I am aware of a young man, who while water-skiing behind a Jet Ski at Lake Powell, hit a stationary boat head-on causing massive fractures to his skull.
His horrified father watched the accident. He pulled his son, who was not breathing, out of the water and did mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. After his son started to breathe, the father placed his hands on the young man's head and blessed him. Then he asked the Lord for the seemingly impossible; that there be no swelling and no bleeding.
After a life flight to Primary Children's Hospital, the young man was moved to a surgery table. The surgeon found that the top part of this young man's skull was totally broken from the bottom part. When he reported to the father he said, "I am amazed that with an injury like this that there is no swelling or bleeding."
God had intervened. The young man was back in school in November and was listed as a member of the National Honor Society that spring. There is a God. This young man knows that He hears and answers prayers.
Many youth are acknowledging that God lives and that He hears and answers prayers. They are listening to a prophet of God and are finding answers in the scriptures as the gulf between right and wrong widens in today's world.
Take for example, the decisions of my former seminary students.
"I knew I needed to leave the canyon when I did," one youth told me. Later she found why that decision was best. Another student said, "I just didn't feel right about accepting that scholarship."
These students acknowledge the existence of the gift of the Holy Ghost and go to God with their choices. As a result they feel good about the decisions that they make. Many youth see God's hand in the growth of the Church and look forward to a mission. They ask for blessings when they need them, do baptisms for the dead often and attend seminary.
"Just once won't matter" is a lie society would teach youth. Young people who hold fast to right have to openly look at this and other lies that Satan has infiltrated into the world. They watch peers play around with marijuana and have seen the destruction that takes place with their minds and their bodies although Satan would say the drug does no harm. Many understand that, besides having the Spirit withdraw, one out of every three youth who try just one cigarette will develop a daily habit before he or she graduates from high school. (Deseret News, "First Puff ends in addiction for 36 percent of teens," May 22, 1998.) They stay away from drugs because a prophet of God guides them. They also understand when they are told by peers that the drug called "ecstasy" is not harmful that it is actually a drug that can cause significant brain damage to first-time users. (Deseret News, "Ecstasy use all too real in Utah," Aug. 10, 2000.)
Another major lie portrayed in media and advertising is that sex is free and normal and natural for anyone anytime. However, God has made it clear that it is wonderful in the boundaries of a marriage. It is so wonderful that Satan attacks it. Youth need to realize that the actors are "acting" on the screen. Just as the story line in the movie is not true, neither is this part of the movie an accurate portrayal of love. What is seen is play-acting, which shows lust.
The lie that abortion is an easy way out is also untrue. Ninety-five percent of the women surveyed who had abortions said, later on in their lives, that if they had known what having an abortion would do to their lives, they would not have made that choice. (Life Stories, D.C. Reardon, p. 23.)
The lie that if you live together first you'll know if it will be a good marriage doesn't agree with the statistics. One study said that 40 percent never make it to the altar. Of the 60 percent who marry, more than half divorce and it has been found that cohabitating partners are more unfaithful and fight more often than married couples. Only one in ten are still cohabitating after five years. (Family Forum, Utah's Family Newspaper, Vol. 1, No. 14, p. 14.)
Another lie Satan uses is, "One R-rated movie won't matter." Randal Wright's statistics in his book, Why Do Good People See Bad Movies, show that 4 percent of LDS youth who see up to five R-rated movies think it is OK to have sex before marriage, but if they see 26-plus R-rated movies, the percentage jumps to 30 percent. What you see does make a difference. But what if there is just one bad scene? This lie of Satan's implies that no one will be hurt. Wise youth in the Church follow the counsel in the pamphlet entitled, "For the Strength of Youth." They know that "whatever (they) read, listen to, or watch makes an impression on (them)" and that eliminates most television programs and movies. They avoid anything that is "vulgar, immoral, inappropriate, suggestive, or pornographic in any way" because they realize that these things change the way they think. It desensitizes them so bad things seem OK.
"It's just a picture. It doesn't hurt anyone if you look." Many youth listen to a prophet of God, recognize the lie that they are hearing, and realize that improper pictures remain in the mind to tease and encourage curiosity and desire for more. President Gordon B. Hinckley said, "[Pornography] seduces, destroys and distorts the truth about love and intimacy. . . . [It] is as addictive and self-destructive as illicit drugs, and it literally destroys the personal relationships of those who become its slaves." (Standing For Something, Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley, p. 37.) And Alma said long ago, "Go no more after the lusts of your eyes." (Alma 39:9.)
Yes, repentance is a reality. You can be forgiven, but the Mormon-ad that says, "You Are What You Watch," is true because those images remain in your brain to be dealt with all of your life. The more that is seen, the more difficult it is to stop looking, and Internet pornography can lead to sexual addiction in as little as two weeks, according to Dr. Rick Hawk. (Personal conversation with JoAnn Hamilton, September 2000.)
Youth who have made small mistakes need to take those issues to the Lord to get strength to overcome and if the mistakes are bigger, they need to go to their bishops for the help and support they need.
Youth can maintain morality amid a world of shifting values by choosing to follow God. They need to recognize Satan and his lies in society so they can avoid them. God promises happiness. Satan enslaves. There is no middle in today's world.
Sister Hamilton is a member of the Bountiful 41st Ward, Bountiful Heights Utah Stake, where she serves as a Sunday School teacher.