31 And there shall be men standing in that generation, that shall not pass until they shall see an overflowing scourge; for a desolating sickness shall cover the land.
32 But my disciples shall stand in holy places, and shall not be moved; but among the wicked, men shall lift up their voices and curse God and die. (D&C 45:31-32)
What does this mean? It is a prophecy in the 45th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants. And I am not sure what it means. Some possible interpretations are pretty scary. Years ago while I was living in Ketchikan, Alaska, I attended a fireside in the Ketchikan Ward meetinghouse and the speaker was Elder Bradford of the Seventy. After the meeting, I asked him about this scriptural passage and he said it had already been fulfilled by the AIDS epidemic. I have also thought it might refer to the growing problem of anti-biotic resistant diseases and infections. Or it might refer to biological weapons of mass destruction used in some future war and perhaps an attack on our nation. Or possibly “all of the above.” I have heard others insist it refers to the drug problem in our world, or the pornography problem.
What do you think? What is this “desolating sickness?” Is it still ahead? Has it already happened? What other scriptures could help us understand this one?