Voices of the Past, of the Present, of the Future
June 1971

“Voices of the Past, of the Present, of the Future,” Ensign, June 1971, 16

Voices of the Past, of the Present, of the Future

Address delivered at general conference Saturday morning, April 3, 1971

Beloved brothers and sisters and friends, I fully subscribe to all that President Smith has just said, and I testify that he is God’s prophet upon the earth today.

History repeats itself, and we need only return to the past to learn the solutions for the present and the future. The Corinthians seem to have been troubled by the same conflicting messages we hear in our own time. Paul told them:

“For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?

“… for ye shall speak into the air.

“There are … so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification.” (1 Cor. 14:8–10.)

Paul’s was an impressive voice, powerful and strong, never silenced in all the interim centuries.

There are voices all about us. Some are harsh and raucous, others sweet and penetrating.

Paul’s revelations included visions of these latter days. His voice is saying:

“… in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

“Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;

“Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats. …” (1 Tim. 4:1.)

Voices again! Rasping voices proclaiming “doctrines of devils,” saying there is no sin; there is no devil; there is no God. Saying that we will “eat, drink, and be merry” like the antediluvians who never believed that the flood would really come.

Many voices of seducing spirits advocate carnal pleasures and unrestrained physical satisfactions. Our world is now much the same as it was in the days of the Nephite prophet who said: “… if it were not for the prayers of the righteous … ye would even now be visited with utter destruction. …” (Alma 10:22.) Of course, there are many many upright and faithful who live all the commandments and whose lives and prayers keep the world from destruction.

We are living in the last days, and they are precarious and frightening. The shadows are deepening, and the night creeps in to envelop us.

The clear voice of Paul:

“… in the last days perilous times shall come.

“For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous … blasphemers, disobedient to parents … unholy,

“Without natural affection … incontinent, …

“… lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.” (2 Tim. 3:1–4.)

A prominent columnist wrote of our day: “One thing is certain. We shall be given no centuries for a leisurely and comfortable decay. We have an enemy now—remorseless, crude, brutal and cocky … [who believes] that we are in an advanced state of moral decline … [and] ripening for the kill.” (Jenkin Lloyd Jones, Human Events, November 24, 1961.)

Recently people on the street responded to the question “Is chastity outmoded?” The answers: “Morals have changed; virginity is on the way out. Love is in.” “Virgins are really weird.” “There are few people these days who are virtuous.” One girl said, “Chastity is outdated because in these enlightened days, people are freer.”

Yes: Free to commit sin; free to break laws. Free to contract VD. Free to shorten life; free to deny God; free to be free of all real freedoms.

We see our world sinking into depths of corruption. Every sin mentioned by Paul is now rampant in our society.

Men and women are “lovers of their own selves.” They boast in their accomplishment. They curse. They blaspheme. Another sin is disobedience of children to parents and parents’ disobedience to law. Many are without the natural affection, which seems to be eroding family life as they seek to satisfy their own selfish wants.

There are said to be millions of perverts who have relinquished their natural affection and bypassed courtship and normal marriage relationships. This practice is spreading like a prairie fire and changing our world. They are without “natural affection” for God, for spouses, and even for children.

Paul speaks of continence—a word almost forgotten by our world. Still in the dictionary, it means self-restraint, in sexual activities especially. Many good people, being influenced by the bold spirit of the times, are now seeking surgery for the wife or the husband so they may avoid pregnancies and comply with the strident voice demanding a reduction of children. It was never easy to bear and rear children, but easy things do not make for growth and development. But loud, blatant voices today shout “fewer children” and offer the Pill, drugs, surgery, and even ugly abortion to accomplish that. Strange, the proponents of depopulating the world seem never to have thought of continence!

Libraries are loaded with books with shocking pictures, showing people how to totally satisfy their animal natures, but few books are found on the self-control of continence. With a theory that “life is for sex,” every imagination of the minds of men devises ways to more completely get what they call “sexual fulfillment,” which they demand at the expense of all else—family, home, eternal life. There should be from press and lecture platform and pulpit deep and resounding voices urging man to rise above the carnal and rest his mind on things clean and sacred.

Paul preached continence and self-mastery. He practiced it, being years in the mission field. Was that not his meaning when he said:

“For I would that all men were even as I myself. …

“… It is good for them if they abide even as I.” (1 Cor. 7:7–8.)

“But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection. …” (1 Cor. 9:27.)

Paul speaks of “lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God.” Does that not describe the wanton sex permissiveness of our day?

Paul speaks of those who “creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts.” (2 Tim. 3:6.)

Immorality seems to now receive the wink of approval of the once honorable people. Debauchery never gave birth to good of any kind, and Paul said: “But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.” (1 Tim. 5:6.) But now comes a heavenly voice: “Thou shalt not commit adultery; and he that committeth adultery, and repenteth not, shall be cast out.” (D&C 42:24.)

Many voices, loud and harsh, come from among educators, business and professional men, sociologists, psychologists, authors, movie actors, legislators, judges, and others, even some of the clergy, who, because they have learned a little about something, seem to think they know all about everything.

This egotism and pride is prompted by the cunning father of lies. Hear the voice of a Nephite prophet describing their acceptance of the “cunning plan of the evil one”:

“… to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God.” (2 Ne. 9:29.)

“… When they are learned they think they are wise … supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness. … And they shall perish.” (2 Ne. 9:28.)

Peter’s voice was sure when he called the evil ones brute beasts who would perish in their own corruption. He called them “spots … and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings,” “having eyes full of adultery”; “beguiling unstable souls.” He speaks of their “lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness”; and those who return to their sin after having been cleansed he likens to the dog returning to its vomit and the sow that has been washed returning to her wallowing again in the mire. (See 2 Pet. 2:13–22.)

Sustaining Peter comes the voice of Paul to Titus:

“Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.

“They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.” (Titus 1:15–16.)

Much has been said about the frustration of youth. While we can hardly justify their eccentricities and disobedience and their apparent loss of faith, perhaps part of the blame for their frustrations can be laid at the feet of those parents who gave them an example of disobeying both government and God’s laws.

Certainly, some blame can be attached to the voices from lecture platforms, editorial rooms, or broadcasting stands, and even from the pulpit.

Such voices may have to answer for their perpetuating falsehood and their failure to give true leadership in combating evil. “… as with the people, so with the priest. …” (Isa. 24:2.) The term priest is here used to denote all religious leaders of any faith. Isaiah said: “The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.” (Isa. 24:5.) From among the discordant voices we are shocked at those of many priests who encourage the defilement of men and wink at the eroding trends and who deny the omniscience of God. Certainly these men should be holding firm, yet some yield to popular clamor.

I give some quotes from the press:

“Many churchmen are reluctant to give a definite yes or no to marijuana.” “It depends upon circumstances.” (Time, August 16, 1968.)

They have developed “situation ethics,” which seem to cover all sins.

Other religious leaders are saying: “… precise rules of Christian conduct should not necessarily apply to problems of sexuality.” (London—British Council of Churches.)

In contrast hear the strong voice of a prophet. Peter prophesied:

“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that brought them. …

“And many shall follow their pernicious ways. …” (2 Pet. 2:1–2.)

Only this month the press quoted the retired head of a populous church proposing “revival of old-style betrothals which would permit young unmarried couples to sleep together with the church’s blessing,” and “it would not be regarded in the moral sense as fornication.”

And now, the voice of a commentator: “Recently, the screen industry solemnly announced that henceforth perversion and homosexuality would no longer be barred from the screen. … We are drowning our youngsters in violence, cynicism and sadism piped into the living room. …” (Jenkins Lloyd Jones.)

Quoting from fairly recent publications: “The __________ church conference today approved recommendation that homosexuality between consenting adults should no longer be a criminal offense. …”

The voice from a much-read magazine: “… a group of __________ ministers in San Francisco thinks the churches ought to drop their strictures against homosexuals. …”

It was reported that groups of ministers and their wives attended a party given by homosexuals and lesbians to raise funds for the perversion program. The magazine quoted: “… that all Bay area schools would have to close down immediately if all homosexuals currently working in the school systems were discovered and in keeping with state law, dismissed.” (Newsweek, February 13, 1967.)

The minister quoted is reported to have said: “… two people of the same sex can express love and deepen that love by sexual intercourse.” (Ibid.)

Those are ugly voices—they are loud and raspy.

Why do we speak in this vein? Why do we call to repentance when there are such pleasant subjects? It is because someone must warn the world of its doom if life does not change directions.

We remember Pope’s verse:

“Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,

As to be hated needs but to be seen;

Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,

We first endure, then pity, then embrace.”

(Alexander Pope, “Essay on Man,” Epistle II, line 135.)

Some voices must cry out against them. Ours cannot remain silent.

To the great Moses these perversions were an abomination and a defilement, worthy of death. To Paul it was unnatural, unmanly, ungodly, and a dishonorable passion of an adulterous nature and would close all the doors to the kingdom.

When parents are indiscriminate in their sex behavior and when writers, authors, religious leaders, and others condone such transgression, how can we save from the darkness the bewildered, frustrated youth searching for an example, a hitching post, and something right in which to believe—a safe harbor.

“The group that tolerates sexual anarchy is endangering its very survival,” says sociologist Sorokin.

One prominent voice booms out that there are many steepled edifices in which the word sin has not been mentioned for a long time, and a preachment against it cannot be remembered.

In direct contrast to the permissive voices above comes a voice of authority from the Lord’s church:

“… Man is a biological unit,” said President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., “an animal, but he is more than this, he is the temple of an immortal spirit; that spirit can be defiled by the flesh, and defilement comes when the laws of chastity are violated.

“Our very civilization itself is based upon chastity, the sanctity of marriage, and the holiness of the home. Destroy these and Christian man becomes a brute.

“… the family relationship continues through eternity. It is the loftiest and most sacred human relationship we know.” (Conference Report, October 1938, p. 137.)

The voice of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in unmistakable terms warns:

“… sexual sin—the illicit sexual relations of men and women—stands, in its enormity, next to murder. The Lord has drawn no essential distinctions between fornication, adultery, and harlotry or prostitution. Each has fallen under his solemn and awful condemnation. … [Such cannot] … escape the punishments and the judgments which the Lord has declared against this sin. The day of reckoning will come just as certainly as night follows day.”

Then speaking of those who condone and justify evil whether from press or microphone or pulpit, they continue:

“They who would palliate this crime and say that such indulgence is but a sinless gratification of a normal desire, like appeasing hunger and thirst, speak filthiness with their lips. Their counsel leads to destruction; their wisdom comes from the father of lies.” (Message of the First Presidency to the Church, Improvement Era, November 1942, page 686.)

Then comes the vibrant voice of Paul again:

“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the spirit of God dwelleth in you?

“If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” (1 Cor. 3:16–17.)

And the voice of Deity: “I am Jesus Christ; …

“I command thee that thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife; nor seek thy neighbor’s life.” (D&C 19:24–25.)

Sex involvement outside of marriage locks doors to temples and thus bars the way to eternal life.

We extend to every listener a cordial invitation to come to the watered garden, to the shade of pleasant trees, to the unchangeable truth.

Come with us to sureness, security, consistency. Here the cooling waters flow. The spring does not go dry.

Come listen to a prophet’s voice and hear the word of God.

The Lord does not change. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. His church stands firm and unchangeable. Sin will not be tolerated, but sincere repentance will be rewarded with forgiveness.

The Lord who suffered for us says:

“… I command you to repent … lest … your sufferings be sore—how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not.

“For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;

“But if they would not repent, they must suffer even as I;

“Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore. …” (D&C 19:15–18.)

May the voices of the Lord’s servants prevail, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.