News of the Church


President Benson Speaks on Importance of Chastity

Speaking at a Brigham Young University devotional assembly on October 13, President Ezra Taft Benson decried immorality and urged members to obey the law of chastity.

“The Lord is not just pleased when we are chaste,” President Benson told the more than nineteen thousand students and faculty members present at the assembly. “He delights in chastity. …

“We must not be swayed by the many voices of the world. We must listen to the voice of the Lord and then determine that we will set our feet irrevocably upon the path he has marked.”

Advising members not to be misled by Satan’s lies, President Benson said, “There is no lasting happiness in immorality. There is no joy to be found in breaking the law of chastity. … There may be momentary pleasure. … But quickly the relationship will sour. Guilt and shame [will] set in.”

He pointed out that the Lord views unchastity as the “most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost.” (Alma 39:5.)

“Very few of us will ever be guilty of murder or of the sin against the Holy Ghost,” President Benson added. “But the law of chastity is frequently broken, and yet it stands next to these other sins in seriousness in the eyes of the Lord.”

Noting that “it is better to prepare and prevent than it is to repair and repent,” President Benson gave six steps to preserve chastity:

  1. 1.

    Decide now to be chaste. “The decision to be chaste and virtuous need only be made once,” he said. “Make that decision now, and let it be so firm and with such deep commitment that it can never be shaken.”

  2. 2.

    Control your thoughts. “The first seeds of immorality are always sown in the mind,” President Benson said. “When we allow our thoughts to linger on lewd or immoral things, the first step on the road to immorality has been taken.” He warned especially against pornography and against looking on a woman “to lust after her.”

  3. 3.

    Always pray for the power to resist temptation. Pointing to prayer as the key to resisting temptation, President Benson quoted the Lord as he spoke to the Prophet Joseph Smith: “Pray always, that you may come off conqueror; yea, that you may conquer Satan, and that you may escape the hands of the servants of Satan that do uphold his work.” (D&C 10:5.)

  4. 4.

    If you are married, avoid flirtations of any kind. Present Benson warned against flirting with members of the opposite sex and counseled married members to avoid “harmless meetings” in which “inordinate amounts of time are spent together.”

    If husbands or wives are tempted to flirt or go to lunch with members of the opposite sex to whom they are not married, President Benson advised them to ask themselves, “Would my spouse be pleased if he or she knew I was doing this?” He repeated Paul’s advice: “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” (1 Thes. 5:22.)

  5. 5.

    If you are married, avoid being alone with members of the opposite sex wherever possible. “Many of the tragedies of immorality begin when a man and woman are alone in the office or at church or are driving alone together in a car,” he said, adding that “circumstances provide a fertile seed bed for temptation. … It is so much easier to avoid such circumstances from the start so that temptation gets no chance for nourishment.”

  6. 6.

    For those who are single and dating members of the opposite sex, carefully plan positive and constructive activities so that you are not left to yourselves with nothing to do but share physical affection. He emphasized “the principle of filling one’s life with the positive so that the negative has no chance to thrive.”

President Benson noted that there are those for whom the counsel of prevention is too late. “You may already be deeply entangled in serious sin,” he said. “If this is the case, there is no choice now but to repair your lives and repent of your sins.”

He suggested five steps to help those who have been unchaste return to a state of moral purity:

  1. 1.

    Flee immediately from any situation you are in that is either causing you to sin or that may cause you to sin. President Benson cited the example of Joseph, who, after he was entrapped alone by Potiphar’s wife, “left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out.” (Gen. 39:12.)

    He advised members who may find themselves in a situation in which their moral purity could be compromised to “follow Joseph’s example. Flee from it and get yourself out. You cannot linger in sin and expect to have success in repentance.”

  2. 2.

    Plead with the Lord for the power to overcome. “No one is more anxious to help you flee from sin than your Heavenly Father,” President Benson said. “Go to him. Acknowledge your sin, confess your shame and your guilt, and then plead with him for help. He has the power to help you triumph.”

  3. 3.

    Let your priesthood leaders help you resolve the transgression and come back into full fellowship with the Lord. “Full repentance of [sexual] sins requires that we not only confess our sins and resolve them with the Lord, but that we also do so with the Church,” he said. “Even if we are disfellowshipped or excommunicated, it is a beginning step in the process of repentance, and the sooner we begin, the sooner we can find the sweet peace and joy that comes with the miracle of forgiveness.”

  4. 4.

    Drink from the divine fountain and fill your lives with positive sources of power. “It is not enough simply to try to resist evil or empty our lives of sin,” President Benson said. “We must also fill our lives with righteousness.”

    To help them do so, he advised members to read and study the scriptures daily, pray daily, attend church regularly, fast for specific strength or blessings, and give service in the kingdom.

  5. 5.

    Remember that through proper repentance, you can become clean again. “For those who pay the price required by true repentance, the promise is sure,” President Benson said. “You can be clean again. The despair can be lifted. The sweet peace of forgiveness will flow into your lives.”

President Benson closed with the assurance that “our Heavenly Father desires nothing for us but to be happy. He tells us only those things that will bring us joy. And one of the surest principles given by God to help us find that joy is the law of chastity.”

[photo] President Ezra Taft Benson, accompanied by Sister Flora Benson, waves to members at Brigham Young University. (Photo by BYU Public Communications.)

President Benson Addresses Des Moines Regional Conference

“The Book of Mormon was written for us today,” said President Ezra Taft Benson as he spoke at the Des Moines Regional Conference held at Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on October 11.

“It is the word of God,” he stated. “God has so declared it, so have its writers, so have its witnesses; and so do all those who have read it and received a personal revelation from God as to its truthfulness.”

Approximately 3,300 members from the Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, and Davenport stakes gathered to hear President Benson’s counsel.

Other General Authorities participating in the conference were Elder James E. Faust of the Quorum of the Twelve and Elder Philip T. Sonntag of the First Quorum of the Seventy. They were accompanied by their wives who, along with Sister Flora Benson, briefly spoke to the congregation.

President Benson emphasized that the Book of Mormon is a standard to the people. “It contains the words of Christ, and its great mission is to bring men to Christ,” he said.

Correspondent: David A. Kent is public communications director for the Des Moines Iowa Region.

[photo] President Ezra Taft Benson speaks at the Des Moines Regional Conference as Elder James E. Faust, of the Quorum of the Twelve, and Sister Ruth Faust listen. (Photo by David A. Kent.)

Ground Broken for Toronto Temple

Ground was broken October 10 for construction of the Toronto Ontario Temple, which will be located in Brampton, a suburb of Toronto, Ontario.

President Thomas S. Monson, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, presided at the ground-breaking ceremony and turned the first shovelful of earth.

Also on hand for the ground-breaking were Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Council of the Twelve, Elder John K. Carmack of the First Quorum of the Seventy and president of the North America Northeast Area, and Brother Malcolm Warner, vice-chairman of the Toronto Temple Committee.

Both President Monson and Elder Ballard have served as mission presidents in eastern Canada.

Site preparation for the new temple is now underway, and major construction is expected to begin next spring. Plans to build the 60,000-square-foot temple were announced in 1984.

The Toronto temple will serve some 60,000 members in the Canadian provinces of Ontario, Nova Scotia, and Quebec, and in parts of Ohio, Michigan, New York, and Vermont.

The Church has forty-one temples in operation worldwide. In addition to the Toronto Ontario Temple, two others are under construction: one in Las Vegas, Nevada; and one in Portland, Oregon.

Young Women Fireside Telecast

A new Young Women logo and new Beehive, Mia Maid, and Laurel symbols were introduced at a Young Women Fireside held Sunday, October 18, in the Salt Lake Tabernacle. The fireside was telecast by satellite in English, Spanish, and French to more than a thousand locations throughout the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico.

President Thomas S. Monson, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, told the young women that true happiness comes to those who come unto Christ and follow him. To help the young women do that, President Monson gave them a code of conduct, divided into four parts:

“You have a heritage; honor it.

“You will meet sin; shun it.

“You have the truth; live it.

“You have a testimony; share it.”

“Remember,” said President Monson, “that you do not walk alone. The Lord has promised you: ‘I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up’ (D&C 84:88). …

“As you walk through life, always walk toward the light, and the shadows of life will fall behind you.”

Elder James M. Paramore of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy introduced the evening’s program. “You are bright and clean and wholesome and talent-laden,” he told the young women. “You have promise and opportunity [for] the constant companionship of the Lord.”

Elder Paramore advised the young women to heed the counsel of their parents and leaders and to listen to the Spirit as they walk through life.

Sister Ardeth G. Kapp, Young Women general president, introduced the new Young Women logo, which depicts a torch with an outline of a young woman’s head as a part of the flame. The logo bears the words, “Young Women Stand for Truth and Righteousness.”

“Let this Young Women logo become a symbolic reminder to each of you,” said Sister Kapp, “that as you stand for truth and righteousness, you will hold up the light of Christ.”

She urged Young Women to let the logo remind them that “every Christlike act, every kind word spoken, … every act of forgiveness, every effort to lift another will add to the light and … help light the way for others.”

“Through your obedience to God’s commandments, you will become acquainted with the whisperings of his Spirit,” Sister Kapp said. “In response to your asking, you will know and feel in your heart when to lead, when to follow, and when to turn away.”

She counseled each young woman to be prepared to bear her testimony when others ask life’s most basic questions: Who are you, what will you do, and why?

The seven values of Young Women were then presented. They are faith, divine nature, individual worth, knowledge, choice and accountability, good works, and integrity.

Sister Kapp noted that since the gospel principles identified in the Young Women values were introduced, “We have received hundreds of reports and letters from young women around the world [telling] how these values are affecting their lives.”

Speaking to parents and leaders, Sister Kapp noted that young women need to receive love and have their accomplishments acknowledged. She then warned that if we, as well-meaning parents or leaders, encouraged young women “to move prematurely into social life with too much attention on popularity, physical attractiveness, and popular fashions … we may unthinkingly train their appetites to hunger after the things of the world.”

Sister Kapp advised leaders and parents, “Live what you want them to learn. Be role models.”

Sister Elaine L. Jack, second counselor in the Young Women general presidency directed her remarks to the twelve- and thirteen-year-old Beehive age group, while Sister Jayne B. Malan, first counselor, spoke to the Mia Maids, who are fourteen and fifteen years old. Sister Kapp then addressed the Laurel age group of sixteen and seventeen.

“This is the time to learn the gospel and to grow in your understanding of the gift of the Holy Ghost,” Sister Jack said. “This is the time to … choose the truth and speak the truth. This is the time to learn how to share your love and talents with your family and friends.”

The Beehive symbol depicting a young woman in prayer was displayed, along with its accompanying legend: “A young woman seeks to know the truth through prayer.”

Referring to Heavenly Father as a friend, Sister Jack said, “He is anxious for you to learn to hear the promptings of his Spirit so he can teach you, guide you, and comfort you.”

Pointing to the Mia Maid symbol, an open book of scriptures, Sister Malan noted, “The scriptures are priceless gifts from your Father in Heaven to you. … Search and study the scriptures so that you can teach your family and others and bear testimony of the things you know to be true.”

Sister Kapp told Laurels to be a righteous example and to pray regularly. “To begin a day without prayer might be likened to beginning a journey across the desert without water. Kneel down each morning. … Talk to your Father in Heaven and ask to have his Spirit to be with you. Carry your prayer in your heart all day.”

Noting that this age is an important time in a young woman’s life, Sister Kapp advised Laurels to make the choices now that will determine their future life and opportunities. “Talk with your parents and with the Lord,” she said. “No one knows and loves you more. …

“Set your heart and mind on one day entering the temple of our God. This will help fortify you against the power of the adversary.”

The Laurel symbol shows temple spires topped by a statue of the angel Moroni. The accompanying legend reads: “The temple spires remind us of sacred ordinances and covenants that lead to exaltation.”

As she addressed all Young Women and their parents, Sister Kapp stressed the importance of the Personal Progress program, which “provides an opportunity for parents to encourage their daughters and share in their progress.

The Young Womanhood Medallion, which is awarded to young women who complete the program and accomplish their goals, was then highlighted. The medallion “symbolizes a young woman of the Church who has made a commitment to honor her covenants and to stand for truth and righteousness,” Sister Kapp said.

Addressing the parents, Sister Kapp pledged, “We, the leaders of young women, are committed to assist you, to help protect and strengthen your daughters in every appropriate way. We honor your sacred trust and join with you in helping each young woman come unto Christ.”

Counseling young women to enjoy their “precious youthful years” and “this wonderful time of learning and discovering,” Sister Kapp said, “There has never been a better time to be young, nor greater opportunity … to make a difference.”

[photos] President Thomas S. Monson, Second Counselor in the First Presidency (right), speaks to Young Women during the fireside telecast. (Photography by Welden Andersen and Ann Florence.)

[photos] Sister Ardeth G. Kapp, Young Women general president, at left; Sister Jayne B. Malan, first counselor; and Sister Elaine L. Jack, second counselor, emphasized gospel values for young women at the October 18 fireside. (Photography by Welden Andersen and Ann Florence.)

[photo] New symbols and logo for the Young Women organization were introduced during the telecast.

Midweek Activities for Young Women Emphasized

In conjunction with the Young Women fireside broadcast by satellite on October 18, Ardeth G. Kapp, Young Women general president, met with the Ensign to stress Church support for Young Women activities.

She emphasized the importance of regular midweek activities. “Parents should not view this activity as just another social night out. It is designed to bring young people together in an environment that will help them become spiritually strong and help build testimonies and relationships.”

Sister Kapp then pointed out that “young women are growing up at a time when the world would distract them from their purpose.” She noted that the media reinforces conflicting values and that today’s mobile society often removes support from aunts, uncles, and other family members.

Other problems facing young women include insecurities stemming from the desire to be popular and attractive. “If a young sister has weak self-esteem, she becomes vulnerable,” Sister Kapp said. “We hope to help them find a strong sense of identity as young women in the Church. We want them to recognize the value of being who they are.”

Sister Kapp urged Young Women leaders to plan activities with definite purposes in mind and to keep parents informed about the activities. “We are committed to assist in every appropriate way to help protect and strengthen young women.

“There are events each year to which parents are invited,” she said, adding that the young sisters should be encouraged to make these invitations and urge their parents to attend.

She also emphasized the need for enough adults to provide a strong support system and to help handle the increased activities.

Update: Number of Stakes in the Church

As of 12 October 1987, there were 1,656 stakes in the Church. This represents a 15.4 percent increase over the past five years, and a 3.3 percent increase since June 1986.

Year

Stakes

1983

1,435

1984

1,485

1985

1,543

1986

1,603

1987

1,656