Wicked, Perverse, and Stiffnecked are three adjectives that Moroni uses to describe those who build up churches to get gain. (Mormon 8:33) "O ye wicked and perverse and stiffnecked people, why have ye built up churches unto yourselves to get gain?"
To get gain means to obtain a profit. It is the act of acquiring, of building up, of increasing in size. We can ask ourselves, who exactly is Moroni calling wicked, perverse, and stiffnecked? He said "I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing." Mormon 8:35. Is Moroni talking about the Catholics? the Protestants? or us Latter-day Saints? Moroni knew exactly which Church it was. Christ showed Moroni who they were. Did he see us?
But surely, it can't be the LDS Church. We are the Lord's Church. Is it okay that we build other buildings to get gain, after all..they aren't churches we are buildng. Do we really think it is pleasing to the Lord that we build high rise buildings, malls, condos, office complexes, housing developments for us to own, operate and get gain? Can we decorate and beautify Zion with profit making buildings of Babylon? and make money in the process? Are these the principles that Zion is built on?
Below are three condominium projects built up by the Church around Temple Square. The Regent (left), 99 West (middle) and Richards Court (right).
I recently took a tour of 99 West, the upscale highrise pictured above in the midde. This 30 story condomium tower sits on the southwest corner of Temple Square and was built a few years ago. I asked the real estate agent how many of these condos have now been sold. She said that only 57% of the building has been sold or is under contact. Almost half of the building still sits vacant. Not a good sign that things are going well.
The units are selling upward to a million dollars each to over three million. The price of the condos per square foot is a little under $1,000.00 after everything is said and done. That is 10x the average selling price per square footage in Salt Lake. Most homes sell for about 100 dollars per square foot. I asked her how can the Church justify selling property for such a jacked up price? She said it is because of the view of the Temple. So in other words because of the Temple we can sell property at higher prices and get gain. Does that fall into the category that Moroni was referrring to in Mormon 8?
These condos are described as "a home where enduring architecture and mastercrafted finishes embody your style . . . your refined taste. A place where you awake to breathtaking views and fall asleep to soothing sunsets. Your home at City Creek offers a new approach to life simplified . . . living close to everything you love to do. City Creek provides a new style of urban living in Salt Lake City, featuring a cosmopolitan atmosphere in three new residential towers."
LINK to the website.
Below is a chart of 99 West Building which shows the selling price of each condo. The condos for sell are shown in the white boxes and in the blue boxes. The green boxes are the condos that have already been sold. In case anyone is interested, a 3 bedroom, 3076 square foot unfinished condo on the top floor is still available. The asking price is 3,126,000.00.
I heard from an inside source that when these condo projects were first being built by the Church that tithing records were used to find those members who could most likely afford to buy. Marketing material was then sent to the top tithe paying members of the Church. I hope that is not true that personal tithing information is available for marketing purposes.
Sidenote: In case you aren't in the market to buy real estate and just want to rent... the Church also owns and rents out apartments near the Temple. If you can afford paying 1,899.00 a month for a one bedroom, one bath apartment that is a little over 1000 square feet than City Creek Landing Apartments would be perfect for you. Here are a few photos of one of the apartments. I am surprised there are some willing to pay close to 2,000.00 for a one bedroom, one bath apartment.
We would do well to read the scriptures and see if we fit any of the scenarios that the Book of Mormon prophets warn us about. There is a recurring theme found all through the Book of Mormon that warns us to not build up to get gain. We read it in the books of Nephi, Ether, Helaman, and 4 Nephi. Here are a few examples:
"Therefore they began to set their hearts upon their riches; yea, they began to seek to get gain that they might be lifted up one above another. Hel. 6:17
"And they began to be divided into classes; and they began to build up churches unto themselves to get gain, and began to deny the true church of Christ." 4 Ne. 1:26
"And now, because of the glory of the world and to get gain will they say this, and not for the glory of God." 2 Ne. 27:16
"And they were exceedingly industrious, and they did buy and sell and traffic one with another, that they might get gain." Ether 10:22
"But behold, it is to get gain, to be praised of men, yea, and that ye might get gold and silver. And ye have set your hearts upon the riches and the vain things of this world." Hel. 7:21
"He commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion." 2 Ne. 26:29
I share these things not to be critical but to show how far we are from becoming a Zion Society. There is a tremendous gulf between Zion, and what is required and who we are as a people today.
And to quote a friend, "We speak of Zion while marketing Babylon. We ask "what will sell" before we undertake any project. We study the trends of the fallen, wicked and perverse in order to adapt our faith, our words, and our conversations to appeal to Babylon. The social statistics of Latter-day Saints run about 7 years behind the larger population. We're all headed to hell, but console ourselves that we remain "peculiar" because we are slower in our descent than the larger population. It never occurs to us that a complete break will be needed."
Addendum: Here is a LINK to an interesting news story.
"The Vatican plans to build showers for the homeless under the sweeping white colonnade of St. Peter’s Square in Rome. It’s an unconventional move, even for a pope who constantly preaches that more should be done to help the poor. It also could rankle traditionalists as the homeless line up to wash beneath the extravagant apostolic apartments."
This would be a great idea for the LDS Church to consider doing at the City Creek Center across from the Salt Lake Temple.