the thinker

Quotes from Elder Boyd K. Packer

The following are some quotes from Elder Boyd K. Packer, Apostle. (b. 1924 - d. 2015)

[E]ven a four-year-old knows that a chick will not be a dog, nor a horse, nor even a turkey. It will be a chicken. It will follow the pattern of its parentage. She knew that without having had a course in genetics, without a lesson or a lecture.

A bird will not become an animal nor a fish. A mammal will not beget reptiles, nor "do men gather figs of thistles." (Matt. 7:16.)

In the countless billions of opportunities in the reproduction of living things, one kind does not beget another. If a species ever does cross, the offspring cannot reproduce.

This is demonstrated in so many obvious ways, even an ordinary mind should understand it. Surely no one with reverence for God could believe that His children evolved from slime or from reptiles.

Elder Boyd K. Packer, "The Pattern of Our Parentage," General Conference, October 1984.

Tolerance is a virtue, but like all virtues, when exaggerated, it transforms itself into a vice. We need to be careful of the "tolerance trap" so that we are not swallowed up in it. The permissiveness afforded by the weakening of the laws of the land to tolerate legalized acts of immorality does not reduce the serious spiritual consequence that is the result of the violation of God's law of chastity.

Talk, "These Things I Know," General Conference, April 2013.

The powers awakened earlier in your life have been growing. You have been responding to them, probably very clumsily, but they now form themselves into a restlessness that cannot be ignored. You are old enough now to fall in love—not the puppy love of elementary years, not the confused love of the teens, but the full-blown love of eligible men and women, newly matured, ready for life. I mean romantic love, with all the full intense meaning of the word, with all of the power and turbulence and frustration, the yearning, the restraining, and all of the peace and beauty and sublimity of love. No experience can be more beautiful, no power more compelling, more exquisite. Or, if misused, no suffering is more excruciating than that connected with love.

Romantic love is not only a part of life, but literally a dominating influence of it. It is deeply and significantly religious. There is no abundant life without it. Indeed, the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom is unobtainable in the absence of it.

(BYU Fireside, 3 November 1963. Eternal Love, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1973. As quoted by Bruce C. Hafen's "The Gospel and Romantic Love," BYU Speeches, 28 August 1982.)

Each year, many fall victim in the colleges and universities. There, as captive audiences, their faith, their patriotism, and their morality are lined up against a wall and riddled by words shot down from the mouths of irreverent professors.

In the separation of church and state we ought to demand more protection from the agnostic, from the atheist, from the communist, from the skeptic, from the humanist and the pragmatist than we have been given… Any system in the schools or in society that protects the destruction of faith and forbids in turn, the defense of it must ultimately destroy the moral fiber of the people. (Book, That All May be Edified, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982.)

From the book, That All May be Edified, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982.

A testimony is found in the bearing of it.

From the talk, "The Candle of the Lord," Ensign, January 1983.

And I charge each of you lawyers and judges and put you on alert: These are days of great spiritual danger for this people. The world is spiraling downward at an ever-quickening pace. I am sorry to tell you that it will not get better.

I know of nothing in the history of the Church or in the history of the world to compare with our present circumstances. Nothing happened in Sodom and Gomorrah which exceeds the wickedness and depravity which surrounds us now.

Satan uses every intrigue to disrupt the family. The sacred relation - ship between man and woman, husband and wife, through which mortal bodies are conceived and life is passed from one generation to the next generation, is being showered with filth.

Profanity, vulgarity, blasphemy, and pornography are broadcast into the homes and minds of the innocent. Unspeakable wickedness, perversion, and abuse-not even exempting little children-once hidden in dark places, now seeks protection from courts and judges.

From the article, "On the Shoulders of Giants" (2009). Vol. 2: Service & Integrity. Paper 27. (PDF)

I am restless over the possibility, ever present, that education may fail to achieve a righteous purpose and be perversely used. We have many examples in the world where the misuse of this power has degraded men rather than exalted them… The voice of atheism, of corruption, of faithlessness, of dissension resounds from a thousand platforms. It is subsidized from public funds. It is invited to the forum in public institutions, tolerated by most, and encouraged by many. The voice of faith, on the other hand, is fading. Few places are left where it might speak.

BYU Speeches of the Year, 29 April 1969.

From the talk, "The One Pure Defense"

This talk was delivered to CES Religious Educators, 6 February 2004.

Now, by moral and social and political and even intellectual standards, we seem to be losing. But mankind also knows that in the final windup scene Satan cannot win.

Elder Maxwell spoke first, quoting King Benjamin, "Brethren, we did not come here to trifle with words" (see Mosiah 2:9). What he said next changed my life: "We come to you today in our true identity as Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ."

Suddenly my body was filled with warmth and light. The weariness of travel was replaced by confidence and confirmation. What we were doing was approved of the Lord.

I have never forgotten that moment, much like moments of inspiration each of you has experienced. Such moments confirm that the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is true.

In the early 1930s, there grew up in some of the institutes a so-called superior scholarship. Secular approval, they thought, would bring more acceptance from those with whom they associated at the universities.

This attitude infected a number in the seminaries. Some work actually went forward to produce a curriculum focused on contemporary social values rather than revealed doctrine and scripture.

Several of the teachers went to obtain advanced degrees under eminent Bible scholars. They sought learning "out of the best books" (see D&C 88:118; 109:7, 14), but with too little faith. They came back having won their degrees but having lost touch with, and perhaps interest in, the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

This pulling at the moorings by some teachers of religion did not go unnoticed in the councils of the Church. The Brethren became concerned. In 1938 all seminary and institute personnel were assembled for summer school at Aspen Grove.

President J. Reuben Clark Jr., speaking for the First Presidency, delivered a monumental address, "The Charted Course of the Church in Education." It is as much an anchor today as it was the day that it was given. Surely you have read and do reread that charter. Now tonight as your teacher, I assign you to read it again. That is your homework.

I knew virtually all of those men who drifted off course. They found themselves in conflict with the simple things of the gospel. Some of them left and went on to prominent careers in secular education where they felt more comfortable. One by one they found their way outside Church activity and a few of them outside the Church. With each went a following of students—a terrible price to pay.

Over the years I have watched. Their children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren are not numbered among the faithful in the Church.

Each of you must be on alert. If you feel drawn to others who regard intellectual achievement to be more important than the fundamental doctrines, or who expose their students to the so-called realities of life, back away.

The world and the Christian churches have discarded the Old Testament, but it is there we find the nuggets of doctrine—such words as Aaronic, Melchizedek, priesthood, patriarch, Jehovah, ordinance, covenants, and so many more. They form essential links in our understanding of the plan of redemption.

The world is spiraling downward at an ever-quickening pace. I am sorry to tell you that it will not get better.

It is my purpose to charge each of you as teachers with the responsibility—to put you on alert. These are days of great spiritual danger for our youth.

Nothing happened in Sodom and Gomorrah which exceeds in wickedness and depravity that which surrounds us now.

Words of profanity, vulgarity, and blasphemy are heard everywhere. Unspeakable wickedness and perversion were once hidden in dark places; now they are in the open, even accorded legal protection.

At Sodom and Gomorrah these things were localized. Now they are spread across the world, and they are among us.

I need not—I will not—identify each evil that threatens our youth. It is difficult for man to get away from it.

The sacred relationship between man and woman, husband and wife, through which mortal bodies are conceived and life is passed to the next generation, is being showered with filth.

Spiritual diseases of epidemic proportion sweep over the world. We are not able to curb them. But we can prevent our youth from being infected by them.

Knowledge and a testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ are like a vaccine. We can inoculate them.

Inoculate: In—"to be within" and oculate means "eye to see." We place an eye within them—the unspeakable gift of the Holy Ghost.

You are not responsible to cure the world's environment. You can, with parents and priesthood and auxiliary leaders and teachers, send young Latter-day Saints out as leaven into the world, spiritually nourished, immunized to the influences of evil.

From the talk, "The Father and the Family"

This talk was delivered in General Conference, April 1994.

The ultimate purpose of every teaching, every activity in the Church is that parents and their children are happy at home, sealed in an eternal marriage, and linked to their generations.

The ultimate purpose of the adversary, who has "great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time," 1 is to disrupt, disturb, and destroy the home and the family. Like a ship without a rudder, without a compass, we drift from the family values which have anchored us in the past. Now we are caught in a current so strong that unless we correct our course, civilization as we know it will surely be wrecked to pieces.

Moral values are being neglected and prayer expelled from public schools on the pretext that moral teaching belongs to religion. At the same time, atheism, the secular religion, is admitted to class, and our youngsters are proselyted to a conduct without morality.

World leaders and court judges agree that the family must endure if we are to survive. At the same time, they use the words freedom and choice as tools to pry apart the safeguards of the past and loosen up the laws on marriage, abortion, and gender. In so doing, they promote the very things which threaten the family.

This crisis of the family is no surprise to the Church. We have certainly known what was coming. I know of no better testimony that we are led by prophets than our preparation for this present emergency.

We can only imagine where we would be if we were just now reacting to this terrible redefinition of the family. But that is not the case. We are not casting frantically about trying to decide what to do. We know what to do and what to teach.

When we speak plainly of divorce, abuse, gender identity, contraception, abortion, parental neglect, we are thought by some to be way out of touch or to be uncaring. Some ask if we know how many we hurt when we speak plainly. Do we know of marriages in trouble, of the many who remain single, of single-parent families, of couples unable to have children, of parents with wayward children, or of those confused about gender? Do we know? Do we care?

Those who ask have no idea how much we care; you know little of the sleepless nights, of the endless hours of work, of prayer, of study, of travel-all for the happiness and redemption of mankind.

Because we do know and because we do care, we must teach the rules of happiness without dilution, apology, or avoidance. That is our calling.

From the article, "For the Blessing of the Lamanites"

Relief Society Magazine, August 1964.

In fulfillment of Nephi's prophetic words, the Lamanites in our day are, indeed, being restored to their rightful place in the House of Israel. By their obedience to the principles of the gospel, they are beginning to receive the blessings promised to their ancient fathers.

Today thousands of Lamanites are coming into the Church. More than one hundred Lamanite branches have been organized among the stakes and within the missions. In many of these branches, the leadership is provided by the Lamanite members. They are the branch presidents, the teachers, the auxiliary leaders, the music directors. Lives are being transformed. In some cases, whole Indian communities are being affected.

Every Latter-day Saint should be a friend and a champion of the Indian people. We must be certain that blessings are not withheld because of any indifference or intolerance on our part. Our patient labor in behalf of Lehi's seed can help them to reclaim their inheritance in this land."

From the talk, "The Mantle is Far, Far Greater Than the Intellect"

This was delivered to the Fifth Annual CES Religious Educators' Symposium, 1981. (PDF file)

It is an easy thing for a man with extensive academic training to measure the Church using the principles he has been taught in his professional training as his standard. In my mind it ought to be the other way around. A member of the Church ought always, particularly if he is pursuing extensive academic studies, to judge the professions of man against the revealed word of the Lord.

Church history can be so interesting and so inspiring as to be a very powerful tool indeed for building faith. If not properly written or properly taught, it may be a faith destroyer.

Those who have the Spirit can recognize very quickly whether something is missing in a written Church history-this in spite of the fact that the author may be a highly trained historian and the reader is not.

There is a temptation for the writer or the teacher of Church history to want to tell everything, whether it is worthy or faith promoting or not.

Some things that are true are not very useful.

The scriptures teach emphatically that we must give milk before meat. The Lord made it very clear that some things are to be taught selectively, and some things are to be given only to those who are worthy.

It matters very much not only what we are told but when we are told it. Be careful that you build faith rather than destroy it.

Some historians write and speak as though the only ones to read or listen are mature, experienced historians. They write and speak to a very narrow audience. Unfortunately, many of the things they tell one another are not uplifting, go far beyond the audience they may have intended, and destroy faith.

That historian or scholar who delights in pointing out the weakness and frailties of present or past leaders destroys faith. A destroyer of faith-particularly one within the Church, and more particularly one who is employed specifically to build faith-places himself in great spiritual jeopardy. He is serving the wrong master, and unless he repents, he will not be among the faithful in the eternities.

One who chooses to follow the tenets of his profession, regardless of how they may injure the Church or destroy the faith of those not ready for "advanced history," is himself in spiritual jeopardy. If that one is a member of the Church, he has broken his covenants and will be accountable. After all of the tomorrows of mortality have been finished, he will not stand where he might have stood.

In an effort to be objective, impartial, and scholarly, a writer or a teacher may unwittingly be giving equal time to the adversary.

In the Church we are not neutral. We are one-sided. There is a war going on, and we are engaged in it. It is the war between good and evil, and we are belligerents defending the good. We are therefore obliged to give preference to and protect all that is represented in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and we have made covenants to do it.

I would not contribute to publications, nor would I belong to organizations, that by spirit or inclination are faith destroying. There are plenty of scholars in the world determined to find all secular truth. There are so few of us, relatively speaking, striving to convey the spiritual truths, who are protecting the Church. We cannot safely be neutral.

The final caution concerns the idea that so long as something is already in print, so long as it is available from another source, there is nothing out of order in using it in writing or speaking or teaching.

Surely you can see the fallacy in that.

I have on occasion been disappointed when I have read statements that tend to belittle or degrade the Church or past leaders of the Church in writings of those who are supposed to be worthy members of the Church. When I have commented on my disappointment to see that in print, the answer has been, 'It was printed before, and it's available, and therefore I saw no reason not to publish it again.'

You do not do well to see that it is disseminated. It may be read by those not mature enough for 'advanced history,' and a testimony in seedling stage may be crushed.

Remember: when you see the bitter apostate, you do not see only an absence of light, you see also the presence of darkness.

Do not spread disease germs!

From the talk, "Cleansing the Inner Vessel"

A talk given in General Conference, October 2010.

To be entrusted with the power to create life carries with it the greatest of joys and dangerous temptations. The gift of mortal life and the capacity to kindle other lives is a supernal blessing. Through the righteous exercise of this power, as in nothing else, we may come close to our Father in Heaven and experience a fulness of joy. This power is not an incidental part of the plan of happiness. It is the key-the very key.

When we obey, we can enjoy these powers in the covenant of marriage. From our fountains of life will spring our children, our family. Love between husband and wife can be constant and bring fulfillment and contentment all the days of our lives.

If one is denied these blessings in mortality, the promise is that they will be provided for in the world to come.

The adversary is jealous toward all who have power to beget life. Satan cannot beget life; he is impotent. "He seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself." He seeks to degrade the righteous use of the life-giving powers by tempting you into immoral relationships.

[I]f we are not alert, there are those today who not only tolerate but advocate voting to change laws that would legalize immorality, as if a vote would somehow alter the designs of God's laws and nature. A law against nature would be impossible to enforce. For instance, what good would a vote against the law of gravity do?

Some suppose that they were preset and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and the unnatural. Not so. Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone?" (This was the audio version. The print version removes the last sentence and replaces it with, "Remember, God is our Heavenly Father.")

Strangely enough, it may be that the simplest and most powerful prevention and cure for pornography, or any unclean act, is to ignore and avoid it. Delete from the mind any unworthy thought that tries to take root.

From the talk "Counsel to Young Men"

From a talk given in General Conference, April 2009.

Your gender was determined in the premortal existence. You were born a male. You must treasure and protect the masculine part of your nature.

Do not abuse yourself.

Avoid the deadly poisons of pornography and narcotics. If these are in your life, beware! If allowed to continue, they can destroy you. Talk to your parents; talk to your bishop. They will know how to help you.

Do not decorate your body with tattoos or by piercing it to add jewels. Stay away from that.

Perhaps the single greatest thing I learned from reading the Book of Mormon is that the voice of the Spirit comes as a feeling rather than a sound. You will learn, as I have learned, to "listen" for that voice that is felt rather than heard.

From the talk, "To Young Men Only"

This talk was given in General Conference, October 1976, and then published later in pamphlet form.

I wish to explain something that will help you understand your young manhood and help you develop self-control. When this power begins to form, it might be likened to having a little factory in your body, one designed to produce the product that can generate life.

This little factory moves quietly into operation as a normal and expected pattern of growth and begins to produce the life giving substance. It will do so perhaps as long as you live. It works very slowly. That is the way it should be. For the most part, unless you tamper with it, you will hardly be aware that it is working at all.

As you move closer to manhood, this little factory will sometimes produce an oversupply of this substance. The Lord has provided a way for that to be released. It will happen without any help or without any resistance from you. Perhaps, one night you will have a dream. In the course of it the release valve that controls the factory will open and release all that is excess.

The factory and automatic release work on their own schedule. The Lord intended it to be that way. It is to regulate itself. This will not happen very often. You may go a longer period of time, and there will be no need for this to occur. When it does, you should not feel guilty. It is the nature of young manhood and is part of becoming a man.

There is, however, something you should not do. Sometimes a young man does not understand. Perhaps he is encouraged by unwise or unworthy companions to tamper with that factory. He might fondle himself and open the release valve. This you should not do, for if you do that, the little factory will speed up. You will then be tempted again and again to release it. You can quickly be subjected to a habit, one that is not worthy, one that will leave you feeling depressed and feeling guilty. Resist that temptation. Do not be guilty of tampering or playing with this sacred power of creation. Keep it in reserve for the time when it can be righteously employed.

One of you, perhaps, has not fully understood until now. Perhaps your father did not talk to you. You may already have been guilty of tampering with these powers. You may even have developed a habit. What do you do then?

First, I want you to know this. If you are struggling with this temptation and perhaps you have not quite been able to resist, the Lord still loves you. It is not anything so wicked nor is it a transgression so great that the Lord would reject you because of it, but it can quickly lead to that kind of transgression. It is not pleasing to the Lord, nor is it pleasing to you. It does not make you feel worthy or clean.

There are ways to conquer such a habit. First of all, you must leave that alone long enough for it to slow down. Resisting is not easy. It will take weeks, even months. But you can get the little factory slowed back to where it should be.

If a missionary, for instance, indulges in these unworthy practices, the Spirit of the Lord will leave him. When he is prayerful and will fast, the Spirit of the Lord sustains him. He soon develops a manly restraint and worthiness. Resist those temptations. Do not tamper with your body. If you have already, cease to do it --now. Put it away and overcome it. The signal of worthy manhood is self-control.

There are some men who entice young men to join them in these immoral acts [masturbating/homosexuality]. If you are ever approached to participate in anything like that, it is time to vigorously resist.

While I was in a mission on one occasion, a missionary said he had something to confess. I was very worried because he just could not get himself to tell me what he had done.

After patient encouragement he finally blurted out, 'I hit my companion.'

'Oh, is that all,' I said in great relief.

'But I floored him,' he said.

After learning a little more, my response was 'Well, thanks. Somebody had to do it, and it wouldn't be well for a General Authority to solve the problem that way.'

I am not recommending that course to you, but I am not omitting it. You must protect yourself.

There is a falsehood that some are born with an attraction to their own kind, with nothing they can do about it. They are just 'that way' and can only yield to those desires. That is a malicious and destructive lie. While it is a convincing idea to some, it is of the devil. No one is locked into that kind of life. From our premortal life we were directed into a physical body. There is no mismatching of bodies and spirits. Boys are to become men-masculine, manly men-ultimately to become husbands and fathers. No one is predestined to a perverted use of these powers.

Young Latter-day Saint men, do not tamper with these powers, neither with yourself alone nor with one of your own kind. Never let anyone handle you or touch those very personal parts of your body which are an essential link in the ongoing of creation."

From the talk "To the One"

This talk was given at a BYU fireside March 5, 1978. Later published in pamphlet form.

I ask you, the ninety and nine, to sit quietly if you will, reverently if you can, and to generously help create an atmosphere where we can reach that one who desperately needs the counsel that I will present.

[Quoting Jacob 2] '…I must do according to the strict commands of God, and tell you concerning your wickedness and abominations…' I understand those words of Jacob as I never have before. I see before me the worthy youth of Zion. I must nevertheless touch upon a subject such as he did, and for the same reason. One more sentence from Jacob: 'Wherefore I, Jacob, gave unto them these words as I taught them in the temple, having first obtained mine errand from the Lord.' [Jacob 1:17] Rest assured that I have wrestled in prayer over this assignment.

And so, now to the subject. To introduce it I must use a word. I will use it one time only. Please notice that I use it as an adjective, not as a noun; I reject it as a noun. I speak to those few, those very few, who may be subject to homosexual temptations. I repeat, I accept that word as an adjective to describe a temporary condition. I reject it as a noun naming a permanent one.

I have had on my mind three general questions concerning this subject. First: Is sexual perversion [homosexuality] wrong?

There appears to be a consensus in the world that it is natural, to one degree or another, for a percentage of the population. Therefore, we must accept it as all right. However, when you put a moral instrument on it, the needle immediately flips to the side labeled 'wrong.' It may even register 'dangerous.' If there has been heavy indulgence, it registers clear over to 'spiritually destructive.'

The answer: It is not all right. It is wrong! It is not desirable; it is unnatural; it is abnormal; it is an affliction. When practiced, it is immoral. It is a transgression.

Do not be misled by those who whisper that it [homosexuality] is part of your nature and therefore right for you. That is false doctrine!

Is this tendency [homosexuality] impossible to change? Is it preset at the time of birth and locked in? Do you just have to live with it? For example, the shutter of an expensive camera is calibrated at the factory and cannot be adjusted in the field. If such a camera, by chance, is thrown out of calibration or damaged, it cannot be fixed locally. It must eventually go back to the factory, for only there can it be put in order. Is perversion like that? The answer is a conclusive no! It is not like that.

Some so-called experts, and many of those who have yielded to the practice, teach that it is congenital and incurable and that one just has to learn to live with it. They can point to a history of very little success in trying to put whatever mechanism that causes this back into proper adjustment. They have, to support them, some very convincing evidence. Much of the so-called scientific literature concludes that there really is not much that can be done about it.

I reject that conclusion out of hand. And there is a very sensible reason. How can a conclusion on a matter like this be valid when the studies have ignored the part of our nature most affected by it? It has not been fully studied as a moral and a spiritual disorder.

It is not unchangeable. It is not locked in.

The Lord does not work by exceptions. He works by rules. Put a moral or a spiritual test upon it and the needle flips conclusively to the indicator and says 'correctable.' Almost every major physical disease was once thought to be incurable but yields now that the cause is fully known and the right combination of remedies is applied.

If someone is heavily involved in perversion [homosexuality], it becomes very important to him to believe that it is incurable. Can you not see that those who preach that doctrine do so to justify themselves? Some who become tangled up in this disorder become predators. They proselyte the young or the inexperienced. It becomes very important for them to believe that everyone, to one degree or another, is 'that way.' You hear them claiming that a large percentage of the population is involved, in one way or another, with this activity. Do not be deceived. If you are one of the few who are subject to this temptation, do not be misled into believing that you are a captive to it. That is false doctrine!

If it [homosexuality] is wrong, and if it is not incurable, how can it be corrected? What can be done for someone who has had a few thoughts in this direction? Or for one who has experienced a long and ugly history of indulgence? How can they be helped?

…two young men or two young women, motivated by some attraction or responding to a desire for affection - any kind of affection - sometimes are drawn almost innocently into unnatural behavior. They can be drawn into some circumstances that makes them, for the moment, doubt their identity. Do not be deluded into thinking that such thoughts and feelings are normal for you. Just because you experience some period of confusion, do not make of that thing something that it is not.

[O]ne cannot increase masculinity or femininity by deviate physical contact with one of his own gender. There are many variations of this disorder, some of them very difficult to identify and all of them difficult to understand. When one projects himself in some confused role-playing way with those of the same gender in an effort to become more masculine or more feminine, something flips over and precisely the opposite results. In a strange way, this amounts to trying to love yourself.

There is even an extreme condition in which some individuals, in a futile search, will undergo so-called 'change' operations in an effort to restructure their identity and become whole. Do not ever even consider that. That is no answer at all! That has eternal, permanent consequences. If an individual becomes trapped somewhere between masculinity and femininity, he can be captive of the adversary and under the threat of losing his potential godhood.

If an individual tries to receive comfort, satisfaction, affection, or fulfillment from deviate physical interaction with someone of his own gender, it can become an addiction!

Since perversion [homosexuality] can have such an effect on the physical and on the emotional, it has been thought to be centered there. But where do we turn when the physical and the emotional treatments are only partly successful? To Latter-day Saints the answer ought to be obvious. We turn to the spiritual nature. The world may not regard that as important, but we do! When this is regarded as a moral matter and as a spiritual matter, there are answers not otherwise available.

Have you explored the possibility that the cause [of homosexuality] when found, will turn out to be a very typical form of selfishness - selfishness in a very subtle form? Now - and understand this - I do not think for a minute that the form of selfishness at the root of perversion is a conscious one, at least not to begin with. I am sure it is quite the opposite. Selfishness can attach itself to an individual without his being aware that he is afflicted with it. It can become embedded so deeply and disguised so artfully as to be almost indistinguishable.

It is hard to believe that any individual would, by a clear, conscious decision or by a pattern of them, choose a course of deviation. It is much more subtle than that. If one could even experiment with the possibility that selfishness of a very subtle nature may be the cause of this disorder, that quickly clarifies many things. It opens the possibility of putting some very sick things in order.

[W]e have had very little success in trying to remedy perversion by treating perversion. It is very possible to cure it by treating selfishness.

Some individuals, entangled in perversion, make a clear-cut decision to come out in the open, to stay that way, and to plunge further into it. That becomes a clear-cut act of selfishness. There is an inevitable result. From it we learn something important. Any individual is, of course, free to do that because each has his agency, but he cannot do that and produce any happiness for those who love him nor, ultimately, for himself.

If you cannot understand perversion - and I admit that I cannot understand it - you can understand unselfishness and selfishness. You can learn to cure perversion.

Now I hope I will not disappoint you too much if I say at once that I do not know of any quick spiritual cure-all. Setting aside miracles for the moment, in which I firmly believe, generally I do not know of some spiritual shock treatment that will sear the soul of an individual and instantly kill this kind of [homosexual] temptation - or any other kind, for that matter. No spiritual wonder drug that I know of will do it. The cure rests in following for a long period of time, and thereafter continually, some very basic, simple rules for moral and spiritual health." [BYU was at that participating in aversion shock therapy trying to cure homosexuality.]

You must learn this: Overcoming moral temptation is a very private battle, and internal battle. There are many around you who want to help and who can help - parents, branch president, bishop, for a few a marriage partner. And after that, if necessary, there are counselors and professionals to help you. But do not start with them. Others can lend moral support and help establish an environment for your protection. But this is an individual battle.

Establish a resolute conviction that you will resist for a lifetime, if necessary, any deviate thought or deviate action. Do not respond to those feelings; suppress them. Suppression is not a very popular word with many psychologists. Look what happened to society when it became unpopular!

Now to you, the one, some very direct counsel. If you are subject to this kind of temptation, it is essential that you break all connections with those who for one reason or another encourage it. Do not go back to places where you were tempted. Do not frequent those places where people with like attractions gather. This may require an adjustment socially, occupationally, even geographically.

If you are involved in a liaison, no matter how innocent it may appear, break it up right now. Some things tie you to this kind of temptation. Quit them. Avoid the very appearance of evil. This may be very painful if you are entangled in a relationship with deep emotional ties. Cut those ties and encourage the other person to do likewise. Get it done soon, and get it done completely and finally.

From a talk to the All-Church Coordinating Council

This talk was given at the "All-Church Coordinating Council," May 18, 1993.

Elder Lee had agreed to give me counsel and some direction. He didn't say much, nothing really in detail, but what he told me has saved me time and time again. 'You must decide now which way you face,' he said. 'Either you represent the teachers and students and champion their causes or you represent the Brethren who appointed you. You need to decide now which way you face.' Then he added, 'Some of your predecessors faced the wrong way.' It took some hard and painful lessons before I understood his counsel. In time, I did understand, and my resolve to face the right way became irreversible.

…Those who are hurting think they are not understood. They are looking for a champion, an advocate, someone with office and influence from whom they can receive comfort. They ask us to speak about their troubles in general conference, to put something in the curriculum, or to provide a special program to support them in their problems or with their activism. When members are hurting, it is so easy to convince ourselves that we are justified, even duty bound, to use the influence of our appointment or our calling to somehow represent them. We then become their advocates -- sympathize with their complaints against the Church, and perhaps even soften the commandments to comfort them. Unwittingly we may turn about and face the wrong way.

…We face invasions of the intensity and seriousness that we have not faced before. There is the need now to be united with everyone facing the same way.

Some mothers must work out of the home. There is no other way. And in this they are justified and for this they should not be criticized. We cannot, however, because of their discomfort over their plight, abandon a position that has been taught by the prophets from the beginning of this dispensation. The question then is, 'How can we give solace to those who are justified without giving license to those who are not?'

The dangers I speak of come from the gay-lesbian movement, the feminist movement (both of which are relatively new), and the ever-present challenge from the so-called scholars or intellectuals. Our local leaders must deal with all three of them with ever-increasing frequency. In each case, the members who are hurting have the conviction that the Church somehow is doing something wrong to members or that the Church is not doing enough for them.

That young man with gender disorientation needs to know that gender was not assigned at mortal birth, that we were sons and daughters of God in the premortal state.

The woman pleading for help needs to see the eternal nature of things and to know that her trials -- however hard to bear -- in the eternal scheme of things may be compared to a very, very bad experience in the second semester of the first grade. She will find no enduring peace in the feminist movement. There she will have no hope.

The one who supposes that he 'understands the mind-set of both groups' needs to understand that the doctrines of the gospel are revealed through the Spirit to prophets, not through the intellect to scholars.

From the talk, "The Unwritten Order of Things"

This talk was given at a BYU Devotional, 15 October 1996.

[T]oday I want to tell you something about the Church. The things that I shall tell you are not explained in the scriptures, although they conform to the principles taught in the scriptures.

The things I am going to tell you are not explained in our handbooks or manuals either. Even if they were, most of you don't have handbooks…because they are given only to the leaders.

[T]here is another source of knowledge relating to what makes the Church work: We learn from experience and observation. If you learn about these things that are not written down, the unwritten order of things, you will be better qualified to be a leader—and you are going to be a leader.

The one who presides in a meeting should sit on the stand and sit close to the one conducting. It is a bit difficult to preside over a meeting from the congregation. The one who presides is responsible for the conduct of the meeting and has the right and the responsibility to receive inspiration and may be prompted to adjust or correct something that goes on in the meeting. That is true whether it be an auxiliary meeting presided over by the sisters or any of our meetings.

If you watch the First Presidency, you will see that the first counselor always sits on the right of the president; the second counselor on the left. That is a demonstration of doing things "decently and in order," as Paul told us.

Ordinarily, but not always, if the presiding officer speaks, it will be at the end of the meeting. Then clarification or correction can be given. I have had that experience many times at the close of meetings, "Well, brother or sister somebody said such and such, and I'm sure they meant such and such."

We do not aspire to calls in the Church, nor do we ask to be released. We are called to positions in the Church by inspiration. Even if the call is presented in a clumsy way, it is not wise for us to refuse the call. We must presuppose that the call comes from the Lord.

If some circumstance makes it difficult for you to continue to serve, you are free to consult with the leader who called you. We do not call ourselves and we do not release ourselves. Sometimes a leader or a teacher enjoys the prominence of a presiding position so much that, even after serving for a long time, they do not want to be released. That is a sign that a release is timely. We should do as we are called. We should accept the calls and accept a release by the same authority.

A prime attribute of a good leader is to be a good follower. In a meeting with bishops, a new and struggling bishop once asked me, "How do I get people to follow me? I have called nine sisters to be president of the Primary and none has accepted." There was a good humor and pleasant spirit in the meeting which made it an ideal teaching moment. I answered that I doubted that he had "called" any of the nine sisters. He must only have asked or invited them.

I told him that if he had earnestly prayed and counseled with his counselors as to who should preside over the Primary, the first sister would have accepted the call. Perhaps he might have discovered in the interview some reason why it was not advisable or timely for that sister to serve and excused her from serving. But surely not more than one or two. If that many sisters turned down the call, something was out of order—the unwritten order.

Because there was such good spirit in the meeting, I said to him, "Bishop, I know something else about you. You're not a good follower, are you? Aren't you the one who is always questioning what the stake president asks of his bishops?" The other bishops in the room started to chuckle and nodded their heads—he was the one. He chuckled and said he supposed that was right. I said, "Perhaps the reason your members don't follow their leader is because you don't follow yours. An essential attribute of a leader in the Church is faithful and loyal followship. That is just the order of things—the unwritten order of things."

Bishops should not yield the arrangement of meetings to members. They should not yield the arrangement for funerals or missionary farewells to families. It is not the proper order of things for members or families to expect to decide who will speak and for how long. Suggestions are in order, of course, but the bishop should not turn the meeting over to them. We are worried about the drift that is occurring in our meetings.

Funerals could and should be the most spiritually impressive. They are becoming informal family reunions in front of ward members. Often the Spirit is repulsed by humorous experiences or jokes when the time could be devoted to teaching the things of the Spirit, even the sacred things.

When the family insists that several family members speak in a funeral, we hear about the deceased instead of about the Atonement, the Resurrection, and the comforting promises revealed in the scriptures. Now it's all right to have a family member speak at a funeral, but if they do, their remarks should be in keeping with the spirit of the meeting.

I have told my Brethren in that day when my funeral is held, if any of them who speak talk about me, I will raise up and correct them. The gospel is to be preached. I know of no meeting where the congregation is in a better state of readiness to receive revelation and inspiration from a speaker than they are at a funeral. This privilege is being taken away from us because we don't understand the order of things—the unwritten order of things—that relates to the administration of the Church and the reception of the Spirit.

It bothers me to see on a sacrament meeting program that Liz and Bill and Dave will participate. Ought it not be Elizabeth and William and David? It bothers me more to be asked to sustain Buck or Butch or Chuck to the high council. I just say, Can't we have the full names on that important record? There is a formality, a dignity, that we are losing—and it is at great cost. There is something to what Paul said about doing things "decently and in order."

From the talk, "Follow the Rule"

This talk was given at a " BYU Hawaii Devotional, 14 January 1977.

In the pattern of constituted authority in the Church we always know where revelation comes from. Revelation is always vertical. There is no horizontal revelation in the Church. It is all vertical. A bishop will get no revelation from a fellow bishop, or a stake president from a fellow stake president; but a bishop will receive it from the stake president, and his stake president from the general officers of the Church.

One of the things the scriptures do is to make it very clear that we're to follow the prophets. In the Doctrine and Covenants section after section states, "I the Lord am speaking," or "It is I, God, who speaks," and so on. Those declarations show that there is no doubt who is speaking.

[T]here is great power and great safety in holding to the scriptures and having an abounding obedience to our constituted priesthood authority.

I have a lingering, sensitive, prophetic idea that as you obediently follow the prophet you will live to know a stability and a fulness and a plenty in your own lands that by comparison now seem deprived economically.

Now, one other subject. It's been the policy of the Church—and it's been spoken on many occasions—that as the gathering of Israel is in Mexico for the Mexicans, in Tonga for the Tongans, in China for the Chinese, and so on, so has been our counsel as it relates to marriage.

We've always counseled in the Church for our Mexican members to marry Mexicans, our Japanese members to marry Japanese, our Caucasians to marry Caucasians, our Polynesian members to marry Polynesians. The counsel has been wise. You may say again, "Well, I know of exceptions." I do, too, and they've been very successful marriages. I know some of them. You might even say, "I can show you local Church leaders or perhaps even general leaders who have married out of their race." I say, "Yes—exceptions." Then I would remind you of that Relief Society woman's near-scriptural statement, "We'd like to follow the rule first, and then we'll take care of the exceptions."

…Plan, young people, to marry into your own race. This counsel is good, and I hope our branch presidents are listening and paying attention. The counsel is good.

…Things are not always easy when we receive counsel, whether the counsel is to return to serve among our own people or whether it is counsel to marry among our own culture and racial backgrounds. Always there is a decision. Always we can say, "We're an exception." But I say, in the words of that Relief Society sister, "As for me, I"'m going to follow the rule first; and then, should there be an exception, perhaps that will be made known."


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