News of the Church


First Presidency Statement on AIDS

After careful consideration, including review of available scientific and medical information, the First Presidency has released a statement on the subject of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). The statement is for members of the Church and reinforces time-honored revelations from God, including the principle of chastity before marriage, total fidelity in marriage, and abstinence from all homosexual behavior. The statement follows:

The Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) damages the body’s natural ability to defend itself against disease. Unlike some major epidemics of the past that were transmitted by polluted water, insect bites, and casual skin or respiratory contact, AIDS is transmitted through sexual intimacy with infected persons, through illegal intravenous drug use, from infected mothers to babies before or during birth, and to persons receiving infected blood or blood products.

Current medical information indicates that the AIDS virus (HIV) is not transmitted through casual contact in homes, schools, churches, or at places of work. People who are obedient to divine commandments need not unduly fear the affliction, although AIDS has infected innocent victims, including unsuspecting marriage partners, babies, and those who have received infected blood.

We call your attention to President Gordon B. Hinckley’s remarks about AIDS given in the April 1987 General Priesthood Meeting:

“We, with others, hope that discoveries will make possible both prevention and healing from this dread affliction. But regardless of such discoveries, the observance of one clearly understandable and divinely given rule would do more than all else to check this epidemic. That is chastity before marriage and total fidelity [in] marriage.

“Prophets of God have repeatedly taught through the ages that practices of homosexual relations, fornication, and adultery are grievous sins. Sexual relations outside the bonds of marriage are forbidden by the Lord. We reaffirm those teachings. …

“Each of us has a choice between right and wrong. But with that choice there inevitably will follow consequences. Those who choose to violate the commandments of God put themselves at great spiritual and physical jeopardy. …

“We plead with people everywhere to live in accordance with the teachings of our Creator and rise above carnal attractions that often result in the tragedies that follow moral transgression.

“The Lord has proclaimed that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and is intended to be an eternal relationship bonded by trust and fidelity. Latter-day Saints, of all people, should marry with this sacred objective in mind. Marriage should not be viewed as a therapeutic step to solve problems such as homosexual inclinations or practices, which first should clearly be overcome with a firm and fixed determination never to slip to such practices again.

“Having said this, I desire now to say with emphasis that our concern for the bitter fruit of sin is coupled with Christlike sympathy for its victims, innocent or culpable. We advocate the example of the Lord, who condemned the sin, yet loved the sinner. We should reach out with kindness and comfort to the afflicted, ministering to their needs and assisting them with their problems. We repeat, however, that the way of safety and the road to happiness lie in abstinence before marriage and fidelity following marriage.” (Ensign, May 1987, pp. 46–47.)

Members of the Church should extend compassion to those who are ill with AIDS. We express great love and sympathy for all victims but particularly those who have received the virus through blood transfusions, babies afflicted from infected mothers, and innocent marriage partners who have been infected by a spouse. In the Lord’s eternal plan, those who endure such suffering, pain, and injustice, not of their own doing, will receive compensatory blessings through the Lord’s infinite mercy.

It is well to become informed about AIDS and to avoid actions that place oneself or others at risk. Laws and policies dealing with attempts to control the spread of AIDS are being adopted in many countries throughout the world. Members should become familiar with the laws and policies in their own land and join in wise and constructive efforts to stem the spread of this debilitating and deadly affliction.

The Lord has not left mankind without clear guidance on matters that affect our happiness. That guidance is chastity before marriage, total fidelity in marriage, abstinence from all homosexual relations, avoidance of illegal drugs, and reverence and care for the body, which is the “temple of God.” (1 Cor. 3:16.)

Update: Missionaries Now Serving

The number of full-time missionaries serving worldwide at the end of 1987 was a record 34,750—an increase of 7,900, or 29 percent, from the 26,850 missionaries serving at the end of 1983.

Year

Number of Missionaries

1983

26,850

1984

27,392

1985

29,265

1986

31,803

1987

34,750

“Study the Book of Mormon,” President Benson Urges Texans

Speaking at a biregional conference at the Dallas, Texas, Convention Center April 24, President Benson urged Latter-day Saints to become scholars of the Book of Mormon.

In a city where forty years ago the Church struggled to have a hundred members attend a meeting, President Benson was the concluding speaker at a conference that drew more than ten thousand members from the Dallas and Fort Worth regions.

Other General Authorities participating in the conference were Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder H. Burke Peterson of the First Quorum of the Seventy.

Renewing the message that the Book of Mormon “is the standard we are to use,” President Benson stressed, “It shows that Joseph Smith was a prophet. It contains the words of Christ, and its great mission is to bring men to Christ. All other things are secondary.”

The purpose of the book is “the convincing of the Jew and the Gentile that Jesus is the Christ,” President Benson said, quoting from the title page. He noted that “it proclaims that we must endure to the end in righteousness. We must live to the end as a Saint.

“God is the author of the book. It is a record of a fallen people, compiled by inspired men for our blessings today. These people never had the book. It was meant for us,” President Benson said.

Urging Church members to read, study, and ponder the Book of Mormon daily, President Benson said missionaries are not as effective unless they are using the Book of Mormon. Church classes are not as Spirit-filled unless members hold it up as a standard, and LDS homes are not as strong unless parents use the book to bring their children to Christ.

“Our nation will continue to degenerate unless we read and heed the words of the God of this land, Jesus Christ, and quit building up and upholding secret combinations,” President Benson stated.

President Benson’s message was complemented by Elder Maxwell’s talk about the restoration of the scriptures.

“It is through the restoration of the scriptures that we get a glimpse of premortality,” Elder Maxwell said. “The restoration of the scriptures tells us Jesus was the creator of this and other worlds.”

Elder Maxwell added that the restored scriptures are a bridge between the Old Testament and the New Testament.

“As an Apostle of Jesus Christ, I bear witness to you that Jesus is our Savior,” he said. “I witness that he lives and is the presiding high priest of this church.”

Elder Peterson said that some fifty years before the birth of Christ, a good father taught his sons, including Helaman, “the most important lesson [that] faith must be based on a foundation of a testimony of Jesus Christ.”

Elder Peterson added, “It has been my observation that one cannot force faith or testimony. … When it comes to the heart, the heart cannot be pushed. It must be led.”

Elder Peterson challenged members to consider:

—Whether their homes are places where love is unequaled.

—Whether parents accept their children instead of criticizing them.

—Whether something good is said about each member of the family each day.

—Whether their homes are places where love will grow.

Correspondent: Annelle Dugan is the Longview Texas Stake public communications director.

[photo] President Ezra Taft Benson addresses a capacity crowd at biregional conference in Dallas, Texas.