Photo illustration by Matthew Reier
“You young people are being raised in enemy territory,” said President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.1 Truly, the moral standards of faithful Latter-day Saints are under attack! Are you ready to fight against any unclean or impure thought that Satan, the Internet, and the world may put in your head or heart?
On most mornings before 5:00 a.m., groups of worthy youth line up in the dark by the Salt Lake Temple doors, ready to enter the baptistry. They step from the dark of the world into the light of the temple. After dressing in white, they quietly proceed to the magnificent baptismal font, where they are baptized for the dead. As they emerge from the pure, refreshing waters of the font, these youth are fortified, knowing they have participated in an eternal work for others.
Back out into the dark they go, hurrying to school—but they are not the same, because they leave armed with power and glory (see D&C 109:22–23). Carrying the light and purity of the temple in their hearts, they are prepared to push back the darkness of this “enemy territory” and stay morally clean. This scene is not unique to the Salt Lake Temple—it happens frequently as youth throughout the world leave the darkness of enemy territory and choose to live worthy of and enter the light of the temple.
For example, a sister and brother from Colorado, USA, have each been baptized for more than 50 of their ancestors this past year and have experienced the purity of the temple. The brother said, “I get a good, spiritual feeling when I’m in the temple. Later, when I face temptations, I remember that feeling and it helps me.” In an effort to live worthy of attending the temple, the sister wrote a list in her journal of what she will and will not do when faced with temptation. She took a stand, and she even shared the list with her parents and friends so they could help her. These two young people have created a powerful moral armor for their hearts, minds, and bodies.
Purify Your Heart
Along with clean actions, do you have clean desires?
David, the psalmist, prays in Psalm 139:23–24: “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me.” Referring to these verses, President Lorenzo Snow (1814–1901) counseled: “I would recommend that [every person] adopt this prayer of David. … Many fail in coming up to this standard of excellence because they do things in secret … that … alienate them from the Almighty.”2
Asking Heavenly Father to create a clean heart in you is an act of faith. He has all power; turn to Him often and humbly ask for His divine help to keep your feelings pure—even sexually pure.
“Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). What power you will have when you walk in the Spirit! Each Sunday as you partake of the sacrament, you witness that you are willing to always remember Jesus Christ (see D&C 20:77, 79). Remembering the Savior can give you spiritual power to turn away from impurity.
Be Clean before God
Why is sexual purity a commandment? Because Heavenly Father provided the powers of procreation within marriage for godly purposes only. Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has said, “How we feel about and use that supernal power will determine in large measure our happiness in mortality and our destiny in eternity.”3
Sexual intimacy provides loving, emotional unity to husband and wife. However, Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has warned, “Those intimate acts are forbidden by the Lord outside the enduring commitment of marriage because they undermine His purposes. … They cause serious emotional and spiritual harm. Even though participants do not realize that is happening now, they will later. Sexual immorality creates a barrier to the influence of the Holy Spirit.”4
Sexual intimacy is not given to satisfy lust, popularity, or curiosity. Such selfish use of this God-given gift will always cause unhappiness and limit spiritual growth.
As you prepare yourself and purify your heart, the Lord can make and help keep you clean. If you feel guilty or quietly ashamed, seek the power of the Atonement. It is only through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ that we can be cleansed. Repent and pray honestly for forgiveness. Go to your bishop or branch president if necessary. Can you become clean and stay clean in an unclean world? Yes, you can! You know the truth and have the support of the Holy Ghost, parents, leaders, and the living prophet. As you look to Jesus Christ, you can and will remain clean before Him.