By ADAM MANGUM
During the Sunday afternoon session of conference, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles asserted that chastity and fidelity are essential to eternal happiness within God’s plan.
“As modern winds of immorality swirl luridly around them, I too am concerned for any of our youth or young adults who may be confused about principles of personal purity,” Elder Holland said.
Elder Holland’s remarks centered on the dangers of sexual sin and why it is so grievous to Heavenly Father. The soul is at stake in sexual sin, he said.
To descibe these dangers, the metaphor of fire is often used in scripture to describe the “potentially hurtful heat.” God applies such a powerful image in scripture to warn his children of these dangers, Elder Holland said.
Elder Holland told the conference audience that sexual intimacy is to be reserved for married couples, and the “complete merger” of these couples is essential to the plan of our Heavenly Father.
“Such a total union, such an unyielding commitment between a man and a woman, can only come with the proximity and permanence afforded in a marriage covenant, with solemn promises and the pledge of all they possess — their very hearts and minds, all their days and all their dreams,” he said.
Elder Holland said that sexual intimacy outside of marriage is just pretending, and that giving into physical desire is short of the “total obligation” God desires.
Not only did Elder Holland emphasize the importance of the marriage covenant in relation to personal purity, he also said this covenant is symbolic of the relationship between an eternal couple and their Heavenly Father. This is an opportunity for God’s children to unite with him spiritually, and certain moments in life give this opportunity of unification.
“These are the moments when we quite literally unite our will with God’s will, our spirit with his spirit, where communion through the veil becomes very real,” he said. Elder Holland became emotional as he described one such moment, of a parent holding a newborn baby in his or her arms.
The procreative powers are a serious matter to Heavenly Father, and God has given strict rules on how these powers should be used, Elder Holland said. He counseled his listeners to give heed to God’s commandments in this area.
One of the reasons that sexual sin is so dangerous is that it damages the soul, Elder Holland said. According to scripture, the soul is the spirit and the body. Sexual sin leads a person to damage his or her soul and desecrates the Atonement of Christ, Elder Holland said. He also warned against the attitude that one can sin now with the intention of repenting later.
“Please don’t be so foolish and so cruel. You cannot with impunity ‘crucify Christ afresh’ … Why? Well, for one reason because of the incalculable suffering in both body and spirit endured by the Savior of the world so that we could flee (from sin). We owe him something for that. Indeed, we owe him everything,” Elder Holland said.
Elder Holland said that these sins can cause great damage but through the Atonement and the powers of repentance anyone who transgresses one of these eternal laws, even though the wounds can be deep and very grave.
“In such serious matters the path of repentance is not easily begun nor painlessly traveled, but the Savior of the world will walk that essential journey with everyone willing to undertake it,” he said.