Moderation – The Devil that Dabbles

By Chris Layton

November 20, 2019

“…and the sons of men in those days took from the cattle of the earth, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and taught the mixture of animals of one species with the other, in order therewith to provoke the Lord; and God saw the whole earth and it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted its ways upon earth, all men and all animals.” (Jasher 4:18)

I’ve been told that it’s a bad thing to be an extremist or a radical or even a perfectionist that we need to have “moderation in all things” so is that the truth we need to live by? Do we need to have a little bit of this and a little bit of that all mixed in to be better balanced as a “whole person?” Certainly we’re taught this when we go for higher education that we’ve got to take relevant and irrelevant classes in our pursuit of our vocational preparations to be a more well rounded student. Do we take this same approach in all aspects of our lives to be moderate in all things? Would you accept a marriage counselor’s advice to take your marriage vows in moderation? Certainly no rational person would, assuming they wanted their marriage to last. How about religion? Should we take religion in moderation with a “grain of salt” as with everything else?

There’s a word for that: Syncretism (syn·cre·tism)

Dictionary result for syncretism:

/ˈsiNGkrəˌtizəm/nounnoun: syncretism

  1. 1. the amalgamation or attempted amalgamation of different religions, cultures, or schools of thought.”interfaith dialogue can easily slip into syncretism”

I’m pretty sure God calls this approach “lukewarm” meaning that it is not quite hot, but not quite cold either. It’s somewhere in the middle. It’s a compromise. It’s supposed to the safest and most recommended for our comfort. But the way we see things is often quite different than the way God sees things.

There are plenty of examples of men and women who excelled in history but I can’t really label people like George Patton, Winston Churchill or most notably Jesus Christ as moderates. Perhaps it’s the glass that I see through that needs to be polished so that I can see these things better.

I can go to the scriptures for a better perspective:

“…Be ye perfect”

In the King James version of Matthew 5:48 we read:

“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect”

However Joseph’s translated version amplifies this verse to read as follows:

“Ye are therefore commanded to be perfect, even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect” (JST Matthew 5:50)

This is a commandment in equal authority to the ten commandments such as “thou shalt not bear false witness.”

Elder Jeffrey R Holland of the LDS church said the following in an October 2017 address entitled “Be Ye Therefore Perfect- Eventually”

“If we persevere, then somewhere in eternity our refinement will be finished and complete”

Thinking that way definitely seems to take the pressure off of feeling the need to repent now or face the eternal consequences of your actions. When Jesus encountered the woman caught in adultery, he simply told her to stop sinning. To the man who Jesus told to rise up and walk the scriptures record:

“Afterward, Jesus found the man at the temple and said to him, “See, you have been made well. Stop sinning, or something worse may happen to you.”
(John 5:14)

Who should we believe? Man or God? That’s the frailty of humanity and personal opinions. They’re always subject to change but with God, His word is sure and we can rely on Him in every case.

It’s really not a matter of being extreme that keeps us on that narrow path which leads to God, but rather its exercising judgment. Oftentimes seemingly religious men in high places do give bad advice which isn’t scriptural, but rather their own opinion. The burden is on each of us to know the word of God. It’s our eternal life that’s at stake.