“We live in a world that is filled with filth and sleaze, a world that reeks of evil,” President Gordon B. Hinckley said in his November 2000 fireside for youth (see New Era, Jan. 2001, 4). “You cannot afford that filthy poison to touch you. Stay away from it. Avoid it.”
Although it is not easy to avoid the evil of this world, many youth have increased their efforts to be clean since President Hinckley’s talk on the six B’s.
Many young men and young women have started avoiding the inappropriate things found on television, in movies, in music, and on the Internet. Monica Peterson, from Mesa, Arizona, and her family have tried to specifically avoid unclean television shows.
“For family home evening, we chose to work on Be clean. We wrote down television shows that weren’t appropriate to watch. A show that makes me feel uncomfortable I know shouldn’t be watched. Now, when that show comes on, I have a feeling to change it. It was hard at first, but Heavenly Father helped not only me but my family also.”
The music we listen to can also have an effect on our lives. Listening to uplifting music will help us keep our thoughts and actions clean.
Tania Finn from Pocatello, Idaho, wrote about her experience of changing the kind of music she listens to.
“While on my drive to school every day, I played some instrumental music that allowed me to clear my thoughts and receive revelation for my life from my Father in Heaven. It was a testimony builder for me because I knew I was starting off every day feeling the Spirit.
“As I look back on the month of December (2000), I can see the Lord’s hand guiding me through my life. I know that it was because my spirit was prepared to listen to the Holy Ghost. I know what an important part the Holy Ghost plays in our lives, and I was glad to know that I was able to have the influence of the Holy Ghost in my life by choosing good music.”
When we are careful to avoid unclean media and entertainment, we will be more likely to develop good habits. One of these habits is using clean language. “Avoid evil talk,” said President Hinckley. “Do not take the name of the Lord in vain. … It is not a mark of manhood to carelessly use the name of the Almighty or of His Beloved Son in a vain and flippant way, as many are prone to do.”
Even though one young woman struggled with swearing, President Hinckley’s talk helped her change.
“When I heard President Hinckley talking about the six B’s, the one that stuck out to me the most was Be clean—not only in keeping your body clean, but your spirit. Since that day I have not said one bad word.”
Our friends have a great influence on our habits and on our ability to stay clean. President Hinckley warned the youth to “Choose your friends carefully. It is they who will lead you in one direction or the other. … While you should be friendly with all people, select with great care those whom you wish to have close to you.”
One young woman had an experience soon after President Hinckley’s fireside when she began to question her friendship with some people.
“As I approached this group of people that I called my friends and that I had spent half my life with, their aura seemed different, confusing, and unappealing. They were taking turns telling bad jokes and the spirit that I encountered there was one I did not want to be a part of. I hesitated to leave my friends and stayed for half a joke and then made up my mind to not be a part of this demeaning situation.”
She went on to explain that although it was difficult leaving her group of friends, it was well worth it.
“As I look back on that minute in time, that thought of walking away was probably the hardest thing I have ever had to do. Now I find it to have been the single most important event in my life. I am now in a different crowd of people.
I think differently, and most importantly I act differently because of my change of friends.”
“Did you ever think that your body is holy?” President Hinckley asked in his talk. “You are a child of God. Your body is His creation.”
President Hinckley asked all the youth to avoid tattoos, the young men not to have earrings, and the young women to have no more than one earring in each ear.
This counsel from the prophet helped one young man make an important decision.
“The month before this talk came out I was struggling with the decision of getting a tattoo,” he wrote. “I knew that it wasn’t a choice thing to do, but I still wavered in the thought of it being a sin. When the talk came out I knew there would be a wise purpose behind not getting a tattoo. I am so thankful the Lord would care enough about my friends and me that He would send a prophet to give us this message. Because of that talk I now enjoy having a body with no markings, and I have no regrets.”
Many young women around the world followed the prophet by taking out their multiple earrings. For some it was difficult, but they discovered the peace that comes from following the prophet.
“How truly beautiful is a well-groomed young woman who is clean in body and mind,” said President Hinckley. “She is a daughter of God in whom her Eternal Father can take pride. How handsome is a young man who is well groomed. He is a son of God, deemed worthy of holding the priesthood of God. He does not need tattoos or earrings on or in his body.”
President Hinckley went on to discuss with the youth the importance of staying away from pornography and sexual sin. About pornography he warned, “Stay away from it. It is exciting, but it will destroy you. It will warp your senses. It will build within you an appetite that you will do anything to appease.”
Later in his address President Hinckley spoke of sexual sin. “I plead with you to be careful, to stand safely back from the cliff of sin over which it is so easy to fall. … Keep yourselves clean from the dark and disappointing evil of sexual transgression.”
One young man was very impressed with the prophet’s counsel to avoid such sins. The inspiring words of the prophet helped him begin the process of repentance.
“My life has been full of sexual transgression and pornography,” he wrote. “So when I saw the fireside of the B’s, I felt the prophet was talking right to me. I needed to change my life; it was not going the way it should. This counsel, and my willingness to change and come unto the Lord, was very great. So I did.”
Drugs will also destroy those who are trapped by their influence. “You will become their slave,” warned President Hinckley. “Once in their power you will do anything to get money to buy more. … There is no need for any Latter-day Saint boy or girl, young man or young woman, to even try them. Stay clean from these mind-altering and habit-forming addictions.”
President Hinckley’s words inspired one teen to stop using illegal drugs.
“Not too long ago I was deeply entrenched in the underground rave scene. With my involvement in this not-so-wholesome activity came abuse of a drug known as ecstasy. My life got to the point where I was rolling every weekend and spending all my money on illegal drugs. It wasn’t until the prophet spoke out against illicit drug use to the youth of the Church that I realized I was in big trouble. Listening to his counsel to be clean, however, helped motivate me and give me courage to stop using drugs.”
Concerning relationships between young men and young women, President Hinckley warned the youth: “You are dealing with the most powerful of human instincts. Only the will to live possibly exceeds it. … Steady dating at an early age leads so often to tragedy.”
After President Hinckley’s fireside one young woman decided to stop steadily dating a close friend.
“It was one of the hardest things I have had to do,” she writes. “But my understanding of why we are counseled to not steady date has been increased. I know we did the right thing and that we both needed that experience. I don’t know if I would be as happy as I am now without that experience to help my testimony of the prophet and the gospel grow.”
“Walk in the sunlight of that peace which comes from obedience to the commandments of the Lord,” said President Hinckley.
As we follow the prophet’s counsel to be clean we will have the strength to avoid the dark things of this world. With this evil behind us we can turn our hearts to the light of the gospel.