference we add new temples. The missionary force is growing. Doors are opening to places where we have never been. Just last week the church reorganized an old part of my mission, creating a mission that encompasses Turkey, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and other Central Asian countries. As far as I know, this the only predominantly Muslim proselytizing mission in the church. That is amazing! In modern times, 85% of church members live within 200 miles of a temple. The essential ordinances for salvation are within reach to most members for the first time in history. Never have these sacred buildings been within such easy reach.
Complain if you want about any perceived persecution or the difficulties of living in the 2010s, but I’d rather be a Mormon now than any other time in our history.
Leaving the confines of religion, society now is the best that it has ever been. Look at the opportunities that are present in our day and age. Sure, we still deal with racism and sexism (anybody who doesn’t believe that is delusional). But our battles against racism and sexism are mopping up what is left. We are finishing up the battle, making sure that at last, everybody has equal opportunities. We live in a time that for the most part, you can be anything that you want and do anything you want to do. Gender and racial oppression that has always existed has almost ended.
You can learn anything in the world, through the blessing of the internet. Information is open to everybody, no matter their geographic location, sex or race. You can say, read, think, or watch whatever you want without having to worry about government actions or institutionalized repression. Sure, there are moral obligations and responsibilities that come with freedom (I am not advocating that people should just live without moral code) but having choices without worrying about legal action is a blessing.
When problems do arise, they are blessings within themselves. I am glad that we have debates about marriage equality and lingering racism. It is amazing that we can even talk openly about these things. We can exchange ideas and find solutions that are the best for everybody. People do not need to hide their opinions anymore. Gay people do not have to worry about being thrown in jail for expressing their preferences. I do not have to worry about being blacklisted by the government because I admitted on the internet that I read The Communist Manifesto. The openness that we have now means that everybody gets to have a voice. Whether you like what they are saying or not is your choice, but at least everybody is being heard. We can actually have debates without worrying about repercussions. And that is an indisputable advantage.
Finally, I’ll end this little rant with a topic dear to my heart, science.
At no other time in history has our scientific knowledge been so great or our possibilities so limitless. Scientific knowledge tends to move forward over the course of history (and sure I would love to know future science) but scientists in the 2010s live in an exciting crossroads that is unique in history. For the first time in history, scientists are actually facing the possibility of human space colonization and extraterrestrial life. We are planning to do Mars missions, trying to figure out how build “warp drives”, and discovering habitable planets outside of our solar systems. Our telescopes and instruments are discovering the very nature of existence, from the tiniest subatomic particles to the largest supermassive black hole. We are standing right at the precipice of the greatest scientific advances that history has ever known, the ones that will enable the human race to take its place among the stars. For the first time, the idea of humans taking to the stars is not just a fever dream of a rhapsodizing scientist, but a real problem that professionals are attempting to tackle. We will look back on the 2010s as the exciting time that humanity really started to see its true destiny and began to take the steps needed to achieve it.
Ok, this has gotten long.
The point of this article is simple: While we need to warn others of the spiritual danger of our time, we can not (and should not) forget how great it is to be living in this generation. We need to realize that living in the end of times is not a chore, but rather the greatest blessing we could have received, for reasons other than just the vicinity of Christ’s coming. Sure we have problems, anybody who ignores them is foolish. But I would rather have 2015 problems than the problems of past times. Too often we are pining for the good old days. We need to stop and look at all the wonder around us.