Beginning this month—January—Church puts into effect a new policy on family home evenings. There are to be no Church meetings or activities on Monday nights throughout the entire Church. Even the temples are to be closed on Monday nights. This is so you and your family can “be left free from Church activities so that [you] can meet together in family home evening.” That’s the importance of your family setting—whether you’re living at home, living with LDS roommates, or living alone but still looking for Latter-day Saints to be with on Monday nights for gospel discussion. Nothing is to interfere with you and those close to you getting together, growing in love, talking candidly and openly, enjoying fun and uplifting activities.
The First Presidency and Council of the Twelve have approved a statement that is of widespread interest concerning parents who are unable to enter the temple to view a temple marriage of their son or daughter. The policy is self-explanatory—and it shows how deeply the Brethren care about and understand the persons whom this policy affects:
“Frequently couples whose parents, one or more, are not members of the Church desire to be married by civil ceremony before going to the temple so that the nonmember parents may witness the marriage. It is contrary to policy to grant such requests. In lieu thereof, if the parties concerned desire to do so, they may arrange through the bishop of the bride or groom for the holding of a meeting in the cultural hall or some room other than the chapel subsequent or prior to the temple marriage which the nonmember parents and other friends may be invited to attend. This meeting might include a musical number, such as a vocal selection, and prayer; and the bishop of the ward or some other qualified person might explain to those present the principle of eternal marriage. There would, however, be no exchanging of vows nor marriage ceremony of any kind as a part of this arrangement.
“Under no circumstance may a civil marriage ceremony follow a temple marriage. This would be mockery and something that cannot be condoned.”
The First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve are most interested in your having successful social experiences. The following policy statement has natural guidelines that can properly lead you to the serious step of marriage when the time is right. “No dating activities should be planned for the Beehive girls and deacons (Scouts) in the programs of the Church. Supervised activities are planned for these young people to socialize together, learn the basics of dancing and the social graces, etc., as a foundation for future dating.
“Mia Maid girls and teachers (Explorers) have many activities of a social nature planned for them, both in their school and Church programs, which they should enjoy in groups. They should avoid boy-girl single-dating relationships.
“When young people enter senior high school (approximately Laurel, priest-Ensign age), they may appropriately date with the consent of their parents, who are the best judges as to whether they are mature and responsible enough for this kind of young-adult experience. It is generally advisable that they double-date with friends. Outside of the United States, where school terminology differs—after girls have been in the Mia Maid class two years and boys in the teacher-Explorer class two years—they may appropriately date with the consent of their parents, if customs of the country permit.
“Youth should observe the policy of their social group (school and Church groups) and observe standards of dating for their particular group, provided that such standards meet the standards of the Church. This policy is for the protection of youth during their early teen years, allowing them to learn and develop adequately before assuming responsibilities of maturity.”
In case there ever was any doubt, here is the answer about whether to bring nonmember friends to Church. You are “urged to invite and bring nonmembers to general sessions of stake and district conferences and sacrament meetings.” You “are also encouraged to take the opportunity to introduce your friends to the speakers and to the ward or branch and stake or mission officers, who might properly respond with statements that would motivate your friends to gain the blessings of the gospel by joining the Church.” No reason to feel hesitant. We welcome nonmember friends!
Many people in the Church are still having problems with plagiarism. Plagiarism is to give as your own thoughts or ideas the thoughts and ideas of someone else—without informing people of the real source. Another disease still plaguing some Saints is that of reading talks. Both items are discussed in a recent policy statement that urges youth speakers “not to read their talks. Each address should be adequately prepared, be original, and should avoid plagiarism. The use of notes is not objectionable, but the reading of addresses defeats, in a very real sense, the development desired.”
Makes sense. And when all else fails, simply bear your testimony. If you do nothing else, you will have made an important contribution to the service.
All of us have met wonderful members of the Church who at one time or another left the Church or left its teachings and then repented and returned. Often their stories are highly gripping, very interesting, and full of details. We may think that it would be good to have that person tell his story at the next Church meeting or activity. What often happens is that the account of the wrongdoing takes up most of the time, with a little religious summary tucked in at the end. The next time you participate in selecting a speaker for a group when this type of situation might apply, please recall this advice from the First Presidency:
“When reformed transgressors are invited to speak in sacrament or other meetings, they should be asked to not dwell upon their past personal problems, but to speak on the positive side by teaching the principles and standards of the gospel as taught by scripture and by present-day prophets and leaders.”
This will explain why you won’t find articles in the New Era that dwell on this kind of thing, such as you see in many popular magazines. These magazines use such articles primarily for sensational value and shock treatment. Just as in our Church meetings, the New Era has more important things to say.
We too prefer to speak “on the positive side by teaching the principles and standards of the gospel as taught by scripture and by present-day prophets and leaders.” This doesn’t mean we won’t be candid and probing. It just means good taste and propriety are elements of the New Era.