Tag Archives: marriage

Elizabeth Smart is my hero

I hope that didn’t sound sarcastic, because I mean it. Let me explain why…

When the 14-year-old Mormon Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped in 2002, it got a fair amount of attention in my part of the world. I live in Canada near Buffalo, and so a lot of our radio and TV stations come from “over the river”. The Canadian media also reported on things a fair bit.

I only had 1 child at the time (a baby) and I could only imagine what her parents must have been going through. When she was found, it seemed like a miracle.

I wondered how “messed up” this young woman would be. She had to try to get back to a normal life after almost daily rapes. Her life was threatened and she was forcibly removed from her home. Could she grow up and be “normal”?

I have no idea how difficult it was, but it was great to hear that she was going on a mission (to France). Then later came word that she was getting married (I think in the Hawaii Temple).

Now she has written a book, and apparently she tells it all. I read somewhere that she figured there would be no point in writing a book if she only shared half the story.

So after all of that, I thought, “Good for her! What a nice person.” Then earlier this week she was interviewed by Terry Gross on Fresh Air. That is when she truly became my hero. She was so calm; so well-spoken; a person who didn’t seem to be full of hate or bitterness; a person who cherished her family; a person who knows that God loves her. She showed her faith, and represented her family and the Church well.

People like Elizabeth are heroes. Movie stars, athletes and pop stars generally aren’t. I’ve been lucky enough in my life to know a couple of people who have overcome huge challenges and I marvel at how they managed. Faith played a large part. The support of loved ones (family, friends, and community) helped.

If these people can survive what they have gone through, and even flourish afterwards, then it inspires me to keep slogging through my difficulties.

Thank you Elizabeth and others for being such an example to us all.

183rd Semiannual General Conference – Sunday Morning General Session

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I think that General Conference Sunday is one of the my favourite Sundays of the year. I love sleeping in a bit, having a relaxing breakfast, and then going for a walk with the family. The whole morning is just so peaceful!

Yesterday was a good day. President Uchtdorf gave two great talks, Elder Holland gave a great talk, and President Monson gave a talk on Home Teaching last night that I’m sure will be quoted for years.

We’re watching Music and the Spoken Word right now, and the Sunday Morning General Session is almost ready to begin.


The Mormon Tabernacle Choir started the session by singing Sweet Is the Work

President Dieter F Uchtdorf conducted

The choir sang Rejoice, the Lord Is King!

Sister Cheryl A Esplin offered the invocation

The choir sang Master, the Tempest Is Raging ** Fantastic! **

President Henry B Eyring

  • The first of his grandchildren will be getting married
  • There is one overarching commandment that will lead to the heart of a happy family life… love the Lord
  • Service in the Church brings the Spirit
  • Pray each morning for the Spirit
  • Heavenly Father has perfect foresight
  • There is joy gauranteed to the faithful

Elder Dallin H Oaks

  • Reviewed some of the 10 commandments
  • Birth rates are low around the world
  • This threatens the future of cultures and nations
  • Marriage rates are dropping
  • The median age for marriage is 26 for women and almost 29 for men
  • The eternal standard is that sexual relations occur only between a man and a woman who are married

Sister Bonnie L Oscarson

  • You need to have a firm foundation
  • Now is the time to gain the conviction that the Church is true
  • True conversion is more than a knowledge of principles
  • Being truly converted means acting on what we believe
  • Conversion comes as we live pure and virtuous lives

The choir and congregation sang Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel

Elder Richard J Maynes

  • The challenges we face if successfully endured will be for our good
  • Our ability to endure is in proportion to our testimony
  • We need to work on our spiritual stamina every day

Elder Richard G Scott

  • We receive personal strength from the atonement
  • Spoke about the people of Ammon who wanted to break their covenants in order to defend the people. Helaman wouldn’t let them. One of the reasons was that the people had previously experienced the problems with war, and they needed to stay away so they weren’t tempted again
  • We need to build fortifications around the weak places
  • Satan will try to use memories of past sin to get us to sin again

The choir sang O Divine Redeemer ** love this! **

President Thomas S Monson

  • Spoke of his wife and how much he misses her
  • No one has ever lived free from sorrow
  • When the pathway of life takes a cruel turn, we are tempted to say “why me?”
  • We need to persevere and endure

The choir sang We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet

Elder Francisco J Viñas offered the benediction


Read the recaps and other notes from the 183rd Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

Our Youth/Young Single Adults and the sexualized world we live in

Over the last 2 1/2 years I’ve worked with both the Young Single Adults in my stake and the YM in my ward. With my new calling, I have responsibility over Young Single Adults. Over this time, I’ve had plenty of opportunity to ponder on  what can be done to help the 12-30 age groups. On the one hand, that is a huge range, and needs obviously vary depending on the exact age of a person. On the other hand, there is indeed at least one common thing that they all have in common. There is great pressure to accept and experience sexual-related things.

I know that there has been temptation from the beginning. Whenever/wherever there is righteousness, there is going to be opposition. But it seems that one of the great vices of this generation is pornography, and the acceptance of almost any kind of sexual behaviour. I’ve read a couple of articles recently that really made me think. I don’t want to comment too much, but here are the articles along with some selected quotes:

Globe and Mail – Why won’t guys grow up? Sexual economics
Published Saturday, November 10, 2012

In economic terms, our unequal desire for sex means that, in the sexual marketplace, men are the buyers and women are the sellers. Until recently, the price was steep, up to and including a wedding ring and a promise of lifetime commitment. In my parents’ generation, the only way for a 22-year-old guy to have a lot of sex was to get married. Today, plenty of 22-year-olds can get all the sex they want for the cost of a pack of condoms…

The changes in gender politics since the 1960s have been good for both sexes. Women got something they really wanted (access to careers and money) and men got something they really wanted (more sex). But this bargain is having some unexpected consequences. Young men are in no hurry to get married. Why should they be? As my dear old dad used to say when I waltzed out the door in my miniskirt, “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?” I hated it when he said that. But he’d grasped the central principle of sexual economics…

Dr. Baumeister’s argument is that “men will do whatever is required in order to obtain sex” – and that, historically, society has made them do quite a lot. To qualify as good marriage material, a young man used to have to show he could work hard, compete successfully, commit to family life, be a good provider and gain respect in the community. “The fact that men became useful members of society as a result of their efforts to obtain sex is not trivial,” he says.

But now, young men don’t have to do those things. Sex is readily available. According to Mark Regnerus, another expert on sexual economics, 30 per cent of young men’s sexual relationships today involve no romance at all – no hearts, no flowers, not even “Hey, what’s your name again?”

Toronto Star – Is pornography changing how teens view sex?
Published Monday, Aprril 22, 2013

“You have to ask yourself, what 15-year-old boy thinks there is a girl who wants to have sex with four boys and to what extent he thinks this is expected or normal? And you have to ask, where do they get these ideas from?” said Peter Jaffe, a professor at the Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children at Western University. “It’s not from sex education they are getting in school.”

One hypothesis: exposure to pornography. At no other time has pornography — including violent pornography — been so easily accessible for children of all ages. In one U.S. survey, 70 per cent of 15- to 17-year-olds said they had watched porn, while a Canadian study found boys as young as 10 have experienced pornography. By the time they reached 20, the same study found it was almost impossible to find men who hadn’t viewed X-rated material.

Pornography can’t be solely blamed for what appears to be an increase in rape or sexual violence. However, academics, researchers and scientists say there is little doubt that the use of porn among teenagers is having a profound impact on their notions of normal sexual behaviour, their views on women and their ability to even identify what constitutes sexual violence…

Brain scans have also found the teenage brain is dominated by areas associated with pleasure and reward, and emotional response, perhaps explaining the emotional roller-coaster years associated with puberty.

This volatile situation taking place within the teenage brain may make it more susceptible to the lure and long-term effects of pornography, scientists believe…

As for the other side effects of pornography on society, most experts say we will have to wait and see.
“We are running a massive experiment on an entire generation of people,” Jensen said. “We are exposing them to incredible levels of this hypersexualized media with no idea of the effect. Some of what we are seeing now (with these gang-rape cases) is hinting at this.”

I know there are lots of angles from which  this can be looked at, but it seems to me that we have our impressionable youth and young adults growing up in an “anything goes” society. There is evidence that this is leading to problems, but society isn’t doing anything about it. Also, the move to gender equality (which certainly seems to be a good thing in most situations), is possibly leading to less of a need for marriage and monogamy.

I know this is a simplistic summary, but it is the way I see it. It is indeed a scary world out there! The need for parents and leaders to stay close to their children and young adults is greater than it has ever been. I think about this often and pray daily that my children will be protected from these influences.

182nd Semiannual General Conference – Saturday Afternoon General Session

I’m at home for the afternoon session. My kids are bundled up in their blankets (as is my wife) and we will watch at least the first half hour or hour together. The kids will probably then go off and play while my wife and I watch the rest. We also have a friend from Church (one of my institute students) who came to see it with us.


President Dieter F Uchtdorf conducted

The choir sang Arise, O Glorious Zion

Elder Gerrit W. Gong offered the invocation

The choir sang I Am a Child of God

President Henry B Eyring did the sustainings

Elder L Tom Perry

  • turned 90-years-old this summer
  • some values today are slipping and need to be defended
  • read a letter he wrote to his mother when he was in WWII
  • lessons taught at home are increasingly important
  • the adversary is attacking commitments to family life
  • parents must resolve that teaching in the home is the most sacred responsibility
  • strengthen our family cultures in these ways:
    1. parents can pray in earnest that love, understand guide their children
    2. hold Family Home Evening, scripture study, and eat together
    3. fully avail themselves of the Church support network  (talk to teachers, leaders, presidencies) to provide essential understanding
    4. share testimonies with their children and commit them to keep the commandments of God
    5. organize our families based on clear simple family rules and expectations, traditions, rituals, and economics
  • teach at the cradle-side

Elder M Russell Ballard

  • said that Elder Perry must be the youngest 90-year-old in the Church
  • spoke about how his father had bees to help pollinate peach trees
  • to produce 1 lb of honey, the average hive of 20,000-60,000 bees must collectively visit millions of flowers and travel the equivalent of 2x around the world
  • a single bees contribution is a mere 1/12 of 1 teaspoon
  • although seemingly insignificant, each bees contribution is vital to the life of a hive
  • they depend on each other
  • the beehive has long been a symbol in our Church
  • great things are brought about and burdens are lightened by the action of many hands
  • our troubled world needs the love of Christ
  • our minds and our hearts need to be anxiously engaged throughout the week
  • we don’t need religious fanaticism; we need to assimilate the doctrines deep within our hearts
  • in your morning prayer each new day ask Heavenly Father to recognize opportunities to serve

Elder Larry Echo Hawk

  • told a story about his marine sergeant; the sergeant was ridiculing everyone, but when he saw his Book of Mormon, he left him alone
  • shared his feelings about the  Book of Mormon; he felt it was a history of his people
  • the Book of Mormon is sacred scripture

The choir and congregation sang Let Us All Press On

Elder Robert C Gay

  • would you sell your soul for a nickel?
  • does one drink really matter?
  • Satan tries to get us to justify what we’ve done
  • we are to give up all of our sins, big or small
  • we must always hearken to the voice of the Spirit within us, wherever it takes us

Elder Scott D Whiting

  • told a story about the work on the Hawaii temple
  • the contractor had to fix some things that were very minor because they were not up to temple standards
  • the temples are built for our use, but there should be no doubt as to whose house it is
  • we are each made of the finest materials, however our own temple can come in need of renovation and repair

Elder Neil L Andersen

  • told story about the Marriott family losing their daughter
  • the gift of faith is a priceless spiritual endowment
  • our faith is protected in the Church (as we participate in the various programs/ordinances/meetings)
  • when you tested, stay within the security of the household of God
  • no trial is so large we can’t overcome it together
  • God’s ways are higher than our ways

Elder Dallin H Oaks

  • all children are children of God
  • worldwide there are millions of children victimized by adults
  • one of the most serious abuses of children is to deny them of birth
  • low birthrates is not just a religious issue; cultures and nations will be hollowed out and disappear
  • worldwide there are 40 million abortions per year
  • making a child feel worthless or unloved can hurt them for life
  • marriage isn’t just about the adults; the children are impacted for good or bad
  • divorcing parents teach a negative lesson
  • the family structure that produces the best outcome is two biological parents who remain married
  • 41% of all births in the US were to unwed mothers
  • for children, the stability of marriage matters

The choir sang On This Day of Joy and Gladness

Elder José L Alonso offered the benediction


Read the recaps and other notes from the 182nd Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

What’s Love Got to Do With It

A couple of months ago the Toronto Star report on a recent study on relationships, love, and marriage. The study “tracked nearly 2,500 couples – married or living together – from 2001 to 2007 to identify factors associated with those who remained together, compared with those who divorced or separated.” Here are a few of the things I found interesting:

  • About 16 per cent of people whose parents separated or divorced experienced their own marital separation, compared to 10 per cent for those whose parents stayed together.
    My comment: This seems pretty obvious. If you are brought up in an environment, it will affect you in some way. I actually would have thought that the effect would have been greater.
  • Partners who are on their second or third marriage are 90 per cent more likely to separate than those in their first marriage.
    D’uh! This is very obvious.
  • Couples in which the man is nine or more years older than his wife are twice as likely to get divorced, as are men who get married before they turn 25.
    I get the big age difference being a problem, but the early marriage point was interesting.

I don’t know if it is true of all faiths, but certainly Mormons seem to get married young (compared to society). My wife and I were both married when we were 21. There are probably 3 other couples in the ward right now who are married and under 25. I’m sure there are many other couples who got married before 25. I’d be curious what other factors influence that age.

  • Did the man live outside the home before getting married?
  • Does religion play a role?
  • What about the age of the woman?
  • How does marriage counseling affect the likelihood for divorce?
  • What about an even younger age. If you are twice as likely to get divorced if the man who is under 25, what about men who are under 20?

When I counsel with young couples, I rarely think of their actual age. It is usually more about emotional and spiritual maturity. I haven’t counseled anyone NOT to get married, but I do not hesitate to share with them some of the struggles that they will face, and try to help them prepare for it.

Preserving the Divine Institution of Marriage

In conjunction with a broadcast to California last night (about Proposition 8), the Church has started a new official web site called Preserving the Divine Institution of Marriage.

As you can tell, it is currently aimed at California residents. Once that vote is done, I would assume the Church would keep the site and make it more generic.

I have added this to the Official web sites of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints page…