Question: Is there a contradiction between the Old Testament concept of "cursing" enemies and Latter-day Saint scriptures stating that we should "bless" our enemies?

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Question: Is there a contradiction between the Old Testament concept of "cursing" enemies and Latter-day Saint scriptures stating that we should "bless" our enemies?

Some Christians argue that restoration scriptures or remarks by Church leaders are inconsistent with the Christian command to "bless, not curse"

Some Christians claim that Joseph Smith focused on Old Testament ideas and concepts, such as the "cursing of enemies." They appeal to New Testament prohibitions of cursing enemies (e.g., Romans 12:14, and then argue that restoration scriptures or remarks by Church leaders are inconsistent with the Christian command to "bless, not curse." However, if one wishes to condemn anyone who calls God's judgment down on the wicked, they will also condemn every prophet in the Old and New Testament, and a large proportion of the Christian preachers, missionaries, and ministers throughout history.

Such a stance is hypocritical—they condemn Heber J. Grant, George Albert Smith, Joseph Smith, and others not because they pray that God's judgment will come upon the wicked and vindicate the righteous, and not because they (the critics) believe such actions to be always and everywhere wrong. They condemn LDS prophets because have decided already that these men are neither righteous nor prophets.

Jesus cursed a fig tree that had leaves but no fruit

The New Testament command not to curse has some marked exceptions. For example, Jesus cursed a fig tree that had leaves (implying that its fruit would be present, since figs appear before the leaves) but no fruit.

Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered. And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away. And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away! (Matthew 21:18-20)

Jesus was pronouncing a curse, then, on hypocrites—those who "claim" to have worthy characteristics, but this is only a facade.

Peter described a sinful group whom he declared to be "cursed"

14 Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children. (2 Peter 2:14)

Paul too was emphatic that false teachers were "accursed"

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8-9)

Paul's use of the word "anathema" means "a person or thing accursed or consigned to damnation or destruction"

Paul likewise told the Corinthians:

22 If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema (1 Corinthians 16:22).

Anathema means "a person or thing accursed or consigned to damnation or destruction," "any imprecation of divine punishment," or "a curse; execration."[1] (The Greek word is "anathema" (Ανάθεμα)—"bind under a great curse.")[2]

The Doctrine and Covenants contains a cursing—but, significantly, the command comes from God

The critics are, to be sure, not willing to grant that the Doctrine and Covenants is divine scripture. They must, however, concede that Joseph and other members believed they were obeying God's command to curse; they did not take that right upon themselves:

And inasmuch as mine enemies come against you to drive you from my goodly land, which I have consecrated to be the land of Zion, even from your own lands after these testimonies, which ye have brought before me against them, ye shall curse them; And whomsoever ye curse, I will curse, and ye shall avenge me of mine enemies (DC 103:24-25).

Significantly, this instruction was given after mobs drove the Saints from their homes and lands in Missouri with scenes of arson, rape, and murder. Ostensibly committed to justice, religious freedom, and the rule of law, their enemies demonstrated that they had only the hypocrisy of fig leaves—but no fruit.

Notes

  1. Dictionary.com Unabridged, based on the Random House Dictionary (Random House, Inc. 2009), s.v. "anathema."
  2. Strong's number G331.