This week’s talk is one of those powerful, direct talks with a good dose of doctrine and apostolic warning. Elder Oaks reminded us all of our obligation to care for the children of the world. His stern reminder reinforced the absolute necessity (in God’s plan) for righteous parenting.
What stood out to you from this talk? What can we do to obey and honor this principle in a world that is failing many of God’s children? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
(A reminder to those of you who are new to General Conference Book Club: You’re welcome to return to this post any time this week and leave your comment and thoughts in the comment section below. You may also want to see what others are saying about the talk and engage in a conversation for mutual understanding and encouragement. A new talk will be posted each Sunday and will be studied and discussed throughout the week.)
A while back, I was severely sleep deprived and a neighbor found some stray kittens. In my weakened state, I gave into my children’s impassioned pleas, and we became the reluctant owners of “Lizzie” (inspired by Pride and Prejudice, don’t tell my kids). I have never had a cat. I never wanted a cat, and never planned to want one. I just want to report that it has been surprisingly much more pleasant than I imagined. Lizzie is way easier than any of my children have ever been, so despite all the new expenses required for the care of my “free” kitten, I guess I don’t regret it. This is the part where I post a picture of my cat and cross to the dark side:
You may not have noticed, but this week there was an election. Some people are ecstatic with the results; some have dusted off their Apocalypse survival kits. Either way, feelings run high, and I’m weary of the discussion of it. (I remind you I hold the power of the delete button in the comment thread.) I will sum up my non-partisan feelings this way: I love this country. I hope for this country. I’m worried for this country. And I know better than to place all my faith and/or fear into one political candidate. I will not bore you with the scriptures and quotes you’ve all seen floating around the internet, meant to vilify or glorify our current national condition. I will, however, share a quote that I’ve loved before and love today. Barbara Bush said this in 1990, and it puts the responsibility for this nation back where it belongs–with us:
“Your success as a family … our success as a society depends not on what happens in the White House, but on what happens inside your house.”
And that is what I’m feeling strongly. I’ve read several articles lately that statistically show the trends of our nation (break that down to its ingredients: individuals, homes, families) moving farther away from specific Christian principles. The news claims that our country is increasingly more secular than religious. I believe, in the context of prophesy, that we are in danger of losing God’s promised protection if we, individually, do not try harder to embrace truth and righteousness and make our homes into little greenhouses of goodness. I was reading about Captain Moroni today, and these were some of the characteristics that made him “impervious” to the moral decay around him: he gloried in God, he had faith, he protected his people, he kept the commandments, and he resisted iniquity. It was/is a simple and powerful list. The scripture declared that Satan would have no power over the hearts of men if they were all like Moroni.
Faith and family are both consistently losing value in modern society, so we must strengthen them and value them and testify of them in as many ways as we can. I personally feel a battle cry to make my home a bunker– to arm my children with truth, doctrine, faith, testimony, confidence, strategies, and a knowledge of how to use the Spirit in their lives. I am not a doomsdayer; I do not believe that the horsemen of the apocalypse have been let loose, but I DO recognize how confusing our world has become. It’s a bewildering place if you don’t have foundational principles to cling to and navigate by. If it’s confusing to me and other adults, it must be overwhelmingly distressing for children. So that’s where I’ll start. With mine.
1green·house, noun \-ˌhau̇s\
Definition of GREENHOUSE
1: a structure enclosed (as by glass) and used for the cultivation or protection of tender plants
I’ve been thinking a lot about covenants lately, and how they are like buoys in a storm. Only by clinging to them can we be safe. When the waters get rough and we get scared or tired or lazy, we may be tempted to just let go, but it will only be at our peril. When we loose the covenant, we lose the blessings. Covenants are the surest way to keep our families safe and bind our children to us throughout eternity. I love Elder Nelson’s thoughts about the power of our covenants.
” Children of the covenant have the right to receive His doctrine and to know the plan of salvation. They claim it by making covenants of sacred significance. …
When we realize that we are children of the covenant, we know who we are and what God expects of us. His law is written in our hearts. He is our God and we are His people. Committed children of the covenant remain steadfast, even in the midst of adversity.”
What are some of your thoughts and testimony after reading this talk? Share your thoughts or insights in the comments below.
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I blog about different things for different reasons. On occasion, I blog about something simply because I have a fire in my bones and I need to let it out.
Cue fire. Cue bones. Cue outlet.
Let’s talk about pornography, shall we?
This article was written as an opinion piece by a BYU student. I’d like to highlight a few parts of her message:
Someone once told me, “Prophets don’t talk about pornography for fun.”
In the past five years, hardly a session of General Conference has passed without the brethren warning about the dangers of pornography. They have reason to warn. Pornography creates a shattering ripple effect impacting the viewer and surrounding. …
In 2010, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, “Tragically, the same computer and Internet service that allows me to do my family history and prepare those names for temple work could, without filters and controls, allow my children or grandchildren access to a global cesspool of perceptions that could blast a crater in their brains forever.”
The ease of access to pornography through the internet has led to a dramatic increase of consumption and acceptance in society despite its negative effects. …
This is one area in which we simply cannot be complacent. We must be involved in the fight because it is no longer a question of if this will affect you, but when.
Ralph Yarro, a former Novell executive and anti-pornography advocate, told the Church News in 2007, “Wake up. Apathy will kill you here. If porn hasn’t touched your life already, it is going to rip huge, gaping holes in it.”
There’s more, so go read the full article. It’s a topic that’s been on my mind anyway, but this has left me with a taste in my mouth. Not bitterness, really, just … well, fire in my bones. I have been blessed so far to not be in the direct line of fire of Satan’s sledgehammer, but its reach is far and wide. I’ve seen it pound down hard on people I know and love. Good people. And once the shattering has happened, it’s a slow and painful process to heal. I want to state that I know healing is possible because I absolutely believe in Jesus Christ and I believe there is no darkness that He cannot dispel and fill with light. I believe in Him, so I believe in repentance, and I believe in restoration. Having said that, this whole business really makes me want to punch Satan in the face.
We have a huge problem in our families with pornography and the influence that it is having in our families. The powerful feeling that has been coming over me is, “Sisters, fight—fight, sisters.” You have the responsibility in your homes. Many of our women are being drawn into this behavior also. At our last general conference, President Thomas S. Monson gave “a word of caution to all—both young and old, both male and female.” This is our responsibility.
When I heard her say this, I felt the Holy Ghost. This is part of our call as “lionesses at the gate” of our homes. Even with our best efforts, this plague can affect our families, but it must be in spite of our best efforts. The danger is too great to be ignored.
I quote some prophets:
Spencer W. Kimball: “Members of the Church everywhere are urged to not only resist the widespread plague of pornography, but as citizens to become actively and relentlessly engaged in the fight against this insidious enemy of humanity around the world.”
Ezra Taft Benson: “The prophet Lehi also saw our day in his great visionary dream of the tree of life. He saw that many people would wander blindly in the mists of darkness, which symbolized the temptations of the devil. (See 1 Ne. 12:17.) He saw some fall away “in forbidden paths,” others drown in rivers of filthiness, and still others wander in “strange roads.” (1 Ne. 8:28, 32.) When we read of the spreading curse of drugs, or read of the pernicious flood of pornography and immorality, do any of us doubt that these are the forbidden paths and rivers of filthiness Lehi described?”
Howard W. Hunter: “Be faithful in your marriage covenants in thought, word, and deed. Pornography, flirtations, and unwholesome fantasies erode one’s character and strike at the foundation of a happy marriage. Unity and trust within a marriage are thereby destroyed. One who does not control his thoughts and thus commits adultery in his heart, if he does not repent, shall not have the Spirit, but shall deny the faith and shall fear (see D&C 42:23; D&C 63:16).”
Gordon B. Hinckley: “While the matter of which I speak was a problem then, it is a much more serious problem now. It grows increasingly worse. It is like a raging storm, destroying individuals and families, utterly ruining what was once wholesome and beautiful. I speak of pornography in all of its manifestations. . . . The excuse is given that it is hard to avoid, that it is right at our fingertips and there is no escape. Suppose a storm is raging and the winds howl and the snow swirls about you. You find yourself unable to stop it. But you can dress properly and seek shelter, and the storm will have no effect upon you.”
Thomas S. Monson: “Pornography is especially dangerous and addictive. Curious exploration of pornography can become a controlling habit, leading to coarser material and to sexual transgression. Avoid pornography at all costs. Don’t be afraid to walk out of a movie, turn off a television set, or change a radio station if what’s being presented does not meet your Heavenly Father’s standards. In short, if you have any question about whether a particular movie, book, or other form of entertainment is appropriate, don’t see it, don’t read it, don’t participate.”
Want to read more? Go to http://conference.lds.org and click on the Search button. Click on Advanced Search, type the word “pornography” and click the little box for “President of the Church.” You will be given hundreds of references where living prophets have spoken out against the plague of pornography.
Since I can’t actually punch Satan in the face, even though I really, really want to, what can I do? What can you do? How can we fight? Feel free to fill up the comment box with good ideas, good organizations, opportunities to fight, small ways to make a difference, support for those who are in the claws of this stupid beast, whatever moves you and will encourage others. I’m not in the mood for despair or anger or bitterness, so let’s find ways to do what’s right and fight.
Here are my own ideas and suggestions. I am not a professional. I’m not even a stellar wife or mother. But I have ideas and a desire to make a difference– at the very least, in my own family.
TO A MOTHER: Talk openly with your children about pornography and its potential for harm. Most men who are addicted to pornography are exposed to it at an early age. Help them to understand Satan’s role and its opposition to Heavenly Father’s Plan. Carefully choose a way that is age-appropriate to talk about what pornography is. Maybe terms like “pictures or movies of people who are naked or very immodest” and “showing people touching the private parts of bodies” are a good place to start. After your discussions, when your daughter or son won’t look at the bra section of the store because they think it’s “pornography,” don’t worry about them being a little over-reactive. Congratulate them for trying hard to keep their mind clean. This is not about teaching people that the body is dirty; this is about helping children learn how to recognize and resist danger. An excellent (and doctrinally sound) resource for teaching about sexuality in general can be found here. Be a prude in monitoring family media intake, and don’t be ashamed of it. Embrace your role as a guardian of virtue. And be honest about it with your children. “I changed the channel because the clothing was immodest and they were joking about sex.” I love that Elder Holland quote (above in the article) about blasting a crater in your brain. Matt recently taught the young men in our ward that pornography is the equivalent of dousing your spirit in gasoline and setting it on fire. There will be that much pain, and that much scarring. President Hinckley told mothers to teach their children to avoid it “like they would the plague.”
TO A WIFE: If your husband has a heartbeat, he struggles with this on some level. The world is cruel to him in its blatant temptation and oppressive titillation. If he watched the Super Bowl, he’s seen pornography (for heaven’s sake, don’t get me started). Talk to him about it. Ask him how he’s doing: What can you do to help him? What steps can your family take to help him feel protected? What measures does he currently use to avoid the temptation? Be prepared to feel threatened a little as you learn what a real struggle it might be for him to stay unharmed by the storm. Cling to each other a little tighter. Express your love for him and your desire that he remain clean. Encourage him to fight the hard fight. Pray for him, and pray together. Talk about your covenants and go to the temple often to remember them and reconnect to them.
TO A WOMAN: Don’t hesitate to speak out against pornography when you see it. Talk to store managers and write letters to TV providers and companies. Express disapproval for that which is wrong. Don’t be afraid to call a sin a sin. Don’t fall into the trap of watching shows and movies or reading books that are only a little bit bad. Steer clear of inappropriate media, period. If you have the bandwidth to participate in organizations that fight the pornography industry, do it. If you have money to contribute to the cause, give it. Find something within your grasp and … grasp it.
TO A WIFE WHOSE HUSBAND IS ALREADY ADDICTED: I am sorry. I mean really, really sorry. Some of the previous advice will apply, but so much of the recovery will depend very much on your husband’s ability to repent and make changes. Work closely with your ecclesiastical leaders and qualified professionals. All I can do is share a few resources that I am aware of. And I can bear you my testimony that the pornography problem is not your fault. While there may be things you can do to improve your relationship, your husband has fallen into a trap set by Satan, plain and simple. The trap does not have to be a death sentence for your husband or for your marriage. Seek out counsel and comfort from the Lord; He will help you to follow the right course. No matter what, it will not be an easy course, but I know He will help you.
Available Resources: (I cannot possibly recommend what will be the best for you and your situation. Seek the Lord’s help and use the spirit of discernment as you research out possible tools to help in your recovery.)
I just want to conclude with something else I know to be true. Satan is powerful, but goodness is more powerful. We have the power within us to withstand temptation and fight against evil. We do. So though the storm rages and the sledgehammer swings down upon us, the rock of our Redeemer will help us to stand. Mothers, unite! This is an army I’m proud to be a part of.