Boon Companions

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Editorial Thoughts by LDS Apostle George Q. Cannon published in the Juvenile Instructor, January 15, 1895: 1

Membership in the Church should be Valued.

It should be the aim of every parent, and of all the teachers among the people, whether Apostles, Presidents of Stakes, Bishops or Elders, to impress upon the members of the Church the great value of a membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Every one should be taught to appreciate the communion of the Holy Ghost and the fellowship of the Saints.

There is too little attention paid to this in many quarters. A standing in the Church is not viewed as of very great moment by many people. They think too lightly of it, and the line of distinction between those who are members of the Church and those who have lost their fellowship is not ‘drawn with sufficient plainness to impress the people concerning it. This is especially the case with many young people. They cannot perceive as they should do the great difference between a membership in the Church and being outside of the Church. Where this state of feeling exists, and men and women, or boys and girls, are indifferent concerning their standing, they are liable to take steps that may endanger their fellowship and be a means of losing their connection with the Church. It is this indifference that frequently causes young people to lose their standing, and they take no particular pains to avoid the evil consequences which follow a course of life that is improper.

However charitably disposed we may be to those who are not believers in our religion, it should be perfectly plain that it is imprudent for the members of the Church of Christ to mingle with and to become boon companions of those who have no faith in the principles of the Gospel. There is no necessity for the members of our Church to mingle with the world, beyond an extent which relates to the pursuits of ordinary business with them; for there is society enough inside the Church for all. In saying this we do not wish to be understood as suggesting that there shall be no intercourse or association between persons of our faith and those who do not believe as we do; but we do most earnestly maintain that intimacies and close companionships should not be cultivated to any extent. Every one should be treated with courtesy and kindness; but no course should be taken nor any association formed that will have a tendency to weaken the attachment of any individual to the religion that the Lord has revealed, or to the importance of a standing in the Church of Christ.

Hence there should be no marriages between people of different faiths. In almost every instance such alliances lead to unhappiness. To state this in relation to Latter-day Saints is only to state that which is the experience now of nearly fifty years in this country. Those who can look back to early days and recall instances where young women of our faith married those not of us, can testify that in the greater number of cases either the girls have had to abandon their faith and become apostate to it, or they have led lives of unhappiness, and in a great many cases separation has resulted. It people could but profit by the sad experience of others, sufficient has been known in relation to such connections to warn forever young people against them; but the experience even of hundreds does not seem to be of much profit to others; for marriages of this kind continue to be formed among us with a frequency which clearly shows that the lessons of the past are unheeded by the present.

In former ages men have died for their religion by hundreds and thousands. In our own day very many have laid down their lives for their religion. Thousands of people have been driven from their homes, robbed of almost everything they possessed, treated with the utmost cruelly, forced into the wilderness and to endure indescribable hardships and privations, all for their religion. Hundreds of men have gone to prison rather than renounce a single principle of their belief. Why has this been the case? They valued the truth which they had espoused more than they did their own lives. What is the lesson which this teaches? It is that the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is worth dying for. It is that a membership in the Church which the Lord Jesus Christ has organized is to be more appreciated than life.

Ought not our children to be taught this? Ought not the lesson to be impressed upon every heart, so that all will shun the commission of acts that will endanger their standing in the Church of Christ? Apostasy is a dreadful crime. No matter who it is that apostatizes from the truth, breaks the commandments of God, violates the covenants that he or she has made with the Almighty, and denies the faith, it is a dreadful crime. It cannot be glossed over; it cannot be made light of; it is a serious offense, upon which God has set the seal of His condemnation. Children should be taught this in their early life. The mother, when she gathers her children around her knee and teaches them to pray, should teach them to pray that they may be preserved in the truth, that they may be kept from sin, that they may be enabled to maintain the faith; and she should impress upon them the greatness of the blessing they enjoy in being permitted to be members of the Church and to be in covenant with their Father in Heaven.

If proper pains were taken in teaching the rising generation these truths our children would dread apostasy; they would shun the commission of sin, and would view with horror anything that would be likely to endanger their standing in the Church of Christ. They would avoid quarrels; they would suffer wrong rather than to do wrong, because in so doing they would be more likely to preserve the fellowship of their brethren and sisters. This feeling would grow with their growth and strengthen with their strength; and if it ever should become necessary for them to face death for their religion, they would do so, if not gladly, at least with resolute determination rather than deny the faith. Every member of the Church—young and old— should be taught to appreciate the fact that to be admitted to covenant with God, to have the communion of the Holy Ghost, to have the fellowship of the Saints, is the greatest honor and blessing that can he bestowed upon mortal man; and their daily prayers should contain thanksgivings to God that they have been permitted to enjoy this exalted privilege.

References   [ + ]

1. Juvenile Instructor, January 15, 1895 – https://archive.org/stream/juvenileinstruct302geor#page/54