Personal Opinions

Viral Religion

Author’s Note: The views expressed in this post are my responsibility and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

When I started this blog, I hesitated to share my religious views. Even now I only do so when the spiritual push is too strong for me to write anything else. My writing time begins with prayer and I only share what I feel the Lord wants me to share, but I still want it be clear that the words could be as imperfect as I am. Over the years, I’ve noticed how popular blog posts on religion can become. It makes me nervous. I often worry that the ideas of bloggers are given more weight than the teachings of prophets or the word of God. These posts could be based completely in truth, but do we take the time to find that out for ourselves? I once had a religion teacher say that we can make ourselves feel good about anything. We probably hesitate to share a post that points out what we aren’t doing or an area where we need to improve. We would much rather share something that makes us feel good about ourselves. I am guilty as charged myself.

Recently, while reading the book of Acts, I realized why viral posts trouble me. The people of Athens were described as spending “their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing” (Acts 17:21). These ideas that we love so much and share with all of our friends, do we still think of them a month later? A week later? Or even the next day? Or do they make us feel good for a little while, then sit forgotten in our newsfeeds?

It is good for us to share the truths that we know. In fact, the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints often recommend that we use social media for that purpose. (For example, President Dallin H. Oaks in October 2016 and Elder Randall L. Ridd in April 2014). The truths that we share should be backed up by the words of scripture and modern-day prophets. I hope that the truths that we believe are the consistent, steady truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ and not the viral opinions of men (see Ephesians 4:14-15).

Does this mean you shouldn’t share what you read? No. When I find something I know to be true, I want others to read it, too. But I do my best to put it to the test. I think about scriptures or prophetic teachings that support it. I even pray about it. If it’s good, it will point me to Christ (see Moroni 7:16).

In my life, one thing I have learned is that I can recognize the voice of the Spirit in my head and heart because it is a voice very much unlike my own. It’s something that’s difficult to describe. Frankly, I don’t really need to. We all need to learn it for ourselves. The Holy Ghost will tell you if what you read is true. He is a more accurate guide than an idea’s viral status. There are many who say that religion is a foolish thing and that those who believe in God are misguided. But no one can tell me what I have or have not experienced because they are not me. From everything I have learned, I know that it is possible for everyone to learn to hear the voice of God. Try it for yourself. When you find it, listen.

Published by Vibeke Hiatt

I am a wife, mother, and lifelong writer.

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