Smothering temptations and bad feelings

I find this quote from Brigham Young quite interesting. It refutes the false idea that one needs to give way to either temptations or to pent up bad feelings. Instead, smother them to death.

If I am tempted to speak an evil word, I will keep my lips locked together. Says one, “I do not know about that, that would be smothering up bad feelings, I am wonderfully tried about my neighbor, he has done wrong, he has abused me and I feel dreadful bad about it. Had I not better let it out than to keep it rankling within me?” No. I will keep bad feelings under and actually smother them to death, then they are gone. But as sure as I let them out they will live and afflict me. If I smother them in myself, if I actually choke them to death, destroy the life, the power, and vigor thereof, they will pass off and leave me clear of fault, and pure, so far as that is concerned; and no man or woman on earth knows that I have ever been tempted to indulge in wicked feelings. Keep them to yourselves.

If you feel evil, keep it to yourselves until you overcome that evil principle. This is what I call resisting the devil, and he flees from me. (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses vol 3,  The Powers of the Priesthood not Generally Understood—The Necessity of Living By Revelation—The Abuse of Blessings)

As a second witness and third witness to this I include this quote from Ezra Taft Benson’s talk “To the humble followers of Christ”, in which he himself will quote from David O McKay.

But some sensitivity training doesn’t stop there. They usually want each person to tell the group about all of their innermost feelings, their personal secrets, their fears, their repressed desires. … They want the group to know each other’s vulgar thoughts and lustful ideas, their hates, envies, jealousies. But this flies in the face of the counsel of the Prophet, who has said, “All such evils you must overcome by suppression. That is where your control comes in. Suppress that anger! Suppress that jealousy, that envy! They are all injurious to the spirit” (President David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals, p. 356).

Sadly, some of the aspects discussed in this last quote have actually been internalized by some as part of what spirituality really is. That is, there are those who will applaud someone for being  “vulnerable” and “real” if they behave in exactly the way that President Benson is speaking against. That same group considers that “vulnerabity” to be a token of spirituality. This has been particularly prevalent among people who are struggling with homosexual temptations. Rather than following Brigham Young, Ezra Taft Benson and David O McKay’s counsel, they are encouraged to speak openly of their temptations in precisely the way both Brigham Young and Ezra Taft Benson speak against.


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John Robertson

I am nothing more than a regular member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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