Gospel Principles is the basic manual of the LDS Church. It is the one new members study. Chapter 31 is about honesty. If you’re witnessing to a Mormon, it might be wise to print out copies of the entire lesson. You can download that here.
This chapter gives you numerous opportunities to show the impossible standards Mormonism sets. We can use these quotes to show them:
- How far short they fall of perfection, and
- How Mormonism puts all the emphasis on their achieving complete honesty and doesn’t even mention any contribution from Jesus.
The second paragraph of the lesson quotes Brigham Young:
Complete honesty is necessary for our salvation. President Brigham Young said: ‘If we accept salvation on the terms it is offered to us, we have got to be honest in every thought, in our reflections, in our meditations, in our private circles, in our deals, in our declarations, and in every act of our lives’
(Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young , 293) (Gospel Principles, p. 179).
The rest of the lesson gives examples of complete honesty. Here are a couple of excerpts:
We can also intentionally deceive others by a gesture or a look, by silence, or by telling only part of the truth. Whenever we lead people in any way to believe something that is not true, we are not being honest.
Copying music, movies, pictures, or written text without the permission of the copyright owners is dishonest and is a form of theft. Accepting more change or goods than one should is dishonest. Taking more than our share of anything is stealing.
These excerpts demonstrate how thorough this lesson is in its description of dishonesty. Take each phrase from the quote from Brigham Young and discuss it with the missionaries. Do the same with the other two quotes. Repeatedly ask them if they are doing all these things perfectly – are they completely honest?
After discussing all this, go back to the first sentence: “Complete honesty is necessary for our salvation.” Tell them that it surely sounds like that “to be saved,” a person must be completely honest. See how they respond.
Then go to the last section of the lesson. It is titled, “We Can Be Completely Honest”. Note the possibility it states. It says that completely honesty is achievable. Here are some excerpts:
To become completely honest, we must look carefully at our lives. If there are ways in which we are being even the least bit dishonest, we should repent of them immediately.
When we are completely honest, we cannot be corrupted. We are true to every trust, duty, agreement, or covenant, even if it costs us money, friends, or our lives. Then we can face the Lord, ourselves, and others without shame.
In the entire lesson, Jesus is never mentioned! They have to achieve it all themselves. There is no grace after all we can do.
This is the point you want to stress. Depending on the reactions of the missionaries, you can decide if you finish up by contrasting this with Christianity’s message. Tell them how a lesson on honesty would be taught in your church. Yes, we would also talk about how we often fail to be honest. But then, instead of pointing people to themselves, we would point them to Jesus. We would take them by the hand and show them how Jesus was completely honest for them. We would take them to his cross and show them all their sins, including their dishonesty, being completely paid for – and forgotten! (“Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” Hebrews 10:17).
Neither do Christian churches do this once in a while. It is their main message; it is their beating heart. Day after day, week after week, year after year, they incessantly point people to Jesus’ perfect work for them.