Timeless Standards

By Mark Wangsgaard

The author, who since writing this article has married, lives in Utah, USA.

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    man with umbrella

    Photo illustrations by David Stoker

    As a teenager I learned what a blessing it was to have For the Strength of Youth as a guide, especially as I watched some of my friends make choices not in keeping with the standards this booklet teaches—choices they later regretted. Now, some 20 years later, I serve as the priests quorum adviser in my ward and regularly use this resource in teaching the young men I work with. I have seen, repeatedly, that For the Strength of Youth helps the young men in my quorum stay on the right path just as it helped me.

    As a mid-single adult, I have come to appreciate that the principles found in For the Strength of Youth can guide us—regardless of age—in making the right decisions, decisions that will affect the course of the rest of our mortal lives as well as our eternal destiny.

    The Temptation to Relax Standards

    Single adults are sometimes tempted to relax their standards. Here are examples of faulty reasoning I have heard:

    • “We are adults, so we can engage in overnight outings with men and women in the same sleeping quarters.”

    • “It doesn’t hurt to indulge myself in a few small pleasures that might be on the edge of Church standards.”

    • “Even though I’ve tried to live as righteously as possible, I still have not been blessed to find my companion. In fact, even some of my friends who haven’t been as valiant as I’ve tried to be are now married with children. It just isn’t fair.”

    Sadly, this way of thinking causes some singles to abandon standards they know to be of God, especially with regard to the law of chastity.

    Sometimes single adults attend an activity expecting to meet other singles who share their standards, only to find that standards of modest dress and morality are not upheld by some. They can wonder if holding to their standards is worth it, or if they’ll ever find someone who is trying to live the way they live. They may wonder if the teachings they learned to follow in For the Strength of Youth are still applicable or if, as adults, they’ve somehow “outgrown” them. Ultimately, such experiences and the questions they raise can damage hope and make it more difficult for some singles to hold to their seemingly unpopular standards. Many single adults I have known, in order to avoid these situations where some may relax their standards, simply stop going to all singles events, limiting their opportunities to make friends.

    Obedience Brings the Spirit

    With all of this in mind, some Latter-day Saint single friends and I, all in our 30s and 40s, decided to hold an activity that would be fun and also invite the Spirit. We planned a trip to a lake where we could boat, water-ski, swim, and dance. We reserved a place for the men to sleep and a separate one for the women. We asked everyone to wear modest swimsuits. We hoped to ensure that the singles would appreciate each other for who they were and that any relationships that resulted would be built upon the principles and standards of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    We concluded with a fireside and testimony meeting, asking the singles to testify of ways Heavenly Father had blessed them for living the standards of the gospel. We felt the Spirit, and our hearts were “knit together in unity” (Mosiah 18:21).

    We learned through this experience that obedience brings the Spirit. Many of the single adults developed strong friendships, and some of those who had previously been less active expressed desires to return to church. Perhaps the best part was that many participants have since married righteous companions in the temple, and those who are still single continue to promote gospel standards at other events.

    The Lord Fulfills His Promises

    I know that the Lord fulfills His promises, as He says in Doctrine and Covenants 58:31: “Who am I, saith the Lord, that have promised and have not fulfilled?”

    However, we must have the faith to obey His laws:

    “I give unto you directions how you may act before me, that it may turn to you for your salvation.

    “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise” (D&C 82:9–10).

    I am still in the process of seeking an eternal companion, and choosing to follow the guidelines I learned in my youth as outlined in For the Strength of Youth has blessed me with a profound peace. I know that as I put forth my best efforts to find an eternal companion through appropriate dating and participation in single adult events where others also hold to these standards, I can be worthy of the Lord’s help throughout the process. And this allows me to take to heart the following scriptural counsel: “Let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed” (D&C 123:17).