Last Sunday night we got the youth together for a Sunday Evening Discussion and spoke about the moral standards that guide us to live happier and saner lives. I’d like the parents to know (in writing) what we shared with your children. I’d also like to elaborate on a few topics.
Our first speaker was Brother Heiner who explained what a virtuous life is—one that includes not only sexual purity but purity in thought, intent, word, and action. He invited several young people forward and hung signs around their necks with words about virtue. The signs each hung down at different lengths. At the end, he hung all the signs around one youth’s neck to show how they all add up to a virtuous life. He also discussed on how the language we use can lead us upward or in the opposite direction.
Brother Nuttall spoke next about dating standards, such as waiting until age 16 to date and group dating. He used an analogy of an orange. He dropped an orange into a bowl of water and pointed out that the orange floated. Then he took the orange out of the water and began to peel it. With each piece of the peel he took off, he talked about how when we lower or compromise our standards, we shed our protective layer little by little , until we find ourselves vulnerable and embarrassed. He then dropped the peeled orange back in the water, and it sank to the bottom of the bowl. Point well taken!
In support of what Brother Heiner said about language, I added that when a person takes the name of God in vain or makes light of sacred things—speaks of what is unholy as if it were holy, or holy things as if unholy—that person is merely quoting devils. That is the way devils and evil spirits talk. I don’t advise emulating them in any way.
In regard to modesty, we talked about how when we dress modestly, we show respect for ourselves and for our Heavenly Father, and we avoid the trap of seeking the wrong kind of attention, including, unfortunately, the attention of “gangsta” boys. I also talked about how a boy or man who is really striving to honor his priesthood, seek the Spirit, and to rise above worldly influences, is turned off and even annoyed by immodest dress. Seeking attention by immodesty will not bring you what you really want in the long term.
We reviewed what the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet says about immodest clothing. It’s pretty straight forward and clear, but it seems our youth and even adults often miss this counsel that has come to us from the apostles and prophets.
- “Immodest clothing includes short shorts, tight pants, and other revealing attire.”
- “Young women should refrain from wearing off-the-shoulder, low-cut, or revealing clothes.”
- “All should avoid tight fitting or revealing clothes and extremes in clothing and appearance.”
When we dress immodestly, we don’t just reveal our bodies: We reveal our insecurity about ourselves. We can build our self-confidence on a better foundation.
The standards of modesty apply to boys as well as girls, but it seems to be an area where we see it more in girls’ behavior than in boys. An area where boys have more trouble than girls is pornography. One thing I’d like to say about pornography is that it is addictive and destructive, particulary of family life. Every boy should know that your future wife has every right to know about your use (if any) of pornography. More and more, bishops and stake presidents are counseling engaged girls to question her fiancé about his pornography use as a young man or adult, as it is becoming a major cause of divorce. It is not a question of forgiveness or love; it is more a question of trust and the advisabilty of a committed relationship when pornography has been an addiction or has even been viewed infrequently but secretly over a period of years.
Finally, I talked about the bonding mechanism in our bodies and how the bonds we feel are influenced by neorochemicals. These neurochemicals are “values-neutral,” meaning that they function whether our behavior is moral or immoral. They can help us and can also lead us astray.
To learn more about this, I highly recommend the book Hooked: New Science on How Casual Sex Is Affecting Our Children to both parents of teenagers and the parents of those who will soon become teens. It was recommended to me by a member of our ward, and it is a great resource. Society and science has focused so much on the effects of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. This book helps us see how recent science is pointing out how the emotional effects of casual sex is every bit as devastating, if not more so, than unwed, teen parenthood or STDs.
We should do everything we can to shield and protect our children and youth from the unwitting effects of vulgarity, immodesty, and casual sex. We must do all we can to influence them to live virtuous lives, and to live virtuously ourselves. We will be so much happier, more at peace with ourselves and our Heavenly Father, and more free if we do. May God help us to do so.