Returning to the roots of his early higher education, President Boyd K. Packer, encouraged young adults at an Ogden Institute of Religion fireside to study and live by the Lord's great plan of happiness.
He spoke Sunday, Nov. 16, from the institute chapel to a congregation of some 2,000 extending into the overflow and seated in classrooms throughout the building where they could watch on closed-circuit television.
President of the Quorum of the Twelve, President Packer began with memories of his time as a student at Weber State College adjacent to the institute.
His future wife, Donna Smith, was also a student. "Soon after I registered, I went to the library and she was at the desk," he said. "I suddenly developed a profound interest in books."
President Packer acknowledged that the world is unsettled, but told the young adults that they should not fear, but develop an inner courage that "will serve you all of your lives."
He continued, "The doctrines of the gospel provide your plan, defined by Alma as the 'great plan of happiness' (Alma 42:8). Do not wander through life lost and uncertain. Study that plan and follow it."
President Packer said that as the plan began to unfold in the Garden of Eden, things were structured so that Adam and Eve were given their agency, a gift that continues today. "You can do whatever you choose," President Packer said, "but you cannot avoid the consequences of your choice."
Adam and Eve were also given the commandment to "multiply, and replenish the earth" (Genesis 1:28, Moses 2:28). "That began the patterns of marriage and parenthood and all that attends to them," he said.
As part of God's plan, each spirit is housed in a physical body that is referred to in the scriptures as a temple. "It is not to be misused in any way that would disrupt its divine purposes," he noted.
"Lucifer, denied a mortal body, in anger and frustration determined to disturb and, if he can, to destroy the great plan of happiness," President Packer continued. "That plan centers always in the home and family. Satan cannot create life, therefore, he seeks to corrupt and destroy those who can."
He said that Lucifer's efforts are to corrupt marriage and parenthood. "The specters of heartbreak and guilt follow him about. Only repentance can heal what he hurts. And repentance can heal what he hurts, no matter what it is."
Eve was given to Adam so that neither would be alone, but would be equal partners, President Packer stated, adding, "Any man who thinks he's going to the highest degree of glory without a woman at his side does not understand the gospel. Together, they control the fountain of life. While neither can generate life without the other, the mystery of life unfolds when these two become one.
"From the very beginning, the power to beget life was unlawful to express except there be a marriage between a man and a woman. Marriage is a covenant of lifelong fidelity and devotion, which, by ordinance, may last for eternity."
While following the laws of God brings happiness, he said, Lucifer's efforts are to influence the breaking of those laws. "His purpose is to pollute the sacred pattern of life and generate, if he can, unnatural affections," President Packer said. "The compelling need which draws a husband back to his wife is always to be expressed in tenderness and love. It is through this process that the wife may give her husband, and the husband may give his wife, a gift that can be received in no other way, the gift of parenthood. The separate natures of man and woman are designed by the Father to fulfill the purpose of God."
President Packer noted that in reading the transcripts from a United Nations Conference on Families, marriage was not mentioned at all. Shortly thereafter, in 1995, the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve issued "The Family: A Proclamation to the World," which "embodies all the elements Latter-day Saints should know to live in accordance with the great plan of happiness."
He encouraged the young adults to take advantage of the Savior's Atonement, which "can clean anything. Repentance will bring someone back from addiction, from difficulties, from mischief, from all kinds of patterns of activity."
He warned the young adults, "Do not be critical of the Lord's Church and His priesthood and His servants."
Also, he said, "I give you a strong caution. Be wary of the word tolerance. . . . We are not required to tolerate anything that leads to unhappiness. . . . Tolerance is often demanded but seldom returned. Beware of tolerance. It is a very unstable virtue."
He stated, "Remember, there are some things that are fixed, things that cannot change and will not change. They are part of the eternal plan. They are from God. Those who are willing to accept these things will be blessed. Those who reject what God has given us must suffer the consequences."
Referring back to his younger days as a college student, he said he and his new wife determined to live the gospel and have a family. "Tithing would be the foundation of our financial plan."
Then he counseled, "In all of your struggles, pay your tithing first. Then you'll be entitled to the blessings of the Lord. In this time of unprecedented economic crisis, I urge you not to be afraid. You'll be all right provided you follow the Lord's way."
He and Sister Packer also were happy to welcome every one of their 10 children into their family. "They were the source of our happiness," he said. "It is a great plan of happiness."
Then he said, "We've had trials and tests and disappointments and failures and opposition at times, but they were all calculated, as the Lord told the Prophet Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail, to 'give thee experience and shall be for thy good'?" (Doctrine and Covenants 122:7).
He again told the young adults that as sons and daughters of God, they can find happiness by living according to His plan.
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