Context and General Information
- Lehi, shortly before his death, is speaking to his son Jacob.
- Because of Christ’s intercession for all, we can come to God to stand before Him and be judged according to the truth and holiness which is in Him.
- We will receive according to the law – punishment or happiness – all to answer the end of the Atonement…(Remember, happiness is only possible because of the Atonement. Otherwise, we we all receive punishment.)
- There is an opposition in all things, and there must be.
- Without opposition: no righteousness, no wickedness, no holiness, no misery, no good, no bad. All things would be compound in one, and the body would be as if it were dead – having neither life nor death, no corruption nor incorruption, no happiness nor misery, no sense nor insensibility.
- In other words, we would have been created for nothing. There would be no purpose in the end of our creations.
- No opposition would destroy the wisdom of God and His eternal purpose, power, mercy, and justice.
- No opposition…nothing.
Imagine No Opposition
Whenever I really study and think about these verses, I also think of the song “Imagine,” by John Lennon. I really don’t like that song.
I know, I know. It’s supposedly a song about peace and love, but the thing is, it completely ignores reality and the universal laws that govern this earth. Simply put, there is opposition in all things. And that is actually a good thing.
First of all, maybe it is good to think about the fact that opposition is a pretty universal fact – not only spiritually, but temporally.
Think of Isaac Newton’s laws of motion. The third law states, “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
In the natural world, we have high tide and low tide. We have day and night. We have summer and winter. We have spring and fall. We have sleep and awake. We have life and death. I’m sure that we could think of more examples of opposition in the world around us.
What I love about looking at these laws of opposition, is that we can do so without any attachments. It is easy to see why both are good for us. Imagine the health of the ocean and coastal regions if it was always high tide. Imagine the health of our entire planet if it was always day and never night. On a more personal level, if we were always awake and never slept, then we’d experience deleterious effects within just a few days.
We need opposition in this world. Opposition is what keeps this world alive and functioning well.
“For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.” – 2 Nephi 2:11
Just as we need both high and low tide, night and day, inhaling and exhaling…we need opposition in more abstract ways. Without the possibility for wickedness there is no possibility for righteousness. Without misery, no holiness. Without bad, no good. Without death, no life. Without corruption, no incorruption. Without misery, no happiness. Without insensibility, no sensibility.
It is easy to love the idea of a life without misery, but is that what we really want? Or when we say we don’t want misery, do we mean that we want happiness. Do we really want an indifferent, robotic life? Or do we want the messiness that comes with beauty and joy?
And remember, it is impossible to separate the two.
Think of a coin – on the coin, we have a heads and a tails. You cannot pick up “heads” without also picking up tails. They are inseparably connected. Without tails, there would be no heads!
Or a magnet. It will always have both a north and a south pole. You can’t pick up a magnet and choose only to have the north pole. You will have the south pole of the magnet as well.
So – think of these abstract concepts as being the ends of a stick. On one end is misery, the other is joy. If you want to pick up that joy stick (haha! joystick!), you will also be picking up misery. They are connected and cannot be separated.
Now, the purpose of this post isn’t to be frustrated or depressed about the reality of opposition. Instead, understanding this will liberate us! Think – it is only through understanding the law of gravity and applying its laws that we have been able to fly. In much the same way, when we learn to understand the laws of God and this universe, then we can apply them to our own lives in a way that is beneficial.
So – let’s take an example. Say you are being “beat” with this misery stick. When we understand that misery and joy are connected, we will realize that on the other end of the misery stick is joy! Through this understanding, we will be able to see clearly enough to make the choices that will allow us to be blessed with joy rather than beat with misery.
Or, another example. When every “coin” we find in our lives is coming up tails, and we are feeling like a loser, instead of being frustrated we can remember that heads and tails are connected. We can use this knowledge to flip the coin!
As we begin to understand and accept opposition in all things, we will then understand what Lehi taught—that opposition is necessary in order for God to fulfill His eternal purposes.
When we understand the need for opposition, we won’t “imagine no heaven, no hell, nothing to live for, nothing to die for.” We will realize that imagining no opposition only yields nothing. Nothing bad means there is nothing good. No beauty. No life. No peace. No growth. No joy.
I can’t speak for John Lennon, but I would guess that he didn’t really want to sacrifice the beauty, life, growth, and joy of this world only to eliminate the forces that oppose each good thing. Without the valleys and steep climbs, there are no mountain tops. Is that what we would really want to give up???
Of course not.
Lehi further teaches:
“And if ye shall say there is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away.” – 2 Nephi 2:13
Because of the law and because of opposition in all things, we can take comfort and joy! There is purpose to our lives. There is a God. He created this earth. He created each of us. And He is our loving Father in Heaven. He has taught us His law, so that we don’t hurt ourselves unnecessarily. Sure, we may stumble and fall from time to time, but through His Atonement, He picks us back up.
Because there is opposition in all things, the world is available to us. And because of our agency, we can choose which end of the magnet to focus on. We can choose to flip our coins. We can choose to see the joy in painful experiences. We can use our agency to have more life, happiness, and peace in our lives.
Imagine no opposition? No thanks.