Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gave two very important addresses in the mid-late 1970’s that either touched on or were devoted to the subject of homosexuality. Because the texts of these talks, which impacted a generation of Mormon men, are not easily located, I am posting both here.
“To Young Men Only”
Boyd K. Packer
General Conference Priesthood Session
October 2, 1976
There are present in this priesthood session only brethren. I approach a subject that could not appropriately be discussed if there were others present. I have prayed fervently for inspiration as I speak to young men of Aaronic Priesthood age: to young men only.
I wish to discuss a subject that fathers should discuss with their sons. Because some young men do not have fathers and because some fathers (and some bishops) do not know how to proceed, I approach a very personal subject, one that is important to every young man.
You have been given a mortal body with which to experience earth life. Through it you will be tested. Your body is the instrument of your mind and the foundation of your character. It has within it powers which, if properlaracter. It has within it powers which, if properly used, will contribute greatly to your exaltation. If you use this gift worthily, it will serve your throughout all eternity.
Never be ashamed of your body. No two are just alike. Some young men worry because they think their body is not well proportioned. They think they are too short or too tall or too stout or too thin or too something else. Physical proportions need have little to do with success, particularly spiritual success. Be grateful for your body.
Strive to keep it healthy through proper nourishment, rest, and exercise. Develop your body to full and useful capacity. Develop many stamina and control. Take nothing into your body that would harm it. Do not use tobacco, alcohol, drugs, or any other harmful substance.
A young man should learn to rule his body. Like his temper, he should keep it always under complete control. That sometimes is not easy to do.
Within your body you have the power of creation. You will one day find a mate and desire greatly to express fully your love with her. The righteous expression of this physical love in marriage is approved of the Lord. She then may conceive and give birth to a boy or a girl, a baby of whom you will be the father.
This is a very sacred power. The Lord has commanded that you use it only with one to whom you are legally and lawfully wedded. He has decreed serious penalties indeed foredded. He has decreed serious penalties indeed for the misuse of it.
This power beings early in life, with some when you are hardly in your teens. This has a purpose, for with this power come the attributes of manhood. You notice changes in your stature and in your voice; a beard and other masculine characteristics become part of your nature.
Your feelings also change. This physical power will influence you emotionally and spiritually as well. It begins to shape and fit you to look, and feel, and to be what you need to be as a father. Ambition, courage, physical and emotional and spiritual strength become part of you because you are a man. You become very interested in young women --and want to be with them. This is as it should be.
This power of creation affects your life several years before you should express if fully. You must always guard the power with many wisdom. You must wait until the time of your marriage to use it.
During that waiting, what do you do with theses desires? My boy, you are to control them. You are forbidden to use them now in order that you may use them with worthiness and virtue and fullness of joy at the proper time in life.
I wish to explain something that will help you understand your young manhood and help you develop self-control. When this power begins to form, it might be likened to having a little factory in your body, one designed to produce the product that can generate life.
This little factory moves quietly into operation as a normal and expected pattern of growth and begins to produce the lifegiving substance. It will do so perhaps as long as you live. It works very slowly. That is the way it should be. For the most part, unless you tamper with it, you will hardly be aware that it is working at all.
As you move closer to manhood, this little factory will sometimes produce an oversupply of this substance. The Lord has provided a way for that to be released. It will happen without any help or without any resistance from you. Perhaps, one night you will have a dream. In the course of it the release valve that controls the factory will open and release all that is excess.
The factory and automatic release work on their own schedule. The Lord intended it to be that way. It is to regulate itself. This will not happen very often. You may go a longer period of time, and there will be no need for this to occur. When it does, you should not feel guilty. It is the nature of young manhood and is part of becoming a man.
There is; however, something you should not do. Sometimes a young man does not understand. Perhaps he is encouraged by unwise or unworthy companions to tamper with that factory. He might fondle himself and open that release valve. This you shouldn't do, for if you do that, the little factory willlf and open that release valve. This you shouldn't do, for if you do that, the little factory will speed up. You will then be tempted again and again to release it. You can quickly be subjected to a habit, one that is not worthy, one that will leave you feeling depressed and feeling guilty. Resist that temptation. Do not be guilty of tampering or playing with this sacred power of creation. Keep it in reserve for the time when it can be righteously employed.
One of you, perhaps, has not fully understood until now. Perhaps your father did not talk to you. You may already have been guilty of tampering with these powers. You may even have developed a habit. What do you do then?
First, I want you to know this. I you are struggling with this temptation and perhaps you have not quite been able to resist, the Lord still loves you. It is not anything so wicked nor is it a transgression so great that the Lord would reject you because of it, but it can quickly lead to that kind of transgression. It is not pleasing to the Lord, nor is it pleasing to you. It does not make you feel worthy or clean.
There are ways to conquer such a habit. First of all, you must leave that factory alone long enough for it to slow down. Resisting is not easy. It will take weeks, even months. But you can get the little factory slowed back to where it should be.
I have other suggestions. The power to prevent such habits or to break them rests in your mind, not in your body. Don't let rests in your mind, not in your body. Don't let that physical part of you take charge. Stay in control. Condition your body to do the will of your mid. To do this you must keep your mind on worthy thoughts. Divert your thoughts from things that lead your into mischief. Vigorous physical exercise helps young men in many ways. You are most vulnerable when you are idle or when you are discouraged. This is the time to be on guard.
I know a way to keep your thoughts worthy. It has helped me, and I explained it to on one occasion in a general conference talk. Let me repeat it for you.
Probably the greatest challenge to people of any age, particularly young people, and the most difficult thing you will face in mortal life is to learn to control your thoughts. As a man "thinketh in his heart, so is he." (Proverbs 23:7.) One who can control his thoughts has conquered himself.
When I was about ten years old, we lived in a home surrounded by an orchard. There never seemed to be enough water for the trees. The ditches, always fresh-plowed in the spring, would soon be filled with weeds. One day, in charge of the irrigating turn, I found myself in trouble. As the water moved down the rows choked with weeds, it would flood in ever direction. I raced through the puddles trying to build up the band. As soon as I had one break patched up, there would be another.
A neighbor came through the orchard. He wat
A neighbor came through the orchard. He watched for a moment and then with a few vigorous strokes of the shovel he cleared the ditch bottom and allowed the water to stay in its course, you'll have to make a place for it to go," he said.
I have come to know that thoughts, like water, will stay on course if we make a place for them to go. Otherwise, our thoughts follow the course of least resistance, always seeking the lower levels.
I had been told a hundred times or more as I grew up, that thoughts must be controlled, but no one told me how. I want to tell you young people about one way you can learn to control your thoughts, and it has to do with music.
The mid is like a stage. Except when we are asleep, the curtain is always up. There is always some act being performed on that stage. It may be a comedy, a tragedy, interesting or dull, good or bad; but always there is some act playing on the stage of the mind.
Have you noticed that without any real intent on your part, in the middle of almost any performance, a shady little thought may creep in from the wings and attract your attention? These delinquent thoughts will try to upstage everybody. If you permit them to go on, all thoughts of any virtue will leave the stage. You will be left, because you consented to it. to the influence of unrighteous thoughts. If you yield to them, they will enact for you on the stage of your mind anything to act for you on the stage of your mind anything to the limits of your toleration. They may enact a theme of bitterness, jealousy, or hatred. It may be vulgar, immoral, even depraved. When they have the stage, if you let them, they will devise the most clever persuasion to hold your attention. They can make it interesting all right, even convince you that it is innocent --for they are but thoughts.
What you need to do at a time like that, when the stage of your mind is commandeered by the imps of unclean thinking, whether they be gray ones that seem almost clean or the filthy ones which leave no room for doubt? If you can control you thoughts, you can overcome habits, even degrading personal habits. If you can learn to master them, you will have a happy life.
This is what I would teach you. Choose from among the sacred music of the Church a favorite hymn, one with words that are uplifting and music that is reverent, one that makes you feel something akin to inspiration. Go over it in your mid carefully. Memorize it. Even though you have had no musical training, you can think through a hymn.
Now, use this hymn as the place for your thoughts to go. Make it your emergency channel. Whenever you find theses shady actors have slipped from the sidelines of your thinking onto the stage of your mid, put on this record, as it were. As the music begins and the words form in your thoughts, the unworthy ones will slip shamefulthoughts, the unworthy ones will slip shamefully away from your mid. Because it is uplifting and clean, the baser thoughts will disappear. For while virtue, by choice, will not associate with filth, evil cannot tolerate the presence of light.
In due time you will find yourself, on occasion, humming the music inwardly. As you retrace your thoughts, you discover some influence from the world about you encouraged an unworthy thought to move on stage in your mind, and the music almost automatically began.
Once you learn to clear the stage of your mind of unworthy thoughts, keep it busy with learning worthwhile things. Change your environment so that you have things about you that will inspire good and uplifting thoughts. Keep busy with things that are righteous.
Another thing will help both to prevent and to overcome such habits. At times of special temptation skip a meal or two. We call that fasting, you know. It has a powerful effect upon you physically. It diverts some of that physical energy to more ordinary needs. It tapers desire and reduces the temptation. Fasting will help you greatly. In the scriptures, fasting and prayer are generally mentioned together. Prayer is a powerful instrument to bless young men. If a missionary, for instance, indulges in these unworthy practices, the Spirit of the Lord will leave him. When he is prayerful and will fast, the Spirit of the Lord sustains him. He soon develops a of the Lord sustains him. He soon develops a manly restraint and worthiness.
Resist those temptations. Do not tamper with your body. If you have already, cease to do it --now. Put it away and overcome it. The signal of worthy manhood is self-control.
This power is ordained for the begetting of life and as a binding tie in the marriage covenant. It is not to be misused. It is not to be use prematurely. It is to be known between husband and wife and in no other way. I you misuse it, you will be sorry.
Now a warning! I am hesitant to even mention it, for it is not pleasant. It must be labeled as major transgression. But I will speak plainly. There are some circumstances in which young men may be tempted to handle one another, to have contact with one another physically in unusual ways. Latter-day Saint young men are not to do this.
Sometimes this begins in a moment of idle foolishness, when boys are just playing around. But it is not foolishness. It is remarkably dangerous. Such practices, however tempting, are perversion. When a young man is finding his way into manhood, such experiences can misdirect his normal desires and pervert him not only physically but emotionally and spiritually as well.
It was intended that we use this power only with our partner in marriage. I repeat, very plainly, physical mischief with another man is forbidden. It is forbidden by the Lord.
There dden. It is forbidden by the Lord.
There are some men who entice young meant to join them in these immoral acts. If you are ever approached to participate in anything like that, it is time to vigorously resist.
While I was in a mission on one occasion, a missionary said he had something to confess. I was very worried because he just could not get himself to tell me what he had done.
After patient encouragement he finally blurted out, "I hit my companion."
"Oh, is that all," I said in great relief.
"But I floored him," he said.
After learning a little more, my response was "Well, thanks. Somebody had to do it, and it wouldn't be well for a General Authority to solve the problem that way"
I am not recommending that course to you, but I am not omitting it. You must protect yourself.
There is a falsehood that some are born with an attraction to their own kind, with nothing they can do about it. They are just "that way" and can only yield to those desires. That is a malicious and destructive lie. While it is a convincing idea to some, it is of the devil. No one is locked into that kind of life. From our premortal life we were directed into a physical body. There is no mismatching of bodies and spirits. Boys are to become men --masculine, manly men --ultimately to become husbands and fathers. No one is predestined y to become husbands and fathers. No one is predestined to a perverted use of these powers.
Even those who have been drawn into wicked practices and are bound by almost unyielding habits can escape. If one of you seems trapped in that, escape. Go to your father or bishop, please. Your parents, your bishop, the servants of the Lord, the angels of heaven and the Lord himself will help redeem your from it.
Young Latter-day Saint men, do not tamper with these powers, neither with yourself alone nor with one of your own kind. Never let anyone handle you or touch those very personal parts of your body which are an essential link in the ongoing of creation.
Many on the world would, I'm sure, be amused by this counsel. Let them be amused. They live by another standard, a lower one. We live by the Lord's standard and continue to teach it.
It is normal and proper for a young man to become interested in young women, to begin to date, eventually to pair up. We encourage that, but be careful. Keep your relationships with young women pure and chaste. Reserve those life-giving powers for marriage.
Then you can enter into the new and everlasting covenant. You and your sweetheart will be sealed together for time and for all eternity. These sacred life-giving powers will then be released for your use. They will become a binding tie in your marriage. Through them you will become a father.
But for now, you prepare and follow the instruction in the scripture: "Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord."(D&C 133:5.)
God bless you, our young brethren, as you strive to be clean. In doing so, you will please the Lord and his prophet, of whom I bear witness, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
“To The One”
Elder Boyd K. Packer
Address given to the Twelve Stake Fireside
Brigham Young University
March 5, 1978
What I say in this presentation will be serious and solemn. I will not speak to everyone. I ask the indulgence of the "ninety and nine," while I speak to "the one." I ask you, the ninety and nine, to sit quietly if you will, reverently if you can, and to generously help create an atmosphere where we can reach that one who desperately needs the counsel that I will present. The cooperation of you of the ninety and nine may not, after all, prove to be without some benefit to you. There may be a time in the years ahead when you can use something of what I say to help someone else, perhaps someone very close to you.
I have worried for fear that any treatment of the subject I approach may be indelicate or immodest. I feel perhaps as did Jacob, the Book of Mormon prophet, when he opened a sermon with these words:
. . . It grieveth me that I must use so much boldness of speech concerning you, before your wives and your children, many of whose feelings are exceedingly tender and chaste and delicate before God, which thing is pleasing unto God; . . . But, notwithstanding the greatness of the task, I must do according to the strict commands of God, and tell you concerning your wickedness and abominations, in the presence of the pure in heart, and the broken heart, and under the glance of the piercing eye of the Almighty God. (Jacob 2:7,10)
I understand those words of Jacob as I never have before. I see before me the worthy youth of Zion. I must nevertheless touch upon a subject such as he did, and for the same reason.
One more sentence from Jacob: "Wherefore I, Jacob, gave unto them these words as I taught them in the temple, having first obtained mine errand from the Lord" (Jacob 1:17; italics added) Rest assured that I have wrestled in prayer over this assignment.
And so, now to the subject, to introduce it I must use a word. I will use it one time only. Please notice that I use it as an adjective, not as a noun; I reject it as a noun. I speak to those few, those very few, who may be subject to homosexual temptation. I repeat, I accept that word as an adjective to describe a temporary condition. I reject it as a noun naming a permanent one.
I have had on my mind three general questions concerning this subject. First: Is sexual perversion wrong?
There appears to be a consensus in the world that it is natural, to one degree or another, for a percentage of the population. Therefore, we must accept it as all right. However, when you put a moral instrument on it, the needle immediately flips to the side labeled "wrong." It may even register "dangerous." If there has been heavy indulgence, it registers clear over to "spiritually destructive."
The answer: It is not all right. It is wrong! It is not desirable; it is unnatural; it is abnormal; it is an affliction. When practiced, it is immoral. It is a transgression.
There is much in the scriptures that applies to this subject indirectly as well as a number of very direct references. In all of them, this and every other form of moral mischief is condemned. I read but two. This, from Romans, chapter one:
For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. (Romans 1:26-27; italics added)
The Book of Mormon states: "And men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil..." (2 Nephi 2:5). Even one who is spiritually immature ought intuitively to sense that such actions are wrong, very wrong.
There is a reason why we in the Church do not talk more openly about this subject. Some matters are best handled very privately. With many things, it is easy - very easy - to cause the very things we are trying to avoid. On one occasion, with a friend of mine, I went to the medical center of a large university to see another friend who was a doctor there. In the waiting room before us was a low table covered with pamphlets describing various diseases. My friend observed: "Well, there they are. Read enough about it and you'll think you've got it."
Do not be misled by those who whisper that it is part of your nature and therefore right for you. That is false doctrine!
The second question: Is this tendency impossible to change? Is it preset at the time of birth and locked in? Do you just have to live with it? For example, the shutter of an expensive camera is calibrated at the factory and cannot be adjusted in the field. If such a camera, by chance, is thrown out of calibration or damaged, it cannot be fixed locally. It must eventually go back to the factory, for only there can it be put in order. Is perversion like that? The answer is a conclusive no! It is not like that.
Some so-called experts, and many of those who have yielded to the practice, teach that it is congenital and incurable and that one just has to learn to live with it. They can point to a history of very little success in trying to put whatever mechanism that causes this back into proper adjustment. They have, to support them, some very convincing evidence. Much of the so-called scientific literature concludes that there really is not much that can be done about it.
I reject that conclusion out of hand. And there is a very sensible reason. How can a conclusion on a matter like this be valid when the studies have ignored the part of our nature most affected by it? It has not been fully studied as a moral and a spiritual disorder.
It is not unchangeable. It is not locked in. One does not just have to yield to it and live with it. Test it against moral law and you learn something very quickly. If a condition that draws both men and women into one of the ugliest and most debased of all physical performances is set and cannot be overcome, it would be a glaring exception to all moral law. If that were so (and it is not), it would stand out as a strange and peculiar exception, one that can be applied to none other of the kinds of mishief that relate to the power of procreation. Such a thing is totally inconsistent.
The Lord does not work by exceptions. He works by rules. Put a moral or a spiritual test upon it and the needle flips conclusively to the indicator and says "correctable." Almost every major physical disease was once thought to be incurable but yields now that the cause is fully known and the right combination of remedies is applied.
Now, back to the illustration of the camera. There is a reason why there has been so little success in putting this mechanism back into proper adjustment - we keep using the wrong manual of instruction. For the most part, experts refer to the pages written by those who are assigned to do corrective work, rather than to the instruction provided by the Maker who created us.
When we understand fundamental moral law better than we do, we will be able to correct this condition routinely. The solution to this problem rests with the "thou shalts" and the "thou shalt nots."
If someone is heavily involved in perversion, it becomes very important to him to believe that it is incurable. Can you not see that those who preach that doctrine do so to justify themselves? Some who become tangled up in this disorder become predators. They proselyte the young or the inexperienced. It becomes very important for them to believe that everyone, to one degree or another, is "that way." You hear them claiming that a large percentage of the population is involved, in one way or another, with this activity. Do not be deceived. If you are one of the few who are subject tot his temptation, do not be misled into believing that you are a captive to it. That is false doctrine!
The third question is a very logical extension of the other two: If it is wrong, and if it is not incurable, how can it be corrected? What can be done for someone who has had a few thoughts in this direction? Or for one who has experienced a long and ugly history of indulgence? How can they be helped?
First, understand that the power of procreation is good! It is the power to create life. Think of that! The power to generate life given to man! Through its employment a couple can unselfishly bring children into the world. This power becomes a binding tie in marriage. Those who employ this power in complete worthiness have the promise of eternal increase. Those who do not, face the possibility that it will be withdrawn from them.
In marriage a couple can unselfishly express their love to one another. They reap, as a result, a fulfillment and a completeness and a knowledge of their identity as sons and daughters of God.
The power of procreation is good - divinely good - and productive. Pervert it, and it can be bad - devilishly bad - and destructive.
This power is very different from our physical or emotional nature. We cannot toy with it, or employ it prematurely or unwisely, without being on some very dangerous ground.
Now it is not all that unusual for a boy or a girl, in a moment of childish play with someone of the same gender, to enter into some mischief that should remain essentially innocent and meaningless and should be forgotten. And two young men or two young women, motivated by some attraction or responding to a desire for affection - any kind of affection - sometimes are drawn almost innocently into unnatural behavior. They can be drawn into some circumstances that makes them, for the moment, doubt their identity. Do not be deluded into thinking that such thoughts and feelings are normal for you. Just because you experience some period of confusion, do not make of that thing something that it is not. Do not order your life to conform to a transient thought or experience.
And just because someone has stubbed his toe a bit, or just because someone did not watch carefully where he was going and got off the track into some unnatural behavior, or just because he may have fallen victim to some clever predator, that is no reason to jump off the cliff into spiritual oblivion.
It is normal for a male to want to become more masculine, or for a female to want to become more feminine. But one cannot increase masculinity or femininity by deviate physical contact with one of his own gender. There are many variations of this disorder, some of them very difficult to identify and all of them difficult to understand. When one projects himself in some confused role-playing way with those of the same gender in an effort to become more masculine or more feminine, something flips over and precisely the opposite results. In a strange way, this amounts to trying to love yourself.
A male, in his feelings and emotions, can become less masculine and more feminine and confused. A female can become, in her emotions, less feminine and more masculine and confused. Because the body cannot change, the emotional part may struggle to transform itself into the opposite gender. Then an individual is on a hopeless, futile quest for identity where it can never be achieved.
There is even an extreme condition in which some individuals, in a futile search, will undergo so-called "change" operations in an effort to restructure their identity and become whole. Do not ever even consider that. That is no answer at all! That has eternal, permanent consequences. If an individual becomes trapped somewhere between masculinity and femininity, he can be captive of the adversary and under the threat of losing his potential godhood. And so we are brought once again to the doctrine of agency, which is fundamental to the very purpose of our coming into mortality.
If an individual tries to receive comfort, satisfaction, affection, or fulfillment from deviate physical interaction with someone of his own gender, it can become an addiction! At first it may fill a need and give comfort of some kind, but, when that has faded, feelings of guilt and depression follow. A greater need soon emerges. A cycle begins which sets that individual on a long, sad, destructive skid into emotional and physical disintegration, and ultimately spiritual oblivion.
For centuries men have sought to find the cause of this condition. This is an essential step in developing a cure. Perversion may have some very physical expressions, but it is not a physical disorder. A most extensive physical examination will not reveal one shred of evidence that it is. Physicians have never located any tangible control center in the body that can be adjusted by medical or surgical means to change this condition. The next obvious place to look is the emotional or psychological part of our nature. Here we come closer.
Psychologists and psychiatrists have struggled for generations to find the cause. Many have searched with resolute dedication and have studied everything that might have a bearing on it - parent-child relationships, inherited tendencies, environmental influences, and a hundred and one other things. These things and many, many more remain on the scope. They either have some important effect on this problem, or they are affected in important ways by this problem.
Counselors somehow seem always to be working on the symptoms. When they find something that works on one case and apply it to another, it may not work at all. They have not, as yet, found a remedy. This condition cannot as yet be uniformly corrected by emotional or physical or psychological or psychiatric treatment. Depending on the severity, some forms of these treatments are of substantial help in about 25 percent of the cases. And anything that does help, does help. But there must be a better answer.
Since perversion can have such an effect on the physical and on the emotional, it has been thought to be centered there. But where do we turn when the physical and the emotional treatments are only partly successful? To Latter-day Saints the answer ought to be obvious. We turn to the spiritual nature. The world may not regard that as important, but we do! When this is regarded as a moral matter and as a spiritual matter, there are answers not otherwise available.
The cause of this disorder has remained hidden for so long because we have been looking for it in the wrong place. When the cause is discovered, it may be nothing so mysterious after all. It may be hidden because it is so obvious.
I present a possibility. And I remind you - I am talking to the one. You, the ninety and nine, are merely listening in. I am conscious that when I mention it, the first reaction may be resistance, resentment, even hostility - that is to be expected - but hear me out!
Have you explored the possibility that the cause when found, will turn out to be a very typical form of selfishness - selfishness in a very subtle form? Now - and understand this - I do not think for a minute that the form of selfishness at the root of perversion is a conscious one, at least not to begin with. I am sure it is quite the opposite. Selfishness can attach itself to an individual without his being aware that he is afflicted with it. It can become imbedded so deeply and disguised so artfully as to be almost indistinguishable.
It is hard to believe that any individual would, by a clear, conscious decision or by a pattern of them, choose a course of deviation. It is much more subtle than that. If one could even experiment with the possibility that selfishness of a very subtle nature may be the cause of this disorder, that quickly clarifies many things. It opens the possibility of putting some very sick things in order.
The spiritual perspective for the cure of perversion emerges with the realization that the physical power of creation or procreation is different from every other part of our nature. It is so devised that the only employment of it calculated to bring happiness is in giving, not in receiving. Consider this: One cannot procreate alone. And this: One cannot procreate with his own gender. These are absolutes. And there is a third: One cannot procreate without yielding or giving.
When one has the humility to admit that a spiritual disorder is tied to perversion and that selfishness rests at the root of it, already the way is open to the treatment of the condition. It is a painful admission indeed that selfishness may be at the root of it, but we do not have much evidence that one can cure perversion by trying to cure perversion. If unselfishness can effect a cure, we ought to be desperate enough by now at least to experiment with the possibility. I repeat, we have had very little success in trying to remedy perversion by treating perversion. It is very possible to cure it by treating selfishness.
Some individuals, entangled in perversion, make a clear-cut decision to come out in the open, to stay that way, and to plunge further into it. That becomes a clear-cut act of selfishness. There is an inevitable result. From it we learn something important. Any individual is, of course, free to do that because each has his agency, but he cannot do that and produce any happiness for those who love him nor, ultimately, for himself.
There are bonds of love that tie human beings together. How sad when signals of love are sent across this network of communication from one human being to another and there comes back in return static, rejection, heartbreak, and agony! That kind of signal generates very quickly from selfishness. That is a selfish signal.
Individuals guilty of very selfish acts inevitably hurt those around them. No person ever made a conscious decision to make unnatural behavior his life-style without sending brutal, destructive, selfish signals to those who love him.
If you cannot understand perversion - and I admit that I cannot understand it - you can understand unselfishness and selfishness. You can learn to cure perversion.
Now, before we go any further, let me point out that anything can be perverted - even unselfishness. So don't come up with some rationalization that participation in an act of sexual deviation is a generous and an unselfish gesture. Don't claim that it is an unselfish thing to relieve the craving of someone who is similarly afflicted. Any thinking soul ought to know better than that. And don't argue that in natural relationships, even in marriage, there can be completely and brutal selfishness. That may be true, but that is not our subject. And in any case, that is no justification for any immoral or selfish act of any kind.
The admission that one may suffer from selfishness cuts to the very quick. That is how deep the cut must be to repair many physical disorders. And yet our hospitals are full to overflowing with patients. They count it quite worthwhile to submit to treatment, however painful. They struggle through long periods of recuperation and sometimes must be content with a limited life-style thereafter, in some cases in order just to live. Is it not reasonable that recuperation from this disorder might be somewhat comparable? If unselfishness can cure it - if it has to be applied for a long period of time, and thereafter continually - is it not worth it?
We can do many things that are very personal, but these need not be selfish. For instance, it need not be a selfish thing to study and improve your mind, to develop your talents, or to perfect the physical body. These can be very unselfish if the motive is ultimately to bless others. But there is something different about the power of procreation. There is something that has never been fully explained that makes it dangerous indeed to regard it as something given to us, for us.
Now I hope I will not disappoint you too much if I say at once that I do not know of any quick spiritual cure-all. Setting aside miracles for the moment, in which I firmly believe, generally I do not know of some spiritual shock treatment that will sear the soul of an individual and instantly kill this kind of temptation - or any other kind, for that matter. No spiritual wonder drug that I know of will do it. The cure rests in following for a long period of time, and thereafter continually, some very basic, simple rules for moral and spiritual health. a lesson from the prophet Elisha is in order here.
Naaman was the general of the Syrian army. "He was also a mighty man in valour, but he was a leper." There was in his house a slave girl from Israel. She told of prophets in Israel who "would recover him of his leprosy." The king of Syria, wanting to save his valued general, sent a letter to the king of Israel saying that he has sent Naaman, "that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy."
The king of Israel was frightened and said, "Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy?" Elisha heard of the letter and told the king, "Let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel." When Naaman arrived, Elisha sent a messenger to him saying, "Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean."
At this Naaman was furious. He thought he would at least come out and "call on the name of the Lord his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper." And the Bible records that Naaman "went away in a rage."
But then his servant (it seems that, always, there has to be a servant) "came near, and spake unto him, and said, . . .If the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?" Naaman stood rebuked by his humble servant, and the incident concludes in these words: "Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean." (See 2 Kings 5:1-14.)
If I could announce to you some dramatic, even bizarre, cure for this condition, I am sure many would move without hesitation to accept it, but when we talk of little things, most, I fear, will receive it just as Naaman first received the message from the prophet Elisha. If I should tell you to do some great thing and you would be cured, would you not do it? How much better, then, for you to do the little things! Then your flesh can become again as a little child, and you will be clean. Think very seriously on that.
You must learn this: Overcoming moral temptation is a very private battle, and internal battle. There are many around you who want to help and who can help - parents, branch president, bishop, for a few a marriage partner. And after that, if necessary, there are counselors and professionals to help you. But do not start with them. Others can lend moral support and help establish an environment for your protection. But this is an individual battle.
Establish a resolute conviction that you will resist for a lifetime, if necessary, deviate thought or deviate action. Do not respond to those feelings; suppress them. Suppression is not a very popular word with many psychologists. Look what happened to society when it became unpopular!
You have a God-given right to be free and to choose. Refuse the unnatural; choose the moral way. You will know, then, where you are going. Ahead is but the struggle to get there.
Do not try merely to discard a bad habit or a bad thought. Replace it. When you try to eliminate a bad habit, if the spot where it used to be is left open it will sneak back and crawl again into that empty space. It grew there; it will struggle to stay there. When you discard it, fill up the spot where it was. Replace it with something good. Replace it with unselfish thoughts, with unselfish acts. Then, if an evil habit or addiction tries to return, it will have to fight for attention. Sometimes it may win. Bad thoughts often have to be evicted a hundred times, or a thousand. But if they have to be evicted ten thousand times, never surrender to them. You are in charge of you. I repeat, it is very, very difficult to eliminate a bad habit just by trying to discard it. Replace it. Read in Matthew, chapter 12, verses 43 to 45, the parable of the empty house. There is a message in it for you.
Now to you, the one, some very direct counsel. If you are subject to this kind of temptation, it is essential that you break all connections with those who for one reason or another encourage it. Do not go back to places where you were tempted. Do not frequent those places where people with like attractions gather. This may require an adjustment socially, occupationally, even geographically.
If you are involved in a liaison, no matter how innocent it may appear, break it up right now. Some things tie you to this kind of temptation. Quit them. Avoid the very appearance of evil. This may be very painful if you are entangled in a relationship with deep emotional ties. Cut those ties and encourage the other person to do likewise. Get it done soon, and get it done completely and finally.
Freedom from this kind of enslavement is up to a trail that an individual must walk alone. If you stumble, get up and move on. Soon your bruises will heal. You will grow stronger. Your battle it two-thirds won, or three-fourths or four-fifths won, when you take charge of your identity.
Accept yourself as belonging in the tabernacle that God has provided for you. Your body was provided as an instrument of your mind. It has the purpose to bless others. Don't be mixed up in this twisted kind of self-love.
With physical ailments we always want a quick cure. If a prescription hasn't worked by sundown, we want to get another one. For this ailment there is no other prescription that I know about. You will have to grow away from your problem with undeviating - notice that word - undeviating determination. The longer you have been afflicted, or the more deeply you have been involved, the more difficult and the longer the cure. Any relapse is a setback. But if this should happen, refuse to be discouraged. Take your medicine, however bitter it tastes.
There is great power in the scriptures. Study the gospel - live it. Read the revelations. Every prescription against selfishness of any kind will bring some control of this disease. Every routine of unselfishness will give you more strength.
Look forward to being well and clean and happy. Even if you are guilty, there is no life sentence imposed or pronounced upon you. Keep that in mind.
Now, I want to express my gratitude to you of the ninety and nine who have listened patiently, I think even intently, to a message that has been directed, primarily, at the one. I think your time may not have been misspent. The principles that we have talked about apply to any moral temptation, and you may likewise have been reinforced and forewarned.
I want to tell you, all of you, pointedly that I have thought this to be a very personal message. No good purpose will be served if you make this message the subject of chatter in the dormitories, or in classes, or in Church meetings. I repeat, I have thought this to be a very personal message, and I have already said that we can very foolishly cause things we are trying to prevent by talking too much about them.
Now, what I have to say on this subject, I have said. And that is all I would say to you if you wrote to me, or if you came to see me personally. I am not the one to treat you. You are the one to treat you. If you are worried about this problem, if you need help, it should come first from your parents, then from your branch president or bishop or from other that he may enlist to assist you. But you yourself can call upon a power that can renew your body. You yourself can draw upon a power that will reinforce your will. If you have this temptation - fight it!
Oh, if I could only convince you that you are a son or a daughter of Almighty God! You have a righteous, spiritual power - an inheritance that you have hardly touched. You have an Elder Brother who is your Advocate, your Strength, your Protector, your Mediator, your Physician. Of Him I bear witness. The Lord loves you! You are a child of God. Face the sunlight of truth. The shadows of discouragement, of disappointment, of deviation will be cast behind you.
I came into the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to fill the vacancy when Joseph Fielding Smith became the President of the Church. He was a good and a great man, a prophet. He wrote these words with which I conclude, speaking to you, the one.
Does the journey seem long,
The path rugged and steep?
Are there briars and thorns on the way?
Do sharp stones cut your feet
As you struggle tor ise
To the heights through the heat of the day?
Is your heart faint and sad,
Your soul weary within,
As you toil 'neath your burden of care?
Does the load heavy seem
You are forced not to lift?
Is there no one your burden to share?
Are you weighed down with grief,
Is there pain in your breast,
As you wearily journey along?
Are you looking behind
To the valley below?
Do you wish you were back in the throng?
Let your heart be not faint
Now the journey's begun;
There is One who still beckons to you
Look upward in gladness
And take hole of his hand,
He will lead you to heights that are new,
A land holy and pure
Where all trouble doth end,
And your life shall be free from all sin,
Where no tears shall be shed
For no sorrows remain;
Take his hand and with him enter in.
(Hymns, no. 245)
God bless you, the one. You are loved of him and of His servants. I bear witness that God lives, and that great, healing, cleansing power is extended now to you. And that great power is set against that intruding power of perversion which now raises its head in society. Come away from it, and one day you will be in His presence. He will welcome you with outstretched arms, and you and He will weep for joy over the one who has returned. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.