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Friday Minute: Honesty brings peace of conscience

Published: Friday, Oct. 14 2011 5:00 a.m. MDT

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Like chastity, honesty brings peace of conscience and purity of heart.

Oh, the tangled web

When one of our boys was 7, he used an entire roll of dental floss to torment his sisters. Wrapping the floss around the handle of their bathroom door, he double-strung the slippery string across the room and looped it tightly around an opposite door handle. This tightrope of floss effectively pulled the bathroom door taut, imprisoning his sisters in a fog of hair spray and shower steam.

When confronted with his misdeed, our son refused to fess up. Blushing with guilt, his non-disclosure belied the truth written on his face. What a tangle of deceit is the web of non-disclosure.

Ironically, this mischievous son became a dentist! Who says dental floss isn’t worth it?

Honesty is more than truth telling

Whether caught in an overt lie or the stonewall of non-disclosure, honesty demands the difficult mirror of self-examination.

Honesty is so much more than truth telling. President James E. Faust, former counselor in the First Presidency, said that honesty is "truth telling, truth speaking, truth living and truth loving" (President James E. Faust, "Honesty — a Moral Compass," Ensign, November 1996).

Imagine a world in which everyone obeyed the eighth commandment, never bearing "false witness against (his) neighbor"? (Exodus 20:16), and tempering honesty with kindness.

Kindness is key. After all, a husband learns quickly never to choose sides when his wife asks: "Dear, does this dress make me look …?"

Honesty and purity

The root word for honesty has its origins in the word chastity. Consider that when our hearts are pure and our motives chaste, honesty flows from our character, not from the outward imposition of duty or law.

The gold standard for honesty among members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is our temple recommend. The toughest question asked is whether we are honest in our dealings with our fellowmen? Answering that question should be a joy, not a gloss-over-the-truth dreaded moment.

President Joseph F. Smith said, "Let every man’s life be so that his character will bear the closest inspection, and that it may be seen as an open book, so that he will have nothing to shrink from or be ashamed of." (“Gospel Doctrine," 5th edition, 1932, 252).

Peace of conscience

Our 13th Article of Faith declares, "We believe in being honest …."

Peace of conscience flows naturally from honesty. Those who cheat, lie or deceive others cheat themselves out of their eternal potential.

In a marvelous example of honesty, the Book of Mormon chronicles the character of the people of Ammon, who were "perfectly honest and upright in all things; and they were firm in the faith of Christ, even unto the end" (Alma 27:27).

Their honesty blessed them immediately and generationally as their stripling sons became the mighty warriors who would save the Nephite nation from destruction.

For Christians, the peace of conscience that abides with the honest in heart is the companionship of the Holy Ghost. He is the great Comforter who strides with us to light the way as we "walk honestly, as in the day …." Romans 13:13).

William Monahan is a 1980 graduate of BYU Law School. He practices law and teaches law and ethics. A former Phoenix stake president and current high councilor for the QC Chandler Heights Stake, he is active in Interfaith and a U.S. Air Force veteran.

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