A Summer Cottage in Babylon

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by Montserrat {Chocolate on my Cranium}

Merrily we roll along, roll along, roll along…

Midnatt by Anders Zorn

Yup, that was me merrily going along my way when one day in my personal study I came upon this scripture in Isaiah “Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord.” (52:11) and more specifically this scripture in the Doctrine and Covenants “Go ye out from Babylon. Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord.” (133:5)

“Hmmm,” I thought, “Babylon. What exactly is meant by that?”

Part of my answer came from rereading a talk entitled “Come to Zion.” In that talk Elder D. Todd Christofferson said, “The Savior was critical of some of the early Saints for their “lustful … desires” (D&C 101:6; see also D&C 88:121). These were people who lived in a non-television, non-film, non-Internet, non-iPod world. In a world now awash in sexualized images and music, are we free from lustful desires and their attendant evils? Far from pushing the limits of modest dress or indulging in the vicarious immorality of pornography, we are to hunger and thirst after righteousness. To come to Zion, it is not enough for you or me to be somewhat less wicked than others. We are to become not only good but holy men and women. Recalling Elder Neal A. Maxwell’s phrase, let us once and for all establish our residence in Zion and give up the summer cottage in Babylon.” (emphasis added)

While I watered the garden that day (truly an all day project) I contemplated Elder Christofferson’s admonition that it’s not enough to be less wicked but to be holy. What areas of my life did I need to improve?

The very next day I happened upon a talk given by Mary Ellen Edmunds called “Letting Go of the World: It is Time to “Sell the Summer Cottage in Babylon.” There it was again….a summer cottage in Babylon! Sister Edmunds says, “It’s a dangerous thing to try to divide our loyalties, isn’t it? No one can serve two masters. There’s only room for one—either God or someone or something else. We choose. . .Our righteousness and our striving to be a little better when we’re already pretty good can shine a bright light for others. President Spencer W. Kimball has taught: “Zion is to be in the world and not of the world, not dulled by a sense of carnal security, nor paralyzed by materialism. No, Zion . . .[is] things that exalt the mind and sanctify the heart.”. . . Maybe we need a filter around our home, our Zion in the midst of Babylon. Work together to make your home a place of goodness, a place of holiness, a place of peace, a place of refuge and protection, a Zion.”

The last couple of sentences really jumped out to me. So many of those phrases are found in my patriarchal blessing! As I went throughout my day I began to wonder what I was missing that the Lord was trying to tell me. Then I started thinking about the movies, the tv, the books, the internet. As a mother I think I’ve done all right. I’m pretty discriminating about the types and amount of television shows and movies my children watch. I am particular about the books they read too. And then I realized that while we are already pretty good we could be doing so much better. Bingo.

Satan is very subtle.
The movie was good, except for that one part.
The melody of this song is great, the message not so much.

What signals am I sending to my children when I allow them to see or read or listen to things that are mostly good instead of all-the-way-good, the best? As the mother I need to set the example. I have a responsibility to teach my children the sometimes subtle differences between good and evil.

“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20)

“And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.” (Ezekiel 44:23)


I LOVE music. All types. I am well rounded in my musical repertoire. Still, there are some songs on my iPod that I know should be taken off. (but I really like the beat or melody!)

And yet…

I need to “dedicate my life to serving the Lord and not worry about offending the devil.” (James E. Faust)

What I allow or don’t allow into my home sends a message. The values I treasure, and what my children will learn, are reinforced by what I bring into my home whether good or bad. Those values will stay with them throughout their lives. My role as a mother is not taken lightly.

“Women are like lionesses at the gate of the home. Whatever happens in that home and family happens because she cares about it and it matters to her. She guards that gate, and things matter to that family if they matter to her.” (Julie B Beck, 2010 BYU Women’s Conference)

My family matters more than a song.

More than a movie.

More than anything.

So I am beginning. Going through the movies, the songs, the books. It is only a start. My whole family is involved, adding their input to what should go and what can stay. We are choosing Zion. Our goal is to create an atmosphere where we can feel the Spirit, where it is easier to be more kind, more caring, where home is truly a haven from Babylon, where we have fought the good fight and beat Babylon out. We want to “live our religion so broadly and unfailingly that we find all kinds of opportunities to help families, bless neighbors, and protect others, including the rising generation,” as Elder Holland stated in a recent CES fireside.

I’m not just packing to leave my summer cottage in Babylon.

I am going to tear it down.

And, yes, it is and will continue to be painful.

  • What are some changes that can be made in your life? 
  • How are you making your home a Zion? 
  • What are some specific ways we can ‘attack Babylon’ in our homes and our communities “taking a moral stand according to what God has declared and the laws He has given but doing it compassionately with understanding and great charity?” (Jeffrey R. Holland, CES Fireside Sept 2012)

About Montserrat {Chocolate on my Cranium}

Montserrat enjoys classical music, playing the piano, reading biographies, eating gourmet chocolate, and playing a good game of Scrabble. A farmer's wife and mother of nine, she thinks spending time with her family is truly heaven on earth!

6 Responses to A Summer Cottage in Babylon

  1. Kathryn Skaggs says:

    “We are choosing Zion”, and “My family matters more than…” I love these challenges and reminders of the work we are called to do, to bring Zion — first from within our families. Thank you for such a spot on and encouraging article.


  2. Tristan says:

    Yep, love the summer cottage lesson! And it is so true, we don’t want to just move out of the cottage, we want to tear it down.

    Changes that can be made in my life? I think one of my biggest summer cottages in the past has been the books I read. I love a good love story and while I prefer wholesome, sweet ones, a few that push the boundary a bit have found their way on my Kindle when they were freebies. I’ve been going through and evaluating them. One of the first things that went a few months ago when I began – the Twilight Saga. Sigh. I miss it. But in reality if my daughters or sons did what the main character did (sneaking around, boys in bedroom, etc) it would not be okay, so why would I read it in a book?

    How am I making my home a Zion? We’re trying to develop our family culture using the powerful statement “In our family…” to define who we are, what we do, and why. It also works to define the opposites!

    Great post Montserrat!

    • Books are the hardest to sift through at our house too! Movies you can easily see, and music you can usually hear, the “bad.” But books are more difficult!

      The quote from Pres. Faust in the post is our family motto. It is easier to make decisions when we ask “Is this serving the Lord or are we trying not to offend the devil?”

  3. Emily says:

    So true! I know the guidelines for youth are written for the youth, and I know some people say they don’t apply to the adults, but I think they’re given to the youth so they’ll grow up with them. If the youth are encouraged to carry those values with them, I think I’d better do my best to live them, too!

  4. Christy says:

    Sometimes I spend a lot of time in my cottage trying to paint and rearrange so it seems like it isn’t actually in Babylon. Haha.

    Thanks for the post. As I continue to struggle I will remember these nuggets you shared:

    “What signals am I sending to my children when I allow them to see or read or listen to things that are mostly good instead of all-the-way-good, the best?”

    “My family matters more than…”

  5. jendoop says:

    This morning I am sick and missed church, but I knew from an email that during 3rd hour they’d be discussing Elder Holland’s April 2010 talk- Place No More for the Enemy of My Soul. It was a compelling talk that had faded in my memory. Watching it I was reminded of this post, and I reflected on the ways in which I had kicked the enemy out of my home and they ways in which I have been delinquent. I realized that if I can create a pure home, where it is easy to keep our thoughts pure, anything different will be repulsive to my children. That is what I want, for my children to be inoculated with purity, to the point that filth is immediately rejected.

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