There are present in this priesthood session only brethren. I approach
a subject that could not appropriately be discussed if there were
others present. I have prayed fervently for inspiration as I speak
to young men of Aaronic Priesthood age: to young men only.
I wish to discuss a subject that fathers should discuss with their
sons. Because some young men do not have fathers and because some
fathers (and some bishops) do not know how to proceed, I approach
a very personal subject, one that is important to every young man.
You have been given a mortal body with which to experience earth
life. Through it you will be tested. Your body is the instrument
of your mind and the foundation of your character. It has within
it powers which, if properly used, will contribute greatly to your
exaltation. If you use this gift worthily, it will serve your throughout
Never be ashamed of your body. No two are just alike. Some young
men worry because they think their body is not well proportioned.
They think they are too short or too tall or too stout or too thin
or too something else. Physical proportions need have little to
do with success, particularly spiritual success. Be grateful for
Strive to keep it healthy through proper nourishment, rest, and
exercise. Develop your body to full and useful capacity. Develop
many stamina and control. Take nothing into your body that would
harm it. Do not use tobacco, alcohol, drugs, or any other harmful
A young man should learn to rule his body. Like his temper, he
should keep it always under complete control. That sometimes is
not easy to do.
Within your body you have the power of creation. You will one
day find a mate and desire greatly to express fully your love with
her. The righteous expression of this physical love in marriage
is approved of the Lord. She then may conceive and give birth to
a boy or a girl, a baby of whom you will be the father.
This is a very sacred power. The Lord has commanded that you use
it only with one to whom you are legally and lawfully wedded. He
has decreed serious penalties indeed for the misuse of it.
This power beings early in life, with some when you are hardly
in your teens. This has a purpose, for with this power come the
attributes of manhood. You notice changes in your stature and in
your voice; a beard and other masculine characteristics become part
of your nature.
Your feelings also change. This physical power will influence
you emotionally and spiritually as well. It begins to shape and
fit you to look, and feel, and to be what you need to be as a father.
Ambition, courage, physical and emotional and spiritual strength
become part of you because you are a man. You become very interested
in young women --and want to be with them. This is as it should
This power of creation affects your life several years before
you should express if fully. You must always guard the power with
many wisdom. You must wait until the time of your marriage to use
During that waiting, what do you do with theses desires? My boy,
you are to control them. You are forbidden to use them now in order
that you may use them with worthiness and virtue and fullness of
joy at the proper time in life.
I wish to explain something that will help you understand your
young manhood and help you develop self-control. When this power
begins to form, it might be likened to having a little factory in
your body, one designed to produce the product that can generate
This little factory moves quietly into operation as a normal and
expected pattern of growth and begins to produce the lifegiving
substance. It will do so perhaps as long as you live. It works very
slowly. That is the way it should be. For the most part, unless
you tamper with it, you will hardly be aware that it is working
As you move closer to manhood, this little factory will sometimes
produce an oversupply of this substance. The Lord has provided a
way for that to be released. It will happen without any help or
without any resistance from you. Perhaps, one night you will have
a dream. In the course of it the release valve that controls the
factory will open and release all that is excess.
The factory and automatic release work on their own schedule.
The Lord intended it to be that way. It is to regulate itself. This
will not happen very often. You may go a longer period of time,
and there will be no need for this to occur. When it does, you should
not feel guilty. It is the nature of young manhood and is part of
becoming a man.
There is; however, something you should not do. Sometimes a young
man does not understand. Perhaps he is encouraged by unwise or unworthy
companions to tamper with that factory. He might fondle himself
and open that release valve. This you shouldn't do, for if you do
that, the little factory will speed up. You will then be tempted
again and again to release it. You can quickly be subjected to a
habit, one that is not worthy, one that will leave you feeling depressed
and feeling guilty. Resist that temptation. Do not be guilty of
tampering or playing with this sacred power of creation. Keep it
in reserve for the time when it can be righteously employed.
One of you, perhaps, has not fully understood until now. Perhaps
your father did not talk to you. You may already have been guilty
of tampering with these powers. You may even have developed a habit.
What do you do then?
First, I want you to know this. I you are struggling with this
temptation and perhaps you have not quite been able to resist, the
Lord still loves you. It is not anything so wicked nor is it a transgression
so great that the Lord would reject you because of it, but it can
quickly lead to that kind of transgression. It is not pleasing to
the Lord, nor is it pleasing to you. It does not make you feel worthy
There are ways to conquer such a habit. First of all, you must
leave that factory alone long enough for it to slow down. Resisting
is not easy. It will take weeks, even months. But you can get the
little factory slowed back to where it should be.
I have other suggestions. The power to prevent such habits or
to break them rests in your mind, not in your body. Don't let that
physical part of you take charge. Stay in control. Condition your
body to do the will of your mid. To do this you must keep your mind
on worthy thoughts. Divert your thoughts from things that lead your
into mischief. Vigorous physical exercise helps young men in many
ways. You are most vulnerable when you are idle or when you are
discouraged. This is the time to be on guard.
I know a way to keep your thoughts worthy. It has helped me, and
I explained it to on one occasion in a general conference talk.
Let me repeat it for you.
Probably the greatest challenge to people of any age, particularly
young people, and the most difficult thing you will face in mortal
life is to learn to control your thoughts. As a man "thinketh
in his heart, so is he." (Proverbs 23:7.) One who can control
his thoughts has conquered himself.
When I was about ten years old, we lived in a home surrounded
by an orchard. There never seemed to be enough water for the trees.
The ditches, always fresh-plowed in the spring, would soon be filled
with weeds. One day, in charge of the irrigating turn, I found myself
in trouble. As the water moved down the rows choked with weeds,
it would flood in ever direction. I raced through the puddles trying
to build up the band. As soon as I had one break patched up, there
would be another.
A neighbor came through the orchard. He watched for a moment and
then with a few vigorous strokes of the shovel he cleared the ditch
bottom and allowed the water to stay in its course, you'll have
to make a place for it to go," he said.
I have come to know that thoughts, like water, will stay on course
if we make a place for them to go. Otherwise, our thoughts follow
the course of least resistance, always seeking the lower levels.
I had been told a hundred times or more as I grew up, that thoughts
must be controlled, but no one told me how. I want to tell you young
people about one way you can learn to control your thoughts, and
it has to do with music.
The mid is like a stage. Except when we are asleep, the curtain
is always up. There is always some act being performed on that stage.
It may be a comedy, a tragedy, interesting or dull, good or bad;
but always there is some act playing on the stage of the mind.
Have you noticed that without any real intent on your part, in
the middle of almost any performance, a shady little thought may
creep in from the wings and attract your attention? These delinquent
thoughts will try to upstage everybody. If you permit them to go
on, all thoughts of any virtue will leave the stage. You will be
left, because you consented to it. to the influence of unrighteous
thoughts. If you yield to them, they will enact for you on the stage
of your mind anything to the limits of your toleration. They may
enact a theme of bitterness, jealousy, or hatred. It may be vulgar,
immoral, even depraved. When they have the stage, if you let them,
they will devise the most clever persuasion to hold your attention.
They can make it interesting all right, even convince you that it
is innocent --for they are but thoughts.
What you need to do at a time like that, when the stage of your
mind is commandeered by the imps of unclean thinking, whether they
be gray ones that seem almost clean or the filthy ones which leave
no room for doubt? If you can control you thoughts, you can overcome
habits, even degrading personal habits. If you can learn to master
them, you will have a happy life.
This is what I would teach you. Choose from among the sacred music
of the Church a favorite hymn, one with words that are uplifting
and music that is reverent, one that makes you feel something akin
to inspiration. Go over it in your mid carefully. Memorize it. Even
though you have had no musical training, you can think through a
Now, use this hymn as the place for your thoughts to go. Make
it your emergency channel. Whenever you find theses shady actors
have slipped from the sidelines of your thinking onto the stage
of your mid, put on this record, as it were. As the music begins
and the words form in your thoughts, the unworthy ones will slip
shamefully away from your mid. Because it is uplifting and clean,
the baser thoughts will disappear. For while virtue, by choice,
will not associate with filth, evil cannot tolerate the presence
In due time you will find yourself, on occasion, humming the music
inwardly. As you retrace your thoughts, you discover some influence
from the world about you encouraged an unworthy thought to move
on stage in your mind, and the music almost automatically began.
Once you learn to clear the stage of your mind of unworthy thoughts,
keep it busy with learning worthwhile things. Change your environment
so that you have things about you that will inspire good and uplifting
thoughts. Keep busy with things that are righteous.
Another thing will help both to prevent and to overcome such habits.
At times of special temptation skip a meal or two. We call that
fasting, you know. It has a powerful effect upon you physically.
It diverts some of that physical energy to more ordinary needs.
It tapers desire and reduces the temptation. Fasting will help you
greatly. In the scriptures, fasting and prayer are generally mentioned
together. Prayer is a powerful instrument to bless young men. If
a missionary, for instance, indulges in these unworthy practices,
the Spirit of the Lord will leave him. When he is prayerful and
will fast, the Spirit of the Lord sustains him. He soon develops
a manly restraint and worthiness. manly restraint and worthiness.
Resist those temptations. Do not tamper with your body. If you
have already, cease to do it --now. Put it away and overcome it.
The signal of worthy manhood is self-control.
This power is ordained for the begetting of life and as a binding
tie in the marriage covenant. It is not to be misused. It is not
to be use prematurely. It is to be known between husband and wife
and in no other way. I you misuse it, you will be sorry.
Now a warning! I am hesitant to even mention it, for it is not
pleasant. It must be labeled as major transgression. But I will
speak plainly. There are some circumstances in which young men may
be tempted to handle one another, to have contact with one another
physically in unusual ways. Latter-day Saint young men are not to
Sometimes this begins in a moment of idle foolishness, when boys
are just playing around. But it is not foolishness. It is remarkably
dangerous. Such practices, however tempting, are perversion. When
a young man is finding his way into manhood, such experiences can
misdirect his normal desires and pervert him not only physically
but emotionally and spiritually as well.
It was intended that we use this power only with our partner in
marriage. I repeat, very plainly, physical mischief with another
man is forbidden. It is forbidden by the Lord.
There are some men who entice young meant to join them in these
immoral acts. If you are ever approached to participate in anything
like that, it is time to vigorously resist.
While I was in a mission on one occasion, a missionary said he
had something to confess. I was very worried because he just could
not get himself to tell me what he had done.
After patient encouragement he finally blurted out, "I hit
"Oh, is that all," I said in great relief.
"But I floored him," he said.
After learning a little more, my response was "Well, thanks.
Somebody had to do it, and it wouldn't be well for a General Authority
to solve the problem that way"
I am not recommending that course to you, but I am not omitting
it. You must protect yourself.
There is a falsehood that some are born with an attraction to
their own kind, with nothing they can do about it. They are just
"that way" and can only yield to those desires. That is
a malicious and destructive lie. While it is a convincing idea to
some, it is of the devil. No one is locked into that kind of life.
From our premortal life we were directed into a physical body. There
is no mismatching of bodies and spirits. Boys are to become men
--masculine, manly men --ultimately to become husbands and fathers.
No one is predestined to a perverted use of these powers.
Even those who have been drawn into wicked practices and are bound
by almost unyielding habits can escape. If one of you seems trapped
in that, escape. Go to your father or bishop, please. Your parents,
your bishop, the servants of the Lord, the angels of heaven and
the Lord himself will help redeem your from it.
Young Latter-day Saint men, do not tamper with these powers, neither
with yourself alone nor with one of your own kind. Never let anyone
handle you or touch those very personal parts of your body which
are an essential link in the ongoing of creation.
Many on the world would, I'm sure, be amused by this counsel.
Let them be amused. They live by another standard, a lower one.
We live by the Lord's standard and continue to teach it.
It is normal and proper for a young man to become interested in
young women, to begin to date, eventually to pair up. We encourage
that, but be careful. Keep your relationships with young women pure
and chaste. Reserve those life-giving powers for marriage.
Then you can enter into the new and everlasting covenant. You
and your sweetheart will be sealed together for time and for all
eternity. These sacred life-giving powers will then be released
for your use. They will become a binding tie in your marriage. Through
them you will become a father.
But for now, you prepare and follow the instruction in the scripture:
"Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord."(D&C
God bless you, our young brethren, as you strive to be clean.
In doing so, you will please the Lord and his prophet, of whom I
bear witness, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
From Cybersaints: An Opinionated Internet Guide for Mormons