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Marcia Hammond Ogden
Thursday, September 05 2013

Are You Valiant or Merely Honorable?

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In my scripture study and as a member of the Church for many years, I have noticed a marked difference between valiant service and honorable service among the members. I have come to realize that the distinction between the two is an important and crucial one for the eternities.       

In speaking of those who will occupy the terrestrial kingdom, the Lord said:

These are they who are honorable men of the earth, who were blinded by the craftiness of men.

These are they who receive of his glory, but not of his fulness.

These are they who receive of the presence of the Son, but not of the fulness of the Father.

Wherefore, they are bodies terrestrial, and not bodies celestial, and differ in glory as the moon differs from the sun.

These are they who are not valiant in the testimony of Jesus; wherefore, they obtain not the crown over the kingdom of our God” (D&C 76:75-79).       

These verses include members of the Church who had a testimony of Jesus given to them by the Holy Ghost. President Benson said, “Not to be valiant in one’s testimony is a tragedy of eternal consequence. These are members who know that this latter-day work is true but who fail to endure to the end. Some may even hold temple recommends, but they do not magnify their callings in the Church. Without valor, they do not take an affirmative stand for the kingdom of God. Some seek the praise, adulation, and honors of men; others attempt to conceal their sins; and a few criticize those who preside over them” (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, Bookcraft, 1988, 392-393).       

The parable of the ten virgins found in Matthew 25 also refers to the Latter-day Saints. Half of the membership of the Church will not be prepared when they meet the Savior. All ten of the virgins had their lamp of testimony, but only five had the oil of conversion acquired through daily valiant faith and obedience. Half of the members of the Church will not have their lamps filled with the oil of faith and obedience. Half will not have the power to abide His presence.       

Matthew 7:22-23 says, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? [and been stake presidents, bishops, Relief Society presidents, teachers, etc.] and in thy name done many wonderful works?” Yet to all such He will say, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” The Prophet Joseph Smith changed that to read, “Ye never knew me; depart from me ye that work iniquity” (Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 7:33).       

President John Taylor in commenting on this declaration from the Lord said, “You say that means the outsiders? No, it does not. Do they do many wonderful works in the name of Jesus? No; . . . This means you, Latter-day Saints, who heal the sick, cast out devils [and take casseroles, do visiting or home teaching, or go on missions] and do many wonderful things in the name of Jesus. And yet how many we see among this people of this class, that become careless, and treat lightly the ordinances of God’s house and the Priesthood of the Son of God” (Salt Lake Stake Conference, January 6, 1879, as cited in The Doctrine and Covenants, by Hyrum M. Smith and Janne M. Sjodahl, Revised Edition, Deseret Book, 1978, 462).       

Religion Lived as a Tradition

For many years, our family lived in the Middle East, at the heart of three of the world’s great religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. During that time, we began to realize that a religion can be lived as a tradition rather than a vibrant faith. Millions are born to a religious way of life that means little more to them than a social culture.       

We began to see how our own religion could also be lived as a tradition, a cultural experience rather than a deeply religious and faithful one. We began to recognize the difference between traditional, honorable service in the Church, and faithful, valiant service.       

The distinguishing characteristic between the two seems to lie in a person’s motives and desires. Our reasons for being members of this Church mark us as valiant or honorable.

Why do we do what we do in the Church? Do we have a “club” mentality? Do we belong because this is a great family Church? Do we admire it for its remarkable health laws? Do we carry out our callings to show our loyalty, or for a perfect record? Do we go on missions because it is the tradition?       

Maybe the commonly-pronounced testimonial, “I know that this Church is true,” is not such a significant statement. Even the devils can say that, as well as the original Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon who never denied their testimonies, yet they spent much of the latter part of their lives outside the Church. Perhaps knowing, loving, and appreciating all the programs of the Church is not so essential to our salvation. Why? Because membership and “activity” in the Church itself does not sanctify, redeem, or save anyone. Mosiah 3:17 tells us that there is only one name under heaven whereby salvation can come to the children of men, and that is the name of Jesus Christ.       

Cain, in the family of Adam and Eve, was an “active” member of the Church. He made sacrifices in keeping with the traditions of the time. His mistake was that he did not bring the required sacrifice; he did not sacrifice out of a love for the Savior. He was just fulfilling his dutiful tradition. He had no faith that giving up something would lead to greater knowledge of the Savior. Cain did not care about the Savior.       

At the core of all we do within this Church, must be a great desire to gain knowledge about the Savior, to want to be like He is, and to have His transforming power in our lives. In the absence of such love, we are merely following traditions, perhaps too secure in our “activity” in the Church.       

This is not to say that the Church isn’t necessary.


  1. Thank you for helping me to better understand some things that I have had on my "shelf" for quite a while. I put things on my "shelf", when I don't get an answer, or not a full answer to questions and queries right away. This one is about "traditional" vs. "faithful" people of different religions, or no religion at all, including ours. "Honorable - valiant" is a great help for me. In understanding, it's easier for me to follow through myself, and probably quote you in my Church talk towards the end of the year:-) Regina Faresin in Catholic - communist - __ - Italy
  2. Very good. Thank you.
  3. Wonderful article! Thank you!
  4. This is a distinction that I had never considered before in this way. Well conceived and well written. Food for much thought.
  5. Thank you for writing this. It really helps to explain that fine line that can make the difference between honourable and valiant and how to assess ourselves as to where we truly stand.
  6. Excellent article, thank you for sharing. One thing we must be so very careful to remember is that Father in Heaven is such a merciful and forgiving God; He is in fact perfectly forgiving and perfectly merciful. He always seeks for ways to bless us and support us in our efforts. It becomes terribly counterproductive when we lose hope because we are indeed not "perfect" in our efforts to be Valiant, and we quit trying because we feel we will just never measure up. Our best effort is acceptable to our Father in Heaven even if it is no where near the best effort of our Bishop or our Stake President, or even our dear Prophet. Our best effort qualifies us for the Atonement of the Savior regardless of the distance that must be made up, for each of us as individuals. I must admit that there have been times in my own life when being honorable was my absolute best effort. And I know that effort was recognized and accepted by the Lord. But as Pres Hinkley used to say, don't just do your best; do your very best! Your article reminds us to do our very best, and that is the whole basis of the redeeming message of the Gospel and the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Thanks for your insight!!
  7. The article makes some very important points. From my perspective, I think valiance means that the principle (and commandment) of love of God and neighbor animate our reading, understanding, and application of principles taught in the scriptures and in the Church (including conference). The parable of the ten virgins, discussed in the article, is found in Matthew 25. At the end of that chapter is found what I believe the "prepared" ones had done (those to be found on the right hand of God)--"For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me." Meaning as we do those things for others, we are doing them for God and we are prepared to meet God. I don't think I differ from the overall thrust of the article--in terms of motivations for doing what is right. Indeed, the Apostle Paul teaches that without charity (the pure love of Christ) none of our otherwise obedient actions accomplish much good. 1 Corinthians 13. Thus, we should do those righteous things counseled in the scriptures and in the Church not just because they are expected of us culturally, but we should do them motivated by love (which, after all, is the greatest and most important of all the commandments).
  8. From the views presented in this article I don't know anyone who is valiant. Perhaps obedience is not the goal but just a natural consequence of who we are becoming on the inside. As the Holy Ghost grows us up in the process of sanctification at some point in the future we may become holy. The grace of Christ can change us over time but the end result is not defined today because all of us are unworthy (Alma 38:14). To me the view presented generates little more than guilt and fear. Guilt that we are not living up to our potential and fear that we will not obtain celestial glory. I prefer Brad Wilcox and "Christ continuous Atonement". Stephen Robinson, "Believing Christ and Following Christ". -Ned Scarisbrick, Boise Idaho
  9. This article reminded me of the striking way Elder Maxwell once put it: "It is not what they have done but what they have left undone that is amiss. For example, if valiant, they could touch others deeply instead of merely being remembered pleasantly." (Nov. 1995 Ensign)
  10. Sometimes small rules have to be broken in order to serve the larger, more important law of service and sacrifice. Thank god that love is not as two- dimentional as this article.
  11. After reading this I am left with the feeling that I am totally inadequate to do what I need to do and that an eternity of being alone seems to be my future.
  12. I think the article is excellent. As I was reading this, a thought came to mind on something I need to work on (even repent of even though it's not a big sin). We all fall short of kingdom of God, but that's why we need the Savior and need to always be repenting and trying harder to give our best. If we are feeling guilty because there is something that we need to change, then let's work on it and change it instead of making up excuses that it's okay to make some mistakes. To Tasha: in a talk by Elder Oaks, he asked what takes precedence... the love that God has for us? or the laws of God. And the answer was, the laws of God. God is bound by the laws. But because He loves us, He sent us His Son, Jesus Christ, that through his Atonement we can repent of our sins and wrongdoings (or bad feelings towards others, or whatever) and be made whole. His Atonement makes it possible to make those necessary changes in our lives. Through Christ is all possible!!! To John Prather: You need to read that book by Stephen Robinson: "Believing Christ".

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