|"For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light..."|
To Young Men Only
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 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 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 life-giving 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 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 that physical part of you take charge. Stay in control. Condition your body to do the will of your mind. 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 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 mind 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 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 mind carefully. Memorize it. Even though you have had no musical training, you can think through a hym