Elder Richard G. Scott drew upon his own experiences as a husband and father as he spoke to college-age Latter-day Saints Sunday, Sept. 12, about the importance of the family and the home.
A member of the Quorum of the Twelve, Elder Scott was the speaker at the first CES fireside of the 2010-2011 school year held in the BYU Mariott Center and broadcast by satellite throughout North America and many parts of the world.
"Two of the vital pillars that sustain Father in Heaven's Plan of Happiness are the family and the home," Elder Scott said. "Their lofty significance is underscored by Satan's relentless efforts to splinter family relations and to undermine the significance of the temple ordinances which bind the family together for eternity. He does this by constant encouragement to promote promiscuity and to defile the sacred intimate expression of love between a husband and wife that results in the birth of children."
He spoke of his own wedding 57 years ago to his wife, Jeanene, who passed away in 1995. "I have no power to describe the peace and serenity that come from the assurance that as I continue to qualify I will be able to be with my beloved Jeanene and our obedient children forever because of that sacred ordinance performed with the proper priesthood authority in that House of the Lord," he declared.
As part of his address, Elder Scott in a discussion setting conversed with Rebecca and Ben Marlowe. He asked them questions such as how they determine what should be the highest priority for their marriage and how they resolve disagreements.
"We've determined that our priorities are, first, the Lord and the gospel — and that has really helped our marriage — and then each other and the family that we've created together," Rebecca said, "and then everything else just kind of falls into place when you put those things first."
Elder Scott then returned to the pulpit and related a lesson he learned from his wife. He had been away on business for almost two weeks. With four hours to go before a meeting he had to attend, he noticed his wife washing clothes by hand because the washing machine had broken. Having an engineering background, he began to fix the machine, but his wife insisted he go play with the children.
"When she spoke to me that authoritatively I saluted and obeyed," he recounted. "I had a marvelous time with our children. We chased each other around and rolled in the fall leaves. Later I went to my meeting. I probably would have forgotten that experience were it not for the lesson that she wanted me to learn.
"The next morning, about 4 a.m., I was awakened as I felt two little arms around my neck, a kiss on the cheek and these words whispered in my ear that I will never forget: 'Dad, I love you; you are my best friend.' Are you having that kind of experience with your children? If you are not, you are missing one of the supernal joys of life. If you have not yet married, you can decide now that when you are a parent, the happiness of your children will be a priority in your life."
He told his young listeners to make the place where they live "the embodiment of a clean and righteous environment where the Spirit can dwell."
Young men, he said, should not waste time in idle pursuits, but should serve a mission for the Church, then make marriage their highest priority.
"When you find you are developing a strong interest in a young woman, show her that you are an exceptional person that she would find interesting to know better. Take her to places that are worthwhile. Show some ingenuity. ... Get to know each other. If you want to have a wonderful wife, you have got to be attractive to her."
To those already married, Elder Scott said, "Work as a partnership and build on each other's strengths. Listen to each other and help each other."
He said he learned from his wife the importance of exchanging notes. He would open his scriptures and see a message of love slipped into the pages. "Sometimes they were so tender that I could hardly continue to talk," he said.
He began to do the same with her. After her passing, he found that she not only had kept the notes, but also had protected them with plastic coverings.
"As I have thought back over our life together, I realize how blessed we have been," he said. "There has never, ever been an argument in our home, never an unkind word between us. Now I realize that blessing came because of her. It resulted from her willingness to give, to share, and to never think of herself. In our later life together, I tried to emulate her example."
He said pure love engenders trust, while "lust will destroy that which is enriching and beautiful."
Alluding to pornography, he said a married couple must have no private, hidden activities that are kept secret from each other.
To illustrate how rewarding it is to be married, Elder Scott spoke tenderly of caring one night for his son who had a chronic heart problem and was ill. "I didn't know then that just a few months later he would pass away. I will always remember holding him in my arms."
Noting that some are not physically able to have children, Elder Scott said, "I am a witness that the Lord can guide such parents to spirits He would have in their home through the process of adoption. Later when those children are sealed in the temple by the authority of the holy priesthood, they are in every sense equivalent to children born to that couple in the covenant."
He said some single people might feel lonely and unappreciated, not seeing how it will be possible for them to have a family. "All things are possible to the Lord, and He keeps the promises He inspires His prophets to declare. ... With certainty, you will receive every promised blessing for which you are worthy. I pray that it will be on this side of the veil."
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