Boyd K. Packer
Echoing the concerns of many other churches, the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints is sounding the alarm over members’ being
swept up into the self-destructive personal habits so prevalent in
today’s popular culture — including body piercing, tattoos, Internet
pornography, illegal drugs, premarital sex and homosexuality.
At the church’s Semi-Annual General Conference this past weekend —
attended by over 100,000 members during five separate meetings, with
many more of the church’s 11 million members watching at meeting houses
worldwide — church leaders exhorted members to adhere to the straight
and narrow path.
“With some few, there is the temptation which seems nearly
overpowering for man to be attracted to man or woman to woman,” said
Boyd K. Packer, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve of
the LDS Church. “The scriptures plainly condemn those who ‘dishonor
their own bodies between themselves. …’ ‘Men with men working that
which is unseemly.’ ‘(Or) women (who) change the natural use into that
which is against nature,'” said Packer, quoting from Romans.
Gordon B. Hinckley
Packer spoke frankly to the LDS youth, warning them not to
“experiment” nor to let anyone of either sex “touch your body to awaken
passions that can flame beyond control.”
“Pressure is put upon legislatures to legalize unnatural conduct,
[but] they can never make right that which is forbidden in the laws of
God,” he added, referring to homosexual-rights laws, as well as
legislation intended to penalize the Boy Scouts of America for its
policy of prohibiting homosexuals from becoming adult leaders.
The LDS Church sponsors more Boy Scout troops and Cub Scout packs
than any other organization.
The Clinton administration recently considered
Scouts from public lands and national parks over the homosexual question. A number of city councils and school districts have already voted to prevent the Boy Scouts from using taxpayer supported facilities because of diversity requirements in local laws.
|Donald L. Hallstrom|
“Some think that God created them with overpowering, unnatural desires, that they are trapped and not responsible. That is not true. It cannot be true,” said Packer. “We did not make the rules; they were revealed as commandments. We do not cause nor can we prevent the consequences if you disobey the moral laws. In spite of criticism or opposition, we must teach and we must warn,” he said.
In addition to relying on scriptural guidance from the Bible and the Book of Mormon, LDS members believe their prophet — Gordon B. Hinckley, president and prophet leader of the LDS Church — receives direct revelation from God to help them determine what is right and wrong.
Another church leader, Elder Richard G. Scott, said many young people incorrectly believe sexual intimacy is “not that bad” as long as it does not involve the act that could cause pregnancy.
“Sexual intimacy in any of its forms, outside the covenant of marriage, is serious sin. Serious sin is addictive. It forges binding habits that are difficult to sever,” said Scott.
|Over 100,000 attended the conference this past weekend during five separate sessions at the new LDS Conference Center in Salt Lake City.|
“You should be attracted to one another and to marry,” said Packer. “Then, and only then, may you worthily respond to the strong and good and constant desire to express that love through which children will bless your lives. By commandment of God our Father, that must happen only between husband and wife — man and woman — committed to one another in the covenant of marriage. To do otherwise is forbidden and will bring sorrow,” said Packer.
“These desires can be intensified, even perverted, by pornography, improper music, or encouragement from unworthy associations,” he added. “What would have only been a passing phase in establishing gender identity can become implanted and leave you confused, even disturbed.”
The youth of the LDS Church and their parents were also warned of other challenges they face.
“Permissiveness, immorality, pornography and the power of peer pressure cause many to be tossed about on a sea of sin and crushed on the jagged reefs of lost opportunities, forfeited blessings and shattered dreams,” said Thomas S. Monson, a counselor to Hinckley.
James E. Faust, Hinckley’s second counselor, advised members to “never experiment with any addictive substance.” He warned that addictions bring tragic consequences that are hard to overcome. Those who avoid such things and live by the principles of the gospel receive many blessings, he said
He added that many people are very mistaken in believing that taking a look at pornography is harmless.
“This is a terrible deception. Pornography is as addictive as cocaine or any illegal drug,” said Faust.
Hinckley spoke out strongly against drugs, tattoos and body piercing, warning parents they must do more to teach children and help them to avoid sinful behavior. He spoke out against “rave” parties where young people use the drug “ecstasy” as they “dance and sway.” He was also critical of teens who choke each other as part of a new fad.
“Boys choke girls until they pass out,” said Hinckley. “The other day a girl with a health problem was choked until she was unconscious. Only the speedy action of paramedics saved her life. Are boys involved in such ridiculous practices aware of the fact that their prank may lead to a charge of manslaughter? If that should happen their lives would be ruined forever.”
He also spoke out about his concern that a rapidly growing number of youth members of the LDS Church are getting tattoos and are piercing various body parts.
“I cannot understand why any young man, or young woman for that matter, would wish to undergo the painful process of disfiguring the skin with various multicolored representations of people, animals, and various symbols,” said Hinckley. He also said that a tattoo is “graffiti on the temple of the body.”
The only piercing considered acceptable to the church, he said, is “minimal piercing of the ears by women for one pair of earrings — one pair.”
“You would not paint a temple with dark pictures or symbols or graffiti or even initials. Do not do so with your body,” said Packer.
Hinckley spoke out against the use of dial-up sex lines, Internet pornography and the ease with which children can gain access to such things.
“Fathers, these are your sons and daughters. I fear this goes on in some of your homes. It is vicious. It is lewd and filthy. It is enticing and habit-forming. It will take a young man or woman down to destruction as surely as anything in this world. It is foul sleaze that makes its exploiters wealthy, its victims impoverished,” said Hinckley.
“To you young men, and to the young women who are your associates, I plead with you not to befoul your minds with this ugly and vicious stuff. It is designed to titillate you, to absorb you into its net. It will take the beautiful out of your life. It will lead you into the dark and ugly,” said Hinckley.
He was also quick to warn that children are not the only ones looking at pornography on the Internet.
“I regret to say that many fathers themselves like to hear the siren song of those who peddle filth. Some of them also work the Internet for that which is lewd and lascivious. If there be any man within the sound of my voice who is involved in this, or who is moving in this direction, I plead with you to get it out of your life. Get away from it. Stay away from it. Otherwise it will become an obsession. It will destroy your home life. It will destroy your marriage. It will take the good and the beautiful out of your family relationships and replace these with ugliness and suspicion,” said Hinckley.
The problems mentioned by LDS leaders have become far greater for church members to deal with than ever before. There has been a rise in reports of such problems, and leaders were direct about the warnings they gave to both youth and adults.
“Our youth find this tempting stuff all about them. They need the help of their parents in resisting it. They need a tremendous amount of self-control. They need the strength of good friends. They need prayer to fortify them against this flood-tide of filth,” said Hinckley.
The problem of parental direction for their children is not new, said Hinckley, but the need for it is now “more acute than it has ever been.” He also encouraged parents to provide encouragement and support for faithful children who may feel their righteousness forces them to “walk a very lonely road.”
Hinckley spoke of the young people who are members of the church. He said some were faithful as young children but have “slipped into the foggy swamp of immorality, drugs, pornography and failure.”
Yet Donald L. Hallstrom, a member of the Quorum of the Seventy, said the vast majority of youth in the LDS Church are living good lives.
“We are inspired by the courage of each young person who has honored the Sabbath day, kept the Word of Wisdom and remained chaste when popular culture has established the opposite as not only acceptable but expected,” said Hallstrom.