Selected Teachings on
Wicked People Who Seem Happy

"Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? wherefore are all they happy that deal very treacherously?" (Jeremiah 12:1)

"And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered." (Malachi 3:15)

Thomas S. Monson (President)

The tenor of our times is permissiveness. Magazines and television shows portray the stars of the movie screen, the heroes of the athletic field—those whom many young people long to emulate—as disregarding the laws of God and flaunting sinful practices, seemingly with no ill effect. Don’t you believe it! There is a time of reckoning—even a balancing of the ledger. Every Cinderella has her midnight—if not in this life, then in the next. Judgment Day will come for all. Are you prepared? Are you pleased with your own performance? ("Believe, Obey, Endure," Ensign, May 2012)

It may appear to you at times that those out in the world are having much more fun than you are. Some of you may feel restricted by the code of conduct to which we in the Church adhere. My brothers and sisters, I declare to you, however, that there is nothing which can bring more joy into our lives or more peace to our souls than the Spirit which can come to us as we follow the Savior and keep the commandments. That Spirit cannot be present at the kinds of activities in which so much of the world participates. ("Stand in Holy Places," Ensign, Nov. 2011)

Neal A. Maxwell (Quorum of the Twelve)

I plead with you, please do not mistake the laughter of the world for genuine happiness. The laughter of the world is merely garrulous guilt trying to reassure itself. It is the sound of selfishness emanating from the cul-de-sac of terrible loneliness. Don’t mistake it for something else. ("The Education of Our Desires," University of Utah Institute of Religion Devotional, 5 January 1983)

Learn to distinguish between joy and pleasure. For instance, do not be mislead by the laughter of the world; it is merely a lonely crowd trying to reassure itself. (New Era, Jan 1985, 4)

Do not look too deeply into the eyes of the pleasure-seekers about you, for if you do, you will see a certain sadness in sensuality, and you will hear artificiality in the laughter of licentiousness.

Do not look too deeply, either, into the motives of those who deny God, for you may notice their doubts of doubt. (Ensign, Nov 1974, p.12)

[Some] leave the Church, but they cannot leave the Church alone. Like the throng on the ramparts of the “great and spacious building,” they are intensely and busily preoccupied, pointing fingers of scorn at the steadfast iron-rodders (1 Ne. 8:26–28, 33). Considering their ceaseless preoccupation, one wonders, Is there no diversionary activity available to them, especially in such a large building—like a bowling alley? Perhaps in their mockings and beneath the stir are repressed doubts of their doubts. (Ensign, May 1996, 68)

To go on clinging to the iron rod in spite of the mockery and scorn that flow at us from the multitudes in that great and spacious building seen by Father Lehi, which is the “pride of the world” (1 Ne. 11:36)—is to disregard the shame of the world. Parenthetically, why, really why, do the disbelievers who line that spacious building watch so intently what the believers are doing? (See 1 Ne. 8:33.) Surely there must be other things for the scorners to do. Unless deep within their seeming disinterest.… Unless.…  (Ensign, Feb 1979, 69–73)

Richard G. Scott (Quorum of the Twelve)

Have you noticed how Satan works to capture the mind and emotions with flashing images, blaring music, and the stimulation of every physical sense to excess? He diligently strives to fill life with action, entertainment, and stimulation so that one cannot ponder the consequences of his tempting invitations. Think of it. Some are tempted to violate the most basic commandments of God because of seductive actions portrayed as acceptable. They are made to seem attractive, even desirable. There seems to be no serious consequence, rather apparent lasting joy and happiness. But recognize that those performances are controlled by scripts and actors. The outcome of decisions made is likewise manipulated to be whatever the producer wants.

Life is not that way. Yes, moral agency allows you to choose what you will, but you cannot control the outcome of those choices. Unlike the false creations of man, our Father in Heaven determines the consequences of your choices. Obedience will yield happiness, while violation of His commandments will not.

Consider the lives of those who create what for some are captivating images of life. They generally turn to the most vicious of the destructive influences they depict so appealingly in the media. They may be wealthy, but they are miserable and without conscience. Truly the statement of Alma, an inspired prophet and compassionate father, is borne out in their lives: "wickedness never was happiness" (Alma 41:10).

If you are ever tempted to experiment with the alluring offerings of Lucifer, first calmly analyze the inevitable consequences of such choices, and your life will not be shattered. You cannot ever sample those things that are forbidden of God as destructive of happiness and corrosive to spiritual guidance without tragic results. (Ensign, May 2004, p. 100)

Spencer W. Kimball (Quorum of the Twelve)

Some are deceived by the prosperity of the wicked. They argue that many people gain their riches through crime, and that by ignoring the Lord's commandments they show a constant profit. This concept wrongly focuses on the short-term. The wicked may appear to be temporarily triumphant, as those seemed who crucified the Master, but the Savior's Parable of the Tares allows for this situation. Like the tares, the wicked are allowed to ripen for eventual destruction. (The Miracle of Forgiveness, p.133)

Some time ago a sister said to me: "Why is it that those who do the least in the building of the kingdom seem to prosper most? We drive a Ford; our neighbors drive a Cadillac. We observe the Sabbath and attend our meetings; they play golf, hunt, fish, and play. We abstain from the forbidden; they eat, drink and are merry and unrestrained. We pay much for tithing and for other Church donations; they have their entire large income to lavish upon themselves. We are tied to home with our large family of small children, who are often ill; they are totally free for social life--to dine and dance. We wear cottons and woolens, and I wear a three-season coat; they wear silks and costly apparel, and she wears a mink coat. Our meager income is always strained and never seems adequate for necessities, while their wealth seems inexhaustible and wholly adequate for every luxury obtainable. And yet the Lord promises blessings to the faithful! It seems to me that it does not pay to live the gospel--that the proud and the covenant-breakers are the ones who prosper."… 

I said to the disconsolate sister, "You have many blessings today. For many rewards, you need not wait until the judgment day. You have your family of lovely children. What a rich reward for the so-called sacrifices! The great boon of motherhood is yours. With your limitations, a great peace can fill your soul. These and numerous other blessings which you enjoy cannot be purchased with all your neighbor's wealth."… 

People who are concerned about the prosperity of the wicked are sometimes blinded to their own weaknesses yet magnify greatly the errors of others. If other men make errors or deliberately break laws and commandments, we may be sure that they will pay the "uttermost farthing." They will not escape the wrath of God, and they will pay the full price for their folly. There will be a wise and just God to sit in judgment on all men. There could be a delay in judgment. The wicked may prosper for a time, the rebellious may seem to profit by their transgressions, but the time is coming when, at the bar of justice, all men will be judged, "every man according to their works." (Rev. 20:13.) No one will "get by" with anything. On that day no one will escape the penalty of his deeds, no one will fail to receive the blessings he has earned.  (The Miracle of Forgiveness, p.301)