Editor’s Note: The following are brief excerpts from the Saturday afternoon session of General Conference, October 1, 2005.
Priesthood Authority in the Family and the Church
Elder Dallin H. Oaks
Of the Quorum of the Twelve
The Family Proclamation gives this beautiful explanation of the relationship between a husband and wife. While they have separate responsibilities, “[I]n these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.”
President Spencer W. Kimball said this: “When we speak of marriage as a partnership, let us speak of marriage as a full partnership. We do not want our LDS women to be silent or limited partners in that eternal assignment! Please be a contributing and full partner.”
President Kimball also declared, “We have heard of men who have said to their wives, ‘I hold the priesthood and you’ve got to do what I say.’” He decisively rejected that abuse of priesthood authority in a marriage, declaring that such a man “should not be honored in his priesthood.”
There are cultures or traditions in some parts of the world that allow men to oppress women, but those abuses must not be carried into the families of the Church of Jesus Christ. Remember how Jesus taught, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time … But I say unto you …”(Matt.5:27-28). For example, the Savior contradicted the prevailing culture in His considerate treatment of women. Our guide must be the gospel culture He taught.
If men desire the Lord’s blessings in their family leadership, they must exercise their priesthood authority according to the Lord’s principles for its use:
“No power of influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
“By kindness, and pure knowledge …” (D&C 121:41-42).
To Young Women
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
Of the Quorum of the Twelve
I plead with you young women to please be more accepting of yourselves, including your body shape and style, with a little less longing to look like someone else. We are all different. Some are tall and some are short. Some are round and some are thin. And almost everyone at some time or other wants to be something they are not! But as one advisor to teenage girls said, “You can’t live your life worrying that the world is staring at you.
When you let people’s opinions make you self-conscious you give away your power …The key to feeling confident is to always listen to your inner self — the real you.] And in the kingdom of God the real you is more precious than rubies — every young woman is a child of destiny and every adult woman a powerful force for good. I mention adult women because sisters, you are our greatest examples and resource for these young women. And if you are obsessing over being a size 2, you won’t be very surprised when your daughter or the Mia Maid in your class does the same and makes herself physically ill trying to accomplish it.
We should all be as fit as we can be — that’s good Word of Wisdom doctrine. That means eating right and exercising and helping our bodies function at their optimum strength. We could probably all do better in that category. But I speak here of optimum health; there is no universal optimum size.
Frankly, the world has been brutal with you in this regard. You are bombarded in movies, television, fashion magazines and advertisements with the message that looks are everything! The pitch is “if your looks are good enough, your life will be glamorous and you will be happy and popular.” That kind of pressure is immense in the teenage years, to say nothing of later womanhood. In too many cases too much is being done to the human body to meet just such a fiction (to say nothing of superficial) standard. As one Hollywood starlet said recently, “[We have] become obsessed with beauty and [the] fountain of youth … [I am] … saddened by the way women mutilate [themselves]…in search of that. I see women [even in their teens] … pulling this up and tucking that back. It is like a slippery slope. You can’t get off of it. It is … insane, what society is doing to women.”
In terms of preoccupation with self and fixation on the physical, this is more than social insanity; it is spiritually destructive and it accounts for much of the unhappiness women, including young women, face in the modern world. And if adults are preoccupied with appearance — implanting and tucking and nipping and remodeling everything that can be remodeled — those pressures and anxieties will most certainly seep through to children. At some point the problem becomes what the Book of Mormon called “vain imagination.” And in secular society both vanity and imagination run wild. One would truly need a great and spacious makeup kit to compete with beauty as portrayed in media all around us. Yet at the end of the day there would still be those “in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers” as Lehi saw, because however much one tries in the world of glamour and fashion it will never be enough.
True Happiness: A Conscious Decision
Elder Benjamin DeHoyos
Of the Seventy
When I was serving as a missionary in northern Mexico, a few days after the baptismal service of the Valdez family, we received a telephone call from Brother Valdez asking us to come to his house. He had an important question for us. Now that he knew the will of the Lord regarding the Word of Wisdom, and even though it would be difficult to find a new job, he wondered if he should continue to work for the cigarette company where he had worked for many years. Only a few days later Brother Valdez again asked us to come by and visit him. He had decided to quit his job because he was not willing to go against his convictions. Then with a smile, and emotion in his voice, he told us that the very day he quit his old job, another company had called him to offer him a much better position.
Yes, we find happiness in the midst of the trial of our faith. The Lord manifests himself to us through his tender mercies, which we find along the road of happiness. We see with increased clarity His hand in our lives.
The Book of Mormon, the Instrument to Gather Scattered Israel
Elder C. Scott Grow
Of the Quorum of the Seventy
Recently a member in Monterrey, Mexico told me how the Book of Mormon changed his life. As a teenager, Jesus Santos was impressed by the dress and demeanor of the LDS missionaries that he would see walking down the dusty streets. He wanted to talk to them about their church, but was told by a friend that you have to wait for them to contact you.
Many times he would go to the Church building and look through the iron fence at the missionaries and mutual youth playing games.
They seemed to be so wholesome and he wanted to be part of them. He would lean his chin on the fence, hoping that they would notice him and invite him to participate with them. It never happened.
As Jesus recounted his story to me, he said, “It is sad. I was a young man and could have served a fulltime mission.”
He moved to Monterrey, Mexico. Nine years later he was visiting a friend across town when the missionaries knocked at the door. His friend wanted to send them away. Jesus begged his friend to let the missionaries talk to them for just two minutes. His friend consented.
The missionaries talked about the Book of Mormon, how Lehi’s family traveled from Jerusalem to the Americas, and how the resurrected Jesus Christ visited Lehi’s descendants in America.
Jesus wanted to know more. He was especially intrigued by the picture depicting Christ’s appearance in America. He gave the missionaries his address. He waited for months, but they never made contact with him.
Three more years passed. Some friends invited his family to a family home evening. They gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon. He told his friends, “This is the Church that I have wanted to be a part of all of my life.”
As soon as he began to read the Book of Mormon, he knew it was true. Finally, twelve years after he first because aware of the Church, he and his wife were baptized. So many years had been lost. If missionaries had just talked to him, if the mutual youth had just noticed a lonely teenager looking over the fence, if the missionaries in Monterrey had found him at home, his life would have been different during those twelve years. Gratefully, member neighbors invited him for a family home evening and shared with him that book which has such great converting power, the Book of Mormon.
Today Jesus Santos serves as President of the Monterrey Mexico Temple. The Santos’ five children are all sealed in the temple. Their children and sixteen grandchildren are all active in the Church.
If Christ Had My Opportunities … ”
Elder Paul K. Sybrowsky
Of the Seventy
In our day, our beloved Elder Neal A. Maxwell followed, “If Christ had my opportunities, what would he do?” I know personally that Elder Maxwell always sought to find the one. For he labored, “diligently to write, to persuade, “all of us … to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God” (2 Nephi 25:23). I know that he made more than one call to those, even to, the one, that he was trying to bring unto Christ.
Each one of us can make a difference in someone’s life, but we must act; we must do; we must labor diligently. Perhaps you have received an impression to invite someone to return to church, or to hear the message of the Restored Gospel for the first time. Go ahead, follow that impression. Why don’t we all invite someone to come and listen to a Prophet’s voice, tomorrow? Would you do that? Will you do that today? With faith and a willing heart (even desire), we must trust that the Spirit will give us, “in the very hour, yea, in the very moment, what ye shall say” (D&C 100:6). I know that to be so.
Spiritual Preparedness: Start Early and Be Steady
Elder Henry B. Eyring
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
However much faith to obey God we now have, we will need to strengthen it continually and keep it refreshed constantly. We can do that by deciding now to be more quick to obey and more determined to endure. Learning to start early and to be steady are the keys to spiritual preparation. Procrastination and inconsistency are its mortal enemies.
Let me suggest to you four settings in which to practice quick and steady obedience. One is the command to feast upon the word of God. A second is to pray always. A third is the commandment to be a full tithe payer. And the fourth is to escape from sin and its terrible effects. Each takes faith to start and then to persevere. And all can strengthen your capacity to know and obey the Lord’s commands.
You already have had the Lord’s help to get started. In August, you received this promise from President Gordon B. Hinckley that if you would read the Book of Mormon through by the end of the year:
“Without reservation I promise you that if each of you will observe this simple program, regardless of how many times you previously may have read the Book of Mormon, there will come into your lives and your homes an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord, a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to His commandments, and a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God.”
That is the promise of increased faith we need to be spiritually prepared. But if we delayed the start of our obedience to that inspired invitation the number of pages we had to read each day grow larger. If we then missed reading for even a few days, the chance of failure grew. That’s why I chose to read ahead of my daily play to be sure I will qualify for the promised blessings of the Spirit of resolution and testimony of Jesus Christ. When December ends, I will have learned about starting at the moment a command from God comes and being steady in obedience.
More than that, as I read in the Book of Mormon, I will pray that the Holy Ghost will help me to know what God would have me do. There is a promise of that plea being answered in the book itself. “Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.
I will act quickly on what the Holy Ghost tells me I should do as I read and ponder the Book of Mormon. When I complete the project in December, I will have had many experiences of stretching my faith to be obedient. And so my faith will be strengthened. And I will know from my own experience what comes from going to the scriptures early and consistently to know what God wants me to do and then doing it. If we do that, we will be better prepared for the greater storms when they come.
What Matters Most is What Lasts Longer
Elder M. Russell Ballard
Of the Quorum of the Twelve
This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Proclamation to the World on the Family, which was issued by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1995. It was then and it is now a clarion call to protect and strengthen families and a stern warning in a world where declining values and misplaced priorities threaten to destroy society by undermining its basic unit.
The Proclamation is a prophetic document, not only because it was issued by prophets, but because it was ahead of its time.
It warns against many of the very things that have threatened and undermined families during the last decade and calls for the priority and emphasis families need if they are to survive in an environment that seems ever more toxic to traditional marriage and to parent-child relationships.
The Proclamation’s clear and simple language stands in stark contrast to the confused and convoluted notions of a society that cannot even agree on a definition of family, let alone supply the help and support parents and families need…
Today I call on members of this Church and on committed parents, grandparents, and extended family members everywhere to hold fast to this great Proclamation, to make it a banner not unlike General Moroni’s “Title of Liberty” and to commit ourselves to live by its precepts. As we are all part of a family, the Proclamation applies to everyone.
Public opinion surveys indicate that people everywhere generally consider the family as their highest priority, yet in recent years, the broader culture seems to ignore, or mis-define the family. Consider some of the changes of the past several decades:
· Many larger national and international institutions that used to support and strengthen families now try to supplant and even sabotage the very families they were created to serve.
· In the name of “tolerance” the definition of family has been expanded beyond recognition to the point that “family” can be any individuals of any gender who live together with or without commitment or children or attention to consequence.
· Rampant materialism and selfishness delude many into thinking that families, and especially children, are a burden and a financial millstone that will hold them back rather than a sacred privilege that will teach them to be more like God …
The world needs to know what the Proclamation teaches because the family is the basic unit of society, of the economy, or our culture, and of our government. And as Latter-day Saints know, family will also be the basic unit in the celestial kingdom.