Thousands of young single adults around the world gathered — locally and virtually — to ask questions and receive counsel from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on March 8.
“Whatever the question, the answer is the gospel of Jesus Christ,” said Elder Holland.
During the first Face to Face event directed to young single adults of the Church, leaders discussed important topics facing members today. Joining the apostle in the panel discussion was Sister Carole M. Stephens, first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, and Elder Donald L. Hallstrom of the Presidency of the Seventy. Young adults Maddie Merchant and Levi Williams moderated the event.
“We’re enthused about this first young single adult experience with this wonderful medium of communication [reaching] a very, very large audience,” said Elder Holland.
Originating from the Grande Ballroom at Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah, these Church leaders addressed a variety of topics from questions submitted — prior to and during the live event — through social media channels. The event followed a question-and-answer format and included musical selections and screens showing young adults watching live from various locations around the world.
“We want you to know that you are dearly loved,” the apostle said. Recognizing the thousands of young adults tuning in around the world, Elder Holland encouraged listeners to recognize this support group of other young adults who are going through similar experiences.
“Wherever you are, there are millions who are cheering for you, in your age group, in your category of life,” he said. “So take strength, and feel that brotherhood and sisterhood in what is represented here tonight.”
Some of the topics Church leaders discussed included marriage, finding peace, missionary service and same-gender attraction.
When asked about principles of a happy marriage, Elder Holland reminded listeners “happy marriages are the rule, they are not the exception.” Sharing both practical and theological reasons for marriage, Elder Holland told the young single adults to have faith and not be too hasty or nervous in regards to marriage.
“Don’t wait for money,” he warned. “If we would’ve waited until we had money we still wouldn’t be married.”
Elder Hallstrom added that it is important for couples to “build upon a spiritual foundation.” For him and his wife, he said, making the gospel their foundation from the time they were dating has made their relationship solid.
“We never had a desire to prove who is right, rather, what is right,” Elder Hallstrom said.
Sister Stephens admitted it “wasn’t bells and whistles, there was nothing saying ‘he’s the one,’” but that she felt comfortable around her future husband as they were dating. A big part of choosing whom to marry — and any other big decision — is listening to the Spirit, she said.
“We need to recognize how the Spirit speaks to us,” she declared. “I felt peace.” Elder Holland added that marriage is wonderful, but it takes work.
“With all that has been said, you have to work at a marriage,” he said. “But every good thing in this world [requires] work.”
When asked how to be happy regardless of marital status, Sister Stephens said that being single and happy “can co-exist.”
“We aren’t defined by our marital status in the Church,” she said. “We are defined as sons and daughters of Heavenly Parents, who know us and love us and have a plan for us. I think if we will really study that plan and really have trust that our Heavenly Father really does have a plan for us, then we can look outside of this little silo that we find ourselves in right now and maybe put down the walls a little bit and try to see if there are ways that we can … serve other families.”
Finding ways to look outside oneself and serve others, striving to become “who we need to become” helps a person be ready for whatever happens in their life and find joy in living the gospel, she said.
When asked what advice he would give to his young adult self, Elder Hallstrom responded by talking about the importance of having faith in God the Father, in His eternal plan and in Jesus Christ and His Atonement.
“Establish a life of faith,” he said. “Establish a life where we feel a relationship with God the Father, and with His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ.”
Explaining that a life of faith is more than what a person says or thinks, Elder Hallstrom said it is “who we are.” That relationship is crucial to a person’s identity and ability to maneuver life.
“We don’t know for any of us what the challenges or difficulties of marriage or life or health or finances, or whatever it may be,” Elder Hallstrom said. “But that really is secondary. Primarily it’s having that relationship and that faith so that we move forward no matter what.”
Although disappointments and challenges may come — they are part of the earthly learning experience — it is through the Atonement of Christ that people are able to find hope and live the gospel of Jesus Christ, Elder Hallstrom taught.
“It’s a natural thing in this world to have disappointments,” Elder Hallstrom said. “This is a world that has much joy and much disappointment. It’s part of why we’re here on this earth. It’s part of our purpose on this earth — to have opposition, to have challenges, to have difficulties. But how we face them is a part of how we’re refined so that we can gain the greatest of all the gifts of God — eternal life.”
When asked how to stay strong and find peace in the gospel, the leaders said there is safety in following the commandments.
“We live in a world that is confusing because the societal norms have changed significantly in not so many years,” Elder Hallstrom said.
In a world of shifting values, it is important to “stay worthy,” and look to what the apostles and prophets have taught for clear, concise answers. It is through staying true to covenants that people are able to stay strong in the gospel.
“It is the basic, simple things,” Sister Stephens said. “But they are often the things that we forget. We are distracted, and try to squeeze those really important things in at the end of the day.”
A young woman asked for counsel on the pressure many young women feel after choosing not to serve a mission. Elder Holland shared his experience serving on a council that wrestled with the issue. “Imprinted on my soul forever is President Thomas S. Monson … [who] was adamant that we were not going to create ‘second-class citizenship’ for women who do not serve a mission.”
Young women should never feel inadequate, left out or less faithful because they did not serve a mission, he said. Prior to the live event, Elder Holland shared a video in response to a question from a young man who returned home early after serving a mission for four months.
Elder Holland said if a young man is not able to go, it does not preclude him from a bright future in the Church.
“We don’t know all the back story … even with our closest friends,” Elder Holland said.
When asked about people who face same gender attraction, Elder Holland responded to the “current, sensitive, complex issue” in the Church by reminding listeners to not make judgments based on someone’s attraction.
“I think we have talked altogether too much about gender and too little about chastity,” Elder Holland said. “We do not make a judgment about someone’s attraction. We don’t make any attempt to say why or how that happened. … What we do say is that we all must be chaste. … We go with what the Lord has revealed about chastity.”
Encouraging listeners to “be faithful, be clean, be chaste,” he spoke of the blessings that come to all who live the law of chastity set by God.
The live broadcast was the sixth Face to Face event, but the first directed to young single adults. To watch the event in its entirety or past Face to Face events visit face2face.lds.org or participate in the online conversation using the hashtag #LDSfacetoface.
[email protected] @marianne_holman
[email protected] @marianne_holman