Elder Paul B. Pieper: The 'realities of mortality'
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Mortality is one of the greatest gifts Heavenly Father has given His children, Elder Paul B. Pieper of the Seventy said during a campus devotional at BYU-Idaho on Feb. 19.
"Each person is placed on the earth in unique settings and circumstances," he said "Despite our uniqueness, the Lord has revealed truths about the purposes of this mortal life that apply to all of us."
Elder Pieper called these truths "realities of mortality" and shared three specific realities that are necessary for all to fulfill the purposes for which they came to earth.
"If we are to gain the fullest blessings and benefits from this mortal experience, we must understand these realities," he said. "Failure to understand and focus on them will result in our time on earth being misspent, underutilized and perhaps utterly wasted."
He related a parable about a young woman who worked hard to qualify and prepare for college, but soon after enrolling and paying tuition got distracted with convenient, interesting and comfortable things. She lost sight of her education and after four years, was shocked to learn she hadn't done the necessary steps to graduate.
"If we are to accomplish our purposes here on earth, it is not enough that we were valiant and faithful in our pre-earth life," he said. "It is not enough that we have arrived on earth, have a mortal body and will live here for a lifetime. To make our time here meaningful, we must live and experience the God-ordained purposes of mortality — fully, completely and whole-heartedly — rather than becoming distracted by things that are interesting, comfortable and convenient."
Elder Pieper shared three "realities" or experiences in mortality that will lead individuals to "mortal diplomas."
"Learning to work — training and disciplining our minds, bodies and spirits to exert, produce, achieve and progress — that's the very foundation reality of every mortal life," he said. "It is the means by which we become like God and accomplish His purposes on the earth."
One of the principle reasons men need to work is to provide for their families, Elder Pieper said. The word "provider" is one of the three roles given specifically to men mentioned in the "The Family: a Proclamation to the World."
"A man who knows how to work and provide for himself has the confidence that he can marry and provide for a wife and children," he said. To work brings contentment and a sense of self-worth.
"Satan is ever alert to destroy the purposes of God and to subvert our mortal experience," he said. "To counter the emphasis the Father places on work, the adversary has convinced many in our day that a primary goal in life is to avoid work. In today's societies, many people concentrate on finding jobs that pay well but require little effort, investments or schemes that pay high returns without any work, and programs that pay for what we want at no cost to us. Some seek to avoid work by borrowing and living on money they never intend to repay. They are unwilling to work, budget and save before they spend."
If individuals fail to learn to work while in mortality, they will fail to achieve their full potential and happiness in this life, and will not develop the qualities and attributes required for eternal life.
Eternal marriage is the second fundamental purpose or reality of mortality, he said.
"Eternal marriage and all that it is designed to help us learn and experience are the keys to obtaining all of the blessings that the Father wants to give His children," he said. "Only a family — a man and a woman who live worthy to enter the house of the Lord and are sealed to each other — can be eligible. The full blessings of the priesthood are received together, as husband and wife, or not at all."
Elder Pieper said that Satan is twisting and distorting the realities of mortality. He is working overtime to destroy the very meaning and importance of marriage in the minds of men and women.
"To some, he sells the lie that marriage is not necessary, that love is enough," he said. "To others, he attempts to use legalized marriage to legitimize immoral relationships. To those diminishing few who believe in marriage, he lowers its priority in relation to education and financial security. He engenders fear of the sacrifices and difficulties associated with marriage. Frozen by fear, many sit still as objects being acted upon, rather than moving forward to act in faith."
Successful marriages are built upon faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work and wholesome recreational activities, he said.
"Begin today to build those attributes into your personal life," Elder Pieper counseled. "As you do, the Lord will open the way for you to receive the fullness of the blessings He has prepared for His children — the new and everlasting covenant of marriage."
"Marriage and children go together," he said. "The procreative powers that make mortal birth possible are to be used only between a man and a woman, legally and lawfully wedded."
Elder Pieper said that in today's world many voices are minimizing the importance of having children. He invited his wife, Sister Melissa Pieper, and his mother, Sister Norma Pieper, to share their testimonies of the wonderful institution of marriage and raising children.
"Now my dear young sisters and brothers, together with agency, mortality is one of the greatest gifts our Father has given us," he said. "He loves us and wants us to use this gift fully and completely. Only by embracing and focusing on these realities can we fulfill the purposes for which we came to earth."
Marianne Holman is a reporter for the LDS Church News in Salt Lake City, Utah.