Strange Roads

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(This is an excerpt from the chapter "It May Be Spacious, but It Ain't That Great" in the book Bad Guys of the Book of Mormon.)

Next in Lehi’s vision are the “strange roads” (1 Nephi 8:32). These roads are traveled by people who feel that being different is what is most important. Everything they do is in the extreme: how they dress, the way they style their hair, the way they talk, the way they act, the types of entertainment they enjoy. They define themselves by how unusual they are. To them, the “weird” people are those who conform to the Lord’s standards. They claim that if you belong to the Church, you’re nothing more than a mindless sheep.

Recently, there was a large parade held in the city where I live. Hundreds of people participated, and hundreds more lined the streets in support. As I watched on the news that night, it looked to me that the parade route had traveled on some pretty strange roads indeed. There was loud music, extreme clothing (or an extreme lack of clothing, in some cases!), offensive and obscene signs and slogans—some directed at the Church and its doctrines—and enough “rude” dancing to make Laman and Lemuel blush!

One parade attendee sported multicolored, spiky hair, had covered his entire body with silver sparkle paint, and looked like he was wearing only a Speedo. He looked about as different and strange as was possible. He told the news reporter interviewing him that what he liked best about the parade was that it was a chance to be with people who, as he put it, “share the same values, ideas, beliefs, and morals as I do.”

It doesn’t seem to occur to the “Strange Roadies” that choosing to be obedient to God doesn’t mean that you stop being an individual. Following the standards the Lord has set does not make you a “mindless sheep,” especially not when Jesus is the Good Shepherd (see John 10:11; D&C 50:44). In fact, I would submit that those who choose to follow Christ have a better sense of their own identities than anyone else. They know who they are because they know whose they are.

Being unified with God and each other will bring us the most happiness of all. President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “We must be united. An army that is disorganized will not be victorious. It is imperative that we close ranks, that we march together as one. We cannot have division among us and expect victory. We cannot have disloyalty and expect unity. We cannot be unclean and expect the help of the Almighty.”

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