Tonight I stand in a holy place at this pulpit, in the presence of prophets, seers, and revelators and royal daughters of God. This is a magnificent time to be on the earth and to be a young woman. You are the elect daughters of our Father in Heaven. I hope you sense your identity and how beloved you are of our Father in Heaven. He loves each of you, and I do too.
On the desk in my office, I have a bronze replica of a sculpture of a young woman whose name is Kristina. The original life-sized sculpture of Kristina stands on a pier in Copenhagen, Denmark, positioned so that she is looking out over the sea toward Zion. Her decision to join the Church and leave her home was not an easy one, and you can see that the opposing winds are blowing fiercely against her. She is standing firm, doing a very hard thing but one she knows to be right. Her descendants placed this sculpture there on that pier as a tribute to Kristina, for her decision that day had eternal significance for generations.
For me this sculpture of Kristina represents each one of you. Like Kristina, you are standing on the edge of many important decisions and making choices daily, some of them difficult, that will shape not only your future but also the destiny of generations. You too are facing gale-force winds of opposition, adversity, peer pressure, and moral pollution. And yet you are standing immovable and living the gospel in the face of these raging storms in our society. Like Kristina, you are led by the Holy Ghost. You are making correct decisions. You are loyal, and you are royal.
I can think of no more important counsel from a loving Heavenly Father than His admonition for each of you to “stand … in holy places, and be not moved.”1 He is saying: Stand firm. Be steadfast.2 “Stand for truth and righteousness.”3 Stand as a witness.4 Be a standard to the world. Stand in holy places. And so my message to each of you is a simple one: Be not moved.
First, be not moved in choosing right. In these latter days, there are no small decisions. The choices you are making right now are of critical importance. Agency, or the ability to choose, is one of God’s greatest gifts to His children. It is part of the plan of happiness you and I chose and defended in our premortal existence. Live your lives in such a way that you can listen to and hear the Holy Ghost, and He will help you make correct decisions. In fact, He will tell you “all things what ye should do.”5
Several weeks ago I returned to my old high school for the first time in years. I was visiting a stake conference that was being held in the school’s auditorium. As I walked down the halls, a flood of memories began to pour into my mind. I remembered exactly how I felt when I attended high school as a young woman—insecure, unsure of myself, self-conscious, and so, so desirous to fit in. I went into the auditorium. Again a flood of memories came to mind. I was familiar with every detail of that auditorium. Only one thing had changed—me.
That day I had the opportunity to stand on the stage as I had done in high school many times as a student officer. I even saw some of my former classmates in the audience—some I had dated! But this time, instead of conducting an assembly, I had the privilege—there in my high school auditorium—to “stand as a witness”6 and bear my testimony of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Young women, make sure your relationships with others are such that 40 years from now, you will not be embarrassed. No amount of peer pressure, no acceptance, no popularity is worth a compromise. Your influence on the young men will help them remain worthy of their priesthood power, of temple covenants, and of serving a mission. And who knows? Forty years from now, you may even have one of them walk up to you, there in your high school auditorium, and thank you for helping him remain worthy to fulfill his priesthood duty to serve an honorable mission. And who knows? You may even receive a letter from one of those young men’s wives, thanking you for the influence you had on her husband and their future family clear back in your high school days. Your choices matter. Your choices now not only affect you, but they also affect others. They are of eternal significance. Be not moved!
Second, be not moved in your desire and commitment to remain virtuous and sexually pure. Cherish virtue. Your personal purity is one of your greatest sources of power. When you came to the earth, you were given the precious gift of a body. Your body is the instrument of your mind and a divine gift with which you exercise your agency. This is a gift that Satan was denied, and thus he directs nearly all of his attacks on your body. He wants you to disdain, misuse, and abuse your body. Immodesty, pornography, immorality, tattoos and piercings, drug abuse, and addictions of all kinds are all efforts to take possession of this precious gift—your body—and to make it difficult for you to exercise your agency. Paul asks, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?”7
Your body is a temple. Why? Because it has the capacity to house not only your eternal spirit but also the eternal spirits of others who will come to the earth as part of your eternal family. Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught, “The power to create mortal life is [an] exalted power.”8 Your role is an exalted role. God has given you a sacred trust! You are preparing to be future mothers of generations to come. Keep yourselves pure and worthy, and guard that which is “most dear and precious above all”—your virtue and chastity.9 Heavenly Father’s wise counsel to you personally, His elect daughters, is to “walk … the paths of virtue.”10
Virtue is the golden key to the temple. So, third, be not moved in being worthy to make and keep sacred covenants. The covenant you make at baptism will tether you to the path of virtue and happiness as you renew that covenant each week by partaking of the sacrament. As you keep your baptismal covenant, you will look different, dress different, and act different from the world. Keeping this covenant will enable you to be guided by the Holy Ghost. Stand in holy places, and do not even go near those environments or music, media, or associations that might cause you to lose the companionship of the Holy Ghost.11 And as you keep your covenants, you will remain worthy and prepared to enter the Lord’s holy temples.
Last, be not moved in your acceptance of the Savior’s Atonement. The Atonement is for you and for me. It is an enabling and a redeeming power. If you are not feeling worthy to stand in holy places, do not carry this burden one day longer. In mortality, we will all make mistakes. Be assured that the Savior loves you so much that He made it possible for you to change and to repent if you make a mistake. Satan does not want you to think you can change.12 He will try to convince you that all is lost. That is a lie. You can return. You can repent. You can be pure and holy because of the Savior’s infinite Atonement.
Now let me close with one of the greatest love stories ever told. You might ask, “What does a love story have to do with standing in holy places?” It has everything to do with standing in holy places. This is the story of a young woman named Rebekah.13
As this story unfolds, Abraham charges his servant with finding a worthy young woman to be his son Isaac’s wife. She must be one who qualifies for a covenant marriage—virtuous and pure and worthy. And so he sends his servant on a long and dangerous journey to a place called Haran. The reason he must go there is clear—holy men need holy women to stand by their sides. As the servant approached the city of Nahor, he stopped at a well to water his camels and he prayed that he would be led to the right young woman and that he would recognize her by her offer to get water for him and his 10 camels. Now, I have ridden a camel, and this much I know—camels drink a lot of water!
In Genesis we read that Rebekah not only went down to the well and got water, but she “hasted,”14 or hurried, to accomplish this task. The servant then placed bracelets and jewelry on Rebekah and asked if there was room in her father’s home for him to stay. I am sure the jewelry helped! The scripture reads, “And the damsel ran, and told them of her mother’s house these things.”15 Rebekah must have been a runner!
The servant told Rebekah’s family the purpose of his long journey, and Rebekah agreed to become Isaac’s wife. The servant desired to leave the very next day with Rebekah, but her family entreated her to stay with them at least 10 more days. Then they asked Rebekah what she wanted to do, and her response was simply “I will go.”16 Does that response sound familiar to the response of thousands who resolutely responded, “I will go; I will do”17 when our prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, announced the opportunity for young men and young women to serve missions at a younger age?
Now the moral and ending of this love story: Rebekah was prepared and worthy to make and keep sacred covenants and to become a covenant wife of Isaac. She did not have to wait and prepare herself. Prior to her departure from her family, she was given a blessing, and the words are stirring to me, for she was promised that she would become “the mother of thousands of millions.”18 But the best part of this love story is when Rebekah first saw Isaac and he first saw her. It doesn’t say this in the Bible, but I think it was love at first sight! For “virtue loveth virtue; [and] light cleaveth unto light.”19 When Isaac went out to meet the caravan, Rebekah “lighted off [her] camel.”20 And then it says, “And he loved her.”21 This is where I sigh!
For both Rebekah and Kristina, standing in holy places was not easy. Being not moved was not easy. The winds blew fiercely, the water from the well was heavy, and departing from their familiar homes and former lives certainly was not easy. But they made correct choices. They were guided by the Holy Ghost. They were virtuous, and they prepared themselves to make and keep sacred covenants. The Savior descended through Rebekah’s lineage. Did she know then that this would happen? No! Do your choices now matter? Yes!
Young women, generations are depending on the choices you make, your purity, and your worthy lives. Be not moved. You have a great destiny before you. This is your moment! I truly believe that one virtuous young woman, led by the Spirit, can change the world!
I testify that the Savior lives! He will be with you. He will enable you. And in difficult moments, His “angels [will be] round about you, to bear you up.”22 In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.