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Go forward with optimism, faith

Elder Oaks admonishes young adults to 'push back against the world'

POCATELLO, Idaho — Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve addressed young adults Nov. 4 during a CES Fireside broadcast originating from the Pocatello Idaho Institute of Religion, adjacent to the Idaho State University campus.

Elder Oaks opened his remarks by revisiting some points he made in his last CES Fireside Broadcast address in which he said that "dating has nearly disappeared from...among young adults" and "has been replaced by something called 'hanging out"' ("The Dedication of a Lifetime," CES Broadcast, May 1, 2005).

He once again admonished men to gather their courage and "look for someone to pair off with," saying that men have the initiative and should "get on with it." In addition, women should encourage simple, inexpensive and frequent dates and help subside the stigma that one date automatically implies a continuing commitment.

After briefly revisiting the topic of his earlier CES Fireside address, Elder Oaks encouraged young adults to learn to "push back against the world" and its evil influences. To do this effectively, he advised his audience "to observe the Sabbath day in an appropriate, positive way."

"We cannot change the evil influences that inevitably press upon us and our families, but we can increase our power to deal with them," he said.

Elder Oaks clarified that "pushing back" does not promote a revolution but simply means "that within the limits of our own resources of time and influences we should take a position, make it known, and attempt to persuade others of its merit, at least for us."

Elder Oaks highlighted an example in his life when he had to "push back against the system." As a sergeant in the Utah National Guard, he had completed all the requirements to becoming a commissioned officer. All that was necessary was a physical examination. After he looked through a dozen pages of colored dots, the corporal who was administering the test said, "Sergeant, you can never be an officer because you are color blind."

Disappointed and a little insulted, Elder Oaks said he insisted on seeing the captain, who happened to be a medical doctor. His persistence led the captain to administer the test himself. After the test, the captain simply said, "Sergeant, you pass. Corporal, you are color blind."

"That is how I qualified to be a lieutenant in the Utah National Guard," said Elder Oaks, "which opened other doors for me and led to some important experiences in my life. There are times when you need to push back."

Proceeding to his main point, Elder Oaks continued, "We surely live in perilous times and there is much cause for concern. Nevertheless, in these days ... young people should go forward with optimism and prepare for a long and productive life. Marry. Have children. Get an education. Have faith," he counseled.

"One of the most effective ways we can go forward with faith and push back against the world is to observe the Sabbath day," said Elder Oaks.

God knows what patterns of behavior will allow individuals to achieve their maximum physical and spiritual performance and has therefore given commandments to guide to that behavior.

Elder Oaks used the Mormon pioneers as an example. "Tradition has it that the six-day-per-week travelers across the plains got to their destinations as soon as the seven-day-per-week travelers, and with a lot less wear, tear, breakdowns and losses of life and livestock along the way."

Elder Oaks also warned of a few trends encroaching on young adults, and noted that "in recent years, we have sensed a significant deterioration in the dignity and appropriateness of the way our members — especially our youth — are dressed when they come to worship in our dedicated buildings. We should take care to dress appropriately when we come to worship and partake of the sacrament."

Another of Elder Oaks' concerns related to a phenomenon known in young adult vernacular as "ward hopping."

"In order to 'pay thy devotions unto the Most High' (Doctrine and Covenants 59:10), we should attend our own ward on the Sabbath," said Elder Oaks. He cautioned young adults, and especially young men, to avoid drifting from ward to ward without a Church calling and not think they are justified in doing so because they are in "search for an eternal companion."

Sister Kristen Oaks, who herself was single for many years before marrying Elder Oaks in 2000 following the death of his first wife, June Dixon Oaks, shared remarks during the broadcast on the trials of being single. She asked that single adults focus on strengthening families, encouraged them to build and uplift one another, and advised them to not obsess on the thought that marriage is escaping them. She also asked them to focus on deciding who to date and how it will affect them and their future families. — Chris Morales, Church News staff writer

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