“From Age Eighteen On,” Ensign, Apr. 1976, 66
Since I have some responsibility regarding the Melchizedek Priesthood, I would like to just briefly review the priesthood relationship with you and your activities.
The Relief Society and the Melchizedek Priesthood quorums have an intertwined responsibility to identify, encourage, account for, and hopefully hold close to us the men and women of the Church eighteen years old and beyond, to assist and effectively guide them to find real joy and happiness.
Every Melchizedek Priesthood quorum president and every Relief Society president must be concerned about each member over whom they preside, but they must be especially alert to today’s needs of those of our own number who are single and live away from their families. The widowed, divorced, and those who have never married have greater needs than their married friends. Usually their needs are best met by joint activities planned by these single adults. The bringing together of priesthood and Relief Society leaders in organizing joint activities for single members is called “Melchizedek Priesthood MIA.” It is not an auxiliary organization. When the representatives from the quorum and the Relief Society meet to plan or evaluate joint activities, this meeting is under the direction and leadership of the priesthood.
Ward representatives from the quorum and Relief Society should be called, trained, and encouraged to plan and accomplish meaningful activities for each age group—Young Adults, Young Special Interest, and Special Interest.
An alert Special Interest leader in California told me in a recent visit of the success of the Melchizedek Priesthood MIA in reaching the singles of her stake. She said, “We are reaching them and getting them involved.”
She reported that these successes included having a stake president who is fully committed to the success of the program and willing to call the best single people in the stake to run it. He is flexible and not afraid to let the proper singles leadership try new, approved approaches and develop new ideas. A high councilor has been assigned to the program who enjoys and is comfortable with his assignment. A stake Relief Society counselor has been assigned to Young Adults and Special Interest who is committed, enjoys her assignment, and can empathize with the single women. A stake Special Interest president has been called who is the best single man in the stake—a winner and a leader. Elders quorum and Relief Society counselors are on the playing field and not in the stands. Ward representatives are winners, self-starters who will attract active as well as inactive people to the activities. They are enthusiastic about their stewardship and have a vision of the needs of our members who are single.
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Now, you sisters, just imagine, as soon as a young woman reaches eighteen years of age, she is your responsibility. I know that you have been told this, but I think this is a great challenge. These young women are precious. We love them. The Lord loves them. If they are diligent in keeping the commandments, their lives will be a blessing to mankind, and no blessings will be denied them.
Driving to my office yesterday morning, while stopped at a red light, I noticed a most attractive, wholesome-appearing young woman standing near the curb. A small sports car drove up and stopped. She jumped in. As we drove away from the light, the sports car was parallel with me. The young man in the car handed her a cigarette package. She lit one and gave it to him and then lit one for herself. As they sped on I noticed a carton of beer on the back seat. This young man did not have the clean-cut appearance that the young girl had. He was unshaven, and his hair was rather long and straggly. They were soon out of sight, but I could not get her off my mind. Who is she? What is her name? What is her home like? What are her beliefs? Her appearance was that of a person we would see at Church. Was she one of our members? What ward has her membership? How much encouragement has she felt from us? Where did we miss? Who is her keeper?
Yours is the task to see that she is properly fellowshipped into the appropriate Relief Society activity. It may be a Young Adult Relief Society held on either a ward or stake basis, but she must be encouraged, taught, and accounted for. She is yours, not only during her courtship and marriage, but as a mother, as a helpmeet, and perhaps eventually as a widow or aged person in need of special loving attention.
Yours has been described as the task of training women to become wives, women to become mothers, women to become homemakers, and women as women, to shepherd them through all these phases, to encourage them to grow spiritually, mentally, and to not lose their own identity.
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Some who are influenced by our drifting society are taking a new look at our “modern ethics.” What is a good life? What is fair? What is true? What is right? The word “ethics” is derived from the Greek word for character. Who will lead us back? Who will help restore these true principles? It will be the Latter-day Saint women, I believe. Your role is of great importance. One of the objectives that the Relief Society accepted at its organization meeting held in Nauvoo was “to assist by correcting the morals and strengthening the virtues of the community.” (History of Relief Society 1842–1966, p. 18.) To me this includes all branches or all phases of civic life—the village, city, county, state, and national agencies, and particularly the local school board. Your influence is needed now as never before. A prominent school administrator was recently quoted in the press as saying, “The morality of our people is rapidly deteriorating. This past week, under sponsorship of the Kettering Foundation, I talked with school administrators in six of our largest cities from San Francisco to Atlanta. The concern that was uppermost in the minds of these men and women was their inability to stop the rapid rise of absenteeism, vandalism, and crime on the campuses.”
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May I suggest to you that you teach prayer—personal and family. Start as soon as your child can utter a few words. Teach them why we pray and to whom and for what, and in so doing you will find your children will draw nearer to the Lord.
Closely follow the development of your children. Who are their friends? What is happening at school? Are you satisfied with it? Review their books. What is your television schedule? A recent news service said, “Today, the media are more important in forming values than family, church, and school combined.” (Religious News Service, Detroit, August 18, 1975.) Who is in charge of value-forming in your home? Is it the television? Are you guiding dress standards? How about old-fashioned manners at the dinner table? Who opens the car door? Are you reminding them and teaching them?
May I suggest that you read the scriptures daily. Lovingly encourage your family to do likewise. Remember, the scriptures are a vital part of Relief Society and priesthood study. Someone said that many women do not like to read the scriptures. They are afraid of what the scriptures say. Well, your life is not in harmony if this is so. Maybe we need to read them more.
Help your sons and daughters to understand that we marry in the temple. We live to be worthy to go there. Teach your children to take a firm stand regarding sexual purity. We have a great song: “Who’s on the Lord’s side? Who? Now is the time to show.” (Hymns, no. 175.) Teach your children to be on the Lord’s side of morality. The would-be destroyers of our youth who are pushing sex for pleasure only or cheap entertainment have not reckoned with the intense spirit of the Mormon woman who has a glimpse of the eternities.
Our family affections and desires are prepared to endure through all eternity. The Latter-day Saint woman who has this lofty concept will influence her husband and children to realize this blessing. It is yours to be accomplished. In the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.