PROVO, Utah — The importance of having appreciation and reverence for sacred things was emphasized by Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Presidency of the Seventy speaking to young adults at the CES Fireside on Sunday, Nov. 7.
Speaking to thousands in the Marriott Center on the BYU campus and to many more by satellite broadcast to other locations, Elder Christofferson said, "The importance of having a sense of the sacred is simply this — if one does not appreciate holy things, he will lose them."
Those who lack reverence for the sacred "will drift from the moorings that his covenants with God could provide," Elder Christofferson said. "His feeling of accountability to God will diminish and then be forgotten. Thereafter, he will care only about his own comfort and satisfying his uncontrolled appetites. Finally, he will come to despise sacred things, even God, and then he will despise himself."
He continued, "On the other hand, with a sense of the sacred, one grows in understanding and truth. The Holy Spirit becomes his frequent and then constant companion. More and more he will stand in holy places and be entrusted with holy things. Just the opposite of cynicism and despair, his end is eternal life."
To help his listeners in contemplating the sacred, Elder Christofferson gave five examples "of both a sense of the sacred and its absence."
1. Prophets and Scripture:
"If we ignore the Lord and His servants we may just as well be atheists — the end result is practically the same," he said.
The teachings of apostles and prophets are sacred and should not be taken lightly, he added, reminding the young congregation of some recent teachings of President Gordon B. Hinckley. He pointed out that prophets also record history and the word of God, records which become sacred scripture.
"Having been granted possession of the recorded words of God, we should ask ourselves if we are respecting the sacred nature of this record," he said. "Some have violated the sacredness of the scriptures by ridiculing or denying their validity. That, of course, is a very serious matter. But for most of us, who readily acknowledge the truthfulness of the Standard Works, if we are ever guilty of disrespecting the sacred nature of scriptures, it is by neglect. The risk we must guard against day to day is the tendency to treat lightly, or even ignore, the sacred word."
2. The Body — the Temple of God:
The mortal body is a temple, a "most important and sacred of God's creations," Elder Christofferson said leading into counsel against tatoos and body piercings. He recalled recent teachings on those matters by President Hinckley.
"Why would the prophet of God talk about things so seemingly insignificant?" Elder Christofferson asked. "Because they are not insignificant. Defiling or defacing God's creation, His temple, makes a mock of that which is sacred. This can be perceived as insignificant only to one who has lost a sense of the sacred."
Other matters of importance are immodest fashions and pornography, he said, noting that pornography is motivated by "someone's lust for money."
"The body is the temple of God, and pornography and revealing clothes are evidence that money changers are again desecrating the temple," he said.
3. Sacred Places and Occasions:
When people aren't dressed appropriately in sacred places, they are mocking the sacredness of the place, Elder Christofferson said. He told of a young woman from another state who was visiting relatives in the Salt Lake City area for a few weeks. The first week she attended Church, she dressed modestly and appropriately. But she felt out of place because "other young women her age or near her age were dressed in casual skirts, some rather distant from the knee, tight T-shirt-like tops that barely met the top of their skirts at the waist (some a little more bare than barely), no socks or stockings, and clunky sneakers or 'flip flops.' One would have hoped that seeing the new girl, the other girls would have realized how inappropriate their manner of dress was for a chapel and for the Sabbath day, and immediately changed for the better. Sad to say, however, they did not, and it was the visitor who, in order to fit in, adopted the fashion (if you can call it that) of her host ward."
No matter their circumstances, members of the Church should always look their best in Church, he said. "It is an affront to God to come into His house, especially on His holy day, not groomed and dressed in the most careful and modest manner that our circumstances permit."
Best dress also shows respect for the sacred nature of such things as weddings, funerals and priesthood ordinances, he said, stating, "You are saints of the great latter-day dispensation — look the part."
"You know by your own experience that the world is growing more profane, more coarse in speech, but we cannot suffer ourselves to fall into that pattern," Elder Christofferson said. "Cursing and coarse language mock God and Christ and their creations."
Speech is also to be remembered when speaking in Church or bearing testimony, he said, done "in the name of Jesus Christ."
"Therefore, we must take special care what we say and how we say it. There is no room for silliness or foolish speech. Above all, we must seek the Spirit through prayer so that we speak by constraint of the Spirit and avoid condemnation," he said.
5. Godly Fear:
"I submit that fear of the Lord, or what Paul calls 'godly fear' (Hebrews 12:28), should be part of our reverence for Him," Elder Christofferson said. "We should so love and reverence Him that we fear doing anything wrong in His sight, whatever may be the opinions of or pressure from others."
Concluding, Elder Christofferson expressed the blessings of knowledge and understanding that come through developing a sense of the sacred.
"We cannot neglect or let them slip away," he said. "Rather than drifting into carelessness, may your life be one of increasing exactness in obedience. I hope you will think and feel and dress and act in ways that show reverence and respect for sacred things, sacred places and sacred occasions."
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