This is an urban legend. I do not recall being taught that Satan ruled the 2/3 of the earth covered by water nor any admonitions for us to stay out of the water or that swimming was dangerous because Satan ruled the water.
I do remember the missionaries in our Branch (a smaller unit that a “Ward,” headed by a Branch President, not a Bishop) not being able to go swimming.
As with Urban Legends, there is a basis in fact, twisted, but there.
Here is the basis. In the introduction to Section 61 of the Doctrine & Covenants, we find this language: On their return trip to Kirtland the Prophet and ten elders had traveled down the Missouri River in canoes. On the third day of the journey many dangers were experienced. Elder William W. Phelps, in daylight vision, saw the destroyer riding in power upon the face of the waters.
Then, in this section, we read: 13-19 And now, behold, for your good I gave unto you a commandment concerning these things; and I, the Lord, will reason with you as with men in days of old. Behold, I, the Lord, in the beginning blessed the waters; but in the last days, by the mouth of my servant John, I cursed the waters. Wherefore, the days will come that no flesh shall be safe upon the waters. And it shall be said in days to come that none is able to go up to the land of Zion upon the waters, but he that is upright in heart. And, as I, the Lord, in the beginning cursed the land, even so in the last days have I blessed it, in its time, for the use of my saints, that they may partake the fatness thereof. And now I give unto you a commandment that what I say unto one I say unto all, that you shall forewarn your brethren concerning these waters, that they come not in journeying upon them, lest their faith fail and they are caught in snares; I, the Lord, have decreed, and the destroyer rideth upon the face thereof, and I revoke not the decree.
Wave runners did not exist then, but the image of Satan riding one now just will not leave me now. In addition, this image from a game comes to mind: Zombies on a boat.
Please, no one get cranked up. I am not making fun of the LDS church here, but about this urban legend.
As far as I know (tell me if I am wrong anyone), the missionaries prohibition against swimming was for practical safety reasons, the same way they are not to go rock climbing or base-jumping or any of numerous other dangerous activities. Certain mission fields prohibit basketball.
But what about that scripture? Well, what of it? The Bible says King Saul went to see the wizard. . .um, excuse me, he was not in Oz but the Promised Land. . .he went to see the Witch of Endor. . .
Way I read that set of verses, even if one has to read it literally, it was warning about the waters in Missouri and not even all waters, but a specific place on the Missouri River. But, really, many people call Satan the Prince and Ruler of this World, or as Glen Duncan has Satan start his (Satan’s) journal of a time spent on earth in his really good read of a book I, Lucifer:
I, Lucifer, Fallen Angel, Prince of Darkness, Bringer of Light, Ruler of Hell, Lord of the Flies, Father of Lies, Apostate Supreme, Tempter of Mankind, Old Serpent, Prince of This World, Seducer, Accuser, Tormentor, Blasphemer. . ., well, at least the LDS legend restricts Satan to the water. . .
Read the book. It has some incredible insights to the human condition through the eyes of the Father of Lies during a temporary (or is it) time on earth before the end of the world. Click here for the Amazon web page.
I cannot belive people believe these things or care about them, and yet, they do.
Why this advice is in there, I do not know nor do I care, and it certainly does not exceed the weirdest thing in the Bible or Christian Tradition.
Anyone care to explain to me how Transubstantiation does not mean cannibalism and the literal drinking of human blood. Was Jesus a vampyre?