A few years ago I heard a beautiful talk by President James E. Faust. He explained that : Marriage is a joint quest for the good, the beautiful, and the divine. I felt that it was the perfect description of my marriage to the designer and decided that it should become the mantra for our lives together into the eternities.
Today I would like to replace the word “marriage” with the word “earthlife.” Let me read it again, Earth-life is a joint quest for the good, the beautiful, and the divine.
Isn’t that just what the Father wants for each of us? To learn to choose the good (or of the “best” as Elder Oaks counsels), to recognize the beautiful hand of the Lord all around us, and to realize our divine callings and worth: becoming like our Father in Heaven.
I’m leaving the word “joint” because I believe we are not meant to experience this life quest alone. Rather, we are to help one another achieve our Heavenly Father’s wishes of: joy and the eternal life of man. With all of this in mind, let me again read our new motto, Earth-life is a joint quest for the good, the beautiful, and the divine.”
Okay, at this point I’m sure the Bishop is a bit concerned, so I will tell you my assigned topic: Pornography.
I know, Pornography, is the antithesis of the good, the beautiful, and the divine. But if we are following our quest, do we have time in this incredible journey and quest to waste our energy on pornography? No, we do not. We do not have time for the selfish and hurtful consequences that surely affect our families and those around us.
Our last week in the Midway 5th ward, our Relief Society President addressed this most difficult and seemingly daunting topic of pronography. It was a wonderful lesson. The spirit of the Holy Ghost was in abundance and I felt empowered. Sister Sanders called each of us women to become the soldiers at the front line to fight in the battle against pornography. To fight for our families, our children, our husbands, our sisters, our neighbors, and our friends. That Sunday I realized that I cannot merely stay home and pray. It has become apparent that the only way to win this war with Satan is to take up arms. And it will take each and every one of us. We must prepare and fight in this battle that is raging all around us.
Today I’d like to discuss some tools that we can use to avoid, and overcome the grasps and sorrow of this most serious and deadly disease.
During college, I spent a couple summers in Europe. The first semester abroad I spent the majority of my time in Paris. I fell in love. No, it wasn’t the Italian students we met on the way to the Eiffel Tower, it was the Museums. One of our classes was on French Culture. We had a list of Museums, landmarks, parks, cathedrals, and monuments we were to visit and enjoy. After the first week my roomates and I were overwelmed with all that we were required to see, and be graded on. We soon learned that we needed to plan to see two or three of our assigned destinations each day in order to accomplish our task. We planned and prepared each evening for the upcoming day of discovery and adventure. My favorite places were the art museums. I fell in love with an out-of-the-way and small Monet Museum that had some of his enormous original water lily paintings, the Piccaso Museum, Musee D’Orsay, and of course the Louvre. Looking back on those semesters in Europe, I find my head filled with images of beauty and experiences of learning. Most importantly, it has inspired my constant search for more.
The first set of tools I speak of are tools of preparation: a library of goodness, beauty, and the divine. To spend each and every day looking for something beautiful around us to fill our mind’s library of thoughts, images, and experiences. As Joseph ran from Potipher’s wife, may we run from inapporpriate movies, music, games, magazines and literature, from offensive images. May we then run to our libraries of goodness, beauty, and the divine that we have prepared for ourselves. Loving experiences with family and friends, visiting temple grounds with our family and participating in the ordinaces of salvation, scripture study, and prayer, literature that improves our lives and the lives of those around us, music that lifts us higher and inspires us to be more. D&C 88 reminds us to, “Seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom,” (D&C 88:118). Let us take the time to create beauty wherever we go. May we help our friends, siblings, and children to fill their libraries of beauty and goodness as well. To Choose beauty, goodness and the divine. To shun those deceitful lies of Satan that will surely cause pain and grief.
The second set of tools I would like to speak of are tools of offense as well as defense in battle: putting on the whole armor of God. I am reminded of one of my favorite passages of scripture found in Ephesians as well as the Doctrine & Covenants. Go ahead and turn with me to Section 27. These are amazing and extremely powerful verses:
15 Wherefore, alift up your hearts and brejoice, and cgird up your loins, and take upon you my whole darmor, that ye may be able to withstand the evil day, having done all, that ye may be able to estand.
16 Stand, therefore, having your loins agirt about with btruth, having on the cbreastplate of drighteousness, and your feet shod with the preparation of the egospel of fpeace, which I have sent mine gangels to commit unto you;
17 Taking the shield of faith wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the afiery darts of the wicked;
18 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of my aSpirit, which I will pour out upon you, and my word which I reveal unto you, and be agreed as touching all things whatsoever ye ask of me, and be faithful until I come, and ye shall be bcaught up, that where I am ye shall be calso.
As I read verse 15, I can’t help but think of our library of goodness, beauty, and the divine. We are told to “lift up our hearts and rejoice”. Truly, by preparing ourselves each day to fill our library and follow our quest for the good, the beautiful and the divine, we are doing this.
As for the gifts in battle, the Lord has given us truth, a breastplate of righteousness, the preparation of the gospel of peace, His angels, the helmet of salvation, the sword of His spirit, and His word. I cannot think of an army better prepared and armed to fight the adversary.
As for the Savior’s word; back in the ‘70s, a book was written by Robert B. Downs, entitled Books That Changed America. The Book of Mormon was among his list of twenty-five such books. In his comments he said, “Throughout the history of Mormonism, the Church’s most powerful and effective weapon has been the Book of Mormon.” (Robert B. Downs, Books That Changed America, New York: MacMillan Co., 1970, p. 35.) The Midway 4th ward has truly been blessed by the reading of the BOM this past Fall. May we continue to use and feel its incredible power.
A final tool that is above price, is that of the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ. The disease of pronography is not only contagious, but it’s grasp siezes those far from it’s sinful reach.
I am the eldest of 6 children. Currently, I am the only one of us married. But it wasn’t always this way. One of the first times the designer spent time with my family was at my younger sister’s wedding celebration at the San Deigo Temple and reception. Months later, we were planning our own wedding. I missed my sister as we didn’t get to chat as often as we had in the past (you see, we have been the best of friends since she followed me into High School). But I knew she was busy as a newlywed, and we had busy tasks of our own. Through the months of Summer after the designer and I’s sealing in the Manti Temple, I began to worry. She didn’t answer my phone calls. We never saw her, and the only time I spoke to her in several months was a very short “happy birthday” call. That Fall she called me as she was driving from Utah. She was going to stop to see us in Vegas on her way home to my parents in California. She had left her husband. Barely pregnant and already emotional, I was worried about her temple marriage. What I would soon understand was that the covenants had already been broken. Her husband had several addictive and abusive vices, mostly fuelled by the sinful and deadly entertainment of pornography.
Part of me wishes that you would all be surprised by this difficult trial my sister and entire family have faced and are still seeking to overcome. Yet, the reality is that many of you have already felt the sting and injuries caused by this horrible sin. Yes, the battle is raging, we must choose to prepare and fight, and most importantly, we must choose to be healed. Healed by the power of the Lord’s infinite atonement. No matter where on the battle field we have been attacked, we must still allow the Savior to heal us.
I read from Elder Oak’s talk entitled He Heals the Heavy Laden:
A woman whose marriage was threatened by her husband’s addiction to pornography wrote how she stood beside him for five pain-filled years until, as she said, “through the gift of our precious Savior’s glorious Atonement and what He taught me about forgiveness, [my husband] finally is free—and so am I.” As one who needed no cleansing from sin, but only sought a loved one’s deliverance from captivity, she wrote this advice: “Commune with the Lord. … He is your best friend! He knows your pain because He has felt it for you already…Trust Him enough to place it at His feet… Then you can have your anguish replaced with His peace, in the very depths of your soul” (letter dated Apr. 18, 2005).
Elder Oaks reminds us: Jesus healed many from physical diseases, but He did not withhold healing from those who sought to be “made whole” from other ailments. Matthew writes that He healed every sickness and every disease among the people (see Matthew 4:23; 9:35). Great multitudes followed Him, and He “healed them all” (Matthew 12:15). Surely these healings included those whose sicknesses were emotional, mental, or spiritual. He healed them all.
I’ll admit it: when the Bishop asked me last week to speak on this topic, I was nervous. A bit of fear entered my mind.
Thank you Bishop for knowing I needed to think about, prepare for, and join this battle. Let us not be shy, fearful or despairing. The battle rages on. We cannot win this battle by being complacent, nor can we fight it alone. It will take every one of us. Choose this day, join with me, and fight in the horrible battle against the adversary. Let us prepare with tools of defense our library of goodness, beauty and the divine. May we choose to fill this library every day; to take constant vigil in our preparation. May we fight with fierceness as we use our tools of offense and defense putting on the armor of God. And finally, as we are pulled from the battle field injured and fearing the depths of despair, may we look towards Christ. May we choose his everlasting healing power of the Atonement. That we may rejoin our brothers and sisters in battle and eventually win this war, it is my humblest of pleas, in the sacred name of our Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.