Appearing below are selections from President Boyd K. Packer’s address, Cleansing the Inner Vessel, given at the Sunday morning session of the October 2010 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
President Packer’s message, with its references to righteous marriage, the sanctity of human life-giving powers, the irrevocability of moral and physical laws, and danger to freedom and civilization if marriage and family are abandoned , has become the center of a media firestorm. Thousands of gay activists have converged on Salt Lake City, demonstrating outside Temple Square and demanding “corrections” to the speech. Meanwhile, growing support is being shown for President Packer via a grassroots campaign on Facebook.
This general conference was convened at a time when there is such confusion and such danger that our young people hardly know which way they can walk.
Having been warned through the revelations that it would be this way, the prophets and apostles have always been shown what to do.
Fifteen years ago, with the world in turmoil, the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles issued “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” the fifth proclamation in the history of the Church.
It states in part:
We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.
To be entrusted with the power to create life carries with it the greatest of joys and dangerous temptations. The gift of mortal life and the capacity to kindle other lives is a supernal blessing. Through the righteous exercise of this power, as in nothing else, we may come close to our Father in Heaven and experience a fulness of joy. This power is not an incidental part of the plan of happiness. It is the key—the very key.
Whether we use this power as the eternal laws require or reject its divine purpose will forever determine what we will become. “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?”
Pure love presupposes that only after a pledge of eternal fidelity, a legal and a lawful ceremony, and ideally after the sealing ordinance in the temple, are those life-giving powers released for the full expression of love. It is to be shared only and solely between man and woman, husband and wife, with that one who is our companion forever. On this the gospel is very plain.
We are free to ignore the commandments, but when the revelations speak in such blunt terms, such as “thou shalt not,” we had better pay attention.
The adversary is jealous toward all who have power to beget life. Satan cannot beget life; he is impotent. “He seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.” He seeks to degrade the righteous use of the life-giving powers by tempting you into immoral relationships.
In our day the dreadful influence of pornography is like unto a plague sweeping across the world, infecting one here and one there, relentlessly trying to invade every home, most frequently through the husband and father. The effect of this plague can be, unfortunately often is, spiritually fatal.
We raise an alarm and warn members of the Church to wake up and understand what is going on. Parents, be alert, ever watchful that this wickedness might threaten your family circle.
We teach a standard of moral conduct that will protect us from Satan’s many substitutes or counterfeits for marriage. We must understand that any persuasion to enter into any relationship that is not in harmony with the principles of the gospel must be wrong. From the Book of Mormon we learn that “wickedness never was happiness.”
Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
There are both moral and physical laws “irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world” that cannot be changed.17 History demonstrates over and over again that moral standards cannot be changed by battle and cannot be changed by ballot. To legalize that which is basically wrong or evil will not prevent the pain and penalties that will follow as surely as night follows day.
Regardless of the opposition, we are determined to stay on course. We will hold to the principles and laws and ordinances of the gospel. If they are misunderstood either innocently or willfully, so be it. We cannot change; we will not change the moral standard. We quickly lose our way when we disobey the laws of God. If we do not protect and foster the family, civilization and our liberties must needs perish.
Every soul confined in a prison of sin, guilt, or perversion has a key to the gate. The key is labeled “repentance.” If you know how to use this key, the adversary cannot hold you. The twin principles of repentance and forgiveness exceed in strength the awesome power of the tempter. If you are bound by a habit or an addiction that is unworthy, you must stop conduct that is harmful. Angels will coach you,19 and priesthood leaders will guide you through those difficult times.
Nowhere are the generosity and the kindness and mercy of God more manifest than in repentance.
For those who truly desire it, there is a way back. Repentance is like unto a detergent. Even ground-in stains of sin will come out.
I know of no more beautiful and consoling words in all of revelation than these:
Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.
I promise that ahead of you is peace and happiness for you and your family. The ultimate end of all activity in the Church is that a man and his wife and their children can be happy at home. And I invoke the blessings of the Lord upon you who are struggling against this terrible plague, to find the healing that is available to us in the priesthood of the Lord.