I have heard the word “abomination” and have used the word all my life, but never until now have I bothered to look it up. An abomination is something that is vile, disgusting, loathed, depraved, or hated. So if you say that something is abominable, that is what you are saying. It is a sentiment of extreme dislike. That paints us a rather nice picture about how the Lord feels about these seven items He considers to be abominations. Proverbs 6:17-19.
16 These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,
19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.
Let’s start at the beginning of the list and briefly look at these seven habits of highly destructive people.
A Proud Look
When defining the word “proud” the dictionary gives primarily glowing attributes and terms, making reference to how you feel about having done something worthy or honorable or to your own credit. But when the dictionary lists synonyms for being proud, the list does not look so self congratulatory. Dictionary.com includes the following descriptions of being proud:
“… overbearing, self-important, disdainful, imperious, presumptuous. Proud, arrogant, haughty imply a consciousness of, or a belief in, one’s superiority in some respect. Proud implies sensitiveness, lofty self-respect, or jealous preservation of one’s dignity, station, and the like. It may refer to an affectionate admiration of or a justifiable pride concerning someone else: proud of his son. Arrogant applies to insolent or overbearing behavior, arising from an exaggerated belief in one’s importance: arrogant rudeness. Haughty implies lofty reserve and confident, often disdainful assumption of superiority over others”
In April of 1986, in General Conference, President Ezra Taft Benson made this statement about pride:
In the scriptures there is no such thing as righteous pride. It is always considered as a sin. We are not speaking of a wholesome view of self-worth, which is best established by a close relationship with God. But we are speaking of pride as the universal sin, as someone has described it.
Pride is the universal sin, sometimes referred to as the parent sin, the sin that produces all other sins. It is demonstrated by a lack of humility and teachableness. In Moroni 8:27 we are told that it was pride that brought the ruin of the Nephite people. The Lord tells us in D&C 38:39 to beware of pride lest we become like the Nephites of old. Pride does not have a very good track record. It was pride that produced the downfall of Lucifer and made him a devil. It was pride that caused Cain to rebel against God and kill his brother, Abel.
Is it any wonder that a proud look is at the top of the Lord’s list of abominations, the things he hates the most? Go back up and re-read the list of descriptions the dictionary gives of what it means to be proud. If we want to avoid pride then we have to avoid not just all of these behaviors, but all of these attitudes as well.
A Lying Tongue
King Solomon, who wrote the book of Proverbs, dedicates a lot of textual real estate to those who lie or deceive with their mouths. The Lord told Solomon that He would grant Solomon anything he wanted. Solomon asked for wisdom. Lucky for us. He is reputedly the wisest man who ever lived, and he spent a lot of time speaking out against the liar. Jacob, the younger brother of Nephi in 2 Nephi 9:34 says, “Wo unto the liar, for he shall be thrust down to hell.” Apparently Jacob did not like liars any more than Solomon did.
We sometimes fool ourselves by talking about “little white lies” that are harmless. Interesting. What if God told “harmless” white lies to us? Is deception ever truly harmless? That should be worth at least one round in a good debate. If lying in any capacity is truly harmless, then why is the Lord so against it? Possibly because a lie is the opposite of the truth? Possibly because he is a God of truth? Read the first 12 chapters of Proverbs and see how many times King Solomon warns against those who lie and how strongly he dislikes anyone who does not tell the truth. He describes liars as fools. It is worth thinking about.
Hands That Shed Innocent Blood
Murder is the second most serious sin, and only one of two sins that will bar a person from the Celestial kingdom. Solomon’s father, King David lost his chance because he killed Uriah, Bath-Sheba’s husband. The Lord told Joseph Smith in D&C 132:39 that David’s murder of Uriah cost him his exaltation. The blessings held in reserve for King David have already been given to someone else. But enough of this unpleasant subject. Let us move on.
A Heart That Deviseth Wicked Imaginations
Another trait that Solomon speaks out against almost constantly is the person who is “froward” or perverse in thought or behavior. If it is not bad enough that some people are wicked, there are those among them who actively try to find ways to twist and pervert anything that comes from God into as evil a practice as they can. These are the kind of people who push drugs onto little children or take advantage of the weak. These are people who could be putting their talents to good use blessing the lives of others, but instead are actively looking for ways to corrupt everything around them, and enjoying the process. These people actually seek the downfall of others and cloak themselves in sheep’s clothing while they seek to devour the innocent.
Most of us do not fall squarely into this category, but sometimes dabble in it. How many times have you seen someone who tries to convince another that the R rating on the movie can be ignored, against the prophet’s counsel, because it is only one sex scene or only a few bad words, etc? This is the same type of behavior referred to in the previous paragraph. These people seek to bring others down to their level.
Swift In Running To Mischief
This is a good visual, “Feet that be swift in running to mischief.” Why does he use feet and why running? I have a daughter who, up till recently, did not just do harmful things to herself, but she seemed to pursue with vigor those things that would hurt her. It was as though she were literally running toward the proverbial oncoming train, with nothing more in her heart than to actually get hit. And she did get hit, over and over again. It was painful to watch, and I know it was painful for her, yet each time she would physically heal from one trauma she would run to the next.
The Lord loves his children. He has no desire for us to hurt ourselves or each other. When we pursue courses of action that cause us to destroy ourselves and others, it displeases Him. Sometimes we are aware of our self-destructive behaviors, but feel out of control or unable to stop ourselves. Sometimes we do not even realize we are on a crash course until it is too late to get out of the way of the oncoming consequences of our actions. All these horrible things are completely avoidable if we will just do as the Lord tells us to do. He will protect us and guide us. We will still stumble and occasionally fall, but He will be there to help pick us up, heal our wounds, and point us in the right direction.
A False Witness That Speaketh Lies
Speaking lies and bearing witness falsely are the same things. Putting them together just shows that not only is the person willing to lie, but they are also willing to destroy another person with their lies. This is a particularly potent kind of liar. This kind of liar knows that their lies will hurt someone else’s reputation, relationships, could get them fired from their job, or any other number of things. Yet they do it willingly and actively. These people not only have wicked imaginations, but they also have feet that are swift to do mischief to others. This is not the lying tongue that lies to protect him/herself, this is the kind of liar that seeks another’s destruction and ruination. This kind of sin creates almost as much damage as actual murder, for it destroys reputation, character, prospects, families, etc.
Is it any wonder God hates this practice. His focus is on creating life, opportunity, freedom of choice, joy, and laughter. All of these things are the exact opposite of what happens when someone is willing to speak lies and bear false witness against an innocent person.
He That Soweth Discord Among Brethren
All through the scriptures the Lord is trying to bring us together, to get us to watch out for one another, to care for one another, to (dare I say it?) act like a family. His greatest promises for his people are reserved for the day they can behave like a Zion people, a people who act with one heart and one mind. In other words, a people who all cherish the same virtues, who seek to please the Lord and obey His commandments, who are willing to care for the poor and needy, and seek unity in all things. This is an inclusive culture, not one that excludes others. This is God’s goal for us.
Satan on the other hand, knows that unity brings power to God’s children, so he does everything he can to split us apart. His emissaries in this work are those who are willing to cause contention anywhere they can. The same daughter I spoke of earlier had a time when she thrived on the rush of sewing discord among others. She had been out of school for some time, and on her first day back she was expelled within hours of setting foot on campus because she was at the heart of a fight. Oh, she did not do any of the fighting, but she started the fight. She just got others to throw the punches. It was like a game to her to see how quickly and effectively she could manipulate others to get them to do what she wanted, all without getting her own hands dirty in the process. You have probably met people like this, people who are never far from the epicenter of any social earthquake that happens to strike in the family, at work, at church, or in the community. These people are poison to society in any form, and the Lord roundly denounces their behavior.
Please let me apologize here. I do not normally just bear the bad news then leave you to wallow in the wounds I may have left behind. There is a saying that to be forewarned is to be forearmed. The commandments are the answer and remedy for all these ills. Keeping God’s commandments brings peace, unity, love, and cooperation. I firmly believe that all the social ills in this world come from being disobedient to the commandments. That means that all the ills we face as a global society can be cured by keeping the commandments and seeking to follow the Holy Spirit in our daily lives.
King Solomon was a wise king. He knew that the Lord was the source of all good things, and that these things the Lord calls abominations are deadly to us, His children. That is why he warned us about them. If you have any ideas as to how to help people change these behaviors, I am all ears. Perhaps you have found a measure of success is restoring truth and peace in your life that you can share with us.