Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — With a plea for church members to “show increased kindness toward one another” and to “ever be found doing the work of the Lord,” President Thomas S. Monson brought the 183rd Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to a close Sunday afternoon.
“We have been spiritually fed as we have listened to the counsel and testimonies of those who have participated in each session,” President Monson said. “May the spirit we have felt here be and abide with us as we go about those things which occupy us each day.”
During the Sunday afternoon conference session, much of the counsel to which President Monson referred came from three members of the Quorum of the Twelve, including Elder Russell M. Nelson, who added his voice to Elder Dallin H. Oaks from the Sunday morning session in declaring that “marriage between a man and a woman is fundamental to the Lord’s doctrine and crucial to God’s eternal plan.”
“Marriage between a man and a woman is God’s pattern for a fullness of life on earth and in heaven,” Elder Nelson said. “God’s marriage pattern cannot be abused, misunderstood or misconstrued. Not if you want true joy.”
Elder Nelson said “civil governments have a vested interest in protecting marriage because strong families constitute the best way of providing for the health, education, welfare and prosperity of rising generations.”
“But civil governments are heavily influenced by social trends and secular philosophies as they write, re-write and enforce laws,” he continued. “Regardless of what civil legislation may be enacted, the doctrine of the Lord regarding marriage and morality cannot be changed. Remember: Sin, even if legalized by man, is still sin in the eyes of God!”
While he urged church members to follow Jesus’ example of kindness and compassion and to “value the rights and feelings of all of God’s children, we cannot change (God’s) doctrine. It is not ours to change. His doctrine is ours to study, understand and uphold.”
Speaking from the perspective of his background as a medical doctor, Elder Nelson noted his profound respect for the human body. He talked about its extraordinary capabilities as well as its imperfections. And he talked about the “strong appetites within us for nourishment and love, vital for the human family to be perpetuated.
“When we master our appetites within the bounds of God’s laws, we can enjoy longer life, greater love and consummate joy,” he said. “It is not surprising, then, that most temptations to stray from God’s plan of happiness come through the misuse of those essential, God-given appetites. Controlling our appetites is not always easy. Not one of us manages them perfectly. Mistakes happen. Errors are made. Sins are committed. What can we do then? We can learn from them. And we can truly repent.”
The first speaker in the Sunday afternoon session of conference was another apostle, Elder Quentin L. Cook, who spoke about four different kinds of bondage that are “destructive of the human spirit” and “pernicious in today’s culture.” He identified:
- Addictions that impair agency, contradict moral beliefs and destroy good health
- Addictions or predilections that occupy time that could be used for better purposes
- Ideology or political beliefs that are inconsistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ
- Forces that violate sincerely held religious principles
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