At a time when the forces of evil have never before, "at least not in our generation," been "so blatant, so brazen, so aggressive," President Gordon B. Hinckley challenged the women of the Church Sept. 26 to rededicate themselves to the strengthening of their homes.
Speaking at the General Relief Society Meeting in the Tabernacle on Temple Square, President Hinckley said, "Things we dared not speak about in earlier times are now constantly projected into our living rooms. All sensitivity is cast aside as reporters and pundits speak with a disgusting plainness of things that can only stir curiosity and lead to evil."He said some "to whom we have looked as leaders have betrayed us," but their activity is only the tip of the iceberg. "In successive layers beneath that tip is a great mass of sleaze and filth, of dissolute and dishonest behavior.
"I believe our problems, almost every one," he emphasized "arise out of the homes of the people.
"If there is to be reformation, if there is to be a change, if there is to be a return to old and sacred values, it must begin in the home. It is here that truth is learned, that integrity is cultivated, that self-discipline is instilled, and that love is nurtured."
President Hinckley was the concluding speaker during the General Relief Society Meeting, which was telecast from the Salt Lake Tabernacle via the Church satellite network to meetinghouses in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. Also attending were President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency; President James E. Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency; and President Boyd K. Packer, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve.
Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve and Elder John H. Groberg of the Seventy, who are priesthood advisers to the Relief Society, also attended.
Relief Society Pres. Mary Ellen Smoot and her counselors Virginia U. Jensen and Sheri L. Dew also spoke during the general meeting, which Sister Smoot conducted. Members of the Young Women and Primary general presidencies and members of the Relief Society general board were also present.
During his address, President Hinckley said, "The home is under siege. So many families are being destroyed."
It is in the home - even a simple home in a poor neighborhood - where values are learned, President Hinckley said, noting that with a good father and a good mother a home can become a place of wondrous upbringing.
He told the Relief Society sisters, "If anyone can change the dismal situation into which we are sliding, it is you. Rise up, O women of Zion, rise to the great challenge which faces you.
"Stand above the sleaze and the filth, and the temptation which is all about you."
The prophet then cautioned women in the workplace against putting themselves in compromising situations with men with whom they work. "Do your job, but keep your distance," he said. "Don't become a factor in the breakup of another woman's home. You know what is expected of you. Stay away from that which is tempting. Avoid evil - its very appearance."
President Hinckley further warned against abortion - "an evil, stark and real and repugnant" - and divorce.
"Nurture and cultivate your marriage," he said. "Guard it and work to keep it solid and beautiful. Divorce is becoming so common. . . . It is happening, I regret to say, even among some who are sealed in the House of the Lord."
President Hinckley also told the women to guard their children who live in the world of evil. "Nothing is more precious to you as mothers, absolutely nothing. Your children are the most valuable thing you will have in time or all eternity. You will be fortunate indeed if, as you grow old and look at those you brought into the world, you find in them uprightness of life, virtue in living, and integrity in their behavior."
The nurture and upbringing of children is more than a part-time responsibility, he continued. "I recognize that some women must work, but I fear that there are far too many who do so only to get the means for a little more luxury and a few fancier toys."
President Hinckley reminded mothers that they cannot afford to neglect their children - who need supervision in studying and working and the nurturing and closeness of a mother.
"Families are being torn asunder everywhere," he said. "Family relationships are strained as women try to keep up with the rigors of two full-time jobs.
"I do not hesitate to say that you who are mothers can do more than any other group to change" what is going on in society. "All of these problems find their root in the homes of people. It is broken homes that lead to a breakup in society.
"And so, tonight, my beloved sisters, my message to you, my challenge to you, my prayer is that you will rededicate yourselves to the strengthening of your homes."