“Youth Speak Out on Standards,” New Era, May 1976, 4
Youth Speak Out on Standards
As I visit in the stakes throughout the Church, I sometimes ask young people to express their feelings about the standards of our church. It has been enlightening and very satisfying to see the depth of their understanding of gospel standards and the emphasis they place on living the standards fully. I would like to share some of their statements and experiences with you.
A 16-year-old girl reported, “It is my firm belief that you can’t decide what your moral standards will be at the last minute. This is something you have to decide a long time in advance. After careful consideration, I have chosen the moral standards of the Church to be my personal moral standards, and am grateful each day that I nave made this decision.
This is wise counsel for young people. Your lives are largely in your own hands and deserve the best thought and planning possible. As your own architects, you will want to make careful, prayerful decisions.
Today, more than ever, we have the responsibility of living in the world but not being a part of the surrounding worldliness that leads to ungodliness, sin, and spiritual death. Young people particularly are exposed to enticements and false promises of excitement, and it requires a great deal of contemplation and preparation, of restraint and self-mastery to sidestep the temptations of Satan and his hosts.
One young man pointed out, “In our church we teach that the glory of God is intelligence. Is it intelligent to partake of any substance that can harm us or lead to defiling our bodies in any way?”
Another reminded, “The best way to live the Word of Wisdom is to stay away from places and situations that encourage the use of things we don’t believe in.”
Our friends are important in our lives. They help to shape and color our daily living. It is normal to want to be accepted by your peers, but you need to consider what you must do to receive that acceptance.
One Laurel girl solved the dilemma this way: “It used to really bother me what other people thought of me, but now I’m more worried about what my Father in heaven thinks of me.” Another young lady backed up this statement when she said, “Make God your first friend—and you won’t have any problem ensuring that all of your friends are the right type of friends.”
I recall one lovely young high school senior who said that she had been fortunate to date good LDS boys who held the same standards that she has. She explained, “Part of the reason for this is because of the girls I have for friends. It is often said you are known by the company you keep. The girls I associate with share the same standards that I have, and so the same type of boys ask us for dates.”
We cannot overlook our own responsibility in being the right kind of friend to others, the type that can be sought out by people with high ideals and standards. Elder Richard L. Evans reminded us that a true friend would never lead another to be less than his best. Can we meet that challenge in our relationships with others?
Sometimes sad examples were given by the young people who spoke concerning what can happen when we do not choose our associates wisely and do not practice the safeguards for the maintenance of high moral standards.
“Some of my school friends have experienced great sorrow because they gave in to moments of weakness and were deluded by promises of pleasure. As a consequence, they have had to sacrifice many wonderful and important things. At a time in their lives that should be most precious and exciting, they find themselves faced with a marriage that they probably can’t handle and with the responsibility for a new life when they can’t even manage their own.”
And what of those who enter into illicit relations where no pregnancy results? They, too, are losing much. They sacrifice self-respect, face the loss of esteem and trust of others, and jeopardize their Church membership.
We have been told that our bodies are temples of God. None of us would consider for a moment entering one of the temples of our Lord and desecrating his holy house. The temple of the body that houses a spirit child of God is of far greater importance to him than brick or mortar, for has he not said that his work and glory is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man?
We are now in the process of preparing our bodies and spirits for the blessings of eternity. How effectively we prepare determines our future joy and happiness. Your spirit, which is a child of God and lives eternally, will possess your present body forever. What kind of temple do you want your spirit to live in throughout the eternities of time?
The mountain streams are clear, pure, and sparkling at their source, but as sidestreams enter and pollutions gather, they often become muddied and sullied on their way to the ocean. If it is important for us to prevent pollution of the streams for our physical health, how much greater is our need to guard against the evils and wicked designs of worldly enemies who rise up on all sides to tempt us to pollute and destroy our spiritual lives!
All of us want the greatest happiness possible in our lives. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that happiness is the object and design of our existence and will be ours if we pursue the path that leads to it. Also, it has been wisely written that we can’t draw from sweet memories unless we make regular deposits in our bank of life. We have control over the sweet memories to be made in our own lives. Willpower has often been referred to as “won’t power”—the strength to not give in. It might also be called “want power” because, in reality, our good behavior results from wanting to live righteously so much that we agree to pay the cost. And as we make these payments, we earn our rewards of satisfaction and happiness.
Yes, the power is in you—the power of the Spirit and the power of the agency to choose. “And,” said the Lord, “inasmuch as men do good, they shall in nowise lose their reward.”
Our Eternal Father stands ready to bless you. He will not forsake you as long as you do not forsake him. Even then, he will extend a helping hand to those who honestly and sincerely repent and who strive to do the works of righteousness.
God bless you with strength of spirit to choose wisely your associates, to resist all temptation, and to stand steadfast in keeping the commandments of the Lord.