Male members of the LDS Church were counseled on various topics during the Saturday evening Priesthood Session, including responsibility to serve faithfully in church callings, keep high moral standards and be good fathers.
President Gordon B. Hinckley explained that counselors are essential to the administration of the church's priesthood functions.President Hinckley said the important role of counselors is borne out by the fact that quorum presidents throughout the church's priesthood structure serve with the assistance of two counselors. The only exceptions are found in the Council of the Twelve and the Quorums of the Seventy.
Even among 12- and 13-year-old boys in deacons quorums, the president has a tremendous responsibility for the welfare of the other boys in the quorum, President Hinckley said, recalling his first priesthood responsibility as a young boy. "I think this call to serve as a counselor in a deacons quorum was as much of a concern to me, in terms of my age and experience, as is my present responsibility in terms of my age and experience."
Church President Ezra Taft Benson carries out his administration with the help of two counselors: President Hinckley and President Thomas S. Monson. "Even the president of the church, who is prophet, seer and revelator, and whose right and responsibility it is to make judgment and direct the course of the church, invariably consults with his counselors to determine their feelings," President Hinckley said.
"President Benson is now 91 years of age and does not have the strength or vitality he once possessed in abundance. Brother Monson and I, as his counselors, do as has been done before, and that is to move forward the work of the church while being very careful not to get ahead of the president, nor to undertake any departure of any kind from long-established policy without his knowledge and full approval."
A leader chooses his own counselors because they must be compatible, President Hinckley said. "He must have absolute confidence in them. They must have absolute confidence in him. They must work together in a spirit of mutual trust and respect."
A counselor is also a partner, and the priesthood leader and two counselors share responsibility for the function of the church to which they have been assigned. "Such a partnership provides a safety valve. The wise writer of Proverbs tells us that `In counselors there is safety.' When problems arise, when difficult decisions face us, it is wonderful to have those with whom we can talk with confidence and trust," President Hinckley said.
Presidents of church organizations are not likely to act without the concurrence of their counselors. "A man or woman thinking alone, working alone, arriving at his or her own conclusions, can take action which might prove to be wrong. But when three kneel together in prayer, discuss every aspect of the problem which is before them, and under the impressions of the Spirit reach a united conclusion, then we may have the assurance that the decision is in harmony with the will of the Lord," he said. "I can assure all members of this church that in the First Presidency we follow such a procedure."
- President Thomas S. Monson outlined 12 important standards for church youth to follow.
First, he instructed young men to wait until age 16 to begin dating and then to exercise proper dating standards to prepare for marriage in one of the church's temples. He encouraged double- or group dating, and asked young men to make sure their parents meet and become acquainted with the people they date. "Be careful to go to places where there is a good environment, where you won't be faced with temptation."
Second, "Dress modestly to show respect for our Heavenly Father and for ourselves. The way you dress sends messages about yourself to others and often influences the way you and others act," he said. "Avoid extremes in clothing and appearance."
Third, be around friends who provide positive influence and behavior. "When you share common values with your friends, you can strengthen and encourage each other. Treat everyone with kindness and dignity."
Fourth, be honest and make difficult decisions without hesitating to wonder what others will think.
Fifth, use the kind of language that builds and uplifts others and that portrays a good image. "Profane, vulgar or crude language and inappropriate or off-color jokes are offensive to the Lord. Never misuse the name of God or Jesus Christ."
Sixth, stay away from questionable movies, television, radio, videocassettes, books and magazines. "Don't be afraid to walk out of a movie, turn off a television set or change a radio station if what's being presented does not meet your Heavenly Father's standards."
Seventh, be physically and mentally healthy. "Nutritious meals, regular exercise and appropriate sleep are necessary for a strong body, just as consistent scripture study and prayer strengthen the mind and spirit," he said. "Hard drugs, wrongful use of prescription drugs, alcohol, coffee, tea and tobacco products destroy your physical, mental and spiritual well-being."
Eighth, stay away from unworthy music. "Plan and attend dances where dress, grooming, lighting, dancing styles, lyrics and music contribute to an atmosphere in which the Spirit of the Lord may be present."
Ninth, remain sexually pure. "Because sexual intimacy is so sacred, the Lord requires self-control and purity before marriage, as well as full fidelity after marriage." Only pure hands can touch heaven, he said.
Tenth, choose appropriate activities for the Sabbath day and keep it holy.
Eleventh, seek spiritual help from the Holy Ghost as a help to making good choices. "Remember that prayer is the passport to spiritual power."
Twelfth, repent so that sins can be forgiven. "If you have sinned, the sooner you begin to make your way back, the sooner you will find the sweet peace and joy that come with the miracle of forgiveness."
- Elder M. Russell Ballard told the church's young men that church leaders are aware that they "are growing up in a world that is plagued with teenage moral misconduct. We also know that sexual sin has increased tremendously during the past 20 years."
He assured young listeners that leaders know of the challenges they face and have confidence that young people can develop strength and integrity to surmount such challenges and live for the blessings that are promised to those who remain morally clean.
The uncertainty of future responsibilities is just one reason young people should remain morally clean, Elder Ballard said, reflecting on his church experiences as a young man. "I had no idea that the time would come in my life when I would serve as a bishop, a mission president, a seventy and now as an apostle. We cannot forsee what the Lord has in mind for us. Our only course of action is to be prepared and worthy for whatever he requires. We must govern our actions every day with our future in mind."
- Elder Marion D. Hanks said sharing, giving and being gracious and kind are attributes at the heart of the gospel, not optional elements of it.
"Decency and honor and unselfishness, good manners and good taste are expected of us. What really matters after all is what kind of people we are and that we are daily."
God watches everyone and wants all to choose the path that leads to happiness here and in the life hereafter, he said. God will not force anyone to make the choices that lead to happiness, "but he has given each of us the right and responsibility to make personal choices, individual decisions and has made us accountable for them. He not only affects our lives, he is affected by them. Sometimes he weeps for us."
Elder Hanks related several stories to illustrate the consequences that follow decisions and how individuals are able to follow more constructive paths when they make wise choices.
He related a May 1967 account from his journal that was written in Nha Trang, Vietnam. The entry tells of a sermon offered by a senior military chaplain of another church. After the meeting, Elder Hanks walked down the passageway alongside the large meeting room. "Three men had their hands on the head of another who sat on a chair. All four were dressed in battle gear; two had returned from air strikes to the north just in time for the meeting, and one was shortly to go."
- Elder J Ballard Washburn urged church priesthood holders to follow the prophet and related several accounts of President Ezra Taft Benson's life.
A difficult and prolonged delivery led the doctor to say there was no hope for the baby born Aug. 4, 1899, when he failed to start breathing after being delivered. But while the doctor attended to the mother, both grandmothers prayed silently as they alternately dipped the child in hot and cold water until they heard a cry. The parents, George and Sarah Benson, named their new son Ezra Taft Benson.
President Benson was 12 years old and the oldest child in the family when his father was called on a mission. The family endured serious illness during a smallpox epidemic while refusing the doctor's insistence that their father be called home from his mission.
President Benson first saw his future wife in the fall of 1920 when he spent a weekend in Logan preparing to enroll at the agricultural college that is now Utah State University. Flora Amussen wheeled by in a convertible, and young Ezra asked the cousin he was with who the girl was. "When I come down here this winter I'm going to court her," he said. "Like heck you will," the cousin answered. "She's too popular for a farm boy like you."
President Benson was called on a mission to Great Britain in 1921, was married in the Salt Lake Temple in 1926 and was called to be president of the church in 1985.
"I bear witness that Ezra Taft Benson was born to be a prophet," said Elder Washburn. "He lived so he could be a prophet and has been called of God to be a prophet in our day."
- Elder Durrel A. Woolsey said fathers must be heroes worthy of emulation by their children. "Many in the world are alarmed, and with some justification, at the plight and deteriorating condition of families. The most powerful thrust toward a resolution of this significant problem would be an honorable father, full of integrity and fidelity, giving righteous leadership to his family.
"That joyful work and calling is to do whatever is necessary to chart a course for you and your family to unitedly return and live with Heavenly Father."
Elder Woolsey said families require generous amounts of a father's time, "an honest, generous piece of your day on a continuing basis, even at the sacrifice of things social, things personally entertaining or even things financially rewarding."
He said fidelity is another requirement.