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Tom Smart, Deseret News
Elder Dallin H. Oaks speaks at the morning session of the 183rd Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013, in Salt Lake City.

Placing God first should be the ultimate priority in one's life, taught Elder Dallin H. Oaks in his conference address on Sunday morning.

The apostle identified several examples of things that are often being served ahead of God: cultural and family traditions, political correctness, career aspirations, material possessions, recreational pursuits and power, prominence and prestige.

"Are we serving priorities or gods ahead of the God we profess to worship?" he asked. "Have we forgotten the Savior who taught that if we love Him we will keep His commandments? If so, our priorities have been turned upside down by the spiritual apathy and undisciplined appetites so common in our day."

God's commandments are based on and inseparable from God's plan for His children — the great plan of salvation.

"This plan, sometimes called the 'great plan of happiness,' explains our origins and destiny as children of God — where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going," said Elder Oaks. "The plan of salvation explains the purpose of creation and the conditions of mortality, including God's commandments, the need for a Savior, and the vital role of mortal and eternal families. If we Latter-day Saints, who have been given this knowledge, do not establish our priorities in accord with this plan, we are in danger of serving other gods."

Knowledge of God's plan for His children give members a unique perspective on marriage and family. The Church is known as a family-centered church. Marriage of a man and a woman is necessary for the accomplishment of God's plan. The ultimate treasures on earth and heaven are one's children and posterity.

"Because of what we understand about the potentially eternal role of the family, we grieve at the sharply declining numbers of births and marriages in many western countries whose historic cultures are Christian and Jewish," he said.

The apostle cited responsible sources reporting historic declines in birth rates in the United States, many European nations and other developed countries. Marriage rates and the role and perceived necessity of fathers are also diminishing in many countries.

"We believe that, as an essential part of His plan of salvation, God has established an eternal standard that sexual relations should occur only between a man and a woman who are married," he said.

The importance the Church places on the law of chastity explains its commitment to the pattern of marriage that originated with Adam and Eve and establishes God's pattern for the procreative relationship between His sons and daughters for the nurturing of His children.

"There are many political and social pressures for legal and policy changes to establish behaviors contrary to God's decrees about sexual morality and are contrary to the eternal nature and purposes of marriage and child-bearing. These pressures have already permitted same-gender marriages in various states and nations."

Laws legalizing so called "same-gender marriage," he added, do not change God's law of marriage of His commandments and standards.

"We remain under covenant to love God and keep His commandments and to refrain from bowing down to or serving other gods and priorities — even those becoming popular in our particular time and place."