Integrity--to me this means much more than honesty. Integrity means to be true.
Let me give you an example in a building. For a building to have integrity it needs a firm foundation. I believe that it is the same for a person.
It took many years for the Salt Lake Temple to be built. When the first foundation was laid, President Brigham Young realized that there were flaws in the foundation. Can you see how tragic it would have been to continue to build at this point? The foundation had to be dug up and completely reset. Can you see where I am going with this? We need a sure foundation. "And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall." (Helaman 5:12) There are many people who approach integrity in the modern sense of the word, because they are true to a set of standards, but if those standards are incorrect, if that foundation is not firm, everything contingent upon it may soon fall. So integrity is something more than being the same person in private and public matters; it must include being true to a true set of standards.
During WWII, my Grandfather John Jamison was commissioned by the British Air Force to oversee the building of runways on an American Air Force base that was located in England. He was from Northern Ireland. He arrived at the site when a crew was ready to pour the cement for a runway. They did not know who he was, but he overheard them say, "Let's hurry and get this poured before that damned Irishman gets here." Upon gathering that the materials were not up to standard, my grandfather did not introduce himself, but allowed them to pour the cement. After which he told them that he was that damned Irishman and asked them to take it all out. It is my experience that it is always more expensive to be dishonest, even though it usually does not seem so in today's world. We cannot afford the cost to our own progression and spiritual safety to be dishonest.
Think of the excitement that came about when steel was introduced into building structures. Iron wasn't nearly as effective. Why is that? Iron is very brittle. It couldn't support many stories or withstand too much weight without breaking. Steel had the right amount of give. I guess in this sense that having integrity would approach or almost be equivalent to having charity. We cannot become too boastful as our abilities increase, or the level of our building becomes substantial. We need to learn to be flexible without bending on the important things that help keep us structurally sound.
This brings to mind the musical Fiddler on the Roof. I love Tevia. He is a good man. In the sense of building upon the traditions and faith of his people, one could certainly say that Tevia had integrity. Even when his workhorse becomes lame, Tevia delivers the milk to the town before the Sabbath introductory evening meal. In his compassion to his daughters, we see his flexibility as he allows the two oldest daughters to choose their own mates to marry. The concept of love versus a matchmaker is new, but Tevia's steel allows him to bend. But because of the covenant nature of the Jewish people and the importance of marrying in the covenant, Tevia could not see the possibility of condoning Havilah's marriage to an outsider. He said that "If I bend that far, I will break." Whether we agree with his decision or not, this is a good example of staying true to those things that are going to help keep us structurally sound. I could bring up modern-day examples, but those would divert me from my topic.
Now let's look at integrity from the side of a linguist. The word integrity has the same root as the word integer. That root would imply whole or complete. When the Lord asked us to become perfect, He was in essence asking us to become whole or complete. This is something we cannot do on our own. Jesus is the only One who can make us whole or complete. When I think of integrity in this sense, it reminds me of the words in one of our hymns, "Constant He is and kind, love without end." (Hymn, 129) In this sense, while integrity is a goal, it is not a destination that is fixed yet for any of us, because we are still in a period of testing. I am not Constant yet, though I truly am striving to be a person of integrity.
By this I do not mean to say that integrity does not exist. Of course it does. But we have to be vigilant to keep our integrity with us. Also, I do not mean to imply that Latter-day Saints have access to integrity more than anyone else. Since we all our children of the Highest, we all have access to the gifts of the Spirit, to the power of the Holy Ghost, and to the ability to develop integrity. But integrity is only built as we consistently live principles that are in harmony with the gospel of Jesus Christ. And so many non-Christians do that. For us as Latter-day Saints, it also means that we must make and keep our covenants. For all of God's children, it means that we have to be true to the light and knowledge that we possess. As we do so, we will be led to more light and knowledge. This way, we will become more fully finished, more complete, and have more integrity.
Now let's look at integrity from a mathematician's perspective. An integer is not merely a counting number or a whole number. On a number line, integers go in both positive and negative directions. So they include -3, -2, -1, 0, 1, 2, 3, and so forth in both directions. We know that God is infinite, complete, whole, and our true source of integrity. Integrity in this sense certainly implies wholeness and completeness. We are not left fragmented by either fractions or factions, and we are not decimated by decimals. In the sense of a mathematician, integrity would also imply congruity. Things will fit together and make perfect sense. There is not room from inconsistency from any angle. (This will also totally work with the analogy of the building.) So we need to take our compass, our protractor, and our right angles, and make certain that our lives are congruent with the Lord.
Joseph F. Smith is a prime example of integrity. His father Hyrum was killed at Carthage Jail when Joseph was only five. Then his mother Mary Fielding Smith died when he was only thirteen. But he was true to the faith of his fathers. He served a mission in Hawaii when he was still a boy.
After nearly four years in Hawaii, Joseph F. returned home. One morning when he and several other missionaries were returning to Salt Lake City, a group of rough Mormon-haters rode up on horses, firing their guns and cursing.
The leader jumped off his horse and shouted, “We will kill anyone who is a Mormon!” The other missionaries had fled into the woods, but Joseph F. bravely stood his ground. The man shoved a gun in Joseph F.’s face and asked, “Are you a Mormon?”
Joseph F. stood tall and said, “Yes siree; dyed in the wool; true blue, through and through!”
The man was surprised at his reply. He put the gun away, shook Joseph’s hand, and said, “Well, you are the pleasantest man I ever met! I’m glad to see a fellow stand up for his convictions.” He jumped back on his horse and rode off with his companions.
Then we have the example of Joseph F. Smith's Uncle Joseph Smith. He saw the Father and the Son. And because he gave a true account of the First Vision, he was persecuted by those who should have been his friends. Life was never easy for him. But he said that he had in all actuality "seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it." He pressed forward and was true to the faith, and he obeyed the Lord's commandments with exactness.
Since we are on a roll, let's talk about one more Joseph. This Joseph was sold into bondage by his brothers because they were jealous of him. But because he was so talented and so good, he naturally was blessed and rose to the top. (Have you noticed that many are still jealous of people like Joseph?) Potiphar's wife thought he was pretty sexy and wanted him for herself, but he would not sin against the God of Israel and chose to be in jail rather than to lose his integrity before the Lord. He was blessed for his righteousness; in fact, all of Egypt was, his whole family was, and all of his descendents have been, including many Latter-day Saints.
Integrity must certainly mean that we stand up for our convictions. The Apostle Paul stood up for his convictions both before and after his conversion to the Resurrected Jesus Christ. He was honorable in his convictions, but it is always best to be on the Lord's side. Remember the scripture about the only true and sure foundation? That is Jesus Christ. That brings me back to Charity, which is the Pure Love of Christ. We are told that charity will never fail. So in order for our integrity to be valid and true and never fail, we must be built upon that sure foundation. It is only through Jesus Christ that we can be whole and complete and overcome the world and not fail.
We must also love our brothers and sisters as ourselves. Our integrity all but vanishes when we do not. If we do not treat our fellowmen as we would like to be treated ourselves, we don't have integrity. That's a double standard. Integrity is a tall order to fill. But it should be our goal, not just for the far distant future, but for every day of our lives.
In closing I would like to share some of Moroni's last words to us, found in Moroni 7:15-16. These words are a good yardstick for us in making our daily decisions and keeping us on the true path:
For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night.
For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.In today's world, there will be many voices to lead us here, there, and everywhere. We need to keep our hearts, minds, and spirits tuned to the Lord so that we can be guided through the Holy Ghost. We need to carry our level with us, meaning our own testimony and our own oil, if we are going to make certain that our lives are properly balanced and in harmony with the Lord. Integrity means vigilance. We must be aware of anything that can erode our structure, and me must seek to strengthen and restrengthen ourselves and our families on a daily basis.
(I commit myself to doing so with these words taken from a fellow sister in Australia, "I will not and choose not to deter myself from doing the Lord's work.")