The Mother of Harlots: What is the Great and Abominable Church?

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People living in the world, where the mother of harlots has dominion

The great and abominable church, introduced in Nephi’s vision in 1 Nephi 13-14 is not a specific denomination, nor a group of sects. It is a great, abominable church.

  • great: large, powerful, widespread, well-known, influential
  • abominable: wicked, evil, perverse, ulterior motives, impure, corrupt
  • church: belief system, organization with shared beliefs

In short, it is the world and “the devil [is] the founder of it.” It is a belief system teaching that worth is determined by beauty and wealth, parenting is old fashioned and unfulfilling, men and women are supposed to be the same, life is all about me, and there are no absolute truths.

Satan and his followers seek to torture and bind down, yoke with an iron yoke, bring into captivity and slay the saints of God. And the Lord Himself describes this church as “the mother of harlots.”

This is a disturbing image, especially in context of what this church is aiming to do to the saints. But there is no question that we are being tortured by, and often yoked to, these false beliefs.

Just as a harlot sells a counterfeit of one of God’s most precious gifts, this church tries to counterfeit everything that Christ is and everything He offers. Understanding that can teach us how to defend ourselves and our families from the mother of harlots.

Mother of Harlots’ Evil Plan vs. Christ’s Divine Plan

Christ commanding Satan, the mother of harlots, to flee

  • They Desire Everyone

    The mother of harlots wants to entice everyone into her lair and ensnare them, not for their satisfaction but for her own gain. She wants anyone and everyone she can get.

    Jesus wants everyone, bond and free, black and white, male and female. “[H]e layeth down his life that he may draw all men unto him,” so He can set them free. He desires every individual son and daughter of God to come unto Him and find salvation.

  • They Offer Happiness

    The mother of harlots is focused on the desires of the flesh, offering instant gratification. She takes advantage of mortal lusts and strikes at your weaknesses, promising pleasure in the moment, but in reality seeking your misery.

    Jesus is focused on the ultimate desires of our soul and offers enduring happiness. He makes His strength perfect in our weakness and promises “happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come.

  • They Work Privately

    The mother of harlots works in darkness and secrecy, falsely promising that no one will know her acts. She feigns privacy and security, but her works are known and will be judged by the Almighty God.

    Jesus often communicates with us and corrects us in the private workings of our hearts. But He does not work in darkness or act in secrecy. He is the light of the world, promising that everyone will one day know and acknowledge His Atoning act.

  • They Want Your Virtue

    The mother of harlots does not just want you and your time, she wants everything that is most precious to you. She wants to destroy your virtue, compromise your fidelity, and strip you of your moral strength. Ultimately, she wants to leave you less than you, making you weak and thus dependent on her.

    Jesus also wants everything that you have and are, but He wants to protect it and transform it not destroy it. He wants to make you more than you are, making you strong as you learn to depend on Him.

  • They are on Your Team

    The mother of harlots has “plot[ted] with Cain and his followers from that time forth.” She is with you in the beginning, helping your formulate your deceipt, helping you justify your motives, helping you qualm your regrets. But in the end she leaves you on your own; “the devil will not support his children at the last day, but doth speedily drag them down to hell.”

    Jesus is the Alpha and Omega. He is with us in the beginning and in the end. He is everything He promises to be, and those who build on Him cannot fall. In the end, He will plead our cause before the Father, begging for our salvation based on His righteousness. He will never leave us alone.

  • They Require a High Price

    Interactions with the abominable church do not come without a price. The mother of harlots will make you pay a high price for your pleasures—your filthiness will make you forfeit your salvation in exchange for a lake of fire and brimstone.

    Jesus offers His grace as a gift. It too comes with a high price, but He paid it. He bought us at an unimaginable price. Certainly there is a cost of discipleship, but it comes with immeasurable eternal rewards.

  • They Want to Be Sealed to You

    The mother of harlots desires more than your attention in this life; she wants you forever. And “if you have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his.

    Jesus desires more than your professed devotion in this life; He wants to transform your soul and make you forever like Him. He wants to share with you in everlasting salvation and eternal life. “Therefore, I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works, that Christ…may seal you his.

  • They Offer Themselves

    The mother of harlots will do anything and compromise anything to get any gain from us. She will sell herself for anything.

    Christ pays the ultimate price for us. He does not sell Himself, He gives Himself—not because of what He can gain, but because of what He can offer.

  • They Target Your Covenants and Your Family

    The mother of harlots seeks undermine your covenants and fidelity and is aimed at destroying your family. Everything about her belief system is meant to weaken your moral resolve, confuse your moral understanding, and reverse your sense of moral right and wrong. She is not just party to a fun affair, she will torture, bind down and slay you and your family—ultimately destroying the eternal nature of your family.

    Jesus offers eternal covenants that protect your family and bind them forever. Everything about His gospel is meant to strengthen your moral resolve, enlighten your moral understanding, and solidify your moral sense of right and wrong. He laid down His own life to make your family eternal.

  • They Have Dominion

    The great whore has dominion—power, control and influence—over the whole earth and all nations. Her cunning ways and lustful drive has influence over legislation, cultures, education, norms and ideas.

    The Church of Christ has small dominions, over the lives, hearts and souls of individuals and families. But what is small in numbers is great in power. Ultimately Christ has true dominion over eternity, not over the things of this world.

Protecting Yourself and Your Family

The temple, where covenants are made to overcome the mother of harlots

Those who live as God’s covenant people are armed with righteousness and the power of God in great glory. If we are keeping our covenants, no weapon or enticement of the mother of harlots can penetrate that armor to destroy Christ’s influence in our lives and homes.

To maintain that armor, we must be reminded of our covenants often and honoring them always.

This happens in the temple; at the sacrament table; in family prayer, family scripture study and family home evening; on dates with our spouse; and in daily, personal worship and repentance.

The great mother of abominations is gathering multitudes in all the earth to fight against Christ and His saints. We must be secure and we must be prepared, as we learn to recognize Satan’s counterfeit and cling to Christ and our covenants.

Further Reading: Are There Really Only Two Churches?

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Lisa believes in seeking after everything in life that is virtuous, lovely or of good report. She loves volunteering, participating in community groups, traveling, reading, trying new foods, and being outside. She is a former high school math teacher, but worked in the history, religion and political science departments while earning her degree and later took to writing and editing. She also studied in Hawaii, Paris and Jerusalem before she met her husband in a skiing class. They now live in Minnesota with their three awesome kids. Lisa believes that true joy comes from loving life and living loved—by Christ, yourself and others.