- Written by Jeffrey R. Holland
Surely God's trust in us to respect this future-forming gift is awesomely staggering. We who may not be able to repair a bicycle nor assemble an average jigsaw puzzle—yet with all our weaknesses and imperfections, we carry this procreative power that makes us very much like God in at least one grand and majestic way.
A SERIOUS MATTER
Souls. Symbols. Sacraments. Does any of this help you understand why human intimacy is such a serious matter? Why it is so right and rewarding and stunningly beautiful when it is within marriage and approved of God (not just "good" but "very good," he declared to Adam and Eve), and so blasphemously wrong—like unto murder—when it is outside such a covenant? It is my understanding that we park and pet and sleep over and sleep with at the peril of our very lives. Our penalty may not come on the precise day of our transgression, but it comes surely and certainly enough, and were it not for a merciful God and the treasured privilege of personal repentance, far too many would even now be feeling that hellish pain, which (like the passion we have been discussing) is also always described in the metaphor of fire. Someday, somewhere, sometime the morally unclean will, until they repent, pray like the rich man, wishing Lazarus to "dip… his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame" (Luke 16:24).
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
In closing, consider this from two students of civilization's long, instructive story:
No one man [or woman], however brilliant or well-informed, can come in one lifetime to such fullness of understanding as to safely judge and dismiss the customs or institutions of his society, for these are the wisdom of generations after centuries of experiment in the laboratory of history. A youth boiling with hormones will wonder why he should not give full freedom to his sexual desires; and if he is unchecked by custom, morals, or laws, he may ruin his life [or hers] before he matures sufficiently to understand that sex is a river of fire that must be banked and cooled by a hundred restraints if it is not to consume in chaos both the individual and the group. [Will and Ariel Durant, The Lessons of History (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1968), pp. 35-36]
Or, in the more ecclesiastical words of James E. Talmage:
It has been declared in the solemn word of revelation, that the spirit and the body constitute the soul of man; and, therefore, we should look upon this body as something that shall endure in the resurrected state, beyond the grave, something to be kept pure and holy. Be not afraid of soiling its hands; be not afraid of scars that may come to it if won in earnest effort, or [won] in honest fight, but beware of scars that disfigure, that have come to you in places where you ought not have gone, that have befallen you in unworthy undertakings [pursued where you ought not have been]; beware of the wounds of battles in which you have been fighting on the wrong side. [Talmage, CR, October 1913, p. 117]
I love you for wanting to be on the right side of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I express my pride in and appreciation for your faithfulness. As I said earlier, you are an absolute inspiration to me. I consider it the greatest of all professional privileges to be associated with you at this university at a time in your lives when you are finalizing what you believe and forging what your future will be.
If some few of you are feeling the "scars… that have come to you in places where you ought not have gone," I wish to extend to you the special peace and promise available through the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. I testify of his love and of the restored gospel principles and ordinances which make that love available to us with all their cleansing and healing power. I testify of the power of these principles and ordinances, including complete and redeeming repentance, which are only fully realized in this the true and living church of the true and living God. That we may "come unto Christ" for the fullness of soul and symbol and sacrament he offers us, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Jeffrey R. Holland was president of Brigham Young University when this devotional address was delivered on January 12, 1988 in the Marriott Center.
©1989 by Brigham Young University. All rights reserved.