Passengers tugged at the straps of their life preservers to make sure they were secure. The boatmen strained against the oars. Those in the rafts glanced apprehensively at what lay ahead. The river foamed around jagged rocks; one wrong move could easily destroy a rubber raft. But one route, if carefully navigated, could carry rafts and passengers safely through, avoiding the dangerous rapids. This safe section of river promised to be an exciting ride. Screams of delight came from the boats as the churning water washed over the sides.
Suddenly one raft was in trouble. One boy, Ron, had shoved the guide aside and was pulling on one oar, trying to move his raft into the biggest section of rapids. He wanted more thrills, more excitement. The rubber raft slammed sideways against a rock. The force of the water pounded the edge of the boat, flipping it, and tipping Ron and his friends into the cold, treacherous water.
Ron had discarded his life jacket, thinking he was strong enough to swim out of the river, but it was too much for him. In the panic of the moment, he grabbed his girl friend, Molly, and inadvertently held her under as he struggled to stay afloat.
This scene presents one of the strong teaching moments in the new Church film Morality for Youth. To be used as an aid in teaching sexual morality, the film tells the story of a group of young people on a day-long river trip. The metaphors used—the rapids, representing forces and temptations; the life jacket, symbolic of the law of chastity; and the guides, typifying wise teachers and parents—are an effective lead-in to a meaningful discussion.
Based on a New Era article (Nov. ’80) and talks given by President Kimball, the film was designed to be a springboard for discussion on the subject of morality. As President Kimball says in the film, “The law of chastity will always be basic in God’s world and in the Lord’s church. It is not an outworn garment, faded and old-fashioned and threadbare.”
Besides the story of the group on the river trip, the film also contains interviews with teens. The comments given by these young people reveal some keen insights. For example, one boy suggests that he has the responsibility for keeping himself morally clean and helping his friends to keep the same standards. This feeling of helping each other keep the Lord’s commandments is forceful in the film. When one raft capsizes, the passengers on every other raft come to their friends’ aid.
The leader in the film tells his group, “On the river—as in life—most people get into trouble because they either overestimate their own ability or they underestimate the forces pulling them into danger.” As the film shows the power of the white water, the analogy to life becomes more vivid. The leader says, “When you’re in the white water, things can happen fast. Remember, the guide who knows you best is your Father in Heaven. He has set the standards. Stay close to him through prayer.”
The film was the highlight of a special youth fireside on December 5 broadcast from Temple Square by satellite to over 500 locations within the United States. For future presentations of the film, a short pamphlet called the “User’s Guide for Morality for Youth” is available from the distribution centers.