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Virtue is vital

In 1942 in the midst of World War II when so much evil threatened the sanctity of life the First Presidency issued a fervent plea for members of the Church to hold fast to gospel principles.

President Heber J. Grant and his counselors, Presidents J. Reuben Clark Jr. and David O. McKay, particularly emphasized the need for virtue when they said:

"How glorious is he who lives the chaste life. He walks unfearful in the full glare of the noonday sun, for he is without moral infirmity. He can be reached by no shafts of base calumny, for his armor is without flaw. His virtue cannot be challenged by any just accuser, for he lives above reproach. His cheek is never blotched with shame, for he is without hidden sin. He is honored and respected by all mankind, for he is beyond their censure. He is loved by the Lord, for he stands without blemish. The exaltation of eternities await his coming.

"Above all, we plead with you to live clean, for the unclean life leads only to suffering, misery and woe physically, and spiritually it is the path to destruction. How glorious and near to the angels is youth that is clean; this youth has joy unspeakable here and eternal happiness hereafter. Sexual purity is youth's most precious possession. It is the foundation of all righteousness."

After 58 years this counsel is as vital and needed as when it was first given. Virtue is never out of date. But it is under attack today in more sinister and deceitful ways than ever before. In man's search for happiness it seems far too many are looking for it in the wrong places.

Internet pornography is luring far too many viewers. Some who innocently discover it are being led further and further into its sinister trap. No decent person can participate in such filth and expect to be unharmed. Husbands or wives cannot play out in their relationships the devious and impure acts they see in pornography and expect to keep their sacred bonds of marriage unsullied.

Likewise, there is a plethora of videos, movies, cable and television programs, books and magazines that precisely represent the flattery of the adversary who ". . . whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance." (See 2 Nephi 28:22.)

Happiness is the great desire of all mankind, and the Prophet Joseph Smith taught its true source when he said:

"Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God." (History of the Church 5:134.)

It is noteworthy that the first element of happiness he named is virtue. He also taught that virtue is vital in the governing of a nation when he said:

"Every government, from the creation to the present, when it ceased to be virtuous, and failed to execute justice, sooner or later has been overthrown. And without virtuous principles to actuate a government all care for justice is soon lost, and the only motive which prompts it to act is ambition and selfishness." (History of the Church 2:11.)

It is obvious why Satan tries so hard to destroy the virtue of the sons and daughters of God. He covets a body with its passions and emotions, something he shall never have, and in his jealousy he tries to destroy those who have such bodies by ruining their virtue.

He has been waging this war since the beginning of time, and while his tactics take varying forms, they are always aimed at the same target. President Gordon B. Hinckley has reminded us of this when he said:

"For some unknown reason, there is constantly appearing the false rationalization that at one time, long ago, virtue was easy and that now it is difficult. I would like to remind any who feel that way that there has never been a time since the Creation when the same forces were not at work that are at work today. The proposal made by Potiphar's wife to Joseph in Egypt is no different from that faced by many men and women and youth in our day.

"The influences today may be more apparent and more seductive, but they are no more compelling. One cannot be shielded entirely from these influences. They are all about us. Our culture is saturated with them. But the same kind of self-discipline exercised by Joseph will yield the same beneficial result. Notwithstanding the so-called 'new morality,' notwithstanding the much-discussed changes in moral standards, there is no adequate substitute for virtue." (Ensign, August 1988, p. 4.)

There is no sweeter or truer counsel than the admonition: " . . . Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly. . . ." (Doctrine and Covenants 121:45.)