“President Benson, Youth Leaders Offer Counsel to ‘Rising Generation’” Ensign, July 1986, 72–73
President Ezra Taft Benson told thousands of young Latter-day Saints during a satellite-broadcast fireside May 18 that they will receive strength to overcome temptation and “know the will of God concerning yourselves if you will take the time to pray and listen.”
The young people gathered in the Tabernacle on Temple Square in Salt Lake City and at satellite receiver-equipped stake centers throughout the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico for the program. Many of their parents and local Church leaders were also in attendance. The program, which was also televised by KBYU throughout the western United States, commemorated the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood on 15 May 1829.
Elder Jack H. Goaslind of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy, Executive Director of the Church’s Priesthood Department, conducted the meeting and spoke briefly. Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone of the First Quorum of the Seventy, Young Men general president, and Sister Ardeth G. Kapp, Young Women general president, also spoke.
“God loves you,” President Benson assured his young listeners. “His desire and purpose and glory is to have you return to him pure and undefiled, having proven yourselves worthy of an eternity in his presence.”
Leaders chosen by inspiration are dedicated to helping youth achieve that goal, he said. “Satan is also mindful of you. He is committed to your destruction.” President Benson then offered several guides to help young people avoid that destruction and achieve happiness.
First, he counseled youth to live a morally clean life. He read from a letter written by a young woman who had found anguish and torment in the burden of sin. “You can avoid that burden and all of the attending heartaches if you will but heed the standards laid down for you through the teachings of the Lord and the Lord’s servants,” President Benson remarked.
“The Church has no double standard of morality. The moral code of heaven for both young men and young women is complete chastity before marriage and full fidelity after marriage.”
President Benson next counseled the young people “to stay close to your parents. There are some things that come only with mature adulthood, and one of these is wisdom. Young people, you need the wisdom of age, just as some of us older ones need your enthusiasm for life.”
His third point of counsel was, “in the words of Jesus Christ, to ‘watch and pray always lest ye enter into temptation; for Satan desireth to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.’ (3 Ne. 18:18.) If you will earnestly seek guidance from your Heavenly Father, morning and evening, you will be given the strength to shun any temptation.”
“I pray that you—the young and rising generation—will be fit and pure vessels to bear triumphantly the responsibilities of the kingdom of God in preparation for the second coming of our Savior,” he concluded.
Elder Goaslind spoke of the divine plan that brought today’s youth to earth in these times. “You were the valiant ones who must now step forward and carry out the assignments you committed to in your premortal life,” he said.
“In a time when evil is made to look attractive and right, we call upon every young man and young woman of the Church to band together and to support and encourage each other” in preparing for life and exaltation.
Elder Featherstone reviewed events surrounding the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood, then issued the young men a “call to arms,” in the same vein as the call issued by the great Nephite commander, Moroni, before the birth of Christ. Moroni urged his people to defend their liberty and the blessings of obedience.
Elder Featherstone told the young men listening, “Come forth; the battle is at hand. Never has enlistment in the Lord’s cause been so important.”
He called on them to “learn of the Lord and his strategy for his army” through obedience to the Lord’s commandments, study of the scriptures, and prayer. Then he urged them to “go out after those who … are in no-man’s land spiritually” and bring them back into activity. He issued a similar charge to Primary leaders, Aaronic Priesthood quorums, and Young Women classes.
Sister Kapp pointed out that young women have reason to rejoice in the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood “because the priesthood was restored to bless the whole human family.”
She reviewed a number of ways the priesthood blesses the lives of women, and urged the young women to become, through study and practice of the recently introduced Young Women Values, a force for righteous influence in the world.
“It is not power and authority,” Sister Kapp said, “but the strength of your light, your great example and influence, that will significantly affect ‘both the numerical and the spiritual growth of the Church in the last days.’” (See Spencer W. Kimball, Ensign, Nov. 1979, p. 104.)
Two special video segments were broadcast during the program. They depicted events surrounding the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood and true-to-life modern situations in which the strength of other youth and parents helped young people overcome temptations and trials.
Texts of the talks by President Benson, Elder Featherstone, and Sister Kapp have been published in the June issue of the New Era.