Each young woman will recognize the importance of holding fast to the Lord’s standards.
Prepare a copy of the questionnaire in the third section of the lesson for each young woman. Roll each handout and tie it with a cord or strong string.
Optional: Prepare the following wordstrips: “Leads with flaxen cord,” “Turns truth to lies.”
Assign young women to present any scriptures, stories, or quotations you wish.
Suggested Lesson Development
Spencer W. Kimball told about a huge tidal wave that struck Hilo, Hawaii, in 1946 with walls of water forty feet high. He described the devastation this way: “Homes had been overturned and shredded, crushed into splinters like toothpicks; fences and gardens were obliterated; bridges and roads were washed away. … Where one of our little chapels had stood, nothing remained but the foundation. More than a hundred people lost their lives; as many more were injured; thousands were left homeless. … One woman told how she received a telephone message from friends to get out and to leave—that a tidal wave was coming. She looked out to sea and saw the monstrous wave approaching, like a mountain. She and her husband picked up the baby and ran for their lives up the hill. However, two of their little girls were away from home playing near a clump of lauhala trees. They saw the wave coming, ran into the trees, and held tightly with their arms around the tree trunks. The first gigantic wave washed entirely over them, but they held their breath and clung with all their might until the water receded and their heads were again above the water. When the wave receded, they quickly ran up the hill before the succeeding waves came. Together, the family watched from the safety of the hill as their home disappeared under the pounding of the waves.”
President Kimball continued: “We, too, are faced with powerful, destructive forces unleashed by the adversary. Waves of sin, wickedness, immorality, degradation, tyranny, deceitfulness, conspiracy, and dishonesty threaten all of us. They come with great power and speed and will destroy us if we are not watchful” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1978, pp. 5–6; or Ensign, Nov. 1978, pp. 5–6).
Write on the chalkboard the evil influences President Kimball mentions. If there are questions about these terms, clarify the meanings.
What evidence do you see of these things around us?
The Adversary Tries to Keep Us from Following the Lord’s Standards
Scriptures and discussion
Read together Helaman 5:12.
How is Helaman’s description of storms of evil similar to President Kimball’s description?
Read 2 Nephi 26:22 and discuss one way the devil gains power over us.
Wordstrip and discussion
Display the wordstrip: “Leads with flaxen cord.”
Explain that if we wrap a thin thread around a hand, we can hardly feel it when it first touches us. As we continue to wrap it again and again, the thread becomes a strong cord that eventually cannot be broken.
How is sin like a flaxen cord?
Have the young women identify some sinful things that seem to be small but that can lead to greater sin. Their responses may include being immodest; telling half-truths; watching objectionable television, videotapes, and movies; listening to inappropriate music; reading degrading books and magazines; or drinking alcoholic beverages.
How can these things lead to greater sin?
Wordstrip and quotation
Display the wordstrip: “Turns truth to lies.”
Explain that Spencer W. Kimball told about another way that Satan gains power over us: “All of you who are students of the scriptures know of Satan, the father of lies. You know how he turns the truth into a lie. He garnishes evil to make it appear beautiful, pleasing, easy, and even good” (“The Blessings and Responsibilities of Womanhood,” Ensign, Mar. 1976, p. 70; italics added).
Ask the young women what evil practices are made to seem beautiful, pleasing, easy, and even good in today’s society. Read the following statements to illustrate how Satan twists the truth for his evil purposes: “Everyone is doing it.” “Show me how much you love me.” “It is abnormal and unhealthy to repress those strong urges.” “Don’t feel shame or guilt because we were born with appetites and passions.” “Why don’t you stop trying to be different?” “We need to change with the times.” “I’m not hurting anyone else by what I’m doing.” “I need more freedom.” “It’s fun. I dare you to try it.”
Explain that when we rationalize our behavior and make excuses, we become subject to Satan’s flaxen cord and eventually end up bound by his strong cords.
What are some of the results of continued sin? Include the following in the discussion: We can be left with emotional scars, regret, bitterness, permanent damage to our health, difficulty fitting in with friends who followed a righteous course, and the withdrawal of the Holy Ghost. We may be disfellowshipped or excommunicated.
Elder Gordon B. Hinckley stressed the importance of living the Lord’s standard: “While standards generally may totter, we of the Church are without excuse if we drift in the same manner. We have standards—sure, tested, and effective. To the extent that we observe them, we shall go forward. To the extent that we neglect them, we shall hinder our own progress and bring embarrassment to the word of the Lord. These standards have come from him. Some of them may appear a little out of date in our society, but this does not detract from their validity nor diminish the virtue of their application. The subtle reasoning of men, no matter how clever, no matter how plausible it may sound, cannot abridge the declared wisdom of God” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1970, p. 21; or Improvement Era, June 1970, p. 40).
We Can Strengthen Our Ability to Hold Fast to the Lord’s Standards
Ask the young women to think back to the story of the tidal wave. Ask them to picture in their minds the little girls who ran to the trees when they saw the wave approaching.
How did they survive the force and power of the water? Where can we flee to find safety from evil?
President Spencer W. Kimball answered these questions: “But a warning is sounded for us. It behooves us to be alert and to listen and flee from the evil for our eternal lives. Without help we cannot stand against it. We must flee to high ground or cling fast to that which can keep us from being swept away. That to which we must cling for safety is the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is our protection from whatever force the evil one can muster” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1978, p. 6; or Ensign, Nov. 1978, p. 6; italics added).
To what “trees” can we cling when we are tempted? (Prophets, scriptures, Holy Ghost, priesthood and other Church leaders, parents, prayer, conscience.) Write the young women’s answers on the chalkboard.
Explain that these are the “trees” to which we can cling for safety. Even though waves of evil completely cover us as the waves covered the little girls, we can be safe.
Distribute a copy of the questionnaire to each young woman. Read and briefly discuss each question. Ask the young women to answer each question for themselves.
Do I know from the scriptures what the Lord’s standard of chastity is?
Do I know what the prophets have said about how to deal with evil influences?
Do I read and ponder my patriarchal blessing?
Do I pray for strength and protection?
Have I sought and listened to the counsel of my parents? Of my bishop or branch president?
Do I listen for and act on the impressions that the Holy Ghost gives me?
Have I made a commitment to cling to the Lord’s standard before I am faced with temptation?
Case studies and discussion
Read the following case studies, or give them to young women to present. Refer to the list on the chalkboard to help answer the questions.
Which of the trees of protection can each young woman in the following case studies use to resist Satan’s attempts to weaken and destroy her?
Maria is active in the Church and has a strong testimony. A school activity brought her in contact with Carl, who is not an active member, nor are his standards of behavior as high as Maria’s. Carl enjoys her company and showers attention on her. What could Maria do to hold fast to what she has been taught? To what trees could she cling to keep her from following Carl into inactivity?
Lorraine is aware that she should not date before age sixteen, but a popular boy at school has invited her to a party. He told her, “Everyone is going to be there; will you go with me?” What should she reply? What trees should she hold to?
Georgia’s teacher at school has often told her that she has a fine scientific mind and that to be married and have a family would be wasting her abilities. How does this advice conflict with the Lord’s standard? How can Georgia use her abilities in fulfilling her divine role? Which trees should she cling to in deciding about her future?
A schoolmate of Ruth’s has urged her to come to a party, saying that Jack will be bringing something to really make her feel good. It will be exciting to try it just once. How could the commitment Ruth has already made about drugs and other Word of Wisdom temptations help her to respond to this invitation?
Barbara’s boyfriend tells her, “Of course I love you. But we ought to find out if we are sexually compatible before we’re married.” What is the Lord’s standard on premarital sex? What would you do if you were Barbara? To which trees can Barbara cling?
Susan found herself with a group of friends who wanted to see an objectionable movie. Susan felt it would be wrong to go to the movie. What could she suggest or say? What would you do in a similar situation?
Rachel went shopping with a friend who kept urging her to purchase clothes that were either too tight or too short. The styles were very attractive, and she needed something new for a special occasion. What should Rachel do? What is the Lord’s standard on modesty and dress?
Patricia listened to the missionaries and was baptized. She was the only member of her family to join the Church. Although at times keeping the commandments was difficult, she remained faithful and increased her resolve to live the Lord’s standards of righteousness. To what trees can Patricia cling to live the gospel when other family members make it difficult for her?
President Kimball assured us that we can hold to the gospel in times of danger:
“The Lord holds forth a glorious promise to those who love him and demonstrate this love by faithful, devoted service and the living of his eternal principles. When the winds of change blow fiercely and the waves sweep over us, we have a tree or rod of principle to which we can cling for safety. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ which has been restored to the earth in its fulness” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1978, p. 7; or Ensign, Nov. 1978, p. 6).
Suggest that the young women record in their journals their commitment to hold fast to the Lord’s standard of moral worthiness.