Message from the First Presidency
January 1971

“Message from the First Presidency,” Ensign, Jan. 1971, inside front cover–3

Message from the First Presidency

My dear brothers and sisters: This is a rare opportunity to reach members of the Church in this way. It is estimated that nearly 350,000 families will receive the first issue of our new adult magazine, the Ensign, and this recorded message.

As you listen and read, may I remind you of just how important the family unit is in the overall plan of our Father in heaven. In fact, the Church organization really exists to assist the family and its members in reaching exaltation.

The First Presidency

President Harold B. Lee, First Counselor in the First Presidency; President Joseph Fielding Smith, President, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; President N. Eldon Tanner, Second Counselor in the First Presidency. (Photography by Merrett Smith.)

Family unity and family commitment to the gospel are so important that the adversary has turned much of his attention to the destruction of families in our society. On every side there is an attack on the basic integrity of the family as the foundation of what is good and noble in life. Private and government efforts to limit the size of families, sometimes under the guise of saving the world from overpopulation, are gaining acceptance by some Latter-day Saints. And these efforts now include proposals to place some sort of legal penalties on those who may have more than two children. Liberalization of abortion laws throughout the world suggests the existing disregard for the sacredness of life. Families are torn apart by increasing use of illegal drugs and the abuse of legal drugs. Contempt for authority by more and more young people usually begins with disrespect and disobedience in homes. Respected magazines proclaim “the myth of motherhood” and champion the more radical ideas of women’s liberation.

As the forces of evil attack the individual by tearing away at his family roots, it becomes critical for Latter-day Saint parents to maintain and strengthen the family. There may possibly be a few very strong individuals who can survive without the support of a family, but more of us need the love, teaching, and acceptance that come from those who care very deeply.

The primary function of a Latter-day Saint home is to insure that every member of the family works to create the climate and conditions in which all can grow toward perfection. For parents, this requires a dedication of time and energy far beyond the mere providing of their children’s physical needs. For children, this means controlling the natural tendency toward selfishness.

Do you spend as much time making your family and home successful as you do in pursuing social and professional success? Are you devoting your best creative energy to the most important unit in society—the family? Or is your relationship with your family merely a routine, unrewarding part of life? Parent and child must be willing to put family responsibilities first in order to achieve family exaltation.

Just a word about several programs of the Church to assist you. Since 1965 the Church has offered the family home evening lessons. Parents who ignore the great help of this program are gambling with the future of their children.

The new magazine, the Ensign, which has carried this message to you, is another effort on the part of the Church to help individuals and families stay closer to the Lord. This magazine can be a great influence for good if you will read it. Over the months it will help build your testimony and offer aid in coping with the problems of the world. In like manner, younger people of the Church will be motivated and strengthened if they have access to the children’s magazine, the Friend, or the magazine for our youth and young adults, the New Era.

We live in a marvelous time, my brothers and sisters. There are great blessings attached to being part of this final dispensation. But there are also great challenges and temptations. I pray that our Heavenly Father will give all of us the strength to reach our true potential. I invoke his Spirit on the homes of the Church, that there may be love and harmony found there. May our Father preserve and exalt our families, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

President Harold B. Lee

My brief remarks are to be directed especially to the youth of the Church—you young men of the Aaronic Priesthood, you Beehive, Mia Maid, and Laurel girls, and you young adults of college age.

It has become almost trite to say that we are living in a momentous period of the earth’s history, but it is true, and we need to remind ourselves of this as we struggle to overcome the difficulties of life.

Because we are privileged to live at this special time, we may be faced with intense challenges to our faith. Today, perhaps more than ever before, there are temptations for us to put aside the faith of our fathers.

The apostle Paul declared: “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Eph. 6:11–12.)

In saying this, the apostle Paul implied that our most deadly contest in life is not with human enemies, which may come with guns or bombing planes to destroy us, but with enemies that strike out of darkness and may not be perceived by human senses.

Continuing, the apostle Paul pictures each of us a warrior being clothed with the essential armor to protect the four parts of the human body, which apparently Satan and his hosts have found to be the most vulnerable, through which the enemies of righteousness may invade the human soul: “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

“And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

“And take the helmet of salvation. …” (Eph. 6:14–15, 17.)

Truth is to be the substance of which the girdle about your loins is to be formed, if your virtue and vital strength are to be safeguarded. You should all strive to keep yourselves worthy to enter into the new and everlasting covenant of marriage in the temple for time and all eternity.

Now what about the breastplate which will safeguard your heart, or your conduct in life? It shall be made of stuff called righteousness. The righteous man strives for self-improvement, knowing that he has daily need of repentance for his misdeeds or his neglect.

His body is not dissipated by the burdens imposed by the demands of riotous living; his judgment is not rendered faulty by the follies of youth; he is clear of vision, keen of intellect, and strong of body.

Your feet, which represent your goals or objectives in life, are to be shod with “the preparation of the gospel of peace.” Preparedness is the way to victory, and “eternal vigilance is the price of safety.” Whether in speech or in song, in physical or moral combat, the tide of victory rests with him who is prepared.

Now to the last piece of the prophet-teacher’s armored dress. We will put “the helmet of salvation” upon our head. Our head or intellect is the controlling member of the body. It must be well protected against the enemy, for “as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Salvation means the attainment of the eternal light to live in the presence of God the Father and the Son as a reward for a good life in mortality. With the goal of salvation ever in our mind’s eye, as the ultimate to be achieved, our thinking and our decisions, which determine action, will always challenge all that would jeopardize that glorious future state.

Today is a wonderful time in which to be a young person. The fullness of the gospel is on the earth; all the blessings of the Lord are available to those willing to pay the price.

I realize that in the face of violence, immorality, uncleanliness, war, and other evils of modern life, there may be a tendency to become discouraged. I say to you, my young brothers and sisters, don’t give up! The gospel of Jesus Christ has answers to all these problems, and you have the responsibility and charge to stand firm; so enjoy your youth, but “put on the whole armour of God” and resist those things of the world that will destroy your testimony and your chance to accomplish a great work here. May the Lord preserve you and bless you and give you strength to withstand temptation and a determination to make the most of your life so you will be able to reap blessings throughout eternity is my humble prayer, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

President N. Eldon Tanner

You boys and girls are growing up in a wonderfully exciting time. Even a very few years ago most people thought it would never be possible to land men on the moon, to watch that or other events on colored television sets in homes all over the world, to turn a button and have instant heat or lights or coolness. How blessed you are to be alive in this day and time!

You are blessed, too, because you know who you are and why you are here. Most boys and girls who live today, and even grownups, don’t know these two important facts: who they are and why they’re here. They don’t know, as you do, that they are children of our Heavenly Father, who planned this beautiful world and made it possible for us to be born, to grow, and to become more like him and his Son Jesus Christ.

They don’t realize that Jesus Christ is at the head of his church today, but we know that he is! Because we know this and many other things about him, then surely all of us must know him better and love him more than other boys and girls or even grownups in the world today.

The most important thing that Jesus Christ taught when he was on earth is that we must love one another. He told us that “love is of God” and commanded us to “love one another.” (1 John 4:7.)

The prophet Mormon said: “… all children are alike unto me; wherefore, I love little children with a perfect love. …” (Moro. 8:17.) The most perfect of all love is, of course, the love our Heavenly Father and Jesus have for each one of us. Their love is so great that we can’t even begin to comprehend it.

Probably the nearest thing to their love is the great love your parents have for you. They loved you even before you were born. When you finally came to them from your heavenly home, you brought them a great joy that you will feel someday too when you become fathers and mothers. Your parents’ love increases as you grow, and their love for you will never cease.

Sometimes your parents have to tell you no when you want so much for them to say yes. They say no only because they love you, and they know you have been unwise in what you have asked for. Sometimes what you want to do might be unfair to others in your family; sometimes it actually would be against our Heavenly Father’s laws. His laws have been given to us to guide, protect, and strengthen us and give joy and meaning in our lives.

When you truly love, you will receive love in return. Many leaders of churches in the time of the Prophet Joseph Smith asked why he was able to attract so many people who were anxious to follow him in spite of the suffering they had to endure. He answered them: “Because I possess the principle of love … I can offer the world … a good heart and a good hand.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith [Deseret Book Company, 1968], p. 313.)

How can you learn to keep the commandment to love one another, your parents, your brothers and sisters, your friends? Someone said that we learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, and just so, we learn to love by loving. We need to express our love to those around us by telling them every day that we do love them, and mean what we say. Sometimes it is even more important to show people that we love them than it is just to say “I love you.”

But if we tell them of our love and also show that we feel a love for them by being kind and thoughtful and courteous, then each one of our homes can become a little piece of heaven.

Yes, it is a wonderfully exciting time to live, but there are many problems, too, for boys and girls who are growing in today’s world. There are many people and things to tempt you to forget who you are and why you are here. But always remember, beloved children, that all will be well with you if you live as you are taught to live by your parents and teachers and our Heavenly Father and Jesus, who love you most of all. This is my prayer for you in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.