'Be of good courage,' Pres. Monson counsels during Saturday sessions of general conference

Published: Sunday, April 6 2014 8:20 a.m. MDT

Temple Square and the Salt Lake Temple during the 184th Annual General Conference Saturday, April 5, 2014 in Salt Lake City.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — President Thomas S. Monson instructed men and young men of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to "be of good courage" "in a world where moral values have, in great measure, been tossed aside," as he closed the first day of the faith's 184th Annual General Conference.

"We will all face fear, experience ridicule and meet opposition," he warned during Saturday evening's priesthood session. "Let us have the courage to defy the consensus, the courage to stand for principle. Courage, not compromise, brings the smile of God's approval."

That theme ended the day where it began, with multiple messages from church leaders about weathering whirlwinds through reliance on the gospel of Jesus Christ. Other speakers during the day's three sessions addressed abortion, same-sex marriage and the priesthood authority of men and women in the context of core church teachings.

A statistical report provided news that the church now has 15,082,028 members and 85,039 full-time missionaries.

President Monson said church members face pressures and influences that tear at decency and attempt to substitute philosophies for faith.

"Because of these and other challenges," he said, "decisions are constantly before us which can determine our destiny. In order to make the correct decisions, courage is needed — the courage to say 'No' when we should, the courage to say 'Yes' when that is appropriate, the courage to do the right thing because it is right."

When loved ones feel the pull of the world, President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency said in the opening session, parents who want to create "a priceless heritage of hope" for their posterity should fill their homes with daily family prayer, family scripture study, hymns and testimony.

I suggest that you take both the short and the long view as you try to give the inheritance of hope to your family," he said. "In the short run there will be troubles and Satan will roar. And there are things to wait for patiently, in faith, knowing that the Lord acts in his own time, and in his own way."

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said Latter-day Saints, especially youths, must prepare for the cost — and blessings — of discipleship.

"...if you haven't already," he said, "you will one day find yourself called upon to defend your faith or perhaps even endure some personal abuse simply because you are a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Such moments will require courage and courtesy on your part."

He said taking courageous moral stands is worth it, "because the alternative is to have our houses left unto us desolate — desolate individuals, desolate families, desolate neighborhoods and desolate nations."

Elder Holland said some people today express hate for people of faith and quoted Book of Mormon prophet Abinadi and added some criticisms church members face today: "'Because I have told you the truth you are angry with me. ... Because I have spoken the word of God ye have judged me that I am mad,' or we might add (today) provincial, patriarchal, bigoted, unkind, narrow, outmoded and elderly."

Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles also said Latter-day Saints will face "spiritual whirlwinds" — "My young friends, the world will not glide calmly toward the Second Coming of the Savior," he said — but such trials can increase spiritual strength. He counseled members to follow church leaders: "You need the strength that comes from trusting the Lord's prophets."

He called same-sex attraction a "whirlwind of enormous velocity" and expressed love and admiration for those who "courageously confront this trial of faith and stay true to the commandments of God."

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