The Power of Purity
Devotional Talk Given at
Brigham Young University - Hawaii
January 13, 2009
President Steven C. & Margaret S. Wheelwright
Brigham Young University-Hawaii President & First Lady
Brothers and Sisters, Aloha!
We welcome you to this initial devotional of 2009. In Proverbs we read, â€œWho can ï¬nd a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.â€ (Proverbs 31:10) Helaman described his 2000 young men as the most courageous he had ever seen. â€œThey are young, and their minds are ï¬rm, and they do put their trust in God continually.â€ (Alma 57:27) Our young brothers and sisters, there is such great power in purity! Its value is priceless! As illustrated in the account of the Stripling Warriors, purity has the power to save. By trusting in God continually, and by staying morally clean, we can have the power to overcome our most dangerous enemy and win the war that rages around us. We read in the Doctrine and Covenants, â€œWherefore, lift up your hearts and rejoice, â€¦ and take upon you my whole armor that ye may be able to withstand the evil day, having done all, that ye may be able to stand.â€ (D&C 27:15)
And in Paulâ€™s letter to the Ephesians we read: â€œBe strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.â€ (Ephesians 6:10-13) Today weâ€™d like to discuss with you the Lordâ€™s whole armor, that which has the greatest power of protection in these perilous times, even moral purity. Over the course of this devotional, we hope to strengthen your understanding of and commitment to this crucial gospel principle. We also hope to increase your understanding of the Lordâ€™s standards of moral purity, and of Satanâ€™s attempts to destroy you by destroying your virtue. And we hope you will leave with a personal testimony of the incredible blessings promised to those who maintain their virtue. We believe that this topic merits a team approach and thus both of us will share the pulpit throughout this devotional today. We also feel strongly that the nature of this topic merits the use of video footage from many of our prophets, so that you can sense and feel their conviction and spirit as they discuss the power of moral purity.
We know that this is a sensitive topic, yet it is one that we feel strongly prompted to address for the beneï¬t of all of us. We humbly seek the guidance of the Spirit so that each of you might know and feel the things a loving Heavenly Father and His Son would have you receive here today.
I think the best place for us to begin our discussion of the Power of Purity is by taking a closer look at our loving Heavenly Fatherâ€™s plan for us. Marriage, parenthood, and eternal families are central to His plan, as clearly stated in The Family: A Proclamation to the World: â€œWe, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creatorâ€™s plan for the eternal destiny of His children. â€œAll human beingsâ€”male and femaleâ€”are created in the image of God. In Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual pre-mortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose. â€The ï¬rst commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God's commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.â€ (President Hinckley, 1995, Proclamation on the Family) As we just heard from President Hinckley, our sexual identities and procreative powers are an integral part of our Father in Heavenâ€™s plan. Elder Oaks has commented that â€œthe power to create mortal life is the most exalted power God has given His childrenâ€.
Furthermore, â€œthe emphasis we place on the law of chastity is explained by our understanding of the purpose of our procreative powers in the accomplishment of Godâ€™s plan.â€ (Dallin H. Oaks, â€œThe Great Plan of Happinessâ€, Ensign, Nov 1993.)
In a talk given some years ago by President Boyd K. Packer, he further explained the wonderful blessings of procreative power that each of us is given as a part of Godâ€™s plan:
â€œThere was provided in our bodiesâ€”and this is sacredâ€”a power of creation, a light, so to speak, that has the power to kindle other lights. This gift was to be used only within the sacred bonds of marriage. Through the exercise of this power of creation, a mortal body may be conceived, a spirit enter into it, and a new soul born into this life.
â€œThis power is good. It can create and sustain family life, and it is in family life that we ï¬nd the fountains of happiness. It is given to virtually every individual who is born into mortality. It is a sacred and signiï¬cant power, and I repeat, my young friends, that this power is good.
â€œThe power of creationâ€”or may we say procreationâ€”is not just an incidental part of the plan: it is essential to it. Without it the plan could not proceed. The misuse of it may disrupt the plan.â€ (Boyd K. Packer, â€œWhy Stay Morally Clean,â€ New Era, Jul 1972, 4)
As you heard, the power of procreation is not just incidental to the Plan; it is ESSENTIAL to it. The plan has many names. We often refer to it as â€œthe Plan of Salvation,â€ or â€œthe Plan of Redemption.â€ I like to think of it as Alma did, as â€œthe Great Plan of Happiness.â€ And the standard on which happiness is based now and in the future is moral purity (Harold B. Lee, â€œStand Ye in Holy Places,â€ Ensign, July 1973). Contrary to what the world would have you believe, moral purity is not a sliding scale. It is a constant, a timeless standard the Lord has set. As we just heard from President Packerâ€”its proper use is a commandment; its improper use is a sin. Consider these deï¬ning words of a prophet, President Spencer W. Kimball. He was speaking to a group of sisters, but his counsel applies to men and women alike: â€œI would have you lovely sisters understand that there is no new morality. That the Churchâ€™s stand on morality may be understood, we declare ï¬rmly and unalterably that morality is not an outworn garment, faded, old-fashioned, or threadbare.
â€œAs you make your lifeâ€™s choices, understand well, my dear sisters, that God is unchanging, and his covenants and doctrines are not susceptible to change. When the sun grows cold and the stars no longer shine, the law of chastity will still be basic in Godâ€™s world and in the Lordâ€™s church. Old values are not upheld by the Church because they are old, but rather because through the ages they have proved to be right and because God has thus spoken.
â€œThe law of chastity requires total abstinence before marriage and full ï¬delity afterward. It is the same for men and women. It is the cornerstone of trust so necessary to the precious happiness of the marriage relationship and family solidarity.â€ (Spencer W. Kimball, â€œPrivileges and Responsibilities of Sisters,â€ New Era, Jan 1979, 42)
The Lordâ€™s standard of moral purity, as we just heard from President Kimball, is the Law of Chastity - â€œtotal abstinence before marriage and full ï¬delity afterwards.â€ (Spencer W. Kimball, Ensign, Nov. 1978, p. 105.) As we just heard from President Kimball, one of the true keys to happiness in marriage and with our families is adherence to the Law of Chastity - â€œtotal abstinence before marriage and full ï¬delity afterwards.â€ And that commitment provides a â€œcornerstone of trust.â€ I have a testimony of this principle. I know that purity provides power and is a source of happiness in marriage and family life. Consider this profound counsel by President Gordon B. Hinckley: â€œI wish to say that the Lord has made it clear, and the experience of centuries has conï¬rmed it, that happiness lies not in immorality, but rather in abstinence. The voice of the Church to which you belong is a voice pleading for virtue. It is a voice pleading for strength to abstain from that which is evil. It is a voice declaring that sexual transgression is sin. It is contrary to the will of the Lord. It is contrary to the teachings of the Church. It is contrary to the happiness and well-being of those who indulge in it."
You should recognize, you must recognize, that both experience and divine wisdom dictate virtue and moral cleanliness as the way that leads to strength of character, peace in the heart, and happiness in life. Will and Ariel Durant, who wrote ten large volumes of history covering thousands of years, declared: â€œA youth boiling with hormones will wonder why he should not give full freedom to his sexual desires; and if he is unchecked by customs, morals, or laws, he may ruin his life before he matures sufï¬ciently to understand that sex is a river of ï¬re that must be banked and cooled by a hundred restraints if it is not to consume in chaos both the individual and the groupâ€ (The Lessons of History, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1968, pp. 35-36).
â€œFor your own sakes, for your happiness now and in all the years to come, and for the happiness of the generations who come after you, avoid sexual transgression as you would a plague.â€ (Gordon B. Hinckley, â€œReverence and Morality,â€ Ensign, May 1987, 45)
Did you hear what President Hinckley called â€œthe wayâ€ to 1) strength of character, 2) peace in the heart, and 3) happiness in life? The way is virtue and moral cleanliness; that is the Power of Purity! We must put on the whole armor of God! We might better understand this concept by considering what risks we take by going to battle without our armor. Make no mistake about it, a battle rages around us every single day. Satan is real and is focused on thwarting Godâ€™s plan for our happiness. In fact, Satanâ€™s only desire is the destruction of each one of our souls.
For Satan, the battle for our soul is a continuation of the war in Heaven. Long before any of us came to Earth, Satan and his followers were battling against Godâ€™s plan. In that pre-mortal council, our Savior stepped forward and offered to help our Father in Heaven accomplish His divine work. At that stage of the battle, good triumphed over evil. Here in mortality, on a new battleground and with new weapons, Satan and his followers continue to wage a war against righteousness. Again, our Savior has stepped forward to show us the way. Though the warfare continues, the end result of this stage of the battle is as certain as was the ï¬rst stage. The only question is which side we will end up on; will we triumph with the righteous or fall with the wicked? If we are wearing Godâ€™s armor, protected by purity, we will stand victorious.
Just as a medieval knightâ€™s armor protected his physical body, so our moral armor protects us. Satanâ€™s most tried-and-true tactic is to attack our bodies, as described in these words by Elder Melvin J. Ballard, over eighty years ago: â€œ. . . All the assaults that the enemy of our souls will make to capture us will be through the ï¬‚esh, because it is made up of the unredeemed earth, and he has power over the elements of the earth. The approach he makes to us will be through the lusts, the appetites, the ambitions of the ï¬‚esh.â€ (Melvin J. Ballard, â€œThe Struggle for the Soul,â€ Tambuli, Sep 1984, 30)
Though Satanâ€™s goal is the same today as 80 years ago, modern conveniences and advancing technology provide Satan with weapons which are increasingly more sophisticated, more subtle, and more pervasive, as foreseen by the prophet Nephi over 2500 years ago:
"For behold, at that day shall he rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good.
â€œAnd others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is wellâ€”and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.
â€œAnd behold, others he ï¬‚attereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is noneâ€”and this he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliveranceâ€ (2 Ne. 28:19- 22).
Compare Nephiâ€™s prophetic counsel of old to that of Elder Richard G. Scott, as he discusses Satanâ€™s tactics in seeking to tempt us to misuse the powerful feelings our Father in Heaven has placed within us and which are only to be shared in marriage: â€œSatan knows that those powerful emotions can be aroused by things you could see, hear, or touch. When stirred, those emotions can be used to lead one to destructive experimentation, then to serious transgressions. He uses pornography through videotapes, movies, magazines, computer images, or contaminated music for this purpose. Close your eyes, ears, mind, and heart to it. Unchecked, it would surely grow unrelentingly from initial curiosity step-by-step to become a raging monster. That demon would wreck wholesome desires, worthy companionship, noble thoughts and acts until it could destroy you. Donâ€™t lift the cover of salacious material in any form, and you will not be captured by it. If you have become entangled in that devastating web, stop immediately and seek help. Ask the Lord to guide you to that help and give you the strength to overcome that addictive habit.â€ (Richard G. Scott, â€œThe Power of Righteousness,â€ Ensign, Nov 1998, 68)
Elder Scott has pointed out the wisdom in not even â€œlifting the coverâ€ of anything salacious or inappropriate. That would be like knowingly creating a chink in your armor; even the smallest opening creates a place of vulnerability, and not even the strongest warrior would be safe. Even seemingly insigniï¬cant and minor compromises regarding our moral purity provide an opportunity for Satan to â€œpoison us by degrees.â€ Sister Elaine S. Dalton, General President of the Young Women, recently described this process of being progressively poisoned, as follows: â€œLehonti in the Book of Mormon was well positioned on the top of a mountain. He and those he led were â€œï¬xed in their minds with a determined resolutionâ€ that they would not come down from the mount. It only took the deceitful Amalickiah four tries, each one more bold than the previous, to get Lehonti to â€œcome down off from the mount.â€ And then having embraced Amalickiahâ€™s false promises, Lehonti was â€œpoison[ed] by degreesâ€ until he died. Not just poisoned, but â€œby degrees.â€ â€œCould it be that this may be happening today? Could it be that ï¬rst we tolerate, then accept, and eventually embrace the vice that surrounds us? Could it be that we have been deceived by false role models and persuasive media messages that cause us to forget our divine identity? Are we too being poisoned by degrees?â€ (Elaine S. Dalton, â€œA Return to Virtue,â€ Ensign, Nov 2008)
It should be abundantly clear to all Latter-day Saints, that outside the bonds of marriage, all uses of our God-given procreative power are a sinful degrading and perversion of the most divine attribute that we have been given as sons and daughters of God. Satan knows this. Thus Satan has chosen such sins and temptations as the chief battleground in his continued struggle to destroy our happiness and our very souls. He would have us start down that slippery slope - through what we see, hear, touch and think, so that he might poison us by degrees. No wonder the Book of Mormon teaches that unchastity is â€œmost abominable above all the sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghostâ€ (Alma 39:5). No wonder that the First Presidency in our day has declared â€œthat sexual sin - the illicit sexual relations of men and women - stands, in its enormity, next to murderâ€ (â€œMessages of the First Presidency,â€ 3 Oct. 1942, as quoted in Messages of the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, comp. James R. Clark, 6 vols., Salt Lake city: Bookcraft, 1965-75, 6:176).
Hopefully you can see the protective power of purity, purity that serves as armor to shield and defend against the tactics of Satan. But the whole armor of God is even more than just a defense, it can also be an offensive weapon, a means to further the cause of righteousness. Whatever stage of life you are in, single or married, young or old, there are powerful blessings promised to those who are morally pure.
Are there any blessings to be more fervently desired than those promised to the pure and the virtuous? Jesus spoke of speciï¬c rewards for different virtues but reserved the greatest for the pure in heart, â€œfor they,â€ said He, â€œshall see Godâ€ (Matt. 5:8). And not only shall they see the Lord, but they shall feel at home in his presence. The Saviorâ€™s promise to each of us who make moral purity a part of who we are is given in the 121st section of the Doctrine and Covenants: â€œLet virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy conï¬dence wax strong in the presence of Godâ€ (D&C 121:45).
An important step toward standing in the presence of God is being worthy to stand in His holy temples. Moral purity is required to attain the blessings of the temple and an eternal family. Listen to Sister Dalton as she explains the strength found in virtue: â€œVirtue is a prerequisite to entering the Lordâ€™s holy temples and to receiving the Spiritâ€™s guidance. Virtue â€œis a pattern of thought and behavior based on high moral standards.â€ It encompasses chastity and moral purity. Virtue begins in the heart and in the mind. It is nurtured in the home. It is the accumulation of thousands of small decisions and actions. Virtue is a word we donâ€™t hear often in todayâ€™s society, but the Latin root word, virtus, means strength. Virtuous women and men possess a quiet dignity and inner strength.â€ (Elaine S. Dalton, â€œA Return to Virtue,â€ Ensign, Nov 2008) As Sister Dalton said, virtue is required of those who wish to enter the Lordâ€™s holy temples.
There is such great power to be freely had at the temple, including the power of the Spiritâ€™s guidance. It is a place where we can escape the battle for a time and ï¬nd healing comfort and renewed strength. There is no better place to fortify our armor than in the temple.
There is another kind of power found in purity, as well, a unifying power. When obediently reserved for marriage, as commanded, intimacy strengthens our ability to â€œbecome one,â€ as the Lord has commanded us to do. Listen to the counsel of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland in this regard: â€œIn matters of human intimacy, you must wait! You must wait until you can give everything, and you cannot give everything until you are legally and lawfully married. To give illicitly that which is not yours to give (remember, â€œyou are not your ownâ€) and to give only part of that which cannot be followed with the gift of your whole self is emotional Russian roulette.
If you persist in pursuing physical satisfaction without the sanction of heaven, you run the terrible risk of such spiritual, psychic damage that you may undermine both your longing for physical intimacy and your ability to give wholehearted devotion to a later, truer love. You may come to that truer moment of ordained love, of real union, only to discover to your horror that what you should have saved you have spent, and that only Godâ€™s grace can recover the piecemeal dissipation of the virtue you so casually gave away. On your wedding day the very best gift you can give your eternal companion is your very best selfâ€”clean and pure and worthy of such purity in return.â€ (Jeffrey R. Holland, â€œPersonal Purity,â€ Ensign, Nov 1998, 75)
One of the greatest blessings the Lord has promised to those who commit and follow a path of virtue and purity is that we will be worthy of the guidance of His Spirit at all times and in all places. There can be no stronger shield to complement our armor than the guidance of the Holy Ghost as you seek to avoid evil and temptations. As summarized by the First Presidency in the booklet, For the Strength of Youth, â€œ [through virtue and purity] you will be able to do your lifeâ€™s work with greater wisdom and skill and bear trials with greater courageâ€ (The First Presidency, For the Strength of Youth (2001), 2-3.) I also love the security and safety described by Elder Richard G. Scott as he outlines the blessings and power that come from virtue and purity:
â€œContinually bless your life with the power of righteousness. It builds conï¬dence. It engenders trust. It yields enduring, worthy achievement. To be righteous is to seek intently to be obedient to the commandments of God. It is to be clean in thought and act. It is to be honest and just. Righteousness is shown more in acts than in words. A righteous life requires discipline. Discipline is that characteristic which will give you the strength to avoid giving up what you want most in life for something you think you want now. It is a friend, not a harsh taskmaster that makes life miserable. Discipline is easier to acquire when it is rooted in faith in Jesus Christ, when it is nourished by an understanding of His teachings and plan of happiness.
â€œBy making choices consistent with eternal truths, you will develop righteous character and increasing strength to resist temptation. You are assured of the help of God in fulï¬lling your worthy decisions. You qualify to be led by the Spirit, to choose the correct path. It will warn you of temptations you might not otherwise recognize.â€ (Richard G. Scott, â€œThe Power of Righteousness,â€ Ensign, Nov 1998, 68)
As we make choices consistent with eternal truths and in keeping with the laws of God, we deny Satan an opportunity to pick the battleï¬eld. Rather, we make him ï¬ght on our terms, where we have the advantage. This is one of the great blessings of avoiding evil and concentrating on activities that strengthen our commitment to virtue and purity. One of the great blessings of the Restoration is that we have living prophets to warn us and counsel us, not only on how best to sense danger early and avoid the snares and traps set by Satan, but to provide speciï¬c insight and guidance on how best to develop and pursue an ever strengthening life of virtue and moral purity. Through our living prophets, the Lord Himself teaches us how to strengthen ourselves so that we can have the power of purity to bless our own lives and the lives of those around us. Elder M. Russell Ballard spoke recently about the daily, incremental processes that provide these blessings:
â€œThe Lord has given us speciï¬c doctrines and principles that show us how to clothe ourselves in the armor of God so that we can stand against the powers of evil. I have tried to suggest a few ways to incorporate gospel principles into your lives. In most cases, we are not talking about massive changes of behavior. As with chain mail, you need simply to add small, individual pieces of armor each day through prayer, scripture study, focusing on things that really matter, and by acting in a reverent manner.
â€œLet us go forward, keeping the commandments of God and following the admonition of the Apostle Paul:
â€œBe strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
â€œPut on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devilâ€ (Eph. 6:10-11). (M. Russell Ballard, â€œBe Strong in the Lord,â€ Ensign, Jul 2004, 8-15)
What are some of the things that we can do to incorporate gospel principles more fully into our lives and thus add to our armor each day? Certainly such activities as immersing ourselves in the scriptures on a daily basis can be a source of great power and strength. So, too, is daily heart-felt prayer, seeking the Lordâ€™s guidance in all we do and counseling with Him in all things. Fasting offers the opportunity to gain special strength and power beyond our normal ability. And renewing our covenants with him weekly, and, where endowed, through regular temple attendance, can all help. As President Ezra Taft Benson taught, â€œWe must do more than simply remove the negative inï¬‚uences from our lives. We must replace them with righteous activities that ï¬ll us with the strength and determination to live as we should.â€ (Ezra Taft Benson, â€œThe Law of Chastity,â€ New Era, Jan 1988, 4)
No one steps into immorality in an instant. The ï¬rst seeds of immorality are always sown in the mind. This is one of the reasons that the First Presidency has not only counseled, but chosen to require that all of those involved in any of the Churchâ€™s institutions of Higher Learningâ€”whether students, faculty or staffâ€”must agree to adhere to the Honor code. Each of the elements of the honor codeâ€”the dress and grooming standards, the standards for academic honesty, the residential living standards and the standards for continuing ecclesiastical endorsementâ€”are designed to strengthen not only our individual armor but our collective BYU Hawaii armor. Indeed, when we conform our lives to both the letter and the spirit of those standards, we not only protect ourselves from evil, but we strengthen those around us we add to the power of purity on this campus. And that power can further strengthen our ability to learn both spiritual and academic truths.
Furthermore, for any who are married, we must avoid putting ourselves in harmâ€™s way by avoiding ï¬‚irtations of any kind and ensuring that all of our activities work to strengthen our purity and that of our spouse and family. President Ezra Taft Benson provided this guidance, and I quote:
â€œSometimes we hear of a married man going to lunch with his secretary or other women in the ofï¬ce. Men and women who are married sometimes ï¬‚irt and tease with members of the opposite sex. So-called harmless meetings are arranged, or inordinate amounts of time are spent together. In all of these cases, people rationalize by saying that these are natural expressions of friendship. But what may appear to be harmless teasing or simply having a little fun with someone of the opposite sex can easily lead to more serious involvement and eventual inï¬delity. If you are married, avoid being alone with members of the opposite sex whenever possibleâ€ (Ezra T. Benson, â€œThe Law of Chastity,â€ New Era, Jan. 1988.)
No matter how hard we try, on occasion our armor may become damaged and need repair. We need to learn to avail ourselves of the Lordâ€™s plan of repentance. That is the process by which we can become clean. Following such repentance, we can move forward to strengthen ourselves and gain the greater power he has promised all those who humble themselves and follow Him. Unfortunately, some have the impression that a few indiscretions now are no big deal and that they can repent quickly later and move on with a happy life. Speaking to a gathering of Priesthood, but it applies equally to sisters, Elder M. Russell Ballard taught the following on this subject:
â€œYoung men, please believe me when I tell you that this scenario is a gross deception by Satan; it is a fairy tale. Sin will always, always, result in suffering. It may come sooner, or it may come later, but it will come. The scriptures state that you will "stand with shame and awful guilt before the bar of God" (Jacob 6:9) and that you will experience "a lively sense of . . . guilt, and pain, and anguish" (Mosiah 2:38). â€œA related misconception is that repentance is easy. President Kimball said that "one has not begun to repent until he has suffered intensely for his sins. . . . If a person hasn't suffered, he hasn't repented" (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982, pp. 88, 99). You need only talk to a person who has truly repented of serious sin to understand that the momentary pleasure of an immoral act is simply not worth the pain that always follows.
â€œNow, let us consider the grand blessings the Lord has promised those who are obedient to the commandment to be morally clean. You never need to repent of a sin you have not committed. That seems obvious, but I want to emphasize it. Repentance is a great blessing, but you should never make yourself sick just so you can try out the remedy. You are inï¬nitely better to maintain your spiritual health by staying morally clean. If you feel conï¬dent in the presence of your parents, peers, and priesthood leaders, you can sense how you will feel when you have the conï¬dence and acceptance of the Savior.â€ (M. Russell Ballard, "Purity Precedes Power," Ensign, November 1990, p. 35.)
As Elder Ballard states so clearly, we are inï¬nitely better off to maintain our spiritual health by staying morally clean. As we do so, we are then prepared to develop our own personal program for growing in virtue and moral purity - developing a stronger and more complete set of armor - one with no chinks and with multiple layers of protection. Sister Elaine Dalton recently shared a summary of her goals and guidelines, which can serve as a model to each of us in this regard. â€œWhat can each of us do to begin our return to virtue? The course and the training program will be unique to each of us. I have derived my personal training program from instructions found in the scriptures: 'Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly.' 'Cleave unto [your] covenants.' 'Stand . . . in holy places.' 'Lay aside the things of [the] world.' 'Believe that ye must repent.' 'Always remember him and keep his commandments.' And 'If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, . . . seek after these things.' Now more than ever before, it is time to respond to Moroniâ€™s call to 'awake, and arise' and to 'lay hold upon every good gift, and touch not the evil gift, nor the unclean thing.'" (Elaine S. Dalton, â€œA Return to Virtue,â€ Ensign, Nov 2008)
As many of you know, President Wheelwright travels to Salt Lake City regularly to meet with the Board of Trustees, which consists of President Monson, his counselors, a few of the Apostles, and other General Authorities. Upon his return he regularly shares with me the great love that these inspired leaders have for you, the youth of the noble birthright. A few short years ago, President Hinckley expressed that same message while talking to the students at BYU Idaho. In his remarks, he spoke speciï¬cally about worthiness, purity and integrity, and did so in a manner much as he often expressed to my husband when they would meet to discuss the needs of BYU Hawaii. Please listen carefully to his inspired guidance on the matters weâ€™ve discussed today. â€œI want to tell you that I love you. I love you kids, you wonderful young people of this Church. I love you. â€¦ I thank you for your strength; for your willingness to do the right thing; for your desire to serve the Lord; for your capacity to help build the kingdom; for the fact that you get on your knees and say your prayers, as I know you do; for the fact that you pray to the Lord to help you, to guide you in the things you do, as I know you do.
â€œGod bless you for what you are and who you are.
â€œNow, don't ever do a cheap or a tawdry or a mean or an evil thing, my dear young friends. You don't have to engage in these things. The world is on a slippery slide, it is going downhill and it is going fast. And you are as a beacon on a hill young people of rectitude and virtue and decency and goodness. Remain that way. Do not destroy your effectiveness. Do not become involved in any kind of behavior which would destroy you, injure you, hurt you, debilitate you in any way whatever. You don't have to do those things. You can stand above them. You must stand above them! The world will look to you as the years pass, of that I have no doubt whatever.
â€œâ€¦ Educate your minds and your spirits and never lose sight of the fact that you are a child of God with a divine destiny and capability of doing great and good and wonderful things. Don't sell yourselves short. Don't cheapen yourselves. You know who you are. Each of you knows that you are a child of God and that your Heavenly Father expects something great and noble and good of each of you.â€ (Gordon B. Hinckley, â€œDedication of the Gordon B. Hinckley Building,â€ BYU-Idaho, October 22, 2002.)
Our dear young brothers and sisters, please know that we love you and pray for you. Together we testify of the wonderful truths that we have reviewed here today. We hope that you have felt the love that our chosen leaders have for each of you and that has been manifest in their direct and forthright manner on this most challenging and important subject. We testify that Satan is real, that he desires only your unhappiness and destruction, whereas your loving Father in Heaven and His Son desire only your happiness and exaltation. We know and testify that the doctrine of moral purity and virtue is one of power and of eternal importance. May each of us increase in our ability and commitment to exercise this power, thereby gaining the blessings of Heaven for ourselves and for all of those around us, and this we pray, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen