Ask Sister Christensen: How do I Avoid the Appearance of Evil?

Sister Christensen,

This week I’ve been reading a lot about the modesty debate within our faith and how outward appearances can vastly effect the decisions of others, especially in regards to the depravity of outright bra-lessness and sexy pouting. This got me to thinking how I could be disregarding (perhaps inadvertently) the encouragement to “avoid the appearance of evil.” Do you have any counsel on how to accomplish this?

Sincerely,
Outwardly Righteous

 

Dear Outwardly Righteous,

What a great question! We all want to be a beacon on a hill, and I think avoiding the appearance of evil is a great first step towards actually avoiding evil. Here are six ways to avoid the appearance of evil:

  1. When drinking coke or other caffeinated beverages, take care to cover your sin by placing the drink inside a paper bag.
  2. Sometimes the odd purchase needs to be made on Sunday, like those awesome bratwursts for the football game that evening. Ask that hopeless non-member boy down the street (God bless him) to run to the store for you instead.
  3. So you got that tattoo in college. What a sin to see! Slap on a nicotine patch to cover that bad boy up. Everyone loves a good “recovering addict” story during testimony meeting. Plus you’ll have a little extra (nicotine-induced) stimulation to ease you into a convincing cry.
  4. If you’ve been hanging out with non-members lately some may be (rightfully) concerned that you are not as righteous as you once were. Increase your outward righteousness by throwing out some scriptural language. For example, try this for a more inspired prayer during sacrament meeting: “O God, we thank thee; and we also thank thee that thou hast elected us, that we may not be led away after the foolish traditions of the world. For what a terrible life they must live outside the Church.”
  5. Should you find yourself hanging out alone with a member of the opposite sex, take off your wedding ring! Of course, if they are also married there’s no need.
  6. Last but not least, always remember to agree with other members of the Church! No one looks more righteous to a friend than when validating their point of view. And we all want to avoid contention, or at least, the appearance of contention.

With that note, brother, make sure everyone knows evil is far from you—beyond a shadow of a doubt. If a tree is righteous in the middle of the forest and no one sees it, is it really being righteous?

Sincerely,
Sister Christensen

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  • Student of Chaos, I mean, Humanity

    Haha, these are getting a little blunter…or more blunt–whatever, but I loved the righteous-tree, warped metaphor. Very clever 🙂

  • osrevad

    I’m glad more people are beginning to understand that this principle is completely backwards. The scripture is not saying “avoid appearing evil” but rather “when evil appears, avoid it.” When we worry about outward appearances, we become no better than those who do alms, fast, or pray in public to get glory of men.

    We let/allow our light shine. While we shouldn’t hide it, we also can’t force it to shine.

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