Much like “Integrity,” “Virtue” is a word that is better shown than talked about.
VIRTUE–THE WORLD’S DEFINITION
The dictionary states the definition of virtue as “behavior showing high moral standards.” Merriam-Webster, however, found recent evidence of how the word “virtue” is being used in our vocabulary today:
- By virtue of their 7 p.m. kick-off Thursday at Roger Bacon’s Bron Bacevich Stadium, the Titans and Tigers will be the first football offering.—Scott Springer, Cincinnati.com, “Play it forward: St. Bernard, Bethel, CPS to raise funds for Hurricane Harvey relief,” 29 Aug. 2017
- But many white suffragists didn’t advocate for the ending of lynching because protecting white women’s virtue was often the excuse used to justify the brutal act.—Evette Dionne, Teen Vogue, “Women’s Suffrage Leaders Left Out Black Women,” 18 Aug. 2017
- Virtue’s Smooth shampoo is thick and tacky and appears counterintuitive to any notion of a cleansing agent.—Ashley Weatherford, The Cut, “The Best New Shampoo Is Made From Human Hair,” 15 Aug. 2017
- The Royals have long extolled the virtues of Gordon’s defense in left field.—Rustin Dodd, Kansas City, “After two games, Royals’ Alex Gordon returns to the lineup,” 10 Aug. 2017
Clearly, the world is not using this word with its true, and best, definition. I find this revealing and shocking all at the same time.
In contrast, in Gospel Topics, virtue is defined as:
“Virtue is a prerequisite to entering the Lord’s holy temples and to receiving the Spirit’s guidance. Virtue ‘is a pattern of thought and behavior based on high moral standards.’ It encompasses chastity and moral purity. Virtue begins in the heart and in the mind. It is nurtured in the home. It is the accumulation of thousands of small decisions and actions. Virtue is a word we don’t hear often in today’s society, but the Latin root word virtus means strength. Virtuous women and men possess a quiet dignity and inner strength. They are confident because they are worthy to receive and be guided by the Holy Ghost.”
What a contrast!
VIRTUE–WHO WE REALLY WANT TO BECOME
Virtue is what we desire in our hearts to become. We came down to earth to become something, to prove ourselves to God. That, even though we have gone through the veil of forgetfulness, we can still make the choice to choose Jesus Christ as our Savior, and Redeemer. Virtue is the very act of believing the Holy Ghost and allowing Him to remind us who we are.
President Hinckley shares this story in a talk called, “Be Ye Clean” (Apr. 1996). I first read this story in a Primary lesson, and it has reminded me of the power that comes with righteous living. Joseph F. Smith is speaking:
“I dreamed [one night] that I was on a journey, and I was impressed that I ought to hurry—hurry with all my might, for fear I might be too late. I rushed on my way as fast as I possibly could, and I was only conscious of having just a little bundle, a handkerchief with a small bundle wrapped in it. I did not realize just what it was, when I was hurrying as fast as I could; but finally I came to a wonderful mansion. … I thought I knew that was my destination. As I passed towards it, as fast as I could, I saw a notice, ‘Bath.’ I turned aside quickly and went into the bath and washed myself clean. I opened up this little bundle that I had, and there was a pair of white, clean garments, a thing I had not seen for a long time, because the people I was with did not think very much of making things exceedingly clean. But my garments were clean, and I put them on. Then I rushed to what appeared to be a great opening, or door. I knocked and the door opened, and the man who stood there was the Prophet Joseph Smith. He looked at me a little reprovingly, and the first words he said: ‘Joseph, you are late.’ Yet I took confidence and replied:
“‘Yes, but I am clean—I am clean!’”
Living a virtuous life also includes living the Law of Chastity. This is where Satan reigns with a whole lot of blood and horror. So many wrecked marriages, so much anger and heartache. So much misery.
Keep your marriage covenants. Stay clean and pure. Avoid all situations of compromise, weakness, and empty revenge.
Some people think that because we live in this world, we simply have to deal with the ugly. Yes, in many cases we will not be protected from everything. However, there is much we can control in our lives. The Spirit will guide us and protect us from the worst of sin. If we choose righteousness, there is a certain amount of bubble space that will preserve us. A lot of our protection will come from how we choose to live virtuously. The righteous choices we make can keep us clean in this world of sorrow and sin.
VIRTUE–THE TREASURE OF THE BOOK OF MORMON
In the Young Women’s Personal Progress program, the project for the Value of Virtue is to read the Book of Mormon. How does that fit in with what virtue is?
Monte Nyman, a former associate dean of Religious Education at BYU, wrote about “The Most Correct Book,” explaining two things the Book of Mormon does for us:
- Continual exposure to the Book of Mormon precepts can help us change our lives for the better.
- Courage may also be won by reading the “most correct book,” for within its pages are examples of others who gained courage and great strength.
He concludes with this hopeful statement:
“And we, too, can receive courage by realizing that the Lord is constant in his aid to those who believe in him and seek to live by his principles and do his work. What was accomplished by the people in biblical times and by those who migrated to this continent can be accomplished by us with God’s help.”
Virtue, in all its forms, is what keeps us going along the path toward the Tree of Life. It takes great strength of character to maintain a virtuous life; to not be thrown off course by every wind of change. Once we get on the path, it is our virtue that will keep us in place with our high moral standards and our high moral courage to persevere and endure to the end.