Thomas S. Monson, the Mormon prophet, spoke in a recent conference to the young men of the Mormon Church. He encouraged them to begin preparing today to meet their goals for the future and to be certain those goals were wise.
President Monson urged the young men to monitor their behavior to meet the exacting standards to which God holds us. The standards are not random rules; they have the purpose of helping us to grow up safely.One standard addressed by President Monson was to prepare for marriage. Preparation for marriage is really a lifelong effort and the teen years are critical in that preparation. Thomas Monson advised the young men who live in countries where dating is appropriate to avoid dating until age sixteen, when they are more mature and able to date wisely. He reminded the boys that they really don’t have to date during their teen years if they don’t want to, even if all their friends are. He advised them, during their teenage years, to date in groups and to avoid pairing off into couples or to become involved in romantic relationships at this age. The younger teens are when they begin having relationships, the more difficult it becomes to maintain appropriate standards. In addition, he encouraged them to find friends with similar standards, regardless of their specific religious faith. Having friends with similar standards provides protection as they help each other resist the temptations of the world and encourage each other to improve and grow.
The guidelines President Monson offered here come from a pamphlet called For the Strength of Youth, written to guide teenagers safely through their teenage years. It gives sensible advice to everyday issued faced by teens in the areas of morality, family life, friendship, and education.
Thomas Monson also advised teens to dress appropriately. Appropriate dress, he explained, shows respect for God and for ourselves. Mormons hold their members to a strict dress code, a code that applies equally to men and to women. Although they may wear ordinary and fashionable clothes, the clothes are to be modest and not be extreme.
The way you dress sends messages about yourself to others and often influences the way you and others act. Dress in such a way as to bring out the best in yourself and those around you. Avoid extremes in clothing and appearance, including tattoos and piercings.”
Honesty is another part of preparation for adulthood addressed by Thomas Monson. He told a story of a classmate in a class in business law President Monson took as a college student. This classmate never came to class prepared and was unable to participate in class discussions. However, when it came time for tests, he scored extremely well. His unique method involved putting glycerin on his toes and wearing sandals to class, even in the midst of winter. He had trained his toes to turn pages, and since his textbooks were placed on the floor, he was able to move through the chapters and find the answers. (Imagine if he’d spent that training time studying instead.) However, he soon learned that cheating eventually did not pay because when he showed up for the cumulative exam, the teacher unexpectedly announced the test would be given orally and the student failed. This student really only cheated himself. President Monson explained how a worthy young man will live.
He is honest with others. He is honest with himself. He is honest with God. He is honest by habit and as a matter of course. When a difficult decision must be made, he never asks himself, “What will others think?” but rather, “What will I think of myself?”
President Monson spent considerable time discussing the 13th Article of Faith. Early in Mormon history, Joseph Smith was asked what Mormons believe. He outlined thirteen basic beliefs which became known as the Articles of Faith. The last one reads:
We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.
Many different factors go into living this principle. In order to live it, a person must keep his mind and body pure. Without that purity, he cannot have the spirit to guide him—his spiritual senses dull and are less receptive to spiritual promptings. For this reason, the Mormon prophet advised teens to avoid drugs, alcohol, and other things that would harm their bodies and minds. He instructed them to avoid media that is demeaning to their spirits, to have the courage to walk out of a movie theater or get rid of a CD or book that did not meet their standards.
He advised them to stay morally pure, refraining from inappropriate physical relationships. Mormon beliefs teach the eternal value of chastity for both men and women. He warned that actions begin with thoughts and so thoughts must be kept pure. This means to avoid pornography and to make sure they are busy doing things that keep them focused on pure goals, including serving others.
The Mormon prophet also reminded them of the sacred gift of repentance. Should a person stray from the things he is taught, he can return to God’s good graces by following the steps of repentance made possible through the atonement of Jesus Christ.
“If any has stumbled in his journey, there is a way back. The process is called repentance. Our Savior died to provide you and me that blessed gift. Though the path is difficult, the promise is real: “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.”
Don’t put your eternal life at risk. Keep the commandments of God. If you have sinned, the sooner you begin to make your way back, the sooner you will find the sweet peace and joy that come with the miracle of forgiveness. Happiness comes from living the way the Lord wants you to live and from service to God and others.”