David O. McKay, Conference Report, October 1966, pp. 4-8
We are grateful for the blessings of the Lord to his Church in all the world and for the assurance of his divine guidance and inspiration. With deep gratitude, we acknowledge his nearness and his goodness. It is a source of real encouragement to contemplate the loyalty and energetic efforts of the members of the Church who are contributing of their time and their means to building up the kingdom of God on earth. There is a general response, as the ﬁgures and reports of the Church indicate, on the part of the people of the Church everywhere. The responsibilities they carry, the undertakings that they adopt and employ to raise their share of the cost of our houses of worship are most remarkable.
I love life
I love life! I think it is a joy to live in this age. Every morning, as I view from my window the mountains to the east and greet the sun as it ushers in these unexcelled autumn days, I feel the joy and privilege of life and appreciate God’s goodness. I appreciate and realize the accomplishments, to a certain degree, of this wonderful atomic age in which we are living. Scientiﬁc discoveries of today stagger the imagination. Nearly every day we read of almost unbelievable accomplishments. The age of the atom has only begun, and no one knows what exciting developments may yet unfold when the atomic research now in progress is completed. Its potential for good far outweighs its potential for destruction. The discoveries and inventions of this age are unequaled by any previous period in the world’s history, discoveries latent with such potent power, either for the blessing or the destruction of human beings, as to make man’s responsibility in controlling them the most gigantic ever placed in human hands.
Perils and possibilities
Yes, it is a glorious age in which we live, but no thinking man will doubt that this age is fraught with limitless perils, as well as untold possibilities. There are causes for real apprehension over world conditions. As we study and learn of the increase in crime and disrespect for law and order that exist right here in our own country, we become alarmed.
Just the other day, I read an editorial in the Deseret News giving the information that an estimated six million Americans suffer from alcoholism. The Public Health Service ranks alcoholism as the fourth major public health problem in the United States. At the moment Utah, fortunately, contributes less than its share to this problem. Contrary to what many people think, Utah ranks forty-sixth from the top among the 50 states in the number of alcoholics it has in proportion to the total population.
Furthermore, it is the only state in which per capita consumption of alcohol, as well as the alcoholism rate, has consistently decreased for several years. Let us hope that Utah will not adopt the proposed legislation for “liquor by the drink” and thereby entice more people to drink in more places more of the time. As the editorial points out, our state, with our traditions and standards, should be doing just the opposite. Liquor by the drink, as a recent study of the experience in Iowa shows, only increases
drinking and the attendant evils of alcoholism. The impaired morals, ruined health, broken homes, and increased trafﬁc deaths that result from drinking are well known by all of us.
It is because of these threatening dangers that the world should become anchored in the eternal truths of Jesus Christ and realize that there are eternal verities in this changing world.
Dr. Charles Foster Kent, commenting upon the “chaotic state” of our civilized world, says:
“Political organizations and ideals that have both fortiﬁed and handicapped us have been thrown into the discard. Long accepted social theories have suddenly been rejected, and new ones are being adopted. Many of the moral standards of our Fathers are being set aside in theory as well as in practice. The rising generation has no fear and little respect for Elders . . . Religious dogmas, long regarded as the corner stones of religion and the Church, are being disproved, or supplanted.”
Free agency threatened
Efforts are being made to deprive man of his free agency, to steal from the individual his liberty; and we must never forget that next to life itself, free agency is the greatest gift of God man.
The two most important documents affecting the destiny of America are the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. Both of these inspired, immortal papers relate primarily to the freedom of the individual. Founded upon that principle of free enterprise fostered by these documents, the United States of America, in less than two centuries, has achieved a greatness that far exceeds that of any other country in the world. The deep concern of every loyal citizen regarding the threatened loss of our freedom has been well expressed by Fred G. Clark, who is chairman of the American Economic Foundation, New York City. In a speech given over a decade ago, he expressed the fear that the “code of the people” is replacing the “code of God.” His words so impressed me that I quoted them in an address delivered in 1952. He declared that “something is wrong with America.
“At this moment of history when the task of world leadership has been thrust upon us, we stand confused, reluctant, and hesitant . . .
“We are no longer certain what we stand for, and this, I believe, is because have forgotten the circumstances surrounding the birth of our nation . . .
“For decades it has been popular in America for the cynical intellectuals to sneer and scoff at what we call the traditions of Americanism.
“The instruments of this sabotage were words and thoughts—plausible half-truths, sly appeals to that spark of larceny that lurks in every human was heart, subtle suggestions of an atheistic obvious that the nature, and the careful nurturing of a patronizing attitude toward anything America has held to be ﬁne and sacred.
“The people who planted these words and thoughts may have been either stupid or vicious, fools or foreign agents, smart-alecs or smart organizers.
“What they were does not now matter. The thing that does matter is to counteract what they have done.
“Everybody in every position of leadership has to get into this act because the damage has affected every phase of our life.
“The places in which this sabotage occurred were the schools, the churches, the Communist-dominated
labor halls, the lecture platforms, the motion pictures, the stage, the pages of our newspapers and magazines, and the radio. Every means of communication has been utilized against us . . .
“The man (or nation), who has a plan—a way of life—in which he believes, has mental security. “To destroy this security, one must destroy that man’s faith in his plan . . .
“[It is a] reliance on a code of life which, if held in common with one’s fellow men, brings peace of mind, develops the abilities of the group . . .
“The degree to which the American code of life has been weakened can best be demonstrated by simply calling attention to the degree to which the foundation of that code has been weakened . . .
“That foundation (and of this there cannot be the slightest shadow of a doubt) is made up of the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule.
“Within this moral code, we have a complete way of life.
“Acceptance of these precepts takes care of every phase of human life—spiritual, political, social, and economic . . .
“America was a nation of people who had faith in their political and economic systems because they had faith in God, and had built those systems around the teachings of God.
“Every collectivist from Karl Marx to [the present leader] has agreed that faith in God must be destroyed before socialism can take over.
“Therefore, it was obvious that the problem of sabotaging America’s faith in America was the problem of transferring the people’s faith in God to faith in the State.
“That thing called morality in politics, business, and private contracts, had to be broken down.
“To an increasing extent the people have come to look upon morality as an old-fashioned superstition.
“Religion has for many church members become a safe way of dying rather than a good way of living.” (From “The Code of the People Is Replacing the Code of God,” by Fred G. Clark.)
We all know that these threatening upsets in national standards have increased since that speech was given. We know, also, that there has been an alarming increase in the abandoning of the ideals that constitute the foundation of the Constitution of the United States and of the American home, and you will agree with me that ears from the truth, and shall be there is real cause for apprehension.
At this very moment while we are here worshipping, war is raging and blasting out the lives of young men, old men, women, and children in Viet Nam. The standards of the home, even the criteria for the rearing of children, have broken down.
Evidences of danger
J. William Hudson, formerly professor of philosophy at the University of Missouri, states: “The leisure occupations of youth, always symptomatic in any age, are not only unguidedly and frankly hedonistic, but have gone across the borders of what was once considered decorous, not because of a new and liberalizing moral standard, as we sometimes pretended, but because of the lack of any. The popularity of certain recent dances, formerly forbidden even in the ‘red-light’ districts, is typical. So is much of our periodical reading matter, and any number of ‘movie’ plays, over the edge of the decadently erotic, with a censorship that does not censor because of moral and ﬁnancial doubt.”
He also mentions the fact that “dishonesty is permeating public and private life alike, tainting the administration of justice, tainting our legislative halls, tainting the conduct of private business, polluting at times even the church itself.”
He goes on to assert that “if there is to be social and political regeneration in out Republic and in the rest of the world, it must be by tremendous regeneration of moral ideals.”
“What shall we do?”
What shall we do about all this?
When Paul was a prisoner in Rome, he sent a letter to Timothy, saying in substance:
“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine.
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
“And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Timothy 4:2–4).
It is just as important today as when Paul wrote that farewell message to Timothy that ofﬁcers and teachers and members and everywhere “preach the word; be instant [that is, to be eager, earnest] in season, [and] out of season.”
Today, in the midst of the world’s perplexity, there should be no question in the mind of any true Latter-day Saint as to what we shall preach. The answer is as clear as the noonday sun in a cloudless sky.
In the year 1830, there was given to the people of this land and the world a divine plan whereby individuals can ﬁnd security and peace of mind and live in harmonious accord with their fellow beings. In all man’s theories and experiments since history began, human intelligence has never devised a system which, when applied to the needs of humanity, can even approach this plan in effectiveness.
Offer the Gospel plan of Salvation
In simple words, then, this is the word that we should preach—the gospel plan of salvation.
The founders of this great republic had faith in the economic and political welfare of this country because they had faith in God. Today it is not uncommon to note an apologetic attitude on the part of men when they refer to the need of God’s governing in the affairs of men. Indeed, as has already been pointed out, success of Communism depends largely upon the substitution of belief in God by belief in the supremacy of the state.
The sacredness of the individual
Proclaim that fundamental in the gospel plan is the sacredness of the individual; that God’s work and glory is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).
Under this concept, it is a great indeed not a crime, for any government, any labor union, or any other organization to deny a man the right to speak, to worship, and to work.
The least child was sacred to Jesus. “. . . it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish” (Matthew 18:14) What would that simple truth mean in this world? “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40) And in this modern day, he said, “Remember the worth of souls is great” (D&C 18:10)
A proper conception of this divine principle would change the attitude of the world to the beneﬁt and happiness of all human beings. It would bring into active operation the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you” (see Matthew 7:12). What a different world this would be if men would accumulate wealth, for example, not as an end, but as a means of blessing human beings and improving human relations.
Declare the truth that man has the inherent power to do right or to do wrong. In this he has his free agency to choose the right and obtain salvation, or he may choose to do evil and commit abominations.
Respect for governments divinely established
Preach that the plan of salvation involves the belief that governments were instituted of God for the beneﬁt of man (D&C 134:1). Man was not born for the beneﬁt of the state. Preach that no government can exist in peace, and I quote from the Doctrine and Covenants, “except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life” (D&C 134:2).
Necessity for honesty and loyalty
Proclaim the necessity of honesty and loyalty, doing an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. Preach that honesty in government is essential to the perpetuation and stability of our government as it is necessary to the stability of character in the individual. “We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men . . . If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report, or praiseworthy, we seek after these things” (Articles of Faith 1:13).
Proclaim that God lives, and that his Beloved Son is the Redeemer and Savior of mankind; that he stands at the head of his Church that bears his name; that he guides and inspires those who are authorized to represent him here on earth, authorized by the priesthood when heavenly messengers bestowed upon the Prophet Joseph Smith and others associated with him divine authority.
Responsibility of everyone
Preach that the responsibility of declaring this plan of life, this way of life, this plan of salvation, rests upon the entire membership of the Church, but most particularly upon those who have been ordained to the priesthood and who have been called as leaders and servants of the people.
Verities promulgated by the Son of God
These eternal verities are as applicable in the year 1966 as they were when Jesus ﬁrst promulgated them and they will remain fundamental and essential in man’s progress and happiness as long as life and being last.
In the questioning days of early boyhood, I ﬁrst felt a kinship with Christ, our Lord and Savior. I know his love and his divine guidance. He is the sinless Son of man. “He is the ﬁrst and the last . . . and [is] alive for evermore” (see Revelations 1:18). Only by obedience to his teachings can man ﬁnd happiness and peace. Our Father is a kind and loving Heavenly Father who is as ready and eager today as ever to bless and to guide all his children who will sincerely seek him, and I bear you witness to that truth.
God help us all to walk in the light as he is in the light (1 John 1:7), thereby avoiding the unhappiness, sinfulness, and misery of a misguided world, and ﬁnd joy and peace and beauteous life here in this probation and in the life to come, I humbly pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.