Reflections on the Priesthood Session

President Eyring conducted the Saturday evening Priesthood session, which offered talks by Elder Andersen, Steven E. Snow, Larry M. Gibson, President Uchtdorf, President Eyring, and President Monson. My notes below are basically summaries of the talks, but include rather loose paraphrases and a bit of commentary, so I have titled the post “Reflections on the Priesthood Session.” It was definitely one of the best priesthood sessions of recent years, and is notable for the rare absence of a major league anti-porn lecture. I would speculate that this reflects a desire to not push any more men away from church activity (I’m sure GAs know the gender gap statistics better than you do) rather than any belief that the problem has gone away.  

Elder Neal L. Andersen of the Twelve focused his talk on the 12 to 25 demographic, who are tasked with preparing the world for the Second Coming by taking the gospel to the world. Missionary service requires sacrifice, like Sid Going, rugby superstar from New Zealand, who as a 19-year-old passed up a spot on the All Blacks (the celebrated national rugby team) to go on an LDS mission to Western Canada in 1961. Happy ending: After his mission he went on to play for the team for 11 years.

Elder Steven E. Snow of the Presidency of the Seventy spoke about hope. Hopes and dreams can anchor the dedication and perseverance required to accomplish great things, like Roger Bannister’s legendary pursuit of the four-minute mile. But many worthy goals are not achieved — hope alone is not enough, but do not despair. Gospel hope (of the faith, hope, and charity variety) is centered in the Atonement and directed towards salvation and returning to live with God in the next life. Nephi speaks of having a perfect brightness of hope. 

Larry M. Gibson, First Counselor in the Young Men General Presidency, started out with a story about wascally wabbits. Keys. Duties. Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall dream dreams.

President Uchtdorf started out with the story of a man who sailed the Mediterranean on a cruise ship but, being on a tight budget, missed all the meals and activities, only learning at the end of the cruise that they were included as part of the package. Moral of the story: don’t live below your privileges. Application: don’t miss out; live up to your priesthood potential. Set your “do it switch” to now rather than later. Toward the end of the talk he waxed poetic about the joy of flying — it made me want to go home and re-read Wind, Sand and Stars. In a way I did not quite follow, he likened the joy of flying to the joy of priesthood service. Ours is a joyful religion.

President Eyring addressed the duties of the priesthood and our powers to perform them. A quorum president should counsel with his counselors and quorum by listening, listening, listening, then deciding. Shared convictions bring quorum unity. Blessed are the quorum peacemakers, who find common ground and helpful contributions where others find discord and disagreement. He told a nice story about a poor Welsh convert who came to America and got his education in his priesthood quorums (this was obviously before correlated manuals) then returned to England as a capable missionary and, in a memorable visit, preached the gospel to a former prime minister of England.

President Monson spoke at length, addressing several issues that have troubled him of late regarding personal worthiness. Quoting D&C 121: the power of the priesthood is dependent on the principles of righteousness. Movies and TV shows filled with innuendo and filth, lyrics in today’s music, profanity, porn, alcohol — all bad stuff. Read the Book of Mormon and get your own testimony; the testimony of others will take you only so far. Attend seminary and institute. You can repent of any problem; see your bishop. Be in the world but not of the world by rejecting false concepts of the world.

You young single guys who aren’t married yet — time to stop having fun hanging with the guys and get serious about finding your eternal companion. In a jarring transition, he then decried the rising incidence of temple divorce (technically, a cancellation of sealing), the granting of which (I am almost certain) requires the approval of the First Presidency. He related a story of how, as a bishop, he got a phone call at 2 a.m. to go mediate the latest in a series of very heated arguments between a man and his wife. (God bless the patient bishops of the Church.) He took them to the temple the next week to witness a temple sealing, which softened their feelings and healed their relationship. Many marriages can and should be saved. Priesthood holders: discipline yourself. Be honest and upright men. The gift of the priesthood is priceless.

10 comments for “Reflections on the Priesthood Session

  1. Dan
    April 2, 2011 at 11:43 pm

    That is interesting, get married as early as you can, but don’t just get divorced…

  2. C.
    April 2, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    I was married young because I was supposed to be selfish for not being married and now that I got divorced, no cancellation of Temple sealing yet now I am a burden on the prophet! Great…love mixed messages in the Church, forget the world!

  3. Thomas Parkin
    April 3, 2011 at 3:05 am

    Well, C.,

    Jesus has seen. I sometimes feel if I didn’t believe that God had witnessed that I couldn’t make it through a single day. So many ironies and so much hurt, caused and taken.

  4. J.
    April 3, 2011 at 3:08 am

    c. nobody forced you to get married-a choice you made & followed through with on your own. and if it wasn’t your own choice, bless your heart for following through. Clearly he wasn’t calling anyone burdensome, just that cancellation of sealings is a sad issue he has to deal with. And if the divorce wasn’t your fault, even more of a reason why you’re not a burden.

    he’s the prophet of the LDS church for heaven sakes, he’s not calling anyone out/blaming/or pointing fingers. Just giving council to those who CHOOSE to hear it and take heed; and who choose not to be offended by the inspiring words. (and also to those who dont look for little things and twist them to be offensive when clearly thats not what he was meaning)

  5. Ben S
    April 3, 2011 at 7:54 am

    Nice to hear some sports stories that don’t involve American-centric games.

  6. April 3, 2011 at 8:03 am

    It is worth noting that just before he said that MANY troubled marriages can and should be saved, President Monson explicity stated that NOT ALL marriages could be saved and that some shouldn’t be. He was saying that sometimes divorce is called for. I didn’t get his particular choice of words on that point in my notes — check the transcript for his exact statement.

  7. April 3, 2011 at 9:14 am

    From the opposite viewpoint of C., Jesus in the New Testament proclaims in Matthew 5:19 about divorce:

    “3¶The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?

    4And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,

    5And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?

    6Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

    7They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?

    8He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.

    9And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.”

    What the divorce customs might have been in Jesus’ day I am not sure. However easy and no fault divorce, no matter how young you might be when it is done, is in direct violation of the Scriptures. In fact, one of the Apostles seems to have noticed the difficulty behind this proclamation and questions if anyone should get married. The response of Jesus as I interpret it (unlike Catholicism) is that if you feel unable to remain married once joined, then maybe you shouldn’t get married to begin with.

  8. Richard
    April 3, 2011 at 9:51 am

    President Monson married at age 21 and he didn’t serve a mission!

  9. Steve
    April 3, 2011 at 10:36 am

    I’m intrigued by Elder Andersen’s use of Sid Going, in particular that he was a highly successful athlete who served a mission.

    I wonder if one purpose was to draw a contrast with the BYU athletes who have skipped missions: Jimmer, Ainge, Young, etc.

    I was also struck by his noting that Going didn’t play on Sunday. Another contrast with prominent LDS athletes.

  10. Joachim
    April 12, 2011 at 8:52 am

    Regarding President Uchtdorf’s talk, the point about the joy of flying was that he observed that some veteran pilots–even after 20+ years of service–still experienced it on every flight, while others were just going through the motions, missing out on the awe and wonder of it all, and on feeling gratitude for the opportunity.

Comments are closed.