I have often wondered why the Priesthood session of conference always seems to get the most doctrinal and severe gospel talks. Over the years, I would say that has leveled out, but this particular session was chalk full of life-changing gospel messages. If only we would take it and run with it.
The October 1972 Priesthood session has taught me how to make the gospel personal in my life.
Gordon B. Hinckley introduced some of his [now] famous “B’s.” Here he only mentioned four: Be smart, Be clean, Be obedient, and Be prayerful. Aren’t there something like thirteen of them now? Following these “Be attitudes” will discipline us into making better day-to-day decisions.
Vaughn J. Featherstone said one little thing that struck me. In describing Christ’s visit to the Americas, he quoted 3 Nephi 17:25, “And the multitude did see and hear and bear record … and they were in number about two thousand and five hundred [and ONE] souls.” Then he added, “I want you to know I was there.” He was the “ONE”. As simple as that statement is, that opens wide the idea that I too might have been there watching, glorying in the Savior, and abiding the moment I might stand in front of him to be completely healed, completely blessed, completely engulfed in His arms.
Marion G. Romney spoke on caring for the poor and needy. With Relief Society’s new mandate, “I am a Stranger,” what are we doing to do our part? I actually started a Humanitarian group in my neighborhood. Lot’s of people were interested at first, but busy lives don’t just subside. Even though I have invited, encouraged, and reminded, there has unfortunately been little support. I’ve still tried to do something each month; it just takes me a little longer to gather significant supplies on my own.
N. Eldon Tanner explained the succession of the prophet. Because there are those, in every age, who would undermine the prophet of God, this message must be read and reread often to make sure we stand faithfully supportive of the man who is called of God to lead this church we subscribe to.
“It is most important that we, as members of the Church, accept without reservation President Lee as a prophet of God and as our leader. I am glad I can say that from the bottom of my heart with every bit of feeling I have. Let us listen to the prophet’s voice and follow him, not blindly but by faith.”
Then Pres. Tanner commented: “I was thrilled as that group sang this afternoon: ‘Shall the youth of Zion falter,’ and then clearly sang, ‘No!’ There is a difference in singing ‘No’ and meaning ‘no’, and in living it.” We have the opportunity to take this gospel and run with it by being obedient, motivated for good, and stalwart in all our actions.
Harold B. Lee was the final speaker, and the prophet at the time. He said so many important things, I’m just going to list them.
“There is no new organization necessary to take care of the needs of this people. All that is necessary is to put the priesthood of God to work.”
“There are some as wolves among us.”
“Saints may receive Divine guidance and revelation affecting themselves, but this does not convey authority to direct others, and is not to be accepted when contrary to Church covenants, doctrine or discipline, or to known facts, demonstrated truths, or good common sense.”
“It never ceases to amaze me how gullible some of our Church members are in broadcasting these sensational stories, or dreams, or visions, some alleged to have been given to Church leaders, past or present, supposedly from some person’s private diary, without first verifying the report with proper Church authorities. If our people want to be safely guided during these troublous times of deceit and false rumors, they must follow their leaders and seek for the guidance of the Spirit of the Lord in order to avoid falling prey to clever manipulators.”
“The Lord has very plainly set forth a test by which anyone may challenge any and all who may come claiming, clandestinely, to have received some kind of priesthood authority. [Read D&C 42:11.] This is the test that our people should always apply when some imposter comes trying to lead them astray.”
“I want to warn this great body of priesthood against that great sin of Sodom and Gomorrah. … I speak of the sin of adultery, … and besides this, the equally grievous sin of homosexuality, which seems to be gaining momentum with social acceptance in the Babylon of the world. … While we are in the world, we must not be of the world. … Any attempts being made by the schools or places of entertainment to flaunt sexual perversions … must find among the priesthood in this church a vigorous and unrelenting defense.”
“There are among us many loose writings predicting the calamities which are about to overtake us. Some of these have been publicized as though they were necessary to wake up the world to the horrors about to overtake us. … Are you priesthood bearers aware of the fact that we need no such publications to be forewarned, if we were only conversant with what the scriptures have already spoken to us in plainness?” (See JS-M 1, D&C 45, D&C 101, D&C 133.) We can read the promises made to those who hold on to the commandments during this time in D&C 38.
He quoted Brigham Young, who said, “I want to say something to you men. You cannot destroy the appointment of a prophet of God, but you can cut the thread that binds you to the prophet of God, and sink yourselves to hell.”
Pres. Lee shared an experience of calling a new stake president who died six weeks after his call. He received a barrage of letters questioning his inspiration. It was Pres. Joseph Fielding Smith who taught him “that position would have a bearing on what he will be called to do when he leaves this earth. … There are too many of us who put question marks instead of periods after what the Lord says. … Just trust the Lord.”
He shared a story Elder Hinckley told him of meeting a young man in Vietnam who joined the church. He was asked what would happen when he went home. “I will be cast out. My family will disown me. I will have difficulty in school. I will have no military rank.” Elder Hinckley then asked, “Isn’t that a pretty big price to pay?” The young man replied, “Well, the gospel is true, isn’t it? What else matters?”
The message I got from this session of conference is for every member of the church. I testify, as Pres. Lee did in his talk, “that the Lord is in his heavens; he is closer to us than you have any idea.” The Lord offers us daily revelations that we might get it through our heads that He is watching over us, He is in our lives, He cares, He will help, and that He loves us all very very much. I say we need to take that gospel message and run with it.
Additional posts from General Conference Odyssey writers:
The Pebbles in Our Shoes Nathaniel Givens
It is the Modern Scripture by which we are Judged Daniel Ortner
Mow the Lawn, Do the Dishes, Save Your Soul Walker Wright
Voices and Friends “IRL” Marilyn Nielson
Obedience-Start Where You Are Michelle Linford
A Warning against Wolves and Delusions among the Saints Ralph Hancock