Question: How should we collectively view the concept of harm?

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Question: How should we collectively view the concept of harm?

Introduction to Question

The concept of harm is often misunderstood from a Gospel perspective. What can we learn about harm from the scriptures?

Response to Question

Harms that Bring about a Greater Good are Often Okay

One of the first things we can learn from the behavior of God and Jesus is that not all harms are bad. Indeed, it seems that if a harm brings about a greater good, then the harm may be justified.

Why would Jesus harshly criticize Peter (Luke 4:8)? Why would he rebuke unclean spirits (Luke 9:42)? Why would we be under the obligation to reprove our fellowmen with sharpness at times (Doctrine and Covenants 121:43)? It seems that not all harm is bad.

Harms that Do Not Bring about a Greater Good are not Okay

Only when harm treats others as if their lives were expendable or when a harm otherwise does not bring about a greater good should a harm be viewed as bad. That is one purpose of the whole moral ecosystem we know as the law of love laid out in scripture: to do away entirely with unnecessary harm and to allow us to know when it is appropriate to enact necessary harm.


It seems, then, that the task of any discussion of harm is to determine whether a particular action done by God or someone else does or does not bring about a greater good.

Continued meditation on this theme may reveal other important insights into this important concept. Readers are encouraged to seek it and send any thoughts to FAIR volunteers at this link so that we might consider it and add it to the article.