by President David O. McKay

Improvement Era, October 1952

[709] we have heard much about the necessity of conservation. We have been admonished to conserve our resources. Economy and thrift are fundamentals in the social organization and in the teachings of this Church. Conservation and care are in keeping with the example which Jesus gave his disciples. You remember on one occasion he fed the multitude, after which he said, ". . .Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost." (John 6:12.)

Conservation of material things is most commendable and pleasing to God, but the greatest conservation that mankind can engage in is the conservation of youth, the conservation of manhood and the protection of womanhood, and I appeal to the Latter-day Saints to give more thought to the protection, to the consideration, of the dearest possession you have -- your sons and daughters.

The day after Christ gave the lesson of economy in taking care of things of the earth, he said to some of the same multitude who gathered around him in Capernaum: ". . .ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.

Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you." (Idem 26-27.) And they said, in substance, "What is that? Master, where shall we get this?" And he said, "This is the work of God, that you believe on him whom he hath sent." (Idem 28-29.)

Faith in Christ is one of the principles which we should teach our boys and girls. The Prophet Joseph Smith, through revelation, received the admonition, and he has given it to the world, and it is now a standing law in the Church that it is the duty of fathers and mothers to teach the principles of life and salvation, based upon faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, to their children.

I praise God for the instructions he has given his people concerning the sacredness, sanctity, and permanence of the family relationship. Let us impress these instructions upon our children. First, let us teach them that the proper place to begin the family relationship is in the House of God, kneeling at his sacred altar worthily. This means that the young man is just as pure and sweet in his life, and that he has been during his teens and early manhood, as she whose hand he holds in his, and who gives to him a life of purity and virtue, worthy of motherhood, worthy of one who in the holy office of motherhood joins with the Creator in bringing to the earth eternal souls.

We are not conserving that which will perish in time when we protect and guide eternal spirits. The little babe comes to the home as an eternal part of it, when the father and mother plight each other's troth for time and all eternity. Let us teach the youth, then, that the marriage relationship is one of the most sacred obligations known to man or that man can make. Teach them that the family is the first institution ordained of God and instituted among men. If every couple sensed the sacredness of this obligation, there would be fewer homes broken up by disagreements that lead to divorces.

The safety, the perpetuity of our government, or of any republican form of government, depends upon the safety and permanency of the home. Herein we get a glimpse of one thing in which this people may be the saviors, in a way, of this great nation. The home is the place where the perpetuation of the principles of liberty as well as the instructions in the gospel of Jesus Christ should be given to the children. When the home breaks up, the children [710] begin to wander off into sin. Then the law must reach out to bring them back and try to teach them principles of service and of true government; but, oh, how helpless, how helpless the state when the home has failed!

The inspiration of God is seen in requiring the Latter-day Saints to keep their homes intact and to teach their children the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I do not mean by that that we should make such teaching purely formal. I mean that the gospel of Jesus Christ should radiate in every home, that the prayer night and morning should be offered up in sincerity, that the children daily should realize that we desire in our home the presence of God. If we can invite the Savior there, we may know that the angels will be not only willing but also eager to protect our boys and girls.

I believe that in most homes boys and girls are taught to pray before retiring for the night. I believe, however, that too generally, the morning prayers are neglected. When we come to think of it, though, it is during the waking hours that our boys and girls need the protection of God, and the guidance of his Holy Spirit, more even than when they are asleep. The dangers surrounding them today are the dangers that come to them out in society, out in the darkness of the night, when they are away from parental influence. I plead with you parents of the Church to know where your boys and girls are at night, between the hour of sunset and the hour of retiring. I plead with you to know where they are during the day. Keep your minds upon them. Let your thoughts go with them. Labor not so much for that which will perish, but for that which endures eternally, for the lives which God has given you to protect in this world, that the sin of their failing, the sin of their degradation may not rest upon your shoulders.

Homes are made permanent through love. Oh then, let love abound. If you feel that you have not the love of your children, live to get it. Though you neglect some of the cattle, though you fall short in some material matters, study and work and pray to hold your children's love.

Loyalty is another element of the permanent home. The loyalty you afterwards want them to show to the priesthood of God should be manifest in the home -- love, loyalty, virtue. Cherish these principles as you cherish and treasure your life. Set children the proper example. Latter-day Saints, keep the commandments of God. Teach the children the commandments. The auxiliary associations are doing much to help us. The Church in all its organizations is putting forth an effort to make ideal men in ideal communities; but after all, the responsibility of making those ideal men, those ideal boys and girls, rests with the parents and next with the older brothers and sisters. The responsibility is with the family, God's unity in the social fabric of humanity. We shall never get away from it.

God help us to conserve the powers of our boys and girls. God helps us to implant in their heart the principle of life and salvation. May they have an undying testimony of the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ -- for it is true. The principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ are the principles of eternal life. God help us to instill this into the hearts of the young and keep them free and unspotted from the association with those who would deprive them of the ideals of purity.

McKay, David O. Conserving Priceless Possessions. The Improvement Era 55 (Oct. 1952): 709-710.