‘Stay in the lifeboat,’ Brother Brad Wilcox tells single adults

The Titanic was built like no other ship before it, said Brother Bradley R. Wilcox, second counselor in the Young Men general presidency. It had several compartments, which meant if one was punctured, only that compartment would fill with water and the ship could remain afloat. Many believed it was unsinkable.

During its maiden voyage in 1912 across the north Atlantic Ocean, the Titanic hit an iceberg and multiple compartments filled with water at the same time. The captain told passengers the ship was sinking and they needed to get in the lifeboats. 

“The problem is the passengers didn’t believe him,” Brother Wilcox told single adults gathered in a meetinghouse in Wasilla, Alaska, and online in California, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii. “They had been told they were on an unsinkable ship.” Some passengers who did get in the lifeboats were even ridiculed. 

Then something happened, he said. “The Titanic tilted dangerously to one side. … Suddenly they realized the truth.” 

Speaking during the Abundant Life Conference for single adults broadcast across the North America West Area on Saturday, Aug. 7, Brother Wilcox compared the world to the sinking Titanic and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to a lifeboat. 

In this April 10, 1912 file photo, the Titanic departs Southampton, England on its maiden Atlantic voyage. The Titanic sank just five days after it left Southampton on its maiden voyage to New York.
In this April 10, 1912 file photo, the Titanic departs Southampton, England on its maiden Atlantic voyage. The Titanic sank just five days after it left Southampton on its maiden voyage to New York. Credit: AP

Brother Wilcox quoted a 2019 newspaper headline that said something like, “Nothing can stop this economy.” Months later, not an iceberg but a virus, brought the world economy to its knees. People lost jobs. Millions got sick and died. Fear consumed minds. 

“People started recognizing that maybe their world just wasn’t as secure as they thought it was,” Brother Wilcox said. “Maybe they needed something more. Maybe they were missing something that people in the lifeboat had, and they started seeking it out.”

The April and October 2020 general conferences were watched by more people than ever before, he said.

Brother Wilcox identified three things found in the lifeboat of the Church of Jesus Christ that many in the world are seeking. 

Belief in God

According to one international study, the number of individuals claiming to be atheists is climbing — including youth and young adults. And many in the study said that belief in God doesn’t make a difference. 

However, a belief in God affects “the way we view ourselves and the way we view and treat other people,” Brother Wilcox said. “So it does make a difference. A huge difference.”

He quoted Brett G. Scharffs, a law professor at Brigham Young University, who has been asked, “What if you are wrong and God does not exist?”

“I am willing to be wrong in this way if it means believing and treating others as though they are children of God, created in His image with the potential to become beings like unto a perfect and perfectly loving God,” Scharffs said. “I would rather make the mistake of attributing meaning and love to a universe that is meaningless and indifferent than vice versa. And besides, I do not think we are wrong.”

Organized religion 

It is not uncommon to hear someone say “I’m spiritual, not religious.” Many believe in God but not organized religion. 

Brother Wilcox referenced Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles who emphasized the importance of the group practice of spirituality as people live together in families, communities and societies.  

“As long as we live together, we need that group spirituality,” Brother Wilcox said. And within the organization of the Church, Latter-day Saints can care for others more effectively together than they could individually. 

Partway through 2020, the Church had already participated in over 1,000 humanitarian aid projects in over 150 countries, Brother Wilcox said, referencing a devotional by Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. 

“We had boots on the ground, we were organized. And because of that organization, then we were able to make a difference,” Brother Wilcox said. 

Have faith in Jesus Christ

The Savior is the “captain of our lifeboat,” Brother Wilcox said. “When the world is sinking, it needs a Savior. … He’s right here in our lifeboat and He is working with us. And we are engaged with Him in His work of salvation. …

“You can’t help anybody if you’re on the sinking ship,” he said. “If you’re in the lifeboat with the Savior, you can reach out and you can help others.”  

In a recent general conference address, Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said that in coming decades, more will leave Christianity than enter it. 

“When people start doubting Christ, when people start turning away from Him, stay strong. Stay strong,” Brother Wilcox said. “Trust the intense religious experiences you’ve had. … Your covenant relationship with Christ becomes something that is very deep and very meaningful.

“And as you believe in God, as you value organized religion, as you trust the Savior to save — regardless of what other people choose — you are, you will be in the right place.”