Mormon Temple MarriageThomas S. Monson is the prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose members are sometimes called Mormons. He is called to share God’s word and to teach Mormon beliefs. In the following quotes, he talks about morality and the importance of holding on to God’s moral standards, even when the world mocks you for doing so.

Evil Surrounds Us

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Many years ago, on an assignment to the beautiful islands of Tonga, I was privileged to visit our Church school, the Liahona High School, where our youth are taught by teachers with a common bond of faith—providing training for the mind and preparation for life. On that occasion, entering one classroom, I noticed the rapt attention the children gave their native instructor. His textbook and theirs lay closed upon the desks. In his hand he held a strange-appearing fishing lure fashioned from a round stone and large seashells. This, I learned, was a maka-feke, an octopus lure. In Tonga, octopus meat is a delicacy.

The teacher explained that Tongan fishermen glide over a reef, paddling their outrigger canoes with one hand and dangling the maka-feke over the side with the other. An octopus dashes out from its rocky lair and seizes the lure, mistaking it for a much-desired meal. So tenacious is the grasp of the octopus and so firm is its instinct not to relinquish the precious prize that fishermen can flip it right into the canoe.

It was an easy transition for the teacher to point out to the eager and wide-eyed youth that the evil one—even Satan—has fashioned so-called maka-fekes with which to ensnare unsuspecting persons and take possession of their destinies.

Today we are surrounded by the maka-fekes which the evil one dangles before us and with which he attempts to entice us and then to ensnare us. Once grasped, such maka-fekes are ever so difficult—and sometimes nearly impossible—to relinquish. To be safe, we must recognize them for what they are and then be unwavering in our determination to avoid them.

Constantly before us is the maka-feke of immorality. Almost everywhere we turn, there are those who would have us believe that what was once considered immoral is now acceptable. I think of the scripture, “Wo unto them that call evil good, and good evil, that put darkness for light, and light for darkness.”  Such is the maka-feke of immorality. We are reminded in the Book of Mormon that chastity and virtue are precious above all things.

When temptation comes, remember the wise counsel of the Apostle Paul, who declared, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

Thomas S. Monson, “True to the Faith,” Liahona, April 2006, 18–21

Personal Responsibility for Morality

Dr. Karl Menninger, the brilliant scientist who founded and developed the world-renowned psychiatric center in Topeka, Kansas, stated that the only way our suffering, struggling, anxious society can hope to prevent its moral ills is by recognizing the reality of sin. That’s the theme of his famed publication, Whatever Became of Sin? a plea to mankind to stop and look at what we are doing to ourselves, to each other and to our universe. Dr. Menninger referred to Socrates, who wondered, “How is it that men know what is good, but do what is bad?” Said Dr. Menninger, “I have come to the conclusion that the ‘Everyone is doing it’ morality which characterizes our public-business world is crippling people. We must believe in our personal responsibility to correct our individual transgressions—the white lies, the petty cheating, the apathy, which characterize our passive existence.” He further stressed, “If the concept of personal responsibility and answerability for ourselves and for others were to return to common acceptance and man once again would feel guilt for sins and repent and establish a conscience that would act as a deterrent for further sin, then hope would return to the world.”

Let me share with you a lesson learned in childhood. Our family has owned a summer cabin at Vivian Park in Provo Canyon for five generations. The months of July and August for me meant hiking; fishing; and swimming daily at the swimming hole, featuring a big rock from which we dived, and maneuvering through the swift current which roared by it and formed dangerous whirlpools. Most swimmers would plunge into the icy waters and swim with the current, rapidly passing the big rock, and be eventually carried to the slower waters and the welcome bank of river sand. That is, all but one swimmer. His name was “Beef” Peterson. His swimsuit carried the emblem of “Life Saver,” and his physical body reflected great strength. Beef would, like others, swim rapidly down the current through the whirlpools, then suddenly turn and swim back upstream. For a few feet, his mighty strokes carried him forward, but then the swiftness of the current held him steady as he pitted his strength against that of the river. Gradually Beef would tire, drop back, and then swim effortlessly to the bank, exhausted. Swimming against the current became Beef Peterson’s trademark.

My brothers and sisters, I’m certain our duty and responsibility is frequently to swim upstream and against the tide of temptation and sin. As we do so, our spiritual strength will increase, and we shall be equal to our God-given responsibilities.

Thomas S. Monson, “Happiness—The Universal Quest,” Ensign, Oct 1993, 2

Courage to Stand for Righteousness

In the four decades since the end of World War II, standards of morality have lowered again and again. Today there are more people in jail, in reformatories, on probation, and in trouble than ever before. From padded expense accounts to grand larceny, from petty crimes to crimes of passion, the figures are higher than ever and going higher. Crime spirals upward; decency careens downward. Many are on a giant roller coaster of disaster, seeking the thrills of the moment while sacrificing the joys of eternity. We conquer space but cannot control self. Thus we forfeit peace.

Can we somehow muster the courage and that steadfastness of purpose which characterized the pioneers of a former generation? Can you and I, in actual fact, be pioneers today? A dictionary defines a pioneer as “one who goes before, showing others the way to follow.” Oh, how the world needs pioneers today!

We forget how the Greeks and Romans prevailed magnificently in a barbaric world and how that triumph ended, how a slackness and softness finally came over them to their ruin. In the end, more than they wanted freedom, they wanted security, a comfortable life; and they lost all—security and comfort and freedom. From the confusion of our modern world, sincere persons searchingly ask themselves: “To whom shall we listen? Whom shall we follow? Whom shall we serve?”

Today, chronic strife permeates even the personal province of the Prince of Peace. Contention thrives, though he declared, “Contention is not of me, but is of the devil.” (3 Ne. 11:29.)

But if we have ears that truly hear, we will be mindful of the echo from Capernaum’s past. Here multitudes crowded around Jesus, bringing the sick to be healed. Here a palsied man picked up his bed and walked, and a Roman centurion’s faith restored his servant’s health.

Many turn away from our Elder Brother, who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), and follow blindly after that Pied Piper of sin who would lead us down the slippery slopes to our own destruction. Satan cunningly calls to troubled souls in truly tempting tones.

Do not yield to his enticements; rather, stand firm for truth. The unsatisfied yearnings of the soul will not be met by a never-ending quest for joy amidst the thrills of sensation and vice. Vice never leads to virtue. Hate never promotes love. Cowardice never gives courage. Doubt never inspires faith.

Some find it difficult to withstand the mockings and unsavory remarks of foolish ones who ridicule chastity, honesty, and obedience to God’s commands. But the world has ever belittled adherence to principle. When Noah was instructed to build an ark, the foolish populace looked at the cloudless sky, then scoffed and jeered—until the rain came.

Thomas S. Monson, “‘Come, Follow Me’,” Ensign, Jul 1988, 2

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