In responding to a myriad of questions posed by a group of young single Latter-day Saints, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland noted a familiar theme threaded through many of his and his ecclesiastical associates’ responses.
“You are supposed to leave this devotional believing in God’s love for you. That is my message and my witness,” Elder Holland said during the question-and-answer format devotional on Sunday, Feb. 14. “In this life and the next, you will enjoy the love and protection of a divine Father.”
Speaking to young adults, including 16- to 18-year-old young men and young women, from six stakes and one district in Lubbock, Texas, Elder Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and three other general Church leaders offered words of warning and invitation as well as loving counsel.
In the devotion was Elder Holland, Elder Ruben V. Alliaud, second counselor in the North America Southwest Area; Sister Michelle Craig, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency; and Bishop L. Todd Budge, second counselor in the Presiding Bishopric.
In answering inquiries on a variety of topics ranging from dating and finding a spouse to preparing for the Second Coming to LGBT issues and feeling comfortable at church.
Marriage and dating
It was a little wonder that many questions had to do with dating and marriage. The first question read by Elder Holland noted the turmoil running rampant in the world and whether young Latter-day Saints are “too hasty” in rushing into marriage.
Elder Holland agreed that Latter-day Saints should not be at the mercy of haste or frenzy about this eternally significant decision. “Don’t be unwise. For example, don’t feel like you have to get married 30 seconds after you’re back from your mission. Make marriage the high priority it is supposed to be, but let your Father in Heaven lead you to the right partner at the right time in your life,” he said.
He said, “The Lord expects us to revere marriage and family and the bearing of children”. Don’t be afraid to get married, “Don’t take counsel from your fears about courtship and marriage. Take counsel from your faith, and from the spiritual impulses you have, the good feelings you enjoy when you’re dating and associating with each other. Those are the things to trust.”
Bishop Budge served as a young single adult stake president. He would often ask, “Have you ever known a married person that wasn’t happy?” Inevitably they would say yes. Then he would ask “Have you ever known a single person that wasn’t happy?” The answer was also inevitably yes.
Marital status is not what determines happiness, Bishop Budge told listeners. Then sharing Mosiah 2:41, he added, “Moreover I have a desire that you should consider on the blessed and happy state of those who keep the commandments of God.”
When asked “how do I recognize the person I’m supposed to marry?” Sister Craig responded it’s a decision that is made along the way and the peace that is felt as individuals continue to date.
She also suggested asking two questions. First, “does this person make you want to be better?” And second, “is this someone who will help you make and keep sacred covenants?”
Elder Holland categorized himself as a mortal, limited, inadequate father, “Yet there is nothing I would not do for my children in righteousness,” he said. “There is no river I wouldn’t swim, no mountain I wouldn’t climb, no terror I wouldn’t confront or beast I wouldn’t wrestle to the ground for my children.”
If “average, old Jeff Holland” can do and feel that, Elder Holland said, “what on earth does it mean about our Father in Heaven and His love, what He would do and what He has already done, especially through His Beloved Son, His Agent whom He sent to say ‘tell them how much I love them. Show them how to live together in love.’
“I bear witness of that kind of God. And I bear witness of that kind of Savior.”