Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Thomas S. Monson General Conference Highlights: October 1979 - October 1980

A few focussed on Thomas S. Monson's words.

OCTOBER 1979 - "Pornography - the Deadly Carrier"

Pornography, the carrier, is big business. It is Mafia-spawned. It is contagious. It is addicting. In a study last year, the FBI estimated that Americans spent 2.4 billion dollars on hard-core pornography. Other estimates reach as high as 4 billion—a fortune siphoned away from noble use and diverted to a devilish purpose!

Apathy toward pornography stems mostly from a widespread public attitude that it is a victimless crime and that police resources are better used in other areas. Many state and local ordinances are ineffective, sentences are light, and the huge financial rewards far outweigh the risks...

Just this month I read a review of a new movie. The leading actress told the reporter that she objected initially to the script and the part she was to play. The role portrayed her as the sexual companion of a fourteen-year-old boy. She commented: “At first I said, ‘No way will I agree to such a scene.’ Then I was given the assurance that the boy’s mother would be present during all intimate scenes, so I agreed.”

I ask: Would a mother stand by “watching,” were her son embraced by a cobra? Would she subject him to the taste of arsenic or strychnine? Mothers, would you? Fathers, would we?

APRIL 1980 - "Preparing the Way"

John the Baptist was a descendant of Aaron and held the keys of the Aaronic Priesthood. Perhaps we could review the life and mission of John, so that the importance of the Aaronic Priesthood might be more fully appreciated.

Long years ago and distant miles away, in the conquered country of Palestine, a marvelous miracle occurred. The setting was bleak, the time one of tumult. In these, the days of Herod, king of Judea, there lived a priest named Zacharias and his wife, Elisabeth. “They were … righteous before God” (Luke 1:6). However, long years of yearning had returned no reward—Zacharias and Elisabeth remained childless.

Then came that day of days ever to be remembered. There appeared to Zacharias the angel Gabriel, who proclaimed: “Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. “He shall be great in the sight of the Lord” (Luke 1:13–15)...

John’s testimony that Jesus was the redeemer of the world was declared boldly. Without fear, and with courage, John taught: “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

Of John, the Savior later testified, “Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist” (Matt. 11:11).

John’s public ministry moved toward its close. He had, at the beginning of it, condemned the hypocrisy and worldliness of the Pharisees and Sadducees; and he now had occasion to denounce the lust of a king. The result is well known. A king’s weakness and a woman’s fury combined to bring about the death of John.

OCTOBER 1980 - "The Bishop - Center Stage in Welfare"

The dimensions of the bishop’s welfare role are many. He is aided by his counselors, priesthood quorum leaders, and, of course, the ward Relief Society presidency. Perhaps a review would be helpful.

First, prevention. Paramount is the responsibility to coordinate personal and family preparedness efforts, including food storage. Also to be emphasized is the continuing need to insure that gainful employment is had by heads of families. Beyond this effort is the desirability to upgrade employment for those who may be underemployed. Such a duty involves the encouragement of wage earners to become skilled, that they will not be the last to be hired or the first to be fired.

Second, production. Participation on ward and stake welfare projects is a vital concern. Though times change, fields yet need to be plowed, crops to be thinned, buildings to be built, and storehouses to be filled.

I am grateful I learned to top sugar beets on our stake welfare farm. I am also grateful that we do not have to top beets in the same way today. That farm was not situated in a fertile belt of land but rather in the area of today’s industrial section of Salt Lake City. I testify, however, that when put to this sacred service, the soil was sanctified, the harvest blessed, and faith rewarded.

Third, processing. Oh, the joy of harvest time! Picture the scene of ward members canning peaches, sorting eggs, or cleaning vegetables, all for the use of those who are in need. Brows are sweat-lined, clothing is soiled, bodies are tired—but human souls are refreshed and lifted towards heaven.

Fourth, storage. The Lord in the revelations spoke frequently of his storehouses. On one occasion he counseled, “The storehouse shall be kept by the consecrations of the church; and widows and orphans shall be provided for, as also the poor” (D&C 83:6). I am happy that over the entrance to our storehouses are the words Bishops’ Storehouse! Those who labor therein are recommended and sent by their respective bishops. Within such buildings there is found an atmosphere of love, of respect, and, indeed, of reverence. I am inspired each time I visit such a storehouse. There is no steeple or spire, no carpeted floors or stained-glass windows, but here is found the spirit of the Lord.

Fifth, distribution. This is where the bishop’s judgment is most severely tested. He cannot shirk this God-given responsibility. President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., summarized the bishop’s role in welfare services: He “is ‘to administer all temporal things’ … ; in his calling he is to ‘administer to the … poor and needy’; he is to search ‘after the poor to administer to their wants’ [see D&C 107:68, D&C 42:34, D&C 84:112]. …

“Thus to the bishop is given all the powers, and responsibilities which the Lord has specifically prescribed in the Doctrine and Covenants for the caring of the poor. … No one else is charged with this duty and responsibility, no one else is endowed with the power and functions necessary for this work.

“Thus, ‘by the word of the Lord the sole mandate to care for and the sole discretion in caring for, the poor of the Church is lodged in the bishop.’ … ‘It is his duty and his only to determine to whom, when, how, and how much shall be given to any member of his ward from Church funds and as ward help.

“‘This is his high and solemn obligation, imposed by the Lord Himself. The bishop cannot escape this duty; he cannot shirk it; he cannot pass it on to someone else, and so relieve himself. Whatever help he calls in, he is still responsible.’” (Unpublished article, Church Historical Department, Salt Lake City, 9 July 1941, pp. 3–4.)

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