Members of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints told the church's priesthood holders to be examples, to be dependable for the Savior and to spread the church's story throughout the world.
President Gordon B. Hinckley has had broad media exposure during his leadership of the church. "We have something that this world needs to hear about, and these interviews afford an opportunity to give voice to that."On Easter Sunday, President Hinckley's interview with Mike Wallace aired on CBS's "60 Minutes." In Saturday evening's priesthood session, President Hinckley devoted most of his remarks to a review of portions of the interview, many of which were not included in the final edit of the CBS broadcast.
When asked whether he felt a conflict between his convictions about families and women's roles with the family, and aspirations by some women to fill leadership positions in the church, he said, "We have a few women who feel that women should hold the priesthood. We have a great women's organization. I believe it is the largest women's organization in the world - our women's Relief Society. They have their own officers who preside over their own organization. They carry forward a tremendous program of education among women. I think they are happy. They are doing a great work."
When asked why LDS families have so many children, President Hinckley responded, "We don't dictate family size. That is left to the father and the mother, the husband and wife. And we expect them to make of this the most serious business of their lives, the rearing of the family . . . ."
After recounting the interview, President Hinckley said, "None of us ever need hesitate to speak up for this church, for its doctrine, for its people, for its divine organization and divinely given responsibility. It is true. It is the work of God. The only things that can ever embarrass this work are acts of disobedience to its doctrine and standards by those of its membership. That places upon each of us a tremendous responsibility."
President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, said the profound plea given by the ancient apostle Paul to be an "example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity" is applicable to the church's priesthood holders today.
The honest payment of tithing, President Monson said, provides inner strength and commitment to comply with the other commandments. "All of us can afford to pay tithing. In reality, none of us can afford not to pay tithing. The Lord will strengthen our resolve. He will open a way to comply."
Speaking to the church's missionaries, President Monson said he has advised missionaries to make three commitments at the end of their missions. First, to prepare for their vocation, profession or trade. Second, to marry the right person at the right time in the right place and by the right authority. Third, to always be active in the church.
President James E. Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency, warned of a society that has become a moral Armageddon. "I am concerned about (society's) effect upon us as holders of the priesthood of God. There are so many in the world who do not seem to know or care about right or wrong."
"We all need to know what it means to be honest," President Faust said. "Honesty is a moral compass to guide us in our lives."
Secular learning sometimes tempts people to compromise their honesty and integrity, he said. "Cheating in school is a form of self-deception. We go to school to learn."
Stealing is unworthy of a priesthood holder, he said. "The priesthood can only be exercised on the principle of righteousness."
"I am confident the Lord will continue to bless us as we remain honest, faithful and true to ourselves and to this great cause. The progress of this work is a testimony of its truthfulness, yet each of us can have our own witness through the gift of the spirit," President Faust said.
L. Tom Perry, of the Quorum of the Twelve, recalled the origins of the church's stand against alcohol and tobacco use, known as the Word of Wisdom.
He retold a story that a Primary teacher taught to him many years ago. The story was that of an LDS college athlete who in 1919 had defied his coach's orders to drink some wine the evening before an important competition. The athlete flatly refused and triumphed over his teammates who were taken ill the day of the meet.
"I wonder, in this age, if it is enough to have the courage to just say `no,' or do we have a further responsibility to be of service to others in helping them overcome the great curse that is now plaguing our society?" Elder Perry asked. "Today the curse of drink and drugs is becoming a national nightmare. It is the cause of most of our crime, accidents, loss of employment and the breakup of our homes."
"I challenge you to stand up to your peers as an example of righteous living," he said.
Elder Joe J. Christensen said the Lord is counting on young priesthood holders in three ways: First, "the Savior is counting on you to be a champion of those who need you," he said. "Maybe you have thought that doing these little kindnesses doesn't make much difference. But as Alma said, `By small and simple things are great things brought to pass.' "
Second, "The Savior is counting on you to avoid the immoral trash that surrounds you in the media." He urged fathers to reconsider having unrestricted cable or unsupervised television sets at home, particularly in children's bed-rooms.
Finally, "The Savior is counting on you to be worthy to enter the temple and fill an honorable mission," he said. "Preaching the gospel is a commandment and not merely a suggestion."