“Church Leaders Speak Out on Gospel Values,” Ensign, May 1999, 118–19
Speaking at various recent events, several members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles made significant statements in support of gospel values. Following are highlights from selected addresses.
President Thomas S. Monson
“We are our brothers’ keepers,” said President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency, in Oakland, California, where he received the 1999 Distinguished Public Service Award from the Bay Area BYU Management Society and the BYU Alumni Association. Speaking about public service, President Monson described a Church-initiated water project that “changed the lives of more than 1,100 families” in Africa: “Drinkable water now flows through 25 miles of pipes to waiting homes in a 15-village area. The simple blessing of safe drinking water recalls to mind the words of the Lord, ‘I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink’” (Matt. 25:35). President Monson continued: “When we work together cooperatively to lift the level of life for so many people, we can accomplish anything. When we do so, we eliminate the weakness of one person standing alone and substitute the strength of many serving together. While we may not be able to do everything, we can and must do something.”
During a satellite-transmitted Church Educational System fireside in February, President Monson said, “Amidst the confusion of our age, the conflicts of conscience and the turmoil of daily living, an abiding faith becomes an anchor in our lives.” He continued: “Each one of us is a runner in the race of life. Comforting is the fact that there are many runners. Reassuring is the knowledge that our Eternal Scorekeeper is understanding. Challenging is the truth that each must run. But you and I do not run alone, for our Heavenly Father will never forsake us.” He further counseled: “Let us shed any thought of failure. Let us discard any habit or trait that may hinder. Let us seek; let us obtain the prize prepared for all, even exaltation in the celestial kingdom of God.”
President Monson also said: “Where money, rather than morality, dictates one’s actions, one is inclined away from God. Turning away from God brings broken covenants, shattered dreams, crushed hopes, and wrecked lives. Such a quagmire of quicksand I plead with you to avoid. You are of a noble birthright. Eternal life in the kingdom of our Father is your goal. Such a goal is not achieved in one glorious attempt; rather, it is the result of a lifetime of righteousness, an accumulation of wise choices, even a constancy of purpose.”
President James E. Faust
“There is nothing like what is happening through the influence of this Church in all of the world,” said President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, during a 14 February fireside celebrating the 150th anniversary of the South Cottonwood Ward, the first pioneer-era ward created outside of Salt Lake City proper. “There is no church which can compare with the activity and the growth. There is no organization which fosters the principles of truth and righteousness as this Church does. And those of us who stand at the very vortex of it have a hard time even to conceive of what is happening in the onrolling of the work in our day and time.”
He said: “I rejoice in all that has happened in the past. And I look forward in confidence to the future.” In commenting about the years ahead, President Faust also said: “The progress, the onrolling, the outpouring of knowledge and truth and scientific wonders beyond that which we have even dreamed about so far will continue. And the work of God will go forward, as the Prophet Joseph said, nobly and boldly until it fills the whole earth.”
Elder Dallin H. Oaks
“If we say we are anti-abortion in our personal life but pro-choice in public policy, we are saying that we will not use our influence to establish public policies that encourage righteous choices on matters God’s servants have defined as serious sins,” said Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during a BYU devotional on 10 February. “I urge Latter-day Saints who have taken that position to ask themselves which other grievous sins should be decriminalized or smiled upon by the law on this theory that persons should not be hampered in their choices. Should we decriminalize or lighten the legal consequences of child abuse? Of cruelty to animals? Of pollution? Of fraud? Of fathers who choose to abandon their families for greater freedom or convenience?”
Elder Oaks reaffirmed that the Church condones abortion only in rare cases of rape, incest, or life-threatening situations and only after a bishop’s counsel and divine guidance are sought. “Choice is a method, not the ultimate goal,” he said. “We are accountable for our choices, and only righteous choices will move us toward our eternal goals.” He continued: “In today’s world we are not true to our teachings if we are merely pro-choice. We must stand up for the right choice. Those who persist in refusing to think beyond slogans and sound bites like ‘pro-choice’ wander from the goals they pretend to espouse and wind up giving their support to results they might not support if those results were presented without disguise.”
Elder Oaks also said, “Using arguments of choice to try to justify altering the consequences of choice is a classic case of omitting what the Savior called the ‘weightier matters of the law.’” Speaking about the modern call to accept diversity, he said: “Jesus did not pray that His followers would be ‘diverse.’ He prayed that they would be ‘one.’ Modern revelation does not say, ‘Be diverse; and if ye are not diverse, ye are not mine.’ It says, ‘Be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine’” (D&C 38:27).
Elder M. Russell Ballard
“Churches not only have the right to speak out on public moral issues, but they have the solemn obligation to do so,” said Elder M. Russell Ballard, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, at a military-sponsored prayer breakfast in Salt Lake City on 9 February. “To remove the influence of religion from public policy simply because some are uncomfortable with any degree of moral restraint is like the passenger on a sinking ship who removes his life jacket because it is restrictive and uncomfortable.”
Elder Ballard focused his remarks on the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment, which states that “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” He said that the “principles and philosophies upon which our constitutional law is based are not simply the result of the best efforts of a remarkable group of brilliant men. They were inspired by God, and the rights and privileges guaranteed in the Constitution are God given, not man derived.” He continued: “No nation or people that rejects God or His commandments can prosper or find happiness. History and the scriptures are filled with examples of nations that rejected God. Let us be wise and remember the source of our blessings and not be timid or apologetic in sharing this knowledge with others.”