There is a unique war raging all around us. It’s unlike any war we can remember and it is so cleverly disguised that most do not even recognize that it’s happening. This isn’t a war that is designed by men; with big artillery, armor, trenches, and an army that is fed by C-Rations. Instead, it’s a war designed by women; with words as its weapons and under the leadership of anyone with a microphone or a blog who is willing to feed us the emotion we are so hungry for.
If this war took you by surprise, you are not alone. Most families who are busy raising and providing for their children and serving those around them did not see it coming either. As we have tried to wrap our heads around what is causing so much anger and frustration, we have been quite startled to see that the attacks were starting to come our way, very personal attacks against our womanhood, our family and our religion. It feels like we have been dragged into a war we did not want and we are not quite sure how to fight it.
Let’s be honest, women are experts of using the power of language. Our words have been used to do amazing things like calm a sick baby and lift a friend in distress. But we have also been known to use words to manipulate and cause harm. With modern technology, words are being thrown around unlike any other time in history. Think about it, we have so many communication devices that there is someone to talk to (or talk at) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and our audience has widened substantially. Words are everywhere! But like any commodity, the more there is, the less it is worth.
Opinions are a dime a dozen and while there are several good opinions being expressed, it is difficult to remember them long enough to make a difference in our lives. When there are so many words coming at you, it crowds out time for any real contemplation and evaluation. In order for our words to stand out and get attention, we often use a lot of emotion, energy, or well placed guile to create an audience.
Guile, in Webster’s 1828 dictionary is defined as:
GUILE, noun. Craft; cunning; artifice; duplicity; deceit; usually in a bad sense.
GUILE, verb transitive To disguise craftily.
We see and hear guile all around us. We may have different names for it like: “fake news”, spin, manipulation, advertising, or lies, but ultimately we are just dealing with guile! How does guile work? When one party wants another party to do something, think something or believe something, that party will craft their words and the emotion behind them in order to get a particular response. Some are so good at their craft that they don’t even need to speak a lie in order to garner a favorable reception. These wordsmiths can carefully use the right words in the right pattern as skillfully as a master artist.
We all have a tendency to pick up this pattern of speech. It’s hard not to adopt it. How often do we accidentally start mimicking a friend’s accent towards the end of a long conversation, or find ourselves saying phrases that our grandma used to always say? Likewise, when we hear patterns of speech that employs guile, we can’t help but find it in our own conversations. For example, when we try to convince a friend that our political views are more correct than theirs, we may use emotions of anger, fear or shock to encourage our friend to see things the way we see them. We’ve all done it. But is it the kind of speech that the Lord expects us to have?
What about if we use guile as we defend the church? Certainly our masterful use of words could be used for such a noble purpose… right?
The Lord has given us the pattern of speech that He would have us use:
“No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile- Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy; That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.” (D & C 121:41-43)
As Latter-Day Saints, we have something much more powerful and convincing than Guile. We have TRUTH! When we speak truth, the Holy Ghost bears witness of what was spoken. No need for contrived energy, feigned emotion, or crafty lies. We need only speak truth and trust that the Holy Ghost will not only witness of the truthfulness of the words in that moment, but will continue to bring to mind and testify of it’s truth in the days to come.
In Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book”, Mowgli the man-child, desired to fight alongside his wolf-brothers against the mighty Shere Kahn. But Mowgli was stopped by Bagheera, his protector, who breathed out his stern council: “Don’t fight him like a wolf! Fight him like a MAN!” Sisters, with an unexpected war of words raging all around us, we have a decision to make: do we fight like women of the world, or do we behave like Daughters of our Eternal Heavenly Father?
Heavenly Father knows us each personally. He knows our unique strengths and gifts, He knows our individual situations, and He knows how to help YOU. When you prayerfully petition the Lord to know what part He wants you to play in this winding down scene, He will lead you, in a very personal way, to say and do what only you can do. The Spirit will also help you see other women who are following their personal directions from the Lord and you will be inspired to know how to work together to overcome the evils of this generation and build a new generation with faith, hope and charity!
“Attacks against the Church, its’ doctrine and our way of life are going to increase. Because of this, we need women who have a bedrock understanding of the doctrine of Christ and who will use that understanding to teach and help raise a sin-resistant generation. We need women who can detect deception in all its forms. We need women who know how to access the power that God makes available to covenant keepers and who express their beliefs with confidence and clarity.” -Elder Russell M. Nelson (“A Plea to My Sisters”, October, 2015 General Conference)
As we seek to have a “bedrock understanding of the doctrine of Christ”, we will be able to recognize and adhere to principles that are eternally true. This understanding will also help us to recognize and avoid ideas and theories that are concocted in modern think-tanks and are purposely designed to have a short shelf-life.
We may not have asked for this battle of words, and we may not be able to sit on the sidelines while it is played out on the world’s stage, but we can develop the pattern of speech that will allow for righteousness to prevail. We just need to remember the promise in John: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31–32).
1 Peter 3:10-11 “For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile; Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.”