"Honesty is a moral compass to guide us in our lives," President James E. Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency, said at the priesthood session Saturday evening.
He told of an examination at a medical school where the honor system was expected behavior. When the professor had passed out the examinations and left the room, students started to pull out cheat papers. A tall, lanky student in the rear stood up and declared, "I left my home town and put my wife and three little babies in an upstairs apartment and worked very hard to get into medical school. And I'll turn in the first one of you who cheats, and you better believe it!"The cheat papers disappeared as fast as they had appeared, President Faust related. "The young, lanky medical student who challenged the cheaters was J Ballard Washburn, who became a respected physician and in later years received special recognition from the Utah Medical Association for his outstanding service as a medical doctor. He also served as a General Authority and is now the president of the Las Vegas Temple."
Honesty is a principle, President Faust said, "and we have our moral agency to determine how we will apply this principle. We have the agency to make choices; but ultimately, we will be accountable for each choice we make. We may deceive others, but there is One we will never deceive."
From his military experience, President Faust related an incident in 1942 when he sought admission to Officer's Candidate School. Questions from the Board of Inquiry, to his surprise, centered on his beliefs about smoking and drinking, prayer and morality. He decided not to equivocate on his responses, although he felt they would offend the officers on the board. But later, he was astonished to find that he passed. He entered the school and graduated as a second lieutenant.
"This was one of the critical crossroads of my life," he remarked. "Not all of the experiences in my life turned out the way I wanted them to, but they have always strengthened my faith."
President Faust warned that stealing is unworthy of a priesthood holder and that "any moral dishonesty is inconsistent with exercising the priesthood of God. In fact, the priesthood can only be exercised on the principle of righteousness."
He said there are different shades of truth telling, but "when we tell little white lies we become progressively color blind. It is better to remain silent than to mislead."
He told of a junior high school boy in a rope-climbing test who admitted to his coach he had not touched the rope at the 15-foot height, even though it meant not setting a school record. The coach thanked him for achieving a record many athletes never attain: telling the truth. On his last try, the boy did set a record.
"All of us can climb high when we honor every form of truth," President Faust commented.