To "an alarming extent" today's children are being educated by the media, President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints warned women during the annual General Relief Society meeting Saturday.
The messages portrayed on TV, the movies, video games and the Internet "are often in direct opposition to that which we want our children to embrace and hold dear," President Monson said, urging all women in the church to "hold fast to our standards despite the derision of the world."
Providing strength to the family in the face of worldly influences was a theme reiterated throughout the evening to the more than 20,000 women who filled the Conference Center for the event, which was translated into dozens of languages and beamed via satellite to LDS buildings around the world. Church President Gordon B. Hinckley attended the meeting but did not give a talk.
Media messages are potentially destructive to women, said Relief Society General President Julie B. Beck. "While these media messages may contain elements of truth, most preach a gospel of individual fulfillment and self-worship, often misleading women regarding their true identity and worth," she said. "These voices offer a counterfeit happiness and as a result, many women are miserable, lonely and confused."
The LDS Church, she emphasized, believes its members should get married and have children. "The things women can and should do very best are championed and taught without apology here."
"Satan is working overtime to attack the family," said Sister Barbara Thompson, a social worker and member of the Relief Society General Presidency. "He tells us that moral values are old-fashioned and silly. .. . He entices us with fame and fortune and tells us where to find the easy life."
The speakers also stressed the importance of relief to the Relief Society. Relief means "to raise someone up or out of trouble," she emphasized, and "there has not been a time in the history of the world when a full-scale relief effort was more needed."
"All we need to do to start offering relief is get on our knees and ask 'Who needs my help?"' she said. While Relief Society meetings can indeed be sociable events, she added, "focusing on relief will always build sociality whereas focusing on sociality may not always bring relief."
That service, added President Monson, can include small acts: "a question concerning a person's family; quick words of encouragement; a sincere compliment; a small note of thanks; a brief telephone call. If we are observant and aware, and if we act on the promptings which come to us, we can accomplish much good.""The true measure of our life is not how much we get but how much we give," noted Sister Silvia H. Allred, first counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency. "Our service should be selfless, quiet and be done willingly." Both President Monson and Sister Allred stressed the importance of the church's visiting teaching program.