Lesson 38: Living Righteously in an Unrighteous World

Aaronic Priesthood Manual 2, (1993), 143–46


Objective

Each young man will desire to obey the commandments even when there is pressure to do otherwise.

Preparation

Materials needed:

  1. 1.

    Scriptures for each young man.

  2. 2.

    Picture 6, Daniel Refusing the King’s Meat and Wine, and picture 7, Daniel in the Lions’ Den (also pictures 114 and 117 in the Gospel Art Picture Kit [34730]).

  3. 3.

    A hymnbook for each young man.

Suggested Lesson Development

We Can Live Righteously in an Unrighteous World

Story

Tell the following story.

Professor Evan Stephens, once the conductor of the Tabernacle Choir, had just finished leading the choir in a session of general conference. He quietly took his seat and then leaned a bit forward, anxiously awaiting the message President Joseph F. Smith was about to deliver. He was thrilled with the prophet’s sermon on the subject of the youth, the worldly pressures they encounter, and the importance of their being true to the teachings of the gospel. At the close of the service, Professor Stephens strolled alone up City Creek Canyon, at the edge of Salt Lake City, pondering the inspired words of the President. He sat upon a rock that was standing firm under the intense pressure of the rushing water. The rock seemed to him symbolic of what he had heard that morning. Suddenly the words and music came to him for what would become one of the Church’s favorite hymns. While sitting upon that rock, he penciled the words and composed the music to “True to the Faith” (Hymns, no. 254). He, like the prophet, loved the youth and said this song was his spiritual advice to them. (See J. Spencer Cornwall, Stories of Our Mormon Hymns [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1961], pp. 172–74.)

Hymn and discussion

Give each young man a hymnbook, and have him turn to “True to the Faith” (Hymns, no. 254). Ask the young men to take turns reading the four verses and chorus.

  • What message of the prophet was Brother Stephens trying to capture in this hymn?

Pictures and scripture story

Explain that since the beginning of time, men and women have exhibited tremendous courage in choosing not to “falter” but to live righteously amid pressure from the unrighteous world around them. A classic scriptural example of this is Daniel, in the Old Testament.

Ask the young men to open to the book of Daniel in the Old Testament.

Explain that Daniel was brought into a strange land as a youth—a land with strange customs, a strange language, a strange environment, and a strange religion. His first test came when the king ordered that those who had been brought to Babylon were to drink his fine wine and eat his rich food. Daniel knew and understood the commandments of the Lord. He had been taught that these things were wrong to eat, and he had been taught to keep the commandments of God. (Show the picture of Daniel refusing the king’s food.) Daniel begged the king’s servant that he and his friends be allowed to follow the Lord’s laws of health. The servant consented to a ten-day test to see what would happen.

  • What were the results of Daniel’s diet (see Daniel 1:15)?

  • How did God bless Daniel and his friends for being faithful and obeying his law of health (see Daniel 1:17)?

Another challenge came when King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream and wanted it interpreted. None of the magicians or astrologers in the kingdom could tell the king what his dream meant. This made the king so angry that he commanded that all of the wise men of Babylon, which included Daniel, be killed.

  • What did Daniel do when he heard what the king was planning to do (see Daniel 2:16)?

  • How did Daniel receive the answers he needed concerning the king’s dream (see Daniel 2:17–20)?

  • After Daniel gave the interpretation of the dream to the king, what were the king’s reaction and Daniel’s reward (see Daniel 2:46–48)?

Daniel had yet another test. He was given a position of prominence under the king. He was appointed the head of all the princes, and they were jealous of Daniel. They watched for him to do something wrong so that they could accuse him before the king. When they found nothing, they devised another plot. The wicked princes presented a new law to the king which stated that for thirty days no one in the kingdom would be allowed to pray. It said people should praise only the king. The king seemed to think that was a good idea, so he decreed a penalty for those who defied the law. When Daniel heard the new law, he was greatly troubled, for praying to God was extremely important to him.

  • What was the penalty for disobeying this law (see Daniel 6:7)?

  • What did Daniel do, even though he knew of the decree and its penalty (see Daniel 6:10)?

Those who were jealous of Daniel spied on him in his house, and when they saw him praying, they told the king. The king loved Daniel and realized that a terrible trick had been played on him by the wicked princes. He tried to change the law to save Daniel from the lions, but the princes reminded the king that no law he had made could be changed.

  • What did the king say when they threw Daniel into the lions’ den (see Daniel 6:16)?

Show the picture of Daniel in the lions’ den.

Daniel had set a great example before the king. The king trusted that Daniel’s God would deliver him from the den of lions. The king spent all night fasting for Daniel and in the morning rushed to the den and cried out to him.

  • What did the king ask Daniel (see Daniel 6:20)? What was Daniel’s response (see Daniel 6:22)?

  • After witnessing this miracle and Daniel’s loyalty to his God, what decree did the king now make (see Daniel 6:26–27)?

  • What would you have done if you were under the kind of pressure Daniel was under?

  • What can we learn from Daniel’s example?

  • How might a young man today be pressured to disobey one of God’s commandments?

Have the young men compare and evaluate their own commitments to their beliefs as compared to Daniel’s. Point out the tremendous influence Daniel alone had on an entire kingdom by choosing to live righteously.

Adviser presentation

Explain that today we may not be thrown into a den of hungry lions for standing up for what we believe, but we may be challenged in different ways with equally important decisions and consequences. Many young men of the past and present have overcome and are overcoming worldly pressures and acting righteously.

Story and discussion

The following story gives examples of overcoming worldly pressures.

“One of the most encouraging and inspiring experiences I have is to meet young men and young women who have truly found themselves—those who make the decision as to the kind of person they are going to be and then display the courage to rise above the pressures of society to be the kind of child of God with whom He would be pleased. Meeting such young people strengthens my testimony and increases my confidence and faith in the future.

“I once met a young sailor who was a member of the crew of an atomic submarine based in Scotland. He was the only member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the crew. The submarine would go on extended cruises encompassing many weeks. As this young Church member was assigned to his station on his first cruise, he found that other crewmen had plastered the walls in his area with suggestive pictures of scantily clad women. This offended him. He took all the pictures down and destroyed them. He was conscious of the probable reaction of the other men but, nevertheless, had the courage to do what he thought he should. Not one picture was put up again. As a matter of fact, on that first cruise, he began to teach a Sunday School class attended by two or three of the other men. He learned an important lesson—generally speaking, others will show respect for one who has the courage of his or her convictions and isn’t afraid to do what he feels is right.

“On another occasion, I met a young man 14 years of age who was a superb tennis player. He had won all of the tennis tournaments in his class in an area that included several states. He had reached the semifinals of a very important tournament that was to take place in a distant city. As he arrived there, he found that he was scheduled to participate on Sunday. He went to the officials and told them he didn’t play tennis on Sunday; whereupon he was informed that if he wanted to play in this tournament, he would play on Sunday. He again indicated he would not play on Sunday, knowing that not to do so would mean he would forfeit the match. As it happened, the matches were rained out on Sunday. He played on Monday and won.

“He then went by bus with the other finalists to another major city to compete in the championship matches that covered the entire Atlantic seaboard of the United States. They arrived on Sunday. The coach instructed the contestants to get out on the tennis courts and practice immediately upon arrival. This young man did not go to the tennis courts. The coach asked him why he wasn’t practicing. He said, ‘I don’t play tennis on Sunday.’ The coach asked him why. His response was, ‘I am a Mormon.’

“I suppose he wanted to win the championship for his age group more than anything else, and yet he himself had made the decision that keeping the Sabbath day holy was more important than being a champion in tennis. You see, he had found himself and had the courage and integrity to live his life according to the principles he had been taught, and he had made his decision regardless of social pressures” (Victor L. Brown, “A Light on a Hill,” New Era, Sept. 1980, p. 4).

  • Why do you think the sailor and the tennis player felt so strongly about their beliefs?

  • How hard do you think it was to do what they did?

  • How have you been blessed for standing up for your beliefs?

Seeking Help to Live Righteously

Chalkboard and discussion

Explain that just as Daniel and the two young men in these stories were not left without help when they chose to live righteously, neither are we. The Lord loves all of us, wants us to succeed, and has not left us to flounder helplessly. However, he also wants us to learn from our experiences so that we will have the knowledge and courage to live righteously.

  • What sources of help has Heavenly Father given us to help us live righteously?

Write the young men’s responses on the chalkboard. Some answers might include prayer, parents and other family members, the Holy Ghost, scriptures, priesthood and Church leaders, good friends.

  • How can we use these sources in different situations to help us live more righteously?

Have the young men share some experiences they may have had in their attempts to live righteously amid worldly pressures.

Conclusion

Testimony

Testify that despite the gloomy picture that the world so often paints, there are modern-day Daniels in our midst. We, too, can be like Daniel and live righteously amid the pressures around us, knowing that our Heavenly Father will always be there to sustain and bless us. We can be true to the faith and not falter.

Hymn

Reread or sing the hymn “True to the Faith.”