Friday, February 13, 2009

Peer Pressure- Fear God More Than Man

In Section 3 of the Doctrine and Covenants we are taught a powerful lesson about “Peer Pressure”.

In this section the Lord reveals several different instances of peer pressure as He attempts to teach us to “fear God more than man.”

Martin Harris, who was acting as scribe for Joseph at this time, is the first example we see of one who was influenced by peer pressure, by way of his wife. I am sure that Martin's wife must have wondered why he would be spending time and money on something that she evidently could not understand. As one who always seems to play “Devils Advocate”, I am not so sure I would have reacted any different than Martins wife. Evidently she was giving Martin the “full court press” so to speak, about his “foolish” notions and wanted to see some results. Who could really blame her, right? She simply did not have a testimony of what Martin was doing. The question is, did Martin really have a testimony of what he was doing at this point?

How many times do we put our “testimony” on hold and bend to the wishes of those around us?

Joseph himself is another example of one who “feared man more than God.” The simple dynamics of his relationship with Martin is one that is very tentative at best. Martin, at least twenty years Joseph’s elder, was in a position to command respect, if for no other reason, because of his age. Martin also had the financial security that Joseph lacked, and was willing to help with the work when it seemed there were no others who would lend support. These factors must have been very influential in the decision Joseph made to petition the Lord three times with the question of allowing Martin to take the manuscript to appease his wife. Finally, both Joseph and Martin received the answer they wanted.

The result of bending to the demands of peer pressure was the loss the 116 pages of manuscript that had already been translated and a stringent rebuke from the Lord:

Doctrine and Covenants Section 3

1 The works, and the designs, and the purposes of God cannot be frustrated, neither can they come to naught.

2 For God doth not walk in crooked paths, neither doth he turn to the right hand nor to the left, neither doth he vary from that which he hath said, therefore his paths are straight, and his course is one eternal round.

3 Remember, remember that it is not the work of God that is frustrated, but the work of men;

4 For although a man may have many revelations, and have power to do many mighty works, yet if he boasts in his own strength, and sets at naught the counsels of God, and follows after the dictates of his own will and carnal desires, he must fall and incur the vengeance of a just God upon him.

5 Behold, you have been entrusted with these things, but how strict were your commandments; and remember also the promises which were made to you, if you did not transgress them.

6 And behold, how oft you have transgressed the commandments and the laws of God, and have gone on in the persuasions of men.

7 For, behold, you should not have feared man more than God. Although men set at naught the counsels of God, and despise his words—

Joseph learned a very powerful lesson from this experience that shaped his character for the rest of his life. It acted to cement his convictions and dedication to the Lord and His work. Many more times throughout his life, Joseph would be confronted with pressure from those whom he loved and respected. The tangible memory of the result from his decision of fearing man more than God would be forever etched in his mind.

Peer pressure is a real problem for all of us. It is one that confronts each of us almost daily. What should we wear, what to watch on TV, what music we listen to...etc...etc... Many of our decisions are made because of the influence of others in our life. It takes strength and courage to take a stand and live as the Lord would have us live. It take courage to "fear God more than man." The promise that the Lord gives to all of us when confronted by peer pressure is both comforting and supportive.

Doctrine and Covenants Section 3

7 For, behold, you should not have feared man more than God. Although men set at naught the counsels of God, and despise his words—

8 Yet you should have been faithful; and he would have extended his arm and supported you against all the fiery darts of the adversary; and he would have been with you in every time of trouble.

PRINCIPLE: If we fear God more than man, God will support us in every situation. Again, it is a restatement of that overarching promise of the Abrahamic Covenant. “I will be your God, you will be my people. Walk with me.”

Do you think we ever become immune to peer pressure? If so, how?


Robbie said...

Alright, so I read the post.... nice work! After reading and then thinking about the question, I found that it goes a little deeper than just peer pressure. This stems from the examples you mentioned (What should we wear, what to watch on TV, what music we listen to...etc) To me, that has more to do with social norms, or just society in general.... it's what we're exposed to and decide to absorb.Even though, the things we choose to do can affect our decision, They don't seem directly connected to our salvation. just like other people help to mold who we are..... no one is 100% original. This question runs deep! I have a lot more to say, but I'd have to gather my thoughts because I'm starting to get lost in it : )

In The Doghouse said...

I am confused at the difference between "social norms" and peer pressure. Don't you think that some of the things we choose can be connected to our exaltation? I realize salvation is not gift, but what about our standing before God and the things we choose?

Perhaps our measuring stick should be more of God's ways than mans?

Something Marvellous said...

I think a lot of people automatically want to fit in and really care about what other people's opinions about them are. Sometimes the fear of someone's poor opinion can be stronger than the fear of God for a moment in time. At least that is how I have felt at times.
Do we ever overcome this? I definitely think so, maybe it has been that my confidence has come with age, but I know certain people have opinions about me that I can't change. And I'm confident enough to be assertive in what I believe in, and I think most people respect you if you are just assertive with your opinions.

In The Doghouse said...

Something Marvellous,
Self confidence can come with age, that is a very true statement, but it doesn't always.
I think worth comes more from understanding who you are. (Which hopefully increases as you get older simply from the fact you have more time to learn!) With that understanding comes the ability to make choices accordingly. I believe it is then that peer pressure will not be a factor, but your love of your Father will!
I am hoping that is the case anyway! lol

Michaela Stephens said...

Here's a verse in the scriptures that can put negative peer pressure into a different perspective:

"And he was determined, because of the greatness of the number of his people, to overpower the Nephites and to bring them into bondage." (Alma 48:4)

This verse is talking about Amalickiah, but we can also see that it might well be Satan today. Satan wants to use the large numbers of people who follow him (whether following unknowingly or intentionally) to overpower us and bring us into captivity, whether to silence us or make us slaves to sin.

Something Marvelous said: "Sometimes the fear of someone's poor opinion can be stronger than the fear of God for a moment in time."

If we think God is absent from us, it is easy to care more about the opinion of the person who is in our face, but if we remember that we can have the Spirit to be with us always and remember that the Holy Ghost is a member of the Godhead, that can give us strength. You've got the best backup if you have a member of the Godhead to be with you.