I was doing some reading in the scriptures the other day when I came across a rather profound point that I’d like to share with you today. As I was reading in 1 Nephi chapter 8, I came across a verse I’ve read easily a dozen times, if not more. In verse 20, Lehi is talking about his dream, and describes the path that leads to the tree:
And I also beheld a strait and narrow path, which came along by the rod of iron, even to the tree by which I stood;
Now, I may be extremely dense or not, but while I was growing up, I was always taught that the path was straight, as in unwavering or not crooked. Never had it been described to me as strait. This new revelation spurred my curiosity and I was determined to get to the bottom of this. Was I taught wrong my entire life? Was this confusion between strait and straight really pervasive throughout the world?
First, I needed to know what is the definition of strait as an adjective. It is defined:
characterized by a specified degree of trouble or difficulty.
First, this makes sense, since Matthew refers to the gate being strait (see Matt. 7:13). I searched for discourses by the general authorities or the church as a whole. If you search on the gospel library for “strait and narrow”, it will search for both strait and straight, and there are quite a bit of references to both.
I began to think about all of these new fandangled versions of the Bible that are coming out these days, where the proverbial “they” are attempting to translate the Bible into modern English. I found a website that compared different versions of the bible verse by verse and found that in many cases, the new translations use narrow in place of strait rather than something along the lines of difficult. In Matthew 7:14, many of the other versions redeem themselves by subbing difficult for narrow, but in my mind, that doesn’t seem appropriate.
The gate is strait, or difficult. What is the gate? The gate is conversion to the Gospel. Christ pointed out that the gate is indeed difficult when he was speaking with Nicodemus. In Matthew 19:24, He tells him that it’s easier to thread a camel through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven.
When I served as a missionary in south Florida, I saw many people who came to the gate, but could not overcome certain obstacles in their way. The vices of the world are what make the gate strait or difficult. The pathway to salvation is indeed straight, as in there is only one way to salvation (through Christ), but the pathway is indeed strait. Christ and His prophets chose their words very carefully. The pathway is difficult and requires constant vigilance. Once we have entered through the gate, we cannot just give up and say we are done, We must endure to the end; endure the obstacles and trials that will be placed in our path. The adversary is strong and cunning, and will work harder on those who live the gospel’s teaching.
In conclusion, God’s path is straight, whereas the pathway to salvation is not. It has twists, turns, bumps and wash-outs. In other words, it is strait.