Many of the world’s trends are worrisome. But Church leaders are continually upbeat, so it probably is a good idea to try to emulate them. Elder Holland gave a great talk Feb. 6 to CES educators.
Here are some highlights:
We know for certain that if and when everything else in the latter days is down or dying; if governments, economies, industries, and institutions crumble; if societies and cultures become a quagmire of chaos and insecurity, nevertheless, through it all the gospel of Jesus Christ and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that bears that gospel to the world will stand triumphant. It will stand undefiled in God’s hand until the very Son of God Himself comes to rule and reign as Lord of lords and King of kings. Nothing is more certain in this world. Nothing is more sure. Nothing could be more of an antidote to anxiety. As the Prophet Joseph declared, and as a generation of missionaries quote with fervor: The truth of God will sweep every country and sound in every ear. No unhallowed hand can stop it from progressing. Still true.
Elder Holland said one of his primary concerns is that members are delaying getting married and having children because they are so worried about the world.
Let me list some specific things that I think you should teach your students to be glad about and over which they should cease being fearful. I note, for example, getting married, having families, and welcoming children into the world. We in the presiding councils of the Church hear far too often—and perhaps you do as well—that many of our youth and young adults are terrified to get married. In extreme cases they are fearful that the world is about to end in blood and disaster—something they don’t want to take a spouse or child into. In less severe, more common cases, they are fearful that the world will just get more difficult, that jobs will be too hard to find, and that one should be out of school, out of debt, have a career, and own a home before considering marriage.
Good grief! On that formula Sister Holland and I still wouldn’t be married! Seriously, when we got married we were both still undergraduates at BYU, with neither set of parents able to help us at all financially, no way to imagine all the graduate education we had yet ahead of us, and this with $300 dollars between us on our wedding day! Now that may not be the ideal way to start a marriage, but what a marriage it has been and what we would have missed if we had waited even one day longer than we did once we knew that that marriage was right. Sure, there was sacrifice; certainly there were restless days and weeks and months; certainly there was some burning of the midnight oil. But I tremble to think what we would have lost if we had taken “counsel from our fears,” 15 as President James E. Faust would later tell me over and over and over that I and no one else should ever do. What if we had delayed inordinately? What would we have missed?
How should the Church teach the truth at a time when the secular world rejects the truth?
A number of you commented about other troubling contemporary issues—issues that bring other kinds of fear, challenging the belief of our youth in sometimes aggressive ways. One of you phrased it this way: “It is getting harder and harder to teach the doctrine of the Church without offending students who have become overly tolerant of the world’s view. How do we stay true to the doctrine without offending our students?”
First of all I would say that offense is more likely to come in how we present the doctrine rather than in the doctrine itself. Our doctrine is not new; it isn’t as if the students don’t know exactly what our position is going to be on virtually every trendy transgression that comes along. So, what a skillful and sensitive teacher or leader or parent has to do is make sure our determination to be righteous doesn’t come across as being self-righteous because our students will be quick to perceive the difference. That is why I say our manner, our method, our attitude and compassion will, once they are understood by our students, allow us to be as direct and as firm as we must be in proclaiming the commandments of God.
Furthermore, I would ask you never to hesitate to teach true doctrine simply because you are afraid it might offend someone. As section 50 of the Doctrine and Covenants declares, if we teach the truth by the Spirit and the students receive the truth by the Spirit, “he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together.”
In such an exchange you may have heard students say what I have heard them say, something like, “I know how we are supposed to live, but do we have to impose that standard or that behavior or those beliefs on everybody else?” And of course the answer to that is, “No. We do not impose standards or behavior or beliefs on anyone.” But this Church, and we as CES teachers in it, are under covenant to teach standards of behavior, to mark the sure path, to identify the safe course, to raise an ensign of truth to the nations.
Elder Holland ended by quoting President Hinckley and President Monson. Who among us has not noted the optimism of these modern-day prophets?
President Gordon B. Hinckley: “God is at the helm. Never doubt it. When we are confronted with opposition, He will open the way when there appears to be no way. …
“Let not any voices of discontent disturb you. Let not the critics worry you. As Alma declared long ago: ‘Trust no one to be your teacher nor your minister, except he be a man of God, walking in his ways and keeping his commandments’ (Mosiah 23:14).
“The truth is in this Church. … As the Psalmist declared: ‘Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep’ (Ps. 121:4).
“He who is our Savior slumbers not nor sleeps as He watches over this His kingdom.”
President Thomas S. Monson: “I testify to you that our promised blessings are beyond measure. Though the storm clouds may gather, though the rains may pour down upon us, our knowledge of the gospel and our love of our Heavenly Father and of our Savior will comfort and sustain us and bring joy to our hearts as we walk uprightly and keep the commandments. There will be nothing in this world that can defeat us.
“My beloved brothers and sisters, fear not. Be of good cheer. The future is as bright as your faith.”