I’ve always been fascinated with the apocalyptic side of the Mormon Church. When I was younger I studied the book of Revelations intensely trying to make sense of it. I had such faith and hope in the time when the world would experience perfect peace. But I wallowed in fear over the destruction of the world that had to come first. Even at the age of fourteen, I would have dreams about the end of the world. Growing up in Utah, I had one non-Mormon friend for whose soul I feared greatly. In my dreams she was always consumed by the great fire that was coming to the earth. The collective consciousness in which I was immersed told me that if I was righteous I wouldn’t need to fear the fires myself because I was born into the right church. But that only made me feel guilty for my birthright. The great destruction of the world is an overwhelming concept for a young girl to have to contemplate.
The scriptures, Old Testament, New Testament, Doctrine and Covenants, are full of allusions to this great burning. The fierce God of the Old Testament permeates the images of an entire world being consumed by fire and everything being destroyed. Our sacred words create a fearful image of a God who will destroy the humans who have made Him so angry with their unrighteousness. It’s no wonder we deal with that fear by making an exception for those who are living righteously. I think it is human nature, when contemplating something so fearful, to make an exception, and then to count yourself among the righteous select.
A little while ago I was reading in D&C 101:24: “And every corruptible thing, both of man, or of the beasts of the field, or of the fowls of the heavens, or of the fish of the sea, that dwells upon all the face of the earth, shall be consumed.” Two key words caught my attention in this passage: “corruptible” and “consumed.”
This sounds very much like the wicked will be burned, but as I have thought more about the phrase “corruptible things,” I realized that corruptible is not synonymous with wicked. Everything on this earth is corruptible. Our bodies, our social structures, our homes, our families, even our religions. Corruption is the process in which something whole, healthy, and alive breaks down and degrades, sometimes to the point of death. Anything that is susceptible to death is corruptible.