Young Women general president
"Give me a young woman who is virtuous and who has maintained her personal purity, who will not settle for anything less than a temple marriage, and I will give you a young woman who will perform miracles for the Lord now and throughout eternity." — President Ezra Taft Benson
Following a recent talk on the Christlike attribute of virtue to a mixed audience of youth, young adults and families, a young woman approached me afterwards and said, "Sister Dalton, you talk of virtue, but don't you realize that being virtuous in not possible or realistic in today's world?" As I looked into her eyes I saw her sincerity and also her pain.
In response to her question, I asked another: "Do you believe in Jesus Christ?"
When she responded that she did, I shared my testimony that because of Him, it is possible to be virtuous and if one has not been virtuous, because of Him it is possible to "return to virtue."
I explained that the Savior has shown us the way by setting a perfect example for us to follow. And He has given each of us the invitation to follow His example and to become like Him. He came to the earth to make it possible for each one of us to return to live with God again. When we make a mistake it is possible to repent because of His infinite Atonement. And while repentance is not easy, it is possible because of Him.
I suggested that she begin reading the Book of Mormon and note what the Redeemer and those who followed Him did to live virtuous lives. I asked her to liken the scriptures to her life and circumstances. I told her that I felt that as we learn of Him and incorporate His attributes into our lives, we can be an influence for good in the world. I then shared with her that I believe that one virtuous young woman or young man, led by the Spirit, can change the world.
What I shared with that young woman is true! Like the water lily that grows in impure water, we can rise above the sordid and base by controlling our thoughts and our actions.
Virtue begins in the heart and in the mind. It is nurtured in the home. Virtue is chastity and sexual purity. Virtue is obtained by developing patterns of thought and action based on high moral standards. It is a daily pursuit because patterns are formed as we do things daily that strengthen our resolve. When this young woman asked how it was possible to be virtuous in a polluted world, I told her to develop a pattern of strict training much like an athlete might do. This training, however, would be spiritual in nature and would begin with daily prayers and daily scripture reading.
I promised her that these daily habits would develop spiritual strength and strengthen her resolve to remain virtuous. When these patterns are developed, we become more obedient, possess more integrity, and realize our divine nature and individual worth. Strict training helps us develop moral discipline and moral discipline helps make individuals, families and society strong.
The virtue value experience in Personal Progress helps anyone who participates and completes these experiences to understand what virtue means, how being virtuous qualifies a person for the constant companionship and guidance of the Holy Ghost, what to do to prepare to be worthy to enter the temple, and how to repent and return to virtue.
In the Young Women theme it states: "We believe that as we come to accept and act on these values, we will be prepared to strengthen home and family, make and keep sacred covenants, and receive the ordinances of the temple and enjoy the blessings of exaltation." Those powerful words are not just words. They can become a reality!
In a media-saturated world, we sometimes give too much heed to the outward appearances and the outward signs of happiness. By so doing, we think we will be happy and confident. But to follow the Savior's example of virtue is happiness. It is freedom, it is strength and it is power. And the only sure confidence comes when we let virtue, meaning chastity and sexual purity, garnish our thoughts unceasingly.
Then we are promised the guidance and constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. With this companionship and guidance we can go forward with strength and confidence and power derived from the Source of all power. We become confident and have the assurance that we are doing the right thing. Our personal virtue enables us to receive the ordinances and make the covenants in the temple. In so doing, we are "endowed with power from on high." This strength, power, and confidence are something the world does not yet comprehend.
Joseph Smith said: "Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God."
Joseph Smith was right! Virtuous living is happy living.
President Thomas S. Monson said to all young women: "How glorious and near to the angels is youth that is clean; this youth has joy unspeakable here and eternal happiness hereafter."
And so, my response to the question of this beautiful young woman is a resounding "YES!" It is possible to be virtuous in today's world! And when [individuals] "walk in the paths of virtue," they are embarking on a journey that truly will not only lead to happiness but will change the world. Virtue will change individuals. Virtue will change families. Virtue will change society.