“Morality Is Stressed at Fireside for Youth,” Ensign, Feb. 1983, 75–76
“That the Church’s stand on morality may be understood,” said President Spencer W. Kimball, “we declare firmly and unalterably, it is not an outworn garment, faded, old-fashioned, and threadbare. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and his covenants and doctrines are immutable; and when the sun grows cold and the stars no longer shine, the law of chastity will still be basic in God’s world and in the Lord’s church. Old values are upheld by the Church not because they are old, but rather because through the ages they have proved right. It will always be the rule.” (Ensign, Nov. 1980, p. 96.)
Such firm counsel has been characteristic, through the years, of President Kimball’s views and sermons on the subject of morality. Significant recorded excerpts from his many addresses dealing with the law of chastity have been included in Morality for Youth, a new Church film which served as the focal point for a special fireside held December 5 for youth and young adults.
President Kimball presided at the meeting. President Gordon B. Hinckley, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, introduced the film and afterward spoke to the youth concerning its important message.
The fireside, originating in the Salt Lake Tabernacle on Temple Square, was broadcast on local television and by satellite to more than 500 stake centers across the United States. Preceding the broadcast, youth at many of these locations heard talks on the subject of morality from priesthood leaders and their own peers. It was estimated that well over a quarter of a million youth and young adults participated in the fireside.
Following music by the Mormon Youth Chorus and a viewing of Morality for Youth, President Hinckley reviewed the story line of the film—a river trip—and its symbolism in terms of life and its temptations, particularly with regard to sexual morality. He spoke of the caution that should be exercised when temptations becomes a problem:
“It’s one thing to be brave and strong when you are thrown into trouble you cannot avoid. It is something quite different to be so foolish, for the sheer adventure of it, as to invite trouble and expose yourself to its hazards. …
“The problem is that most of us don’t pause to think. … We are challenged by friends and circumstances. No one wants to be thought of as “chicken.” No one wants to admit that he is too weak to handle himself in difficult circumstances. But let’s face the facts. The rapids can bruise and injure and kill. They are not something to be played with. They are something to be avoided.” His caution reinforced President Kimball’s observation, excerpted from a previous address and included in the film, that “I believe our young people are wholesome and basically good and sound. But they too are traveling … where great disasters can come unless warnings are heeded.”
Citing some of the “boulders that trouble the water and make it dangerous,” President Hinckley discussed smoking, drugs, drinking, pornography, petting, and immorality. “Every one of them is fraught with danger. They are like great hidden boulders in a river that cause the waters to boil and foam.”
To refrain from sin, he observed, one must control unworthy appetites and desires. (“Here, more than almost any other place,” reminded President Kimball in the film, “we must exercise self-control.”) Counseling youth on this matter, President Hinckley said, “Self-discipline was never easy. It is perhaps even more difficult today when sexual transgression is made to appear so common as to be acceptable and even expected. …
“If you are tempted toward immorality, run from it. Pray for strength to avoid it. I promise you in the name of the Lord that you will be glad that you did so.”
“Is there a valid case for virtue?” asked President Gordon B. Hinckley. “I believe with all my heart,” he affirmed, “that it is the only way to freedom from regret.”
Citing the scriptures, President Hinckley told the audience that “the peace of conscience which flows from moral virtue is a sweet and rewarding peace. The Lord himself spoke of this when he taught the people saying, ‘Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.’ (Matt. 5:8.) This is a promise made by him who has the power to fulfill. Have you ever hoped that the time will come when you can look upon the face of God? The condition which the Lord Jesus Christ gave for qualification to do that is that we be pure in heart.”
He counseled young people of the Church to remember who they are. “Never forget,” he said, “that you were chosen and brought to earth as a child of God for something of importance in his grand design. He expects marvelous things of you. He expects you to keep your lives clean from the sins of the world. You are the line through which will pass the qualities of your forebears to the posterity who will come after you. Did you ever see a chain with a weak link? Don’t you become that weak link.”
Concluding his remarks, President Hinckley expressed his faith and confidence in the youth of the Church: “I think you are the best generation we’ve ever had in the Church. You are better educated. You know the gospel better. You pray and you read the scriptures. For the most part, you are clean and decent and exciting. As you are running the river of life, I only wish to warn you of the rapids. Row around them, and have a wonderful time. May God bless each of you with a happy and productive life.”
His words echoed President Kimball’s kindly reassurance during the film’s closing moments: “Brothers and sisters, we love you. We’re proud of you. Most of you have lived beyond reproach. We’re grateful for that. If there are any who have had problems, they are solveable. We ask the Lord’s blessings upon you … all the days of your life.”