Young adults worldwide were encouraged Nov. 3 to "light a candle" for righteousness, for self-reliance and for eternal marriage.
"These are the important choices that should flow from your value system," said Bishop Richard C. Edgley, first counselor in the Presiding Bishopric.
Speaking during a Church Educational System fireside, Bishop Edgley addressed more than 20,000 college-age young adults gathered in the BYU Marriott Center in Provo, Utah. An estimated 150,000 more heard the address live, via satellite, throughout North, Central and South America. The fireside, translated into 22 languages, was broadcast on a delayed basis throughout Europe, rebroadcast on KBYU-TV in Utah and will be made available on videotape to institute students around the world.
During his address, Bishop Edgley said those who believe they are sons and daughters of God will make many choices different from those who do not.
That is important, he added, "because ultimately we become the product of the myriad choices we are constantly making: choices that may seem inconsequential today but that may have an enormous impact on what measure of being we become; choices that are popular and choices that are unpopular; choices that are seen by others and choices that are known by only you and God."
Bishop Edgley told the young adults that they have arrived at a very special time in their lives: a planting season.
"Indeed, you stand at a crossroad of eternal consequences. With this in mind, let me suggest three choices I believe are appropriate and critical to your future three choices of planting for a future harvest."
He asked the worldwide congregation to choose to be a righteous example, to become self-reliant, and to marry in the temple.
Speaking of righteousness, Bishop Edgley acknowledged the pressures young adults face today. "Satan is using all his cunning devices and supporting forces to influence your choices towards iniquity. His objective is to blow out candles, to extinguish the light."
Quoting 2 Nephi 28:20-21, he said the day shall come when Satan will rage in the hearts of the children of men and stir them up to anger against that which is good. "I believe this scripture is true," he said. "I believe the time is now. And I believe that target is you. . . . We see cultures infested with drugs, sex, alcohol, pornography, laziness, and many other spiritually devastating practices. But that does not have to be you."
Church members don't have to fall into Satan's trap of immorality, sexual experimentation, inappropriate music and the rest, he added. "Be willing to stand for principle. Be willing to be an example of righteousness. Light a candle. Let it glow. It won't hurt you, I promise."
Speaking of self-reliance, Bishop Edgley said this should be the objective of every member of the Church.
"Self-reliance is a basic condition of self-esteem," he said. "It affects our confidence and our ability to achieve. It is difficult for us to feel good about ourselves and to feel our divine nature when we inappropriately rely on others to sustain and support us for our temporal or spiritual needs."
One of the most significant obstacles in achieving self-reliance is the accumulation of unnecessary debt, Bishop Edgley said.
"The most prevalent and most expensive debt is the easiest to acquire credit card debt. Financial institutions often offer unsolicited lines of credit at seemingly low interest rates, but the interest rates are soon adjusted to the prevailing onerous rates of 18-20 percent. It is not unusual to see young people with $15,000 to $20,000 of credit card debt at these terribly burdensome rates. The debt payment is often so high that the only way you can provide for yourself or your family is to take on more debt. Thus begins the vicious cycle of lifetime bondage to creditors."
It is true, he added, that some debt may be necessary and legitimate, such as that needed to acquire and education or home. "But in all instances, prudence and conservatism should be used."
Critical to achieving self-reliance are budgeting and good financial management, he said. "Occasionally I hear of young men and women who are always looking for the easy solution to the comfortable life. Their ship is always just about to come in. However, continued disappointments often result in an unwarranted reliance on family members or an addiction to unemployment benefits. Now I am not disparaging those who legitimately and temporarily require assistance while they are investing in the future through education, training, etc., or while recovering from unexpected hardship.
"But I do say that those who abuse the government system or inappropriately burden parents or others for support offend the very principles of the gospel. . . . Self-reliance is and always has been a sacred obligation and an important principle of the gospel."
Those who know they are sons and daughters of God are driven by their potential to make choices to secure the future, he said.
Speaking of celestial marriage, Bishop Edgley said choices of righteous living and self-reliance prepare young people for the most important and rewarding choice, the crowning ordinance of the temple celestial marriage.
"Of all our priorities, finding an eternal companion and establishing an eternal family should be our top priority. All other objectives and priorities should be subservient and supportive of this, the most important."
Bishop Edgley asked the worldwide congregation to not unduly delay marriage.
"We need not have satisfied all our wants and desires before marriage," he said. "We need not have the perfect car, the perfect home, the perfect job, or the illusionary perfect companion to have a perfect marriage. Acquiring and achieving many of these things together, as companions, builds the perfect marriage.
"Yours is the time of preparation for an eternal, everlasting celestial marriage that we have been talking about. This is the season of planting, the season of choices."
The full text of Bishop Edgley's fireside address is available here.
Internet broadcast available at www.lds.org/broadcast/ces/0,7341,395,00.html
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