The Waning Virtue of Integrity

Till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me.

Job 27:5

When my daughters were little, and it was my job to drop them off at school, I always did so with this bit of sage advice: “Be good. And if you can’t be good, be sneaky.”

This questionable guiding light of morality was intended to be tongue-in-cheek, and (for the most part) was received that way. I meant it as an absurdity.

Unfortunately, the absurd has become the norm. From politics to sports; business to personal relationships, integrity seems to play an increasingly unimportant role. More disturbingly, it isn’t merely absent, but unexpected.

Increasingly, we define our character not by complying to independent moral standards, but the demands of the moment. Then we excuse ourselves by comparing the weight of our misdeeds with that of others. As integrity fades from the public stage, we excuse our own conduct by pointing to someone else and saying, “Well, at least I didn’t do that.” I suspect that this defense works no better with the Lord than it does with my wife. Celestial behavior is not measured on a sliding scale.

Christ taught that truth matters. That obedience to God matters. That staying true to the principles we have learned and the covenants we have made is the only way to live life abundantly. The integrity He expects of us is to align our hearts and habits with His.

But only all the time. The Book of Job teaches us that integrity isn’t situational. It isn’t to be abandoned when times are hard or when we feel forgotten. It is not to be set aside and picked up again when needed, as we may find ourselves turning out our pockets and muttering, “I just had it here somewhere.”

As Latter-day Saints, let’s make a better effort to ensure that in dealing with us, people will know exactly what to expect: Good, not sneaky.

The size of your faith or the degree of your knowledge is not the issue—it is the integrity you demonstrate toward the faith you do have and the truth you already know.

Jeffrey R. Holland
%d bloggers like this: