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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Explaining Standards

                People are naturally interested in why other people behave the way they do.  Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are often asked about the standards or principles of the Church.  We can prepare to answer their questions and explain why we choose to live by the Lord’s standards.

                President Thomas S. Monson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints showed the easiness of explaining our standards when he spoke to young priesthood brethren in April 2010.  “Young men, I admonish you to prepare for service as a missionary. There are many tools to help you learn the lessons which will be beneficial to you as well as helping you to live the life you will need to have lived to be worthy. One such tool is the booklet entitled For the Strength of Youth, published under the direction of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  It features standards from the writings and teachings of Church leaders and from scripture, adherence to which will bring the blessings of our Heavenly Father and the guidance of His Son to each of us.  In addition, there are lesson manuals, carefully prepared after prayerful consideration.  Families have family home evenings, where gospel principles are taught.  Almost all of you have the opportunity to attend seminary classes taught by dedicated teachers who have much to share.

                “Begin to prepare for a temple marriage as well as for a mission.  Proper dating is a part of that preparation.  In cultures where dating is appropriate, do not date until you are 16 years old….
                “Be careful to go to places where there is a good environment, where you won’t be faced with temptation….

                “Servants of the Lord have always counseled us to dress appropriately 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.  Dress in such a way as to bring out the best in yourself and those around you.  Avoid extremes in clothing and appearance, including tattoos and piercings.

                “Everyone needs good friends.  Your circle of friends will greatly influence your thinking and behavior, just as you will theirs.  When you share common values with your friends, you can strengthen and encourage each other.  Treat everyone with kindness and dignity….

                “The oft-repeated adage is ever true:  `Honesty [is] the best policy.’  A Latter-day Saint young man lives as he teaches and as he believes.  He is honest with others.  He is honest with himself.  He is honest with God.  He is honest by habit and as a matter of course….

                “How you speak and the words you use tell much about the image you choose to portray.  Use language to build and uplift those around you.  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….

                “Our Heavenly Father has counseled us to seek after `anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy.’  Whatever you read, listen to, or watch makes an impression on you.

                “Pornography is especially dangerous and addictive.  Curious exploration of pornography can become a controlling habit, leading to coarser material and to sexual transgression.  Avoid pornography at all costs….

                “Hard drugs, wrongful use of prescription drugs, alcohol, coffee, tea, and tobacco products destroy your physical, mental, and spiritual well being.  Any form of alcohol is harmful to your spirit and your body.  Tobacco can enslave you, weaken your lungs, and shorten your life.

                “Music can help you draw closer to your Heavenly Father.  It can be used to educate, edify, inspire, and unite.  However, music can, by its tempo, beat, intensity, and lyrics, dull your spiritual sensitivity….

                “Because sexual intimacy is so sacred, the Lord requires self-control and purity before marriage as well as full fidelity after marriage.  In dating, treat your date with respect and expect your date to show that same respect for you….

                “If any has stumbled in his journey, there is a way back.  The process is called repentance.  Our Savior died to provide you and me that blessed gift….

                “Don’t put your eternal life at risk.  Keep the commandments of God…
                “Spiritual strength frequently comes through selfless service…” (“Preparation Brings Blessings,” Ensign, May 2010, pp. 64-67).

                The Prophet of God spoke plainly and simply as he counseled the young men.  President Monson explained the importance of living the standards of the Church and keeping the commandments of God.

                The Apostle Paul told the Saints in Rome:  “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ:  for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).  He demonstrated how to stand for truth and righteousness even in difficult situations and to allow the Lord to work His miracles. 

                We too can open our mouths and share our standards with other people.  All we have to do is to give a plain and simple explanation of what the standard means to us.  We can learn correct principles and standards by studying the pamphlets “For the Strength of Youth” and “True to the Faith” as well as the scriptures.  Parents, leaders, and teachers are all good sources to learn appropriate standards.

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