A call for a return to virtue — specifically, chastity — was issued by Young Women General President Elaine S. Dalton during her Church Educational System fireside address Sept. 13.
The fireside, originating from the BYU Marriott Center and broadcast via satellite to many parts of the world, was for college-age young adults.
"The message I bring this evening is a clarion call for you, the young adults of this chosen generation, to lead the world in a 'return to virtue,' " Sister Dalton said.
She later added, "At the very core of virtue is chastity, meaning sexual purity. Virtue and chastity are inseparably connected. You cannot have one without the other. A return to virtue is a return to purity. Some have said that virtue means being kind or honest or having integrity. But the center of a virtuous life is chastity and one simply cannot be honest or possess integrity in the absence of sexual purity. It is impossible. One cannot tamper with the divine spirit and precious body — the eternal soul — of another and be deemed as possessing any kind of virtue or be virtuous."
The essential need for virtue in order to be worthy to enter the temple was emphasized by Sister Dalton. She said, "Virtue is the golden key that unlocks temple doors." In those temples, she added, the young adults can make sacred covenants for themselves and, vicariously, for others who cannot do it for themselves.
Sister Dalton noted the efforts being made to keep the environment, water and food pure, including governmental legislation.
"And yet," she then stated, "society tolerates moral pollution in the form of pornography on billboards, television, entertainment, Internet and other media. We tolerate filth that invades our minds through suggestive lyrics, music and language."
She said, "I believe that the disintegration of faith and families, and financial unrest, are directly related to the lack of virtue in our society. And I believe that a return to virtue could save an entire nation.
"We call for social reform, but what is really needed is a moral reform — a call for a return to virtue. And if we, who have been given so much, including the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, don't lead the world in that return to virtue, who will?"
To lead the way, Sister Dalton told the young adults, they must all be guardians of virtue.
To the women, she said, "You are daughters of God. You carry within yourselves the sacred power to create mortal life and to become mothers of Heavenly Father's choice and pure spirits. It is one of God's greatest gifts to His precious daughters.
"Safeguard that power by living the standards, dressing and acting modestly and remaining virtuous. Safeguard your power through purity of thought and action and don't allow anyone to tamper with your God-given gifts."
To the men, she said, "You hold priesthood power — the power to bless and to act for God here on the earth. …
"Guard your personal virtue, your thoughts, what you view, what you say and your actions. Do not allow pornography to diminish your personal power. Remain pure so that you can exercise the power of the priesthood with which God has entrusted you."
Sister Dalton shared some ways young adults can return to purity.
First, she said, repent.
"I am very aware that there are some listening tonight who don't feel virtuous or who have made mistakes," she said.
"A return is always possible because of the Savior's Atonement. President Monson has said to each of us who have made mistakes: 'If any of you has slipped along the way, there are those who will help you once again become clean and worthy. Your bishop or branch president is anxious and willing to help and will, with understanding and compassion, do all within his power to assist you in the repentance process, that you may once again stand in righteousness before the Lord'" ("Examples of Righteousness," April 2008 general conference).
Second, be careful about the choice of friends, Sister Dalton said.
"In today's 'technological society,' we may spend more time with non-human companions than we do with our peers," she said. "While we may be very careful about our 'human companions,' sometimes we give little or no thought to the other companions that we allow to influence us. … We have all been given three precious gifts for our mortal experience. These include our body, our agency and our time. If Satan can entice us to use our time in unfocused or unproductive or, even worse, non-virtuous pursuits, and then deceive us into believing that if we do this in private, our actions don't affect anyone, he is victorious. … Seek the companionship of virtuous friends, not virtual friends."
Third, enter a program of strict training, Sister Dalton counseled.
"The success components of this plan include things we will do every single day, without fail, in order to invite the Spirit's companionship into our life. They will be different for each of us, but will always include daily prayer."
Heavenly Father will hear prayers, and will give answers to those who put themselves in a place to hear and recognize those answers, she said.
The training must also including daily reading of the Book of Mormon, she added.
"Reading, even if it's just five minutes every single day will change your life," she stated.
Returning to the subject of the temple, Sister Dalton said, "Your lives of purity and virtue are the banner that will cause the nations of the earth to look up — to come to the temple. As you remain virtuous, you will be led by the Holy Ghost, and your personal virtue will qualify you to go to the temple often.
"If you don't have a recommend, now is the time to become worthy to receive one. This is your work. The temple will be a strength and a protection to you in an ever-darkening world, and it will become an ensign not only to you, but to the nations. A return to virtue is a return to the temple and a return to the temple is a return to the Savior."