It should come as no surprise to any of you that the governing core value at the top of my list is . . .
I'll take the good, the bad, the ugly ― I'll take truth in all its manifestations.
It's like Nephi said:
I glory in plainness; I glory in truth; I glory in my Jesus, for he hath redeemed my soul from hell.
(2 Nephi 33:6)
This is why I was shocked when Elder Boyd K. Packer criticized historians for "idolizing the truth." (I have a bachelor's degree in history.)
What About Love?
Maybe truth isn't the best choice for my governing core value. After all, isn't love the greatest of all?
Why not choose love to preside over our hierarchy of values?
Well, charity certainly loves truth! In fact, the apostle Paul said that charity "rejoiceth in the truth" (1 Cor. 13:6).
Think of it this way: if we love someone, or something, or anything, more than we love the truth, then what does that say about our integrity?
Where does our loyalty lie?
Once we start making concessions and compromising the truth in order to protect a person or the Church, then we don't love the truth, we use the truth (like a utilitarian).
So, as for me and my house:
I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments, Lord, have I laid before me.
The Word of God is Truth
Love thrives in an environment of truth. It withers in an environment of gaslighting.
As Jesus taught:
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
On the other hand, when we seek to control others, and curate the information they have access to, and enforce political correctness in our speech (i.e. not using the word "Mormon"), then we show a lack of respect for the truth, because manipulating others and the truth corrupts our love and darkens our minds.
For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
But What is "Truth?"
Here's the problem: how do we know what is "truth?"
Remember what happened when Moses confronted Pharaoh ("Let my people go!") and turned Aaron's staff into a serpent?
Well, Pharaoh's prophets duplicated the miracle and turned their rods into snakes, too.
How do we discern between truth and imitated-truth when they look alike?
Today, how do we discern between true messengers from our Father and those who pretend to be?
Jesus said, "By their fruits ye shall know them."
I suggest we want to look closely at whether a person bears the fruit of truth.
Fruit of Truth
Jesus is the Word of God. He is also the Fruit of Truth.
The Spirit of truth is of God. I am the Spirit of truth.
The way to judge whether something is of Him (or, of the "truth") is given by our buddy Mormon:
And now, my brethren, seeing that ye know [this is not speculative, it is something concrete] the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, [see, we do not measure truth by what others say: it is the light within us from Christ that guides us] see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged.
Wherefore, I beseech of you, brethren, that ye should search diligently in the light of Christ [this is where truth dwells; not in the philosophies of men or platitudes delivered from the pulpit] that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, [let's not condemn others for following the light of Christ over the traditions of men] ye certainly will be a child of Christ.
Notice what makes us "a child of Christ?"
The thing that qualifies us as His children is whether we follow the "light of Christ" he has given us.
"Milk Before Meat?"
The way we use the idea of "milk before meat" in the Church is a farce. Forget about it.
Because it is a way of keeping us jejune.
Jejune. Adj. "Naïve, simplistic, and superficial."
Listen: they promise "meat" but there is no meat coming.
It is all milk, and will always be.
On the other hand, Jesus promised:
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into alltruth.
That's right: Jesus is willing to give us the whole enchilada. All the meat.
He holds nothing back, only according to the heed and diligence we give Him, our light growing brighter and brighter (yes, the same light we've been discussing, the light of truth) until the perfect day.
THIS IS HOW WE WORSHIP GOD.
Let me repeat: the way we worship God is by growing brighter in His light.
The true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth.
Going to cathedrals and chapels on Sunday is NOT worshipping. Obeying the light of Christ is.
Does the Church Have a Problem with Truth? I think one of the reasons we have not been very successful in building Zion is because the Church has a complicated relationship with the truth.
Whereas, a Zion people has no reason to shy away from the truth:
Thus saith the Lord; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth.
While the New Jerusalem is "a city of truth," can the same be said about Salt Lake City?
I think we are more deserving of the words of Jeremiah, who said:
They bend their tongues like their bow for lies: but they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they know not me, saith the Lord.
Here Jeremiah excoriates the people of God for talking out of both sides of their mouths.
Instead of straight talk, we get the forked tongue of public relations and damage control, of plausible deniability and false impressions.
Aren't you tired of all the deceit? Malachi was.
Malachi told the religious leaders in his day:
And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you.
The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips: he walked with me in peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity.
For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.
But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the Lord of hosts.
(Malachi 2:1, 7-8)
Malachi is accusing the religious leaders of departing from the way of truth. They have broken God's law of honesty.
Why would they do that? Well, Isaiah explains it for us. Even though he was in the Southern Kingdom, it looks like everyone is dealing with the same problem:
None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity.
If you're wondering why religion gets such a bad rap and why members are quitting Churches by droves, look no further.
We crave greater integrity from our leaders and cannot find it.