“Singles Counseled in Satellite Fireside,” Ensign, May 1989, 100–101
Single Latter-day Saints heard a message of love and acceptance, along with counsel on how to find and maintain happiness, during a fireside broadcast via satellite on February 26 from the Tabernacle on Temple Square.
Church leaders reaffirmed that the love of our Heavenly Father and of the Lord Jesus Christ extends to every individual child of God, regardless of marital status, and that the blessings of the gospel are meant for every obedient, faithful Church member.
Several thousand members gathered in the Tabernacle, and many more in meetinghouses throughout the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico for the broadcast. President Ezra Taft Benson presided, and President Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor in the First Presidency, and President Howard W. Hunter of the Quorum of the Twelve spoke. President Thomas S. Monson, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, conducted the meeting.
The fireside also featured a videotaped segment in which Elder Marion D. Hanks of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy interviewed three single members about their experiences in the Church and their feelings about the gospel.
In his remarks, President Hinckley told the audience: “Somehow we have put a badge on this large group. It reads ‘Singles.’ I wish we would not do that. You are individuals, men and women, sons and daughters of God, not a mass of look-alikes or do-alikes.”
He assured his listeners that all of them are important in Heavenly Father’s eternal plan and that no blessing to which they are entitled will be withheld.
President Hinckley addressed the needs of the never-married, the divorced, and the widowed. He counseled young men who have recently returned from missions neither to rush nor to delay marriage, but to prepare to be the right kind of husband for “a wonderful companion.” He urged them to remember that their proper role in marriage will be one not of dominance, but of equal partnership. “The husband and wife walk side by side,” he said.
Addressing never-married women, he said, “I assure you that we are sensitive to the loneliness many of you feel,” adding, “Our hearts reach out to you in understanding and love.”
He pointed out that many single women have great maturity, judgment, and training, as well as talents with which they can bless the lives of others. “Refine your skills, accept every challenge and assignment,” he counseled. “Keep your spiritual batteries at full charge, and light the lamps of others.”
President Hinckley referred to the “lonely duty” of single parents in the Church and added, “You need not be entirely alone. There are many—ever so many—in this Church who would reach out to you with sensitivity and understanding.” These include priesthood and Relief Society leaders, home and visiting teachers, and other “friends put in place by the Lord to give of their strength to help you,” he said. “And never forget that the Lord himself is a source of strength greater than any other.”
To those who have lost a partner in death, President Hinckley also affirmed that, when invited, our Father in Heaven will give comfort.
President Hinckley urged singles to develop their talents and skills, to learn the scriptures more thoroughly, and to give love and nurturing “to many who are in far worse circumstances than your own.”
President Hunter, the program’s opening speaker, began by telling single members that he has been one of them since the death of his wife in 1983. He noted that several other General Authorities either have grown up in single-parent homes or have been left widowers. “We recognize that you have special challenges in your life, and our hearts and our prayers reach out to you.”
He pointed out that the Book of Mormon “inviteth … all to come unto [Christ].” (2 Ne. 26:33.) “This is the Church of Jesus Christ, not the church of marrieds, or of singles, or of any other group or individual. The gospel we preach is the gospel of Jesus Christ, which encompasses all the saving ordinances and covenants necessary to save and exalt every individual who is willing to accept Christ and to keep the commandments.”
He noted that “the Atonement, which Christ wrought individually, was in behalf of every individual” and that we are not saved collectively. “There must be an individual effort” even for worthy couples to receive the eternal blessings promised to them, he said.
President Hunter reaffirmed that no blessings will be denied to any who are worthy. Even if the blessings of marriage and children do not come to worthy individuals in this life, they will come. The recipients will have all eternity to enjoy them, “and eternity is a long, long time.”
He also counseled single members to find happiness and fulfillment in service and personal development. He encouraged priesthood and auxiliary leaders to be attentive to the needs of single members, and he urged other members to practice “pure religion” in visiting “the fatherless and widows” (James 1:27) and to practice charity by being sensitive and not excluding single members.
The texts of President Hinckley’s and President Hunter’s addresses are scheduled for publication in the June 1989 Ensign. A videotape (stock no. VNVV413) of the fireside may be ordered through Church distribution centers.