My Very Important Person for this week is President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint. President Packer passed away at home on July 3, 2015, at the age of 90; he served as a general authority of the Church for more than 50 years. His funeral was held on July 10, 2015. “Thousands of people filled the Tabernacle and other locations on Temple Square in Salt Lake City…. Thousands more around the world watched a live broadcast of the service in English, Spanish and Portuguese…..”
Elder Allan F. Packer, son of President Packer and member of the Seventy, was the first speaker at his father’s funeral and addressed his remarks to the 60 grandchildren and 111 great-grandchildren of President and Sister Packer. He told them that their grandpa had “graduated” and “taken the next step” in his progression.” “I know that Grandpa is still alive and that if we live worthy, we will see him again.” He also encouraged them to follow their grandpa’s example by knowing the “doctrines and principles of the gospel” that could be found in his talks.”
Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, “President Packer was a master teacher and I have always tried to be a good student…. As I have often said of him, he is an Apostle of the Lord from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet. He wore out his life in the service of the Savior of the world.”
Elder Dallin H. Oaks also of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said of President Packer, “He was always teaching…. He taught by example, he taught by talks and books, he taught by individual counsel, and he taught in small groups, such as in the instructions he gave in various meetings of General Authorities.
“He often challenged the Twelve – and the Seventy, whom he also loved and led – to prepare for the governance and leadership of a Church with many millions more members than we have now…. He repeatedly reminded the Twelve of the importance of each individual member of the Church, especially those who were struggling financially. He sometimes said, `We should always act as if they are present here in our councils.’”
President Thomas S. Monson was the concluding speaker at the funeral. He said, “Boyd Kenneth Packer knew the Lord, and the Lord knew him…. He was an inspired and talented teacher. His ability to express gospel truths was a gift he shared freely with the world. He possessed the ability to turn complex ideas into language easily understood by all. He taught with power and with authority.”
President Monson also stated, “President Packer’s deep and abiding testimony of the Savior and of the gospel has been heard throughout the world and has touched and blessed countless lives…. Throughout his life he provided a model for others to follow.”
President Monson continued, “President Packer is no foreigner nor stranger where he has gone, but a fellow citizen with the noble brethren with whom he served…. Last Friday afternoon, God touched him, and he slept. His eternal spirit is now free from a body worn by work and impaired by illness. He has gone to that paradise for which he is so well qualified. He leaves to his family and to all of us who knew him a legacy of Christlike love and devoted service.”
Other comments and a video of President Packer’s funeral can be found here.
President Packer has always been a favorite of mine. I always felt like I had a personal relationship with him because he lived in Brigham City and graduated from high school with my mother-in-law. I enjoyed listening to him speak because he was a great story teller as well as firm in the doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He told a parable that illustrates how Christ’s Atonement makes it possible for us to be saved from sin IF we do our part. In his parable he used an example of a man that got into debt and could not repay the debt. The creditor was going to have the man thrown into prison, but a friend of the man offered to pay the debt and became an advocate for the debtor. The debtor represents each of us, and the Advocate is Jesus Christ. He first told this parable in the 1980s or earlier, but it remains with me as clearly as if he shared it today. You can find the parable here.
The most recent General Conference address of President Packer was in April 2015 entitled “The Plan of Happiness.” “Over the years I have frequently taught an important principle: the end of all activity in the Church is to see that a man and a woman with their children are happy at home, sealed together for time and for all eternity.”
President Packer reminded his listeners that God created Adam and Eve and commanded them to multiply and replenish the earth. “The commandment to multiply and replenish the earth has never been rescinded. It is essential to the plan of redemption and is the source of human happiness. Through the righteous exercise of this power, we may come close to our Father in Heaven and experience a fulness of joy, even godhood. The power of procreation is not an incidental part of the plan; it is the plan of happiness; it is the key to happiness.
“The desire to mate in human kind is constant and very strong. Our happiness in mortal life, our joy and exaltation are dependent upon how we respond to these persistent, compelling physical desires. As the procreative power matures in early manhood and womanhood, very personal feelings occur, in a natural way, unlike any other physical experience….
“True love requires reserving until after marriage the sharing of that affection which unlocks those sacred powers in that fountain of life. It means avoiding situations where physical desire might take control. Pure love presupposes that only after a pledge of eternal fidelity, a legal and lawful ceremony, and ideally after the sealing ordinance in the temple are those procreative powers released in God’s eye for the full expression of love. It is to be shared solely and only with that one who is your companion forever.
“When entered into worthily, this process combines the most exquisite and exalted physical, emotional, and spiritual feelings associated with the word love. That part of life has no equal, no counterpart, in all human experience. It will, when covenants are made and kept, last eternally, `for therein are the keys of the holy priesthood ordained, that you may receive honor and glory’ (Doctrine and Covenants 124:34), `which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever’ (Doctrine and Covenants 132:19). But romantic love is incomplete; it is a prelude. Love is nourished by the coming of children, who spring from that fountain of life entrusted to couples in marriage. Conception takes place in a wedded embrace between husband and wife. A tiny body begins to form after a pattern of magnificent complexity. A child comes forth in the miracle of birth, created in the image of its earthly father and mother. Within its mortal body is a spirit able to feel and perceive spiritual things. Dormant in that mortal body of this child is the power to beget offspring in its own image.
“`The spirit and the body are the soul of man’ (Doctrine and Covenants 88:15), and there are spiritual and physical laws to obey if we are to be happy. There are eternal laws, including laws relating to this power to give life, `irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated’ (Doctrine and Covenants 130:20). These are spiritual laws which define the moral standard for mankind (see Joseph Smith Translation, Romans 7:14-15 [in the Bible appendix]; 2 Nephi 2:5; Doctrine and Covenants 29:34; 134:6). There are covenants which bind, seal, and safeguard and give promise of eternal blessings….
“The only legitimate, authorized expression of the powers of procreation is between a husband and wife, a man and a woman, who have been legally and lawfully married. Anything other than this violates the commandments of God. Do not yield to the awful temptations of the adversary, for every debt of transgression must be paid `till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing’ (Matthew 5:26).”