'Spiritually fed': Powerful sermons highlight Sunday's conference sessions (+photos)

Published: Sunday, Oct. 6 2013 9:15 p.m. MDT

A man hurries toward the Conference Center for the Sunday morning session of the 183rd Semiannual General Conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013.

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.”

Joy for the faithful

President Henry B. Eyring opened the Sunday conference sessions by sharing counsel he has given to two of his grandchildren who will be married this year and who are wondering about how to create family happiness. Such counsel is difficult to give, President Eyring said, because "Heavenly Father has made each of us unique."

"No two of us have exactly the same experiences," he said. "No two families are alike ... Yet a loving Heavenly Father has set the same path to happiness for all of his children. Whatever our personal characteristics or whatever will be our experiences, there is but one plan of happiness. That plan is to follow all the commandments of God."

President Eyring said his message to his grandchildren, "and to all of us trying to forge eternal families, is that there is joy guaranteed for the faithful."

Our highest priority

Elder Dallin H. Oaks delivered one of the most-talked-about sermons, based on social media, in his discussion of misplaced priorities. Elder Oaks emphasized the importance of chastity and marriage.

"We know that the marriage of a man and a woman is necessary for the accomplishment of God's plan," Elder Oaks said. "Only this marriage will provide the approved setting for mortal birth and to prepare family members for eternal life. We look on marriage and the bearing and nurturing of children as part of God's plan and a sacred duty of those given the opportunity to do so. We believe the ultimate treasures on earth and in heaven are our children and our posterity."

Because Latter-day Saints believe that "the power to create mortal life is the most exalted power God has given to his children," and because they believe that God has forbidden its misuse outside the bonds of marriage between a man and a woman, Elder Oaks said the church cannot condone "behaviors contrary to God's decrees about sexual morality and the eternal nature and purposes of marriage and child-bearing."

He said political and cultural pressures have permitted "so-called same-gender marriage" in some states and nations, but LDS "understanding of God's plan and His doctrine give us an eternal perspective that does not allow us to condone such behaviors or to find justification ni the laws that permit them."

"Man's laws cannot make moral what God has declared immoral," he said. "Commitment to our highest priority — to love and serve God — requires that we look to his law for our standard of behavior … Laws legalizing so-called 'same-gender marriage' do not change God's laws of marriage or his commandments and our standards concerning it."

"In this determination we may be misunderstood and we may incur accusations of bigotry, suffer discrimination or have to withstand invasions of our free exercise of religion. If so, I think we should remember our first priority - to serve God - and, like our pioneer predecessors, push our personal handcarts forward with the same fortitude they exhibited."

“We can be cleansed”

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