Principles

Eternal Marriage Student Manual, (2003), 274–75


A principle is an enduring truth, a law, a rule you can adopt to guide you in making decisions.

—President Boyd K. Packer

Selected Teachings

President Ezra Taft Benson

“We should make daily study of the scriptures a lifetime pursuit. …

“… One of the most important things you can do … is to immerse yourselves in the scriptures. Search them diligently. Feast upon the words of Christ. Learn the doctrine. Master the principles” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1986, 61; or Ensign, Nov. 1986, 47).

President Boyd K. Packer

“That word principle in the revelation is a very important one. A principle is an enduring truth, a law, a rule you can adopt to guide you in making decisions. Generally principles are not spelled out in detail. That leaves you free to find your way with an enduring truth, a principle, as your anchor” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1996, 22; or Ensign, May 1996, 17).

Elder Boyd K. Packer

“From doctrine, we learn principles of conduct, how to respond to problems of everyday living, even to failures, for they too are provided for in the doctrines” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1994, 26; or Ensign, May 1994, 20).

“Some things cannot be changed. Doctrine cannot be changed.

“‘Principles which have been revealed,’ President Wilford Woodruff said, ‘for the salvation and exaltation of the children of men … are principles you cannot annihilate. They are principles that no combination of men can destroy. They are principles that can never die. … They are beyond the reach of man to handle or to destroy.’ [In Journal of Discourses, 22:342; italics added.]” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1993, 29; or Ensign, Nov. 1993, 22).

Organization, programs, procedures, policies, and principles—all are important. But they are not of equal importance. …

“If you do not know the principles—by principles I mean the principles of the gospel, the doctrines, what’s in the revelations—if you do not know what the revelations say about justice or mercy, or what they reveal on reproof or forgiveness, how can you make inspired decisions in those difficult cases that require your judgement? …

“There are principles of the gospel underlying every phase of Church administration. These are not explained in the handbooks. They are found in the scriptures. They are the substance of and the purpose for the revelations.

“Procedures, programs, the administrative policies, even some patterns of organization are subject to change. We are quite free, indeed, quite obliged to alter them from time to time. But the principles, the doctrines, never change. …

“… What we really need is a revival of the basic gospel principles in the lives of all the Latter-day Saints. The true essence of priesthood administration is not a procedure—it is in principle, in doctrine!

“The prophet Joseph Smith gave us the key. He said, with reference to administration, ‘I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves.’” (“Principles,” Ensign, Mar. 1985, 6, 8).

Elder James E. Faust

“Great temporal and spiritual strength flows from following those who have the keys of the kingdom of God in our time. Personal strength and power result from obedience to eternal principles taught by the living legates of the Lord” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1994, 97; or Ensign, Nov. 1994, 74).

Elder Neal A. Maxwell

“Orthodoxy ensures balance between the gospel’s powerful and correct principles. … But the gospel’s principles do require synchronization. When pulled apart from each other or isolated, men’s interpretations and implementations of these doctrines may be wild” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1993, 97; or Ensign, May 1993, 78).

Elder Richard G. Scott

“As you seek spiritual knowledge, search for principles. Carefully separate them from the detail used to explain them. Principles are concentrated truth, packaged for application to a wide variety of circumstances. A true principle makes decisions clear even under the most confusing and compelling circumstances. It is worth great effort to organize the truth we gather to simple statements of principle” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1993, 117; or Ensign, Nov. 1993, 86).

“Man has always benefitted from obedience to true principles. The fearless Polynesians in precarious craft crossed an immense ocean for destinations thousands of miles away. That feat was accomplished not by chance but by adherence to sound principles of celestial navigation. They prepared carefully and did not succumb to temptations to deviate from their course or delay en route. In like manner, you and I can be assured of reaching worthy objectives in life by understanding and consistently following correct principles rooted in revealed truth.

“Principles are anchors of safety. They are like the steel anchors a mountaineer uses to conquer otherwise impossible cliffs. They will help you have confidence in new and unfamiliar circumstances. They will provide you protection in life’s storms of adversity.

“All of the self-inflicted tragedy that occurs today from violation of the Lord’s commandments could be avoided by careful, consistent observance of revealed truth. The productive power of correct principles can make your life a joyous, satisfying experience. …

“Joseph Smith’s inspired statement, ‘I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves,’ still applies (quoted by John Taylor, in Millennial Star, 15 Nov. 1851, p. 339). The Lord uses that pattern with us. You will find correct principles in the teachings of the Savior, His prophets, and the scriptures—especially the Book of Mormon.

“While easy to find, true principles are not easy to live until they become an established pattern of life. They will require you to dislodge false ideas. They can cause you wrenching battles within the secret chambers of your heart and decisive encounters to overcome temptation, peer pressure, and the false allure of the ‘easy way out.’ Yet as you resolutely follow correct principles, you will forge strength of character available to you in times of urgent need. Your consistent adherence to principle overcomes the alluring yet false lifestyles that surround you. Your faithful compliance to correct principles will generate criticism and ridicule from others, yet the results are so eternally worthwhile that they warrant your every sacrifice.

“Now, the most important principle I can share: Anchor your life in Jesus Christ, your Redeemer. Make your Eternal Father and His Beloved Son the most important priority in your life—more important than life itself, more important than a beloved companion or children or anyone on earth. Make their will your central desire. Then all that you need for happiness will come to you” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1993, 40–41, 43; or Ensign, May 1993, 32, 34).