Evil Eschatological Mothers

Heh. Back to work, are you? And not really in the mood, perhaps? Yeah. It coulda been Normandy outside last night until quite late. Anyway, here’s a little something to muse on as you ease yourself back into productive behaviors.

I think that perhaps the great and abominable church of 1 Nephi 13-14 is the whore of Babylon (Revelation 17), mostly stripped of sexuality and gender. If this is a reasonable reading, it means that the BoM re-visions the great struggle of the end times as a church-church fight rather than the church-state conflict that plays out in Revelation.

So to be honest, the first time I wrote this post I focused on establishing that the Whore of Revelation 17 was similar to the GA Church but not a representation of the same evil. This comparison is first established by the association of both figures with expensive textiles and precious metals; the Whore wears them (Rev 17:3-6) while the GA Church is said to desire these items, as well as harlots (1 Ne 13:4-9). So the Whore is presented as a promiscious female while the GA Church is portrayed perhaps more transgressively: desire for fine clothing and precious metals is feminine, while an attraction to harlots suggests a male identity.

And as you poke around a bit, you eventually discover that both are called the “mother of harlots” (Rev 17:5; 1 Ne 14:16) and the “mother of abominations” (Rev 17:5; 1 Ne 14:9) and both sit upon “many waters” (Rev 17:1; 1 Ne 14:11), and the GA Church is finally identified as the “whore of all the earth” in 1 Ne 14:11. Both persecute the saints (Rev 17: 6; 1 Ne 13:9). Lastly, both are destroyed as part of a final great social conflagration: the Whore is destroyed by her lovers, the kings of the earth who act with God’s will (Rev 17:16-17), while the demise of the GA Church is presented as the result of the wrath of God “poured out” in wars and rumors of wars (1 Ne 14:15-17). This last scenario sounds somewhat similar to Revelation’s third septet, in which seven angels pour out seven vials containing the wrath of God (Revelation 16).

How do these two great corrupting evils differ? Well, the first point to note is that Nephi’s vision is truncated, that is, it ends just as God begins to take down the GA Church and restore the covenant. John of Patmos, however, is said to have seen both things which had occurred and things which were yet to occur. But beyond downplaying the gender imagery and the sexually charged behavior of the Whore, the two are quite similar. The biggest exception is this: the Whore is a “great city that reigns over the kings of the earth” (Rev 17:18), while the GA Church is, well, a church, that destroyed the integrity of God’s word among other things.

The significance of this difference depends on how you understand the relationship between the GA Church and the Whore. If they are the same evil entity, then the eschatological struggle actually began at the turn of the era and is a church-church conflict. If they are different entities, albeit motivated by the same source and with the same antipathy toward the saints, then the great last conflict likewise began in the early Church but the nature of the conflict will shift from church-church to church-state as the end approaches.

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