Abominations and Wickedness

In 1 Nephi, Chapter 1, Nephi makes reference to the wickedness and abominations of the people of Jerusalem. What, exactly, was the composition of the activities defined as such? I could assume certain things, but that would be an assumption based upon my experience and frame of reference. What were the abominations and wickedness that Nephi was talking about?

Jeremiah, a contemporary, mentions people worshipping the works of their own hands and following after other gods, likening such to committing adultery. But is that all?

Chapter 5 of Jeremiah indicates a social aspect to the abandonment of worshipping God: As a cage is full of birds, so are their houses full of deceit: therefore they are become great and waxen rich. They are waxen fat, they shine: yea, they overpass the deeds of the wicked: they judge not the cause, the cause of the fatherless, yet they prosper; and the right of the needy do they not judge. Shall I not visit for these things? saith the Lord: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?

It’s clear: neglect of the poor and increasing social inequality is linked with abandoning worship of the one true God. In Chapter 7 of Jeremiah, the prophet declares that the people are not saved just because they attend temple services: the wrong that they do remains a wrong. When the uncharitable enter the temple, it is “a den of robbers.”

That there is child sacrifice associated with abandoning God makes it all the worse – but that goes along with the lack of charity and care for the poor. Jeremiah 9 adds lying to the list of abominations – not just a lie here or there, but constant lying to support and justify the actions of the wicked. Jeremiah 10 refers to luxury items and fine clothing as the trappings of the wicked. Jeremiah 17 again refers to those who pursue wealth as those who depart from God. Jeremiah 22 expands on that idea, condemning those who do not pay their workers properly, but hoard their wealth rather than pay justly for the labor they employ.

Note that this is not saying that the rich are not paying the going rate for labor – they very well may be doing so, but that rate itself may be unjust recompense for the labor rendered. Simply paying a wage does not mean that one is not exploiting one’s workers. Again, it is in being unjust and covetous of wealth that one serves a different god, a false god – this is what is meant by abominations and wickedness.

In later chapters of the Book of Mormon, the righteous are counseled to avoid wearing fine apparel or amassing wealth – the wicked, likewise, are condemned for it. I would say that the same rules would apply for people of this day, and that the people who promote the benefits of the wealthy at the expense of the poor have gone on to worship mammon and have forsaken God. There is nothing sacred or holy about an economic system that creates opportunities for the wealthy to exploit their fellow human brothers and sisters. It is, in fact, an abomination and a great wickedness.

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