…I knew that if we were going to live with ourselves on the terms that we wanted, we’d have to pay a price…And we’ve paid a price every day since. It’s expensive…But I don’t want to live cheap, or live for nothing. I never have wanted that and I’ve never liked it.
We live in a world that is concerned about cleanliness and purity—the cleanliness of our air and the cleanliness of our environment, our water, and even our food. In some places we legislate against pollution and even have government-funded environmental protection agencies to ensure that we are not made ill by contaminants that get into our air, our water, or our food supply. Yet society tolerates moral pollution in the form of pornography on billboards, television, and the Internet and in entertainment and other media. We tolerate filth that invades our minds through suggestive lyrics, music, and language. In some respects we are an organic generation ensuring purity and quality in our lives, and yet we are polluting our moral fiber. I believe that the lack of virtue in our society is directly responsible for many of our social, financial, and governmental ills. I believe that the disintegration of faith and families and the financial unrest are directly related to a lack of virtue in our society. And I believe that a return to virtue could save an entire nation.
We call for a social reform, but what is really needed is a moral reform—a call for a return to virtue. And if we who have been given so much, including the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, don’t lead the world in that return to virtue, who will? You were leaders in the premortal world and stood for everything that is now threatened in society. You who are preparing to be influential in every sector of society, the young adults of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, can and must lead this return.
There are two real tests of the strength and quality of any relationship. The first comes under conditions of stress and strain. When all is fine, when the sun is shining, no deep-root relationship structure is required. Appearances seem sufficient, but when the storm breaks, appearances are thrown to the wind, and in the winds that blow then some of us lash out with an ugliness held deep within. We may wound - and wound deeply - the tender sensitive feelings of our spouses or children or others and thereby teach them to be defensive and guarded against such hurts in the future.
...The other test of the quality of relationship is found in the little things of every day, little courtesies, little acts of kindness, the give and take in little moments.
"Men best show their character in trifles, when they are not on their guard...It is in insignificant matters, and in the simplest habits, that we often see the boundless egotism which pays no regard to the feeling of others, and denies nothing to itself." (Arthur Schopenhauer.)
No matter what our backgrounds or the quality of marriage our grandparents or parents enjoyed, we can in time and with the Lord’s help achieve the ideal. If our heritage includes a spiritually strong family with healthy marriages and close relationships, we will be able to build and even improve on the foundation that has been laid. If our heritage is not as strong, we can resolve that our children will receive a richer legacy.
Above all, I hope that we will vow never to be satisfied with a mediocre marriage. Not long ago a friend told me that one of his young children had asked, “Do you think Grandpa ever kisses Grandma?”
I certainly hope my wife and I are sufficiently in love and demonstrative about it that our grandchildren will not have to wonder. We can never afford to let our relationships become merely mutual toleration or accommodation.
Eternal marriage is godlike marriage. The term eternal describes the quality of marriage as much as its duration.
Yet some of you will spend less time on the quality and substance and purpose of your marriage--the highest, holiest, culminating covenant you make in this world--than you will in maintaining your '72 Datsun. And you will break the hearts of many innocent people, including perhaps your own, if that marriage is then dissolved.
"You must [not give] half-hearted compliance [to a marriage]," said President Kimball. "[It requires] all [our] consecration" (Spencer W. Kimball, "An Apostle Speaks about Marriage to John and Mary," Improvement Era, February 1949, p. 74). So every worthy task will require all that we can give to it. The Lord requires the heart and a willing mind if we are to eat the good of the land of Zion in the last days.
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