104th Annual General Conference

ELDER DAVID O. McKAY

Of the Council of the Twelve Apostles

April 6, 1934

[20] It is just twenty-eight years since I was called into the Council of the Twelve. As I listened to President Grant this morning I looked introspectively into my own soul, and thought this:

"Never before in my life have I felt so grateful for my membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Never before have I felt more intensively how beneficial the Church has been to me and my loved ones. Never before has my testimony been stronger. Never have I felt so deeply in every fiber of my being that this Church was established by God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ, and that the men who have guided its destiny have been inspired by the revelations of God to them."[21]

Pays Tribute to Officers and Teachers

I desire to say a word this morning about the Church and the opportunity it offers to the young people of the Church. I should like to pay a tribute to these bishops and to other ward officers who are working so unselfishly and conscientiously for the establishment of truth in the hearts of men. I should like to express a word of appreciation to the officers and teachers of the auxiliary associations who are rallying around them the army of young people and instilling into the hearts of the youth faith in the Church of Jesus Christ. I want to express also a word of appreciation to the leaders in Priesthood quorums. I think that never before has there been such a quorum consciousness manifested as is manifested at the present time.

Successful Cpnventions

Since January 1st, 1934, the General Board of the Sunday Schools has held a number of the Sunday Schools has held a number of conventions. In the stakes of Zion we have approximately 21,000 officers and teachers enrolled. Of these 21,000 invited to attend the conventions already held we have had an average attendance of eighty-three per cent. That is a good response. Seven stakes, comprising eighty-four wards, have been in attendance one hundred per cent. That is not counting the presidencies of stakes, high councilors, bishoprics, and members of the Priesthood quorums who were invited and in many cases were in attendance with a perfect record. We have had a total of 172 wards who have had a perfect attendance at these conventions. Estimating an average of about fifteen officers and teachers to a ward, these conventions have been attended by more than two thousand five hundred young people. Most of these people who have been attending these meetings are young men and young women between the ages of eighteen and twenty-seven.

More gratifying even than this outstanding record of attendance, is the attitude of these young people towards the theme presented and expounded in the various sessions. This theme is expressed in the first article of the "Children's Charter"--"For every child spiritual and moral training to help him to stand firm under the pressure of life."

Seeking and Desirous of Living the Truth

We hear a good deal of talk about our young people these days. Some say that they are indifferent, that they are losing their interest in the Church. I do not agree with this accusation. My experience with the young leads me to believe that there was never a time when youth more sincerely sought the truth, when they were more responsive to assignments made in the Church, when they were more observant of the ideals for which this Church stands.

Oh, I am not blind to the fact that there are those who are wavering. I also know that there were young people during our youth who wavered. I realize that there are those who stand on the side lines, and arrogating to themselves superior wisdom which they do not possess, would [22] fain guide and dictate, but there have always been such. The great majority of our young people are desirous of living the truth.

Wielding and Influence for Good

I realize that temptations were never stronger than they are today; but the young people who resist these temptations deserve all the greater credit. We hear about young boys and young girls who indulge in things contrary to the teachings of their parents and the officers of the Church, and contrary to the ideals of the Gospel, but we too seldom hear about the much larger group who are exerting an influence for good upon their fellow-workers and upon their associates.

If time permitted I might narrate several specific instances in which our girls have wielded an influence upon their associates and led not only members of the Church but people outside of the Church to lay aside violations of the Word of Wisdom, and to conform to the ideals and principles of purity of life.

As a Result of Religious Convictions

Religion is the most potent power in life. Spiritual development and moral integrity are fundamental in the lives not only of the Latter-day Saints but of all who would build a community that will contribute to the safety and advancement of our republic or of any other nation. President Calvin Coolidge truly said that "the government of a country never gets ahead of the religion of a country. There is no way by which we can substitute the authority of law for the virtue of man. Of course we can help to restrain the vicious and furnish a fair degree of security and protection by legislation and police control, but the real reforms which society in these days is seeking will come as a result of our religious convictions, or they will not come at all. Peace, justice, humanity, charity--these cannot be legislated into being. They are the results of a Divine Grace."

Latter-Day Saint Standards

I have observed during the past few months a most hearty response by the young people of our Church to spiritual ideals. Generally speaking youth are anchored. Sometimes they seem to waver and digress from the standards. Some of them it is true lose their virtue, the most benighting and cankering condition that can contaminate young people's lives. I know that there is a looseness in sexual morality which is dangerous, which indeed is threatening. I know too that such breaking down of moral standards is manifested not alone among the young people, and I warn the church to guard against unchastity. Keep yourselves unspotted from the world, the fundamental element in pure religion.

No, we are not shutting our eyes to the virtues of the tens of thousands of those who are true and valiant.

Spirituality and morality as taught by the Latter-day Saints are firmly anchored in fundamental principles, principles from which the world can never escape even if it would, and the first fundamental is a [23] belief--with Latter-day Saints a knowledge--in the existence of a personal God. Latter-day Saint children have been taught to recognize him, and to pray to him as one who can listen and hear and feel just as an earthly father can listen, hear and feel, and they have absorbed into their very beings, from their mothers and their fathers, the real testimony that this personal God has spoken in this dispensation. There is a reality about it.

The Personality of God

The Prophet Joseph Smith, but a youth, did not argue upon the personality of God, he did not speculate upon that eternal source of energy and intelligence from which all life gets its being, he merely stated the truth. Nearly a hundred years later another man through thought and reason confirmed this truth as follows:

Religion standing on the known experience of the race, makes one bold and glorious affirmation. She asserts that this power that makes for truth, for beauty, for goodness, is not less personal than we. This leap of faith is justified because God cannot be less than the greatest of his works; the cause must be adequate to the effect. When therefore, we call God personal, we have interpreted him by the loftiest symbol we have. He may be infinitely moral, he cannot be less. When we call God a spirit, we use the clearest lens we have to look at the everlasting. As Herbert Spencer has well said, >The choice is not between a personal God and something lower, but between a personal God and something higher.""

Thus anchored in the faith, our young people have the foundation of spirituality and the teachings of materialistic philosophy cannot dislodge them. Next to this belief in a Supreme Being is the testimony they have that God is revealed through his Son Jesus Christ, the one perfect being who is the light and life of the world.

A Means of Consummating God's Purposes

The third anchor of the young people is in the realization that the church is established as a means of consummating God's purposes; and they realize too, even if they have not thought it out as they will some day, that there is nothing in the world to compare with the Church of Jesus Christ as an effective organization in alleviating the ills of mankind.

And now, young people, thus anchored in the faith, and thus organized, we ask you to join the organizations in your wards, to heed the advice of the President of the Church, to affiliate with your quorums, with you auxiliary organizations, in your fast meetings, and there in these local groups express your thoughts, express your doubts, seek after the truth, apply measures that will appeal to those of your associates, and when you prove those measures to be effective and satisfying to the soul, then can the central organizations take those measure and adapt them to the whole as a universal benefit. In that way, and in that way only, will progress and efficiency be fostered. Don't stand out on the side lines, and say "This quorum is not doing its work," but get into the quorum and help it do its work. That [24] is the way which God intends people to work in this church, and it offers to you one of the best opportunities in the world.

As a Means of Accomplishing Specific Objectives

Finally the consummation of God's purposes is put in these words: "My work and my glory is to bring to pass the immortality and the eternal life of man." This divine purpose may be achieved by using the Church as a means of accomplishing the following specific objectives in the achievement of which lies a sufficient challenge for the brightest minds in the world:

First, physical strength, virility, cleanliness. When therefore you hear carping critics say that the Church Authorities over-emphasize the Word of Wisdom, you may know that they have not studied very deeply the significance of the Word of Wisdom. Fundamentally, physical strength and virility are essential factors in the progress of humanity.

Secondly, economic security. When you hear a young man say we lay too much stress on tithing, you may know he does not realize the relation of tithing and fast offerings to the economic security of every man, woman and child in the Church.

Thirdly, social justice. Go into any quorum and see who are meeting there--your lawyers, your doctors, your farmers, all meeting on a social plane. In the Church of God every man and woman has equal privileges to every other man and woman.

Fourthly, spiritual enlightenment. Cultivating the fruits of the Spirit which are love, joy, peace, kindness, long-suffering, gentleness, etc.

The Principles of True Christianity

In conclusion, let me say that now, if ever, is the time to make practical the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to strive to live up to the principles of true Christianity. Wm. P. King in "The Practice of the principles of Jesus" says:

Mankind has tried everything except Christianity. The world has tried hatred, greed, impurity, graft, self-interest, and has been brought to the brink of perdition. It is curious that we must stand up in the twentieth century and plead with the people who bear his name, that Jesus Christ was not a foolish ruler, a visionary leader, that His word is the illuminating word; that His way is the living way; that it is only safe to trust and follow Him. The church must repent of her lukewarmness and rebuke with prophetic wrath the selfishness of men and break her cowardly silence and say to the world, "We have let you run affairs after selfish pagan methods until you have come unto the brink of ruin. Unless you Christianize your industrial system it cannot last. Unless you Christianize your institutions they cannot endure. Other foundations can no man lay than that is laid which is Jesus Christ." Too long have we imagined that the principles of Christ were for some other world. We have put the kingdom He came to establish beyond the stars, but this was not the purpose of His mission, this is not the meaning of His gospel. His laws are to be followed in the world in which we live, now and here, in street and market and factory. It will only be through obedience to moral law, the Sermon on the Mount and the Golden Rule and wholehearted response to the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of man and suffering love of Jesus Christ that there can ever be frictionless society in our world.

God be thanked and praised for his Church, for the authority of the Priesthood, for the opportunity it offers to young people of the church to obtain happiness through service. May they have power and interest to take advantage of these opportunities, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

McKay, David O. Address for the 104th Annual Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In LDS Conference Reports, Utah, April 6, 1934, by the LDS Church. Salt Lake City: the LDS Church, 1934, 20-25.