Literary DCGD #43: Entreaty

What exactly is the “whole armor of God?” Lesson 43 of the Doctrine and Covenants Gospel Doctrine manual explores this concept, drawing from D&C 27:15-18, and its inspiration, Ephesians 6:13-18. But while both these scriptural texts point to principles that represent various pieces of body armor, its sometimes hard to see how these principles actually protect us. If we look at an actual struggle, what pieces of armor will we see in use? The following poem may provide some insight. I haven’t been able to determine who the pseudonym “Gladys” refers to. During the last part of the 19th century and early part of the 20th century pseudonyms were popular among the authors in Church magazines, but while the authors behind many of those pseudonyms are known, “Gladys” isn’t one that has been identified. Nevertheless, her poem does give us something to explore: .


by Gladys

Once again we hear the story
Of a maiden young and fair,
Daughter of this favored people
Who had entered Satan’s snare;
Being now so rudely wakened
From her dream of fancied bliss,
From her wondrous “castles airy,”
By a traitorous “Judas Kiss.”


She had met a gallant stranger—
Handsome, courteous and suave,
And her inexperience led her
To believe him true and brave.
But the sequel sad has proven,
What alas! We oft are told,
We are blinded by our passions—
“All that glitters is not gold.”


She is now a wife forsaken,
Saddened in the days of youth,
Blighted is her life’s best promise,
Full her heart of pain and ruth.
And she heeds to late the warning
Which had frequently been given
By her friends so true and loving,
And by wisdom’s words from heaven.


Dark and drear the sky above her,
Gone from life the sun’s bright ray,
She has lost her woman’s glory
With her springtime light and gay.
And she sits alone in sorrow
Pondering o’er the vanished years,
Touched her heart is with repentance
And her eyes suffused with tears.


Oh, could observation teach us,
Point the path that we should shun;
Could the sad mistakes of others
Prompt us wisdom’s course to run!
We might garner priceless treasures
From the sorrows of the past,
Be a standard for the nations—
Be celestialized at last.


But we see around us ever,
Thoughtless maidens sweet and gay,
Wealthy, indiscreetly running
Into danger’s downward way;
Treading on the soil of Satan,
Blindly stumbling towards their fall,
Making for themselves a future,
Tinctured with the bitterest gall.


Daughters of the Lord’s anointed,
Children of this promised day,
Think not lightly of your blessings,
Throw not pearls to swine away.
Be not vain nor vacant-minded,
Value not your charms to cheap,
Lest of sorrow, pain and anguish,
Plenteous harvest you would reap.


Let not every passing pleasure,
Joys of but a transient stay,
Rob you of those gifts eternal
Which shall last for time and age.
Priceless pleasures which our parents,
In the hope to us secure,
Braved so nobly scorn and danger,
Trials great! yes, troubles sore.


Treasured spirits—choice of heaven—
Daughters of the royal seed,
Heirs of all the promised blessings,
Vessels of the heavenly need.
Guard your footsteps, oh be humble,
Seek God’s guiding day by day,
Lest your crown of life you barter
And your birth-right cast away.

The Young Woman’s Journal, v3 n8, March 1892, p. 348

. While the poem is certainly melodramatic, and rather vague about exactly what happened to the unfortunate young woman, who has evidently been abandoned by her husband (to say nothing of why this is somehow her fault — I doubt this poem will please many people today), it does focus on behaviors that might have avoided the situation. And in addition to armor that might have been used, it also identifies weaknesses that may have contributed to the difficulty. Among the weaknesses, Gladys identifies many that are still relevant today. She says we are often “blinded by our passions,” that we can be “thoughtless,” and suggests that “inexperience,” being “wealthy” and being “indiscreet” can contribute to bad decisions. She also criticizes vanity, being “vacant minded” and seeking “passing pleasure.” For armor, Gladys mentions heeding the “warning”

Which had frequently been given
By her friends so true and loving,
And by wisdom’s words from heaven

She also suggests that “observation” can teach us from “the sad mistakes of others” and that the young women she is speaking to “value not your charms too cheap.” And, finally she tells us:

Guard your footsteps, oh be humble,
Seek God’s guiding day by day,

I suppose much of this advice could fit into the rubric described in the scriptures about the whole armor of God. Some of it does, I think, also describe more concretely what mechanisms we mean when we have “our loins girt about with truth” and have on the “breastplate of righteousness.” It seems to me that having some clarity about exactly how these concepts protect us will help us perceive the idea of the “whole armor of God” as practical instead of mere platitude.