“Make Marriage a Partnership” Couples Counseled at Fireside

“Marriage is a joint venture,” President Gordon B. Hinckley, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, emphasized during a fireside broadcast from the Salt Lake Tabernacle January 29. To make marriage all it can be, the couple must form a partnership based on the values of the gospel of Christ.

Elder Dean L. Larsen of the First Quorum of the Seventy and Sister Ann S. Reese of the Relief Society General Presidency also spoke at the fireside, which focused on helping couples improve their marriages. Throughout the United States and Canada, husbands and wives gathered in stake centers equipped with satellite receiving equipment to view the program. In the West, many watched the live broadcast on KBYU-TV.

In spite of trials that come, a marriage can be full of joy if husband and wife sublimate self-interest to “the good of the partnership,” President Hinckley said. “Anyone can do it, with a disciplined effort to live the gospel.”

But in some cases human failings create problems and pain in the relationship.

President Hinckley quoted from a letter written by a woman who outlined her own marital troubles. There was “bitter tragedy” in the letter, he said, because it indicated a relationship very far different from what our Heavenly Father desires for men and women. It was similar to other letters he has received telling of unloving relationships and cruelty in the home.

“To men within the sound of my voice, I say, if you are guilty of demeaning behavior toward your wife, if you are prone to dictate and exercise authority over her, if you are selfish and brutal in your actions in the home, then stop it. Repent. Repent now, while you have the opportunity to do so.

“To you wives who are constantly complaining and see only the dark side of life, and feel that you are unloved and unwanted, look into your own hearts and minds. If there is something wrong, turn about. Put a smile on your faces. Make yourselves attractive. Brighten your outlook. You deny yourselves happiness and court misery if you constantly complain and do nothing to rectify your own faults. Rise above the shrill clamor over rights and prerogatives and walk in the quiet dignity of a daughter of God.”

He listed four cornerstones on which a marriage must be built if life is to be full of joy. The first is mutual respect.

Each married person should develop respect for his or her partner and for the other’s differences, he said. These should, if necessary, be resolved, but some differences can make a companionship more interesting.

“I have long felt that happiness in marriage is not so much a matter of romance as it is an anxious concern for the comfort and well-being of one’s companion,” an ability to look for a spouse’s virtues, and a desire to encourage each other to grow and develop in many ways. Men, he advised, should encourage their wives to develop their talents; the family will be blessed by the result.

“I am offended by the sophistry that the only lot of the Latter-day Saint woman is to be barefoot and pregnant. It’s a clever phrase, but it’s false,” President Hinckley commented.

“Of course we believe in children. The Lord has told us to multiply and replenish the earth that we might have joy in our posterity, and there is no greater joy than the joy that comes of happy children in good families. But he did not designate the number, nor has the Church. That is a sacred matter left to the couple and the Lord.” He pointed out that the Church has advised husbands to be considerate of their wives’ health and strength in creating a family, and has advised couples to seek inspiration in all decisions about family matters.

The second cornerstone of marriage is the “soft answer.” Couples sometimes complain that they cannot communicate with each other, he said. Yet the simple kind of meaningful conversation they had before marriage must continue afterward as well. “Can they not discuss with one another in an open and frank and candid and happy way their interests, their problems, their challenges, their desires? It seems to me that communication is essentially a matter of talking with one another. But let that talk be quiet, for quiet talk is the language of love, it is the language of peace, it is the language of God. It is when we raise our voices that tiny molehills of difference become mountains of conflict.”

Cornerstone number three is “financial honesty. I am satisfied that money is the root of more trouble in marriage than all other causes combined.” Faithfully paying a full tithing, he said, is the key to this principle. “Those who live honestly with God are more likely to live honestly with one another and their associates.” Budgeting for tithing cultivates discipline in other areas as well. Marriage partners should consult and agree on all large expenses, he advised, and, if it is needed, unitedly seek the counsel of others.

Family prayer should be the fourth cornerstone of married life. “I know of no other practice that will have so salutary an effect upon your lives as will the practice of kneeling together in prayer. The very words ‘Our Father in Heaven’ have a tremendous effect,” bringing us near to our Father, who loves us, and helping us feel accountable to him. The example of family prayer, he said, brings blessings of peace, love, and stability to children, as well as to their parents.

The full text of President Hinckley’s address will be published in a pamphlet that home teachers will take to the homes of members in the near future.

Elder Larsen spoke of the joy in his own marriage, saying, “The love, the tenderness, the romance, the friendship and companionship that we enjoy today after thirty-five years is much more profound and deep” than it was at the beginning. “We’re still learning, we’re still growing, and the greatest and most delightful prospect, I think, that either of us can contemplate is the opportunity to continue that for an eternity.”

He offered several suggestions for those who want to strengthen their marriage and grow together.

First, “don’t take one another for granted.” He urged spouses to remember the little endearments and common courtesies: “the ‘May I’s,’ the ‘Pleases,’ the ‘Thank yous,’ and sometimes, when necessary, the ‘I’m sorrys.’”

He suggested that spouses should maintain a pleasant atmosphere. He urged husbands, as they return home in the evening, to leave cares and problems of work outside and be available to their wife and family.

Loving thoughtfulness was another suggestion. So, too, was daily prayer. “I could not begin to express to you the tremendous strength that has come into our own marriage through prayer.”

He suggested that husbands and wives study and discuss the gospel together, sharing it every day “and making it a fiber of your lives. It means keeping this growth in gospel knowledge and understanding alive and green and new and exciting.”

Sister Reese said many modern voices would tell women “that the role of wife and mother is a subservient one, that it is demeaning for a women to live primarily for her home and family.” But, she said, gospel truths taught from the days of Adam and Eve “assure us that wifehood and motherhood are ordained of God and are of first importance. We know that marriage is a partnership—an equal partnership, but with a division of duties where neither male nor female means superior, where domination by either wife or husband is wrong.”

She quoted Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Council of the Twelve, who said at the 1978 dedication of the Relief Society Monument to Women in Nauvoo, Illinois, “Where spiritual things are concerned, in all matters that pertain to godliness and holiness, and which are brought to pass as a result of personal righteousness, in all these things men and women stand in a position of absolute equality before the Lord.”

“As women,” Sister Reese commented, “first and foremost, we are responsible to the Lord for our individual progress and spiritual development. The entire plan of salvation is centered around the worth of the individual.” Each woman has certain unique qualities of intelligence and personality, “her inner self, her soul, which are of immense worth. It is the duty of each woman to come to know and accept and enjoy being herself. She must respect her own inner strengths, and from this self-acceptance be secure enough to live courageously and righteously and to reach out in service to her family and fellow beings.”

Making a successful marriage takes adjustment and resolve on the part of both partners, she said. “Problems can become stepping stones in strengthening a marriage as we love each other and work them out together as husband and wife.”

[photo] President Gordon B. Hinckley, speaking at husbands and wives’ fireside. (Photograph by Eldon K. Linschoten.)

Easter TV Special To Affirm LDS Belief in Resurrected Christ

The Church will proclaim its belief in the living, resurrected Christ via a half-hour television special to be broadcast in the United States and Canada during the days preceding Easter.

“The Last Leaf: An Easter Parable” is a two-part production, the longest segment of it based on O. Henry’s short story, “The Last Leaf.” The second part of the show, titled “The Road to Emmaus,” is based on Luke’s account in the New Testament of two disciples who unknowingly walk with the resurrected Savior and finally realize his identity as he breaks bread with them.

Richard P. Lindsay, managing director of Public Communications, estimated the program may be seen by as many as twenty million viewers. Arrangements are currently being made for it to be broadcast in the top television markets in the United States and Canada.

A special missionary effort is being planned in which Church members may bring friends to preview showings in LDS stake centers, he said.

“The Road to Emmaus” was filmed in Utah’s Cedar Valley, about forty miles southwest of Salt Lake City, but “you’ll think you’re in Palestine when you see it,” Brother Lindsay said. Costuming, sets, and animals give a strong impression of the ancient Near East.

In the four-minute “Emmaus” presentation, Luke and Cleopas talk of the recent crucifixion of Jesus, and a stranger joins them in their walk down the dusty road. His explanation of the scriptures helps them comprehend the meaning of the Savior’s suffering and death. The stranger, of course, proves to be the resurrected Christ. (See Luke 24:13–35.) The presentation leaves a powerful impression of discovery, or perhaps rediscovery, on the part of the two disciples, and of the viewer.

“The Last Leaf” is the story of two sisters in turn-of-the-century New York and of their friend, an old French painter. The elder sister, also an artist, takes lessons from the painter, who lives in the same apartment building. The younger sister, a girl of fourteen, has become ill in the frigid early winter. Fascinated as the dead autumn leaves disappear one by one from a vine growing on the wall opposite her window, the young girl is convinced she too must die, when the last leaf falls.

Each of the three principal characters has his or her own struggle with the value of life. Alone in his studio, the painter reviews his years of labor to put on canvas the masterpieces in his heart. He recalls his dead wife’s admonition in a time of discouragement to keep sharing his talent with others, as well as her retort to his self-condemnation as a “common painter”: “The greatest portrait is the life of a common carpenter.”

Noted movie and television actor Art Carney portrays the French artist. Jane Kaczmarek portrays the older sister, and Sydney Penney is the younger sister. Some of Chicago’s older areas were used to represent turn-of-the-century New York in the production.

Brother Lindsay said it is hoped that “The Last Leaf: An Easter Parable” will follow the pattern set by “Mr. Kreuger’s Christmas,” a Church production first broadcast in 1980. Since then, many stations have aired the program each Christmastime on their own, as part of their public service programming, providing repeated opportunities for new audiences to see it.

Brother Lindsay said “The Last Leaf: An Easter Parable” will eventually be available on videocassette.

[photo] An aging artist tries to convince a sick young girl that she must not give up on life in “The Last Leaf.” (Photos from “The Road to Emmaus” appear on the inside front and back covers of this issue.) (Photography by Eldon K. Linschoten.)

A Conversation with Elaine Cannon, Young Women’s President

Elaine Cannon

Ensign: What do you see as the challenge facing young women today?

Sister Cannon: Perhaps the greatest challenge for our young women is to learn how to resist the efforts of the adversary. Satan, seeing their potential power, tries to influence and tempt them in these critical years of their youth.

Ensign: What temptations do our young women face?

Sister Cannon: Most temptations they confront seem to stem from one thing: incomplete and inadequate information presented by attractive people asking them to make choices they are not prepared to make. There are so many self-determined authorities, as well as legitimate authorities, on all manner of subjects. Our young women hear voices from all sides calling them, and often they don’t understand which voice to follow, which voice is best for them.

Ensign: How can we as parents and leaders help them respond correctly to these voices?

Sister Cannon: We give them the information they need and try to teach them how to make the right spiritual, physical, and social choices. We teach them how to seek wisdom both through earthly channels and from their Heavenly Father. Decisions thus based on knowledge and inspiration help a young person to avoid mistakes. If, for example, a young woman has been properly taught how to make her own decisions and is with friends who are doing things she doesn’t want to do, she will be strong enough and wise enough to resist any arguments they may raise.

Our job as leaders is to let our young people know that they cannot go against God’s commandments and be happy. All their actions have consequences. We need to help them see those consequences, both the happy and the sad. Youth need to remember about laws irrevocably decreed: (See D&C 130:20–21.)

Ensign: How do the activities in the Young Women’s program contribute to gaining this knowledge?

Sister Cannon: Ours is largely a program of learning the word and experimenting upon it. We teach truths during the Sunday Young Women’s meeting. Then out of that lesson, we plan certain experiences, either vicariously or literally, to validate our teaching. For example, one class studied the matter of chastity and what that means. They discussed the sanctity of life and the sacredness of providing an earthly temple for Heavenly Father’s spirit children. They also talked of consequences they would face if they made a mistake. Once we’ve taught and discussed the concept, we plan an experience to go along with it. For example, we can watch films or have a panel discussion on how to avoid tempting situations.

And, of course, we always want to have the influence of the Holy Ghost in our classrooms. We teach gospel principles with the Spirit. And the activities that grow out of our lessons must also enjoy the presence of the Spirit.

Ensign: This sounds like an exciting challenge for our Young Women advisers. Can you give some advice to help them reach these goals?

Sister Cannon: An adviser should first remember her role as an adviser to the young women. Her role is not to put on all the road shows or to plan all the social activities. Rather, her responsibility is to teach young women, those girls between the ages of twelve and eighteen who are trying to grow in the gospel. It means that she is a spiritually mature woman who understands the gospel and can teach it to the girls.

Ensign: What are some other helps for advisers?

Sister Cannon: Flexibility and relevance. You’ll see flexibility in our new manuals. We have a unit on the role of the daughter of God, a unit on morality, a unit on relationships. An inspired teacher will go through that book and find the lesson that at that time fits the needs of the girls—or a critical need of one of the girls. Then she’ll teach it in depth, for several weeks perhaps, until the problem is resolved. As we try to meet these needs, we have to be relevant. When I say relevant, I mean we need to know what our young women are thinking. We need to be prepared to give them that truth which they are ready to receive. For example, suppose there are girls in a class who are the only members of the Church in their families. If the adviser talks about the Word of Wisdom, she may need to structure the lesson to speak of their special needs as well as those of the other girls in the class. We need to teach truths as they particularly apply to our young women’s situations.

Ensign: These days seem to be an age of selfishness, of looking only to our own needs. How are we preparing our young women to look beyond themselves to the needs of others? How are we teaching them to serve?

Sister Cannon: We often hear the word service, but I really like the word useful better. Our thrust is “Prepare Yourself So You Can Contribute to Others.” This includes more than just the traditional service project. It implies finding and developing your specific talents so you can use them to help others.

Again, one of the ways we can motivate this type of development is to give the young women experiences. We help our girls become more aware of other people by letting them interact with others. For example, if we go to a children’s hospital, very quickly the girls become more sensitive to the needs of children. Or we may take a walk through the local chapel to see what can be done to make it lovelier. Then, with the approval of the bishop, the girls can initiate projects for improving the appearance of the building.

We also try to help the girls use the gift of the Holy Ghost in their lives. We believe that when a girl becomes sensitive to the promptings of the Spirit she will want to help others, because that is Christlike. Bearing testimony, studying the scriptures, writing in journals, learning to listen and love—all contribute to this quality of character. So we try constantly to plan activities which develop spirituality within them. Once they’ve achieved that, they will be motivated on their own to serve others.

An important part of this process is making the service activities we plan meaningful to our girls. “Sharing Socks” are a good example. I know of some girls who made cute socks, then filled them with personal items. The socks were given to refugees who were thrilled to get a comb, a pencil, or a toothbrush. That’s meeting real needs. Cleaning off cemetery markers and the grounds around old cemeteries in small villages which can’t provide such care and upkeeping is also useful. Typing genealogical records for older people is a good project. These are worthwhile kinds of service experiences. And youth today are smart—they know when they are being useful, and when “service” is contrived.

Ensign: We have heard much about the three-fold mission of the Church. How does the Young Women’s program contribute to these goals?

Sister Cannon: That is an exciting question. Of course, everything we’ve talked about so far has to do with one of these goals: the perfecting of the Saints. Our whole effort is designed to set our young women on a clear course to perfection, to help them make proper choices, and to avoid mistakes. But the other two missions of the Church are important, too.

We teach girls to know the gospel so they can share the gospel in all stages of their lives. Then we help them to have experiences in our activation program. Several years ago, somebody asked me, “What’s great about your program?” My answer was quick: “We care for our members, and we consciously work to include those who may not regularly attend.” We work with our young women who aren’t fully active until they become one of the group, if at all possible.

We also share the gospel through involvement with the family. We say to the father and mother, as we welcome the girl into the Young Women’s program when she turns twelve or when she is baptized into the Church during her teens, “How can we help you?” We try to get parents involved. We encourage our girls to talk with their parents, members of the Church or not, about their goal-setting. We encourage them to ask their parents to pray with them. This is a wonderful opportunity for the parent to feel their daughter’s love, to know she honors them.

Ensign: What about the mission of redeeming our kindred dead?

Sister Cannon: That, too, is exciting. We teach our girls to be prepared to go to the temple when they reach that stage of their lives, to be worthy to do baptisms for the dead, and to be endowed, so they have the full richness of the gospel. We also teach them to be successful in marriage. And I said “to be successful in” because simply to get married, and to fail in it, is not what we want.

Ensign: Your great love for today’s young women is obvious. What do you see as their role in this world?

Sister Cannon: You know, I have a rather personal dream about our young women. My dream is to see a generation of young women who are lovingly reaching out to all who need them—to their peers who are in trouble, to their companions in life who hold the priesthood, to the world’s small children. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Instead of the two thousand sons of Helaman, we could have five million daughters of God who see to it that love prevails, that goodness and purity reign on the earth. What a glorious world this would be.

I believe that today’s young women have just this potential.

Policies and Announcements

The following item is from the February 1984 Bulletin.

General Conference Dates. The dates for the general conferences of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for 1984 and 1985 are as follows: April 7–8, 1984; October 6–7, 1984; April 6–7, 1985; October 5–6, 1985.

LDS Scene

Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Council of the Twelve is recuperating from surgery for cancer of the colon. Chemotherapy treatments began for him after he recuperated sufficiently from the January 20 operation.

Flames destroyed the LDS chapel in Marlboro, Massachusetts, January 28, wiping out in just a few hours the results of a nine-month remodeling project. Fire investigators determined that the blaze was the work of an arsonist.

It was the fourth fire at a Boston-area church in recent months. A Catholic church and two Protestant churches had been damaged by arson fires earlier. The cost of damage to the LDS chapel was estimated at half a million dollars. Architects said the building was too severely damaged to rebuild.

The damage to the building brought an outpouring of support from the community. Methodist, Catholic, Baptist, and Jewish leaders all offered to provide meeting facilities until another LDS chapel can be built. The mayor of Marlboro and a bank president visited the bishop and announced the opening of a drive to provide funds for a new LDS chapel. “We’re going to have to learn to be gracious recipients,” Bishop Murdock said.

The Marlboro congregation is currently meeting in the Weston Ward building, about twenty miles from their former meeting house.

In Little Rock, Arkansas, Church members were praised for their heroism during a fire, after they helped rescue fifty-seven elderly residents of a nursing home that burned.

When the flames were spotted in the building next door, sixteen- and seventeen-year old young men of the Little Rock First Ward, waiting for basketball practice, dashed inside, going from room to room evacuating the patients.

Teacher- and deacon-age boys then walked or carried the patients, or rolled their beds, into the ward’s cultural hall, which served as a temporary shelter. There, members of the Young Women and other ward members offered warm blankets, food, and helping hands.

Though no one was burned in the fire, two of the patients died of smoke inhalation later. The LDS youth were praised by firefighters for their rescue efforts. They were observed using lifesaving techniques learned in Scouting, and two patients who had stopped breathing were revived by the young men. Those involved in evacuating patients from the home have been nominated for the Scout lifesaving award given only to Scouts who have risked their lives to save others.

Disastrous January flooding in Salmon, Idaho, brought on by freezing of the Salmon River, left ice and water damage in the homes of twenty-five LDS families and in the homes of many of their neighbors.

Church members were among the volunteers who joined in a community effort to keep the flooding from becoming worse, and to clear out ice and water. After the flooding, plans were being made for cleanup efforts once temperatures moderated. But residents were keeping a wary eye on the weather, knowing that a too-sudden thaw could bring on the problem again.

U.S. Court Rules Missionary Support Is Tax-Deductible

The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit (Denver) has ruled in White vs. U.S. [No. 81–2033] that the money LDS parents send to support their sons and daughters in missionary work is tax-deductible.

The court ruled January 20 that a missionary’s work is primarily for the Church and not the personal benefit of the missionary or his parents. Finances used for the missionary’s travel and living expenses are therefore deductible because they are required by missionary service.

The court’s action overruled a long-held Internal Revenue Service position which disallowed deductions for missionary support payments. At press time, the IRS had not yet reacted to the ruling, but an appeal is possible.

The court case did not address a procedure established in 1981 which allowed parents to make missionary contributions to their ward or branch missionary fund. Members may continue to use this procedure, and the court’s ruling should ensure the deductibility of these funds, the Church’s legal counsel advised.

Members who might be affected by this ruling may want to consult with their tax adviser in filing 1983 income tax returns, and possibly amended returns for prior years.