Brothers and Sisters, Welcome. I’m grateful that you’ve come. And I’m glad that you’re here. Parents, I’m glad that you came. I appreciate your support, but tonight, I am here to speak to the young people. And young people, this message is for you. Tonight, we’ll be dealing with a topic that is very important. It’s a topic that Elder Packer has told us must be always taught with deepest reverence. For the topic that we’ll be talking about is the topic of morality; a topic that demands reverence, because of its sacredness. Elder Packer also said that this topic can only be addressed effectively when the Spirit is present. And so tonight, I pray for the presence of the Spirit. And I pray that you will also be praying for that presence so that we can be uplifted and edified and instructed together as we address the law of chastity.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. I know exactly what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Oh man! Not again. Not again! Every meeting, man! I cannot go to a meeting that they do not bring up the subject! Every time we get together, they have to put in a plug for the law of chastity.” One laurel said to me, “Every week, no fail, one week it’s the law of chastity, the next week it’s temple marriage. Next week, it’s the law of chastity. The next week, it’s temple marriage.” She says, “I have no idea when they’re ever going to talk about tithing.”
It’s true. It’s a topic that we hear often in the Church. I met a young man, a priest, and I said, “Let’s talk about the Law of Chastity.” And right in the middle of my talk he said, “I hate that.” I said, “Excuse me?” He said, “I hate that. I hate it when they come and talk about the Law of Chastity, because all they do is they stand up there and spend the whole time telling you all the things you can’t do.” I said, “Alright. I’ll change it. Tonight, I’ll tell you what you can do.” And he thought for a minute and then he said, “Well, this outta be about a two-and-a-half minute talk.”
It’s true. It’s a topic that we hear about often. We hear about it from our parents, we hear about it from our leaders, we hear about it in Church meetings, and it’s a topic that we hear about constantly in Seminary, in Sunday School, and I’ll tell you why it’s a topic that we hear about so often. It’s because your Church leaders, your parents, the prophets are concerned. Joseph F. Smith said that his three concerns for the Saints were these: 1) The flattery of the world, 2) the false educational ideas excepted by the Church and 3) sexually purity. Those were his concerns for the Church because he said those were the things which threaten the Church, not from without, but from within. President Benson has been asked his number one concern for the youth of the Church today. And he says very clearly that the plaguing sin of this generation is sexual impurity.
People are concerned. That’s why they’re talking about it so much. Things are available to you young people that just have not been available to previous generations. Things are open today that just haven’t been open before. You discuss in school settings topics that your grandparents and even your parents never would have dreamed of ever discussing in a public forum. Things are open and available. Years ago, if you wanted to go see an ‘R’ rated movie, you had to do something about it. You had to go line up downtown out on the street where your Bishop could drive by in the car and look at you. You had to go through something to go see an ‘R’ rated movie. Not anymore. Seeing an ‘R’ rated movie is just like buying a loaf of bread at the grocery store. You simply walk in and you pick it up and you view it. I work with children almost everyday through my work in Elementary Education Department at BYU. I am always amazed at how many children in Elementary Schools see ‘R’ rated movies regularly in their homes with their families. Things are open and available that just haven’t been available before. And they’re available at a younger age than they have ever been before.
I remember my High School choir teacher used to say, “Boy, people used to get really upset if the girls would wear strapless evening gowns. Now, the girls where gown-less evening straps!” And it’s true! I like the poem that says, “Long ago, when girls would swim, they dressed like mother Hubbard! But now, the girls are not so prim! They dress more like her cupboard!” And it’s true! Things are just available and open that have not been open and available before. And that is why the Prophets are concerned. And that is why your parents are concerned. And that is why your Church leaders are concerned. And that is why tonight, just for a few minutes that we have together, let’s talk, yes, one more time about morality. Let’s talk a little bit about the Law of Chastity. Let’s talk about it with reverence. And let’s pray for the guidance of the Spirit. And let’s learn together how we can make ourselves the kind of people that Heavenly Father would have us be. The king of people that Jesus Christ would have us be, by staying morally clean.
I want to read to you a letter that came to me not too long ago from Texas. It came from a young woman who said, “Dear Brother Wilcox, I can’t believe I’m writing to you. I know you’re a very busy man, but I have a problem, and I don’t know where else to turn. I met you in Texas this summer at our youth conference. I know you don’t remember me.” Now, the interesting thing is that I did remember her. And I remember her very well. She says, “Since then I have left home and come to College. And I’m about the only Latter-day Saint in my College. And I met this really nice guy. He is a not a Mormon, but he makes me feel really special and he has helped me out when things are bad. As our relationship has grown, he has become more physical. I told him right off the bat that I would not have sex with anyone until I got married. He said, ‘Why not?’ I said, ‘Because God says.’”
Now that’s a very good answer. Then her friend said, “But if God is a God of love, then what is wrong with expressing love?” She says, “I made up my mind a long time ago to stay morally clean, but now I’m not so sure. Why not? Why not have sex with him? Why not?”
Now, I knew I had to answer this young woman’s letter, and I knew I had to answer quickly. So I began to write and I started to write the same thing that every adult in this room would write, given the same circumstance. I said, “Haven’t you heard about AIDS?!” And I started writing this letter and I told her about birth defects, and I told her about teenage pregnancy, and I told her about young marriages and divorces, and I told her about babies with arms growing out of their heads. And then I got to the end of the first page, and I realized that you just can’t do it that way. We cannot scare each other into being good, because fear is not a long-term motive. Oh it is a motive for righteous living, but it’s not a long-term motive.
You know about fear. We know all about it, because we have Fathers and our Fathers say, “You come home at 11 o’clock.” And then you come at 11. Now why are you home at 11? Is it because you want to be there for family scripture study? No! It’s because you want to walk to school the next day. And that is why you come home at 11. We know about fear. We know how fear can motivate us. But young people, fear doesn’t motivate us in the long run. It can get us on our toes for a few days, but after that, sooner or later, desire will overcome the fear that we’re feeling. If fear were truly a motive for the choices we make having to do with morality, then why would AIDS continue to be an epidemic when there are so many people in this world who are literally terrified of that cure less disease?
Fear doesn’t last in the long run. It fades very quickly. So if we’re looking for motivation, let’s look at something more positive. Let’s talk about rewards. I know a young woman whose parents told her, “If you will be clean when you enter the temple and are married in the temple, we will buy you a new car.” Now, I told that to some laurels one time and I said, “Is that motivation?” And one of the laurels said, “Depends on the car.” Young people, yes, rewards can motivate us. Of course they motivate us! But they don’t motivate us in the long run.
Think about it. Think about all the times that your parents have tried to encourage to get good grades by offering you rewards. “Man, if you will get an ‘A’, we will give you a whole dollar!” And then you get all excited and you start working and doing your homework and it lasts about three days. And then all of a sudden, either the amount of the reward has to be increased, or the time involved has to be shortened, because rewards simply do not motivate in the long run.
We know about rewards. We have Grandmothers. And Grandmothers say, “If you will clean your room, I’ll give you a candy bar.” And we clean our room, and Grandma gives us a candy bar, and everybody is happy for now. But did you really clean your room because you wanted a clean room? Did you really want to see your floor again? Did you really care whether those jeans ever got washed? No. You wanted the candy bar. You got the candy bar. And Grandma got her clean room. And it’s a great arrangement. For now.
These motivations – fear, rewards – These are what educational experts call ‘Behavioralistic Levels’ of motivation, where we’re doing what we’re doing because we feel like we have to do it. Let’s move up. Let’s move up to another level of motivation. A level that’s called the ‘Social’ level of motivation. This is when we’re doing what we’re doing because we want to please those around us. We want to please parents. We want to please Church leaders. We want to please friends. And many things in our lives are done at this level of motivation. Lots of the work that happens in the Church happens at the social level of motivation. Think about it. Why do we go home teaching? Is it because we’re just dying to get out there and home teach? More often than not, it’s because we should go home teaching. Why do you let home teachers in your home? Is it because you’re just dying to have them come and share their spiritual message? Or is it because you should have them come to your home? Why on earth did you come here tonight? Is it because you were just dying to get out of that door? Or is it because you should be here tonight?
Lots of things happen in the Church because they should happen. Because we are motivated socially. And that is just fine. Many of you have heard that you should stay morally clean for your future spouses. Should you? Yes! Yes, you should. You should. But there’s our word again. Should. Perhaps this is why we can come to a fast-and-testimony meeting and the counselor in the Bishopric can stand at the pulpit and begin the meeting and say, “Brothers and Sisters, I just love this Gospel. I just love the Savior with all my heart. I love the Church.” And he starts to cry. And you’re sitting there in the meeting and you look at your friends. And then you look at this grown man standing at the front of the room bawling. And then you think inside your head, “How come I don’t feel this? That guy is up there bawling, man! How come I don’t feel this?” Maybe it’s time for us to move up. Maybe it’s time for us to head up that scale. To stop acting at a behavioralistic level or a social level, and just start doing what we are doing at an agent level. A level where we are doing what we are doing because we want to do it. Because we love it. And everyone of you has reached that level of motivation in one thing or other in your life.
Why do you eat ice cream? Why? Why do you do that? Is it because you have to? Your Dad is sitting there saying, “I want you to finish to finish three bowls! Man, there are starving children in India that would give anything for your ice cream! Now you finish those bowls!” Why? Why do we eat ice cream? Is Mom sitting there saying, “You finish that WHOLE bowl, or you are not getting any carrots! Now, you eat it up!” No! Why? Are we afraid? Is that why we eat ice cream? Is it because we’re going to get a reward? No. Maybe it’s social pressure. Is it the social motivation thats driving us to eat ice cream? Well, we really should, because then it will please the Bishop and if we eat out ice cream, then it’s really going to please our parents. No! We don’t eat ice cream because we should eat ice cream, we eat ice cream because we WANT to eat ice cream. Everyone of you has something that you do in your life simply because you want to. You know how that feels. And my challenge for you tonight is to live your moral life on that level. To make moral decisions not because you have to, because you’re afraid you’re going to get some disease and pass it onto your children. Not because you should, because you’re a Mormon and it says it right in the little ‘For the Strength of Youth’ booklet, and you have to be an example to others. I want you to live a morally clean life because you want to. Because you love it.
Think about when the Savior atoned for our sins. Why did he do that? What level of motivation was he on? Was it a fear of punishment? Did he have to do it because he was afraid that if he didn’t then he would burn forever and ever? Was it a reward? All that the Father hath can be yours, and the Father hath a lot. All that the Father hath is waiting for you if you will do this. No. Jesus Christ wasn’t motivated at a behavioralistic level. Perhaps it was a social level. I mean, after all, He was the oldest and he just should do it. He was anointed in the preexistence to do it. That’s what it means Christ the Anointed One. It was expected of Him and we were all counting on Him and he just should do it. Maybe that’s why Christ atoned for our sins. No, Brothers and Sisters, that’s unthinkable. Jesus Christ atoned for us because he wanted to. Because he loves us. And any other motivation pales in comparison to the fact that Christ was working as a free-agent and he chose to atone for our sins, because He wanted to. Did he avoid eternal punishment? Yes, He did. Did He earn an eternal reward? Yes, He did. Should He have done it? Yes, but those were not his motives.
I am proud to stand before you and tell you that I am disease free. I do not have AIDS, but is that my motivation for staying morally clean? No. That is simply a happy consequence that has come from my choice at a higher level. I have a friend who went to a very large city. He had to get a job and before he could get a job, he had to get a physical. So he went to a doctor’s office. He’d never met the doctor before. He just looked the name up in the phone book, went to the office, and said he needed to have a complete physical. It got to the point in the physical and the nurse came in and she brought the little paper cup. And he stood there looking at her, and she stood there looking at him, and he stood there looking at her. Finally, he said, “Excuse me, ma’am, but I would feel much more comfortable if you weren’t standing here watching me give you this urine sample.” She said, “But I have to.” She showed him a paper that she had to sign verifying that that was his urine sample. She said, “You have no idea how many people there are who are trying to pass themselves off as ‘AIDS-free’, ‘drug-free’, ‘problem-free.” She says, “You have no idea how many people bring in someone else’s urine and try and pass it off as theirs.” She says, “One man brought in his wife’s urine. He was pregnant.” She told my friend, “If you went to certain parts of this city, you would be amazed at how much clean urine is selling for.”
Brothers and Sisters, we are disease-free. But is that our motivation for staying clean? No. It’s just a happy consequence that comes to us from choosing to live on a higher level. Now, I’m here to tell you that my parents are proud of me for living a morally clean life. And my Bishop is proud of me. And my wife is just as pleased as punch, because I’m living a morally-clean life. But am I living this way because of their feelings toward me? No. Their feelings toward me, their pride, and their acceptance, those are simply happy consequences from my choice that I am making at a higher level. Why do I stay morally clean? I stay morally clean, because I want to stay morally clean. Because I love it. Well, tonight, that challenge for you is to move up. To move up to the point where you are making moral decisions not because you have to, and not because you need to, but because you want to.
But how, Brother Wilcox? How do we get to that point, when there is so much pressure from media? And so much pressure from friends? And so much pressure in the world around us. How do we get to that point? Sister Barbara Jones and I have conducted kind of an informal survey clear-cross the united States as we meet with LDS young people. We ask them what the problems are that are facing them right now in their world, in their schools. What are the problems that they’re dealing with. Surprisingly, the problems are very similar to the problems that are reported in surveys with teenagers that are not associated with the Church. Three problems have surfaced consistently, both inside and outside the Church are 1) drugs, 2) alcohol, and 3) immorality. Listen to some of the things that young people are saying, LDS young people just like you.
“I don’t think my parents realize how much pressure there is on me to have sex. They think it’s just the ‘bad kids’ that do that, and they don’t realize that everyone does it. My friend says that her Mom told her, ‘As long as you love the person and as long as you’re careful and safe, it’s okay.’”
Another young person said, “I don’t read romances and stuff like that, but it is hard to find a book, let alone a video, anywhere that doesn’t have sex as a main theme. The homosexual is really starting to come forward in everything, and now with all this ‘safe sex’ stuff, even the schools seem to be urging fornication to say nothing of the music industry.”
Another young man said, “The girls expect it. Even the Mormon girls. If you don’t try to do something on date, they think you’re weird and they start to make fun of you.”
Listen to what another young man said, “Little tiny kisses don’t mean anything anymore. If you’re not french-kissing whoever you’re dating, it’s like you don’t really like them. Then, around school, when you get back from over a weekend, they ask each other what they did. They say, ‘Oh, I got drunk and I went to these parties and stuff.’ or ‘I was with this girl or that girl.’ Then they ask me what I did, and I say, ‘I just went on a date and had a good time.’ Then they say, ‘Good time, huh? What did you do after your date?’ I say, ‘I just took her home and that was it.’ They say, ‘Didn’t you have sex? You didn’t take her to bed or anything?’ When I say, ‘No’ they look at me like I’m weird. They give me an alienated look like, ‘If you’re not having sex, then you’re not doing the things that make you fit in. If you’re not watching ‘R’ rated movies and if you don’t look at pornography you’re weird. You’re close-minded. You’re too sheltered. And you just don’t fit in.’”
How can we want to stay morally clean with the pressures that are facing us? Young people, for me, it has always come from knowing a few things. One of those important things is this: Sex is good. It is a good thing. It is God-given and it is God-approved. This thing has the celestial stamp of approval all over it. It is a good thing. Sometimes we grow up in the Church and we can establish and develop unhealthy attitudes towards sex, because we get the idea that perhaps that this is something that is bad or evil or wrong or nasty. Something that we just shouldn’t think about. And something we just shouldn’t talk about. And something that you just don’t bring up. No, young people. Sex is good. President Kimball told us clearly that sex has two purposes. One of course is of procreation, and the second is bonding. Bonding a husband and a wife closer together than they can get in any other way.
I’m here to tell you that I have four beautiful children. Four great kids that I love with all my heart. And I have those wonderful children because sex is fulfilling one of its purposes. I’m also here to tell you tonight that I have a great wife. Many of you know my Debbie. I love her. She is my best friend. She’s the greatest. And part of the reason that we have a good and solid and wonderful marriage is because sex is fulfilling one of its purposes. Sex is a good thing. But like any good thing, it can be misused.
An LDS counselor, Ehlen Schorsby, whom I admire a great deal says, “We’ve gone about it wrong for too many years.” He says, “We teach young people to avoid sex the same way we teach them to avoid a diesel truck on the freeway.” Run away! Because it can hurt you! It will kill you! And so we have young people growing up with this idea that sex is something bad. We crush flowers during lessons and then we say, “This is you.” And we chew up gum and we show it to them and we say, “This is you.” And we forget that if we’re not careful, we’re giving young minds the very wrong idea that sex in and of itself is something thats evil and something that is not approved of God.
I taught sixth grade. We watched a video that had to do with AIDS. After the video, one of the young boys in my class came up to me and said, “Mr. Wilcox, will you tell me about AIDS?” I said, “I’d love to. But first, will you do me a favor? Please go home and ask your Father to do that same thing.” He says, “I already did.” I said, “What did your father say?” He said, “My father said AIDS had to do with sex and I wasn’t supposed to worry about it.” And then this sixth grade boy said to his father, “So what about sex?” And his father said, “Sex is the second worst sin next to murder.” And that was it. The talk was over. Second worst sin next to murder. Now this this sixth-grader was bright. His head started going around, his brain started spinning, and he started thinking, “Second worst sin next to murder? My parents have nineteen children! They’re murderers!”
While we need to clearly teach that fornication and adultery are indeed sins next to murder, sex in and of itself is not. It is a good thing. It is a good tool.
I have a friend named Vivian Clyne. She speaks often to the youth. She talks about growing up in Atlanta, Georgia. She’s very beautiful. And she was very popular in school when she grew up. But she lived LDS standards that were not lived and were not appreciated or valued by those around her. Her friends were always teasing her and giving her a hard time because she stayed morally clean. They were always calling her “virgin-Vivian” and teasing her about her standards. Well she took it just like you do. And she smiled and she laughed and she just didn’t let it get to her until one day when she just couldn’t take it anymore. And a big football player started teasing her. And she took that football player and she threw him up against the locker and she said, “Just because I do not do everything that all the other girls do, and just because I don’t do everything you want me to do, it does not mean that I don’t have the same desires and the same passions and the same drives that you have. And one day, in the right place, at the right time, with the right person, I am going to unleash them all!”
And it’s true. Young people, at the right time, in the right place, with the right person, you too will be able to unleash all those wonderful feelings that are inside of you. All those wonderful drives and those passions that are not sins at all. Those drives and desires that are very much a part of Heavenly Father’s plan for your life. Even central to the plan He has for your life.
Sex is good, but like all good things, it can be misused. I can use a hammer to build this wall, I can use this self-same hammer to tear the wall down. The hammer does not change. The difference comes in how and when I am using that tool.
Young people, as you use procreative powers outside the bonds of marriage, then you are using a very good tool to tear down. As you use procreative powers with any other person, man or woman, when you use your procreative powers outside the bonds of marriage, even when you are alone, then you are using a very good tool in a way that will tear down and leave you with huge gashes of guilt and sin. Huge gashes in your own self-esteem. And huge gashes in your own ability to feel the Spirit. And to be close to your Father in heaven.
I know young people who feel confused. I know young people who feel like staying morally clean is simply God’s way of getting you to postpone your pleasure. And postpone your happiness. I know young people who think, “I’ve got it figured out. You just can’t have the piece of cake now. You can have it later, but you just can’t have it now. That’s the idea, see? It’s all in the timing. God just wants you to postpone. You don’t eat the cake now, you just eat the cake later.” The reasoning is good, but I want you to think a little bit further. The reason we tell young people to avoid sex now is not because it’s bad, but because it’s good. And it can only be as good as it can possibly be within the bonds of marriage. Where love and trust and fidelity and confidence abound. And I want you to realize that Heavenly Father is not simply asking you to put aside a good thing now so that you can have that good thing later. You’re not saying, “I will pass the cake now so that I can have the cake later.” Brother Bruce Hafen tells us, “You are passing by a piece of cake now so that you can have an entire bakery later!” That’s what you’re doing. You are setting yourself up now so that sex can be not just what you have seen on prime-time television, and not just what your friends have whispered about, but it can be everything that can possibly be. It can be everything you’ve ever dreamed of. You’re not simply giving up good now for good later. You’re giving up good now for better later.
President N. Eldon Tanner once defined sacrifice in that way. He said, “Sacrifice is giving up something good for something that is better.” We are not asked to give up something bad for something that is good. For that, Brothers and Sisters, would not really be a sacrifice. And we’re not simply asked to give up something good now for something good later. We are asked to give up something good now for something that will be better.
I have a friend in southern California who taught his Teacher’s quorum this principle when he took them to Baskin Robbins and bought them all a single-scoop ice cream cone under one condition. He said, “You may not taste that ice cream cone until I tell you that it’s okay.” Now, Brothers and Sisters, those of you who know teachers know what he was asking. And here stood an entire room full of hungry, 14 and 15-year old who were just ready to dive into that ice cream. And this teachers quorum adviser said, “Will you throw that ice cream cone away right now if next week, I promise you something that’s even better?” One-by-one, the teachers made a hard decision. And they tossed that perfectly good ice cream into the garbage can so that the next week, they could get something even better. The following week, the teachers quorum adviser bought them a banana split. Every one of them, a banana split under one condition! The teachers were very nervous. They all sat there with this huge sundae right in front of them loaded with ice cream and hot fudge and bananas and the whole works! And the teacher’s quorum adviser said, “Will you throw-” and one of the teachers said, “No! No! No! Don’t! No way, man! I want this now! I want it right now!” And the teachers’ quorum adviser said, “If you’ll throw it away now, then the next week, I promise you something even better.”
Leo Buscali, a very wise man whose not LDS, has some important things to say and said the following: He says, “I think over the last twenty years, we have really overdone the importance of sex. It is certainly a part of love. Sex without love is like taking a drug to momentarily find satisfaction, only to discover yourself lonely and despairing in the mourning. Sex without love and commitment is like choosing a fast food over a full banquet.”
Well I wrote this to that young lady in Texas. I started to write and wrote page after page and I wrote all the things that I’ve just said to you. And I sent the letter. I got excited, because I thought, “Man! This letter, this can really help her!” And my wife came home and I said, “Honey, read this letter!” And she read it and she said, “Brad! You have no answered her question.” And I said, “No. Now, obviously, you didn’t read the entire letter, because I just wrote this entire letter! I mean, that’s several pages long. Read it again!” She said, “No, Brad. You have not read her question.” I said, “Didn’t you see my quote? Right there, Leo Buscali, didn’t you see that?” She says, “Yes, but you did not answer her question. She wasn’t talking about sex without commitment, she wasn’t talking about sex without love, she wasn’t talking about going to bed with everyone from here to Indiana. She was talking about one guy. One guy who claimed he loved her. One guy who claimed this is a very Godly expression of love. So why not?”
An LDS couple gets engaged, they love each other, they trust each other, they’re committed to each other. Why not? According to every television show that you’ve ever seen, they have every ingredient that is required, even for moral people. So why not? Now I had to go somewhere different for my answer. Now I couldn’t go to the books. I couldn’t talk about levels of motivation. I couldn’t go to the quotes and talk about love and commitment. Suddenly, I had to ask myself, “Why not, Brad Wilcox? For you, why not for you, in your life?” Suddenly, all the answers that I’d been taught and all the answers that I’d heard didn’t quite answer that question. “Why not?” I came up with an answer. It may not be a very good answer, but Brothers and Sisters, it is my answer. It may not be the only answer, but I certainly think it is an important answer.
Why not? It all comes down to the same word that sets our Church apart from all the other Churches in the world. The word, Brothers and Sisters, is “authority.” We have no more right to use our procreative powers outside the bonds of marriage than we have to sell a neighbor’s house. What would happen if you went home tonight and sold your neighbor’s house? Somebody comes by, they’re interested. You’re going, “Hmm! I think I’ll just sell this house!” You even think you might be doing your neighbor a favor. Maybe you could even get a good price for the house. So you get excited, you go over, you sell the house. Now what’s going to happen? Later that night, your neighbor is going to come over to your front porch and he’s going to be just a little bit upset with you. He’s probably going to have just a few policemen with him. And they’re going to take you to a tiny little prison, because you had no right! You had no authority to do what you did. Even if your motive was good, even if you were trying to do something that was good, you didn’t have the right to do what you were doing.
It’s the same way with driving down the freeway. You’re going down the freeway. What’s your name? Kevin? Kevin, how old are you? Kevin! Kevin! When the girls are with him, they think they’re in heaven. Kevin! Kevin. 16-year old Kevin. Let’s say Kevin is driving down the freeway. You are going 56 miles an hour. I see you. Kevin is speeding! So I pull up and I drive up behind Kevin and I say, “Kevin, pull over!” Now what are you going to say to Brother Wilcox? “Um, Hello Brother Wilcox! Goodbye, Brother Wilcox!” And he’s going to drive off going 57 miles an hour. But Kevin, what if I’m a policeman? And I drive up and I say, “Pull over.” What is it that the cop has that I don’t have? And “muscles” is not the answer. There you go. See, I could write you a ticket. Kevin, I could. I could write you a ticket. I could pull a Wendy’s napkin out of my glove compartment. I could write you a ticket, “Pay me $50.” I could do it. But what would you do with my ticket? But if the cop writes you a ticket and says, “Pay $50.” Then, what are you going to do? Exactly. Because the cop has the authority. What he does counts.
Brothers and Sisters, we might be right. But that doesn’t give us the right. I was right! He was speeding. But that doesn’t give me the right to pull him over and to give him a ticket. And it’s the same way with our moral lives.
There’s a scripture in 1 Corinthians that many of us overlook. It’s a scripture that says some very powerful things. It says this: “Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God? And ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price, therefore, glorify God in your body and in your Spirit which are God’s.” It’s as if we own a car. We may own the car, just as we think we own our bodies. And we may know how to drive, we may know where the key goes, we may have driven just a little bit before. We know how good that feels. We know exactly what that is, and we know exactly how to do it. We know. We know the rush that comes from driving, but until we are authorized, then we can’t drive. Why not? Authority. The engaged couple may have given themselves to each other, but God has not given anyone to anyone.
I once heard an analogy that I did not come up with myself, but it is an analogy that has helped me a great deal. And it is one that I hope will help you. Sex is like an apple. It’s a good thing. Before marriage, after marriage. It is the same act. There is no magic wand that they wave in the temple that turns something horrible and something bad and something sinful into something wonderful and multiply and replenish the earth. No. It is the same apple. The difference is that before we are married, the apple belongs to God. And when we are married, he gives us the apple to use and to enjoy. When we use procreative powers outside the bonds of marriage, we are literally stealing from God. Remember even the fruit in the Garden of Eden was not bad fruit. We’re told very clearly in the scriptures that it was delicious fruit. It was good. And it was very desirable. It was not bad fruit. It was simply forbidden fruit.
But why? Why? Why would God forbid that fruit to you? Why? Doesn’t He want you to be happy? Doesn’t He want you to be fulfilled? Doesn’t He want you to be content? Doesn’t He want you to be satisfied? Doesn’t He want you to be happy? Of course He does. And that is exactly why the fruit is forbidden to you now. So that you can truly be happy, not just when you go to bed with someone, for everyone in the world can be happy in that situation, but also when you wake up with someone. And there are very few who are authorized and able to feel happiness on that occasion.
Well I wrote that to the girl. I wrote it all. By now, this letter was so big I had to hire a plane to fly it to Texas. I just hoped that it would help her. And I started getting excited, because I thought, “Well maybe she’ll write me back. Maybe she’ll say, ‘Thank you for your letter!’ Maybe she’ll say, ‘I never thought of it like that before.’ Maybe she’ll say, ‘I’m going to go on a Mission. I’m going to get married in the temple and I’m going to have 59 kids.’” And I got a letter back, but it wasn’t exactly the letter that I thought that I was going to get. It said, “Dear brother Wilcox, where are you? Why haven’t you written me? I wrote to you because I had a problem and I didn’t know where else to turn. Why haven’t you written me back? Where are you?”
Man, I don’t know what happened to the letter! I don’t know if it went to her home when she was at school. I don’t know if it went to school when she was at home. I don’t know if there’s some postman down in Texas reading through my letter going, “Whooo!” I have no idea. All I know is that letter did not get to her. And then I became very concerned about what I might read next. She said, “No. I haven’t had sex with him, but I did come very close. But in that moment, I knew it wasn’t right, because I wasn’t comfortable. So I got myself out of it.”
Brothers and Sisters, I felt very grateful on that occasion, but I also felt very taught. Because I realized that she did not need my letter. She did not need my levels of motivation. She didn’t need my quotes. And she didn’t need my analogies. ‘Sex is like an apple. It’s as if we own a car.’ No! She didn’t need any of that! The only thing she needed when everything came right down to it was exactly what she had been given when she was 8-years old. And that is the gift of the Holy Ghost. And that’s exactly what you have also been given. She says, “I knew it wasn’t right, because I wasn’t comfortable.”
Ask yourselves tonight, “Have you received a spiritual communication?” Some of you are thinking, “No! I haven’t at all. I’ve been sitting here very comfortably. I’ve even enjoyed the talk just a little bit and I’m waiting very patiently for refreshments. I’m doing just fine.” You’re not realizing that perhaps in those feelings you are indeed having a spiritual communication. And God is saying to you, “You’re doing alright. Hang in there and keep up the good work.” Some of you on the other hand have felt just a little bit uncomfortable as we’ve talked this evening. Perhaps some of you have felt just a little uptight. A little nervous. Perhaps some of you have struggled with things that you know need to be changed. Perhaps you’ve been thinking about needing to go and see the Bishop. Perhaps you’ve been thinking about videos that you should not be watching. Perhaps you’ve been thinking about bad habits that need to be broken. For the last time, broken. I know you’ve tried. And you have said, “I will never do this again.” And then you do it. And then you say, “This is stupid. And I will never do this again.” And then you do it. And then you say, “I can’t believe this. So dumb! I will never do this again.” And then you do it. And perhaps, even tonight, you’ve felt the Spirit prompting you to make positive changes. To be better. To try harder. Would you recognize that spiritual communication? And would you realize that that is a message that is not coming from Brother Wilcox? That’s a message that’s coming from your Father in Heaven, through the Holy Ghost. Follow the promptings that you are receiving, even right now, tonight.
You young people, I know it’s hard. I know what have I asked for tonight is something very difficult for I have not just asked for a change in your behavior. I have asked for a change of heart. A change of motive. I have not just stood up like some speaker that comes to your High School to warn you about the evils of AIDS and venereal diseases. I have no stood up and told you that abstinence is a choice, an option that you can consider. No. I have stood up tonight and encouraged you to choose morally, not because you have to, not out of fear, or a desire for reward, and not to please anyone else. Not just so your parents can put a temple in the corner of your wedding announcement and not be embarrassed in their social circle when you have to get married outside the temple. No. I have asked you to make moral choices, because you want to. Out of love for your Father in Heaven.
I met a young man up in the Northwest. A large young man who was a strong young man and a very handsome boy. He came to me after we had talked at his youth conference, much like we’ve talked this evening. He came up to me and he said, “Brother Wilcox, I am morally clean.” And I said, “I’m glad. I believe you.” I said, “That’s great.” He said, “I am. I’m morally clean. It’s about killing me.” This young man went on to tell me about this relationship with an LDS girlfriend that started to escalate and get to the point where they were becoming very physical. He said, “I cannot do these things.” He said, “We’ve got to stop this, because I cannot do these things.” She said, “If you don’t do these things with me, then I’m going to tell everyone at school that you are gay.” She says, “It’s totally embarrassing, because all the girls are talking about what they’re doing with their boyfriends, and my boyfriend isn’t doing any of that. So you had better start right now, or I’m going to tell everyone that you’re gay.” This young man said to his girlfriend, “I hold the Priesthood. I will not do these things.” She spread the rumor around the entire school that he was gay. This only happened a few weeks before I met this young man. He stood there in front of me with tears starting to bubble up in his eyes and he said, “Brother Wilcox, I am morally clean. It’s about killing me. But I am morally clean, because someday, I’m going to meet the Savior. And I want to stand before him and not have one thing in my life that’s going to make me look away. I want to look him right in the eyes and I want to say, ‘Jesus. I’m clean, because I love you.’”
Man, I just hugged that kid. That’s what I want for you young people. I want you to someday be able to confront the Savior and say, “I’m clean. Not because I have to; I was afraid of going to a lesser degree of glory. No. Not because I should. Because I’m a Mormon. And it’s a standard, and if I don’t, man, I hear they’re really cracking down, you can’t get on a Mission, if you’ve blown it, because they’re really cracking down, so you just should stay morally–” No! I want you to be able to look at the Savior and I want you to be able to say, “I am clean, because I love you.” I realize that tonight there are some young people who have already struggled and I realize that there are some young people who have already made mistakes. With all the love in my heart, I want to remind you about every lesson you have ever heard on repentance. I want to promise you that the testimonies you have heard of the Savior’s atonement are real. You can be clean. You can start again. You can be new.
Let me conclude by reading you one last letter that I received not too long ago. As I read this letter, would you please pretend that perhaps this letter is coming to you. Maybe this is one of your friends who is writing to you and asking for your help. What would you say? “More pressing on my mind is the question of teenage sexuality. And I’m not talking about dating. And I’m not talking about kissing. And I’m not talking about love. And boyfriends and girlfriends. I’m talking about sex.” This young man is 15-years old. “I met a girl at a dance the other night, and our relationship was purely physical. Since then, I have really grown to depend on her and we have become good friends. The subject of pre-marital sex has come up. I’ve found out that she had no objections to it and first I thought I did, but now I don’t think I do either. Oh I know all about the problems with pregnancy and diseases, but isn’t that what condoms are for? Anyway, one night, our school was at a competition and I ended up in her room, and I stayed there very late. We came very close to having sex. I could have had sex with her very easily, but I stopped it at the last moment. And I don’t know whether to be happy about that or to regret it. I’m confused. That night was so scary. I don’t know what to do. I’m not totally obsessed with this, I just need some real answers. What is so special about this act? It’s just another physical act like washing your hands, like taking a shower. I talk to most of my friends, and even the LDS ones say that it’s alright as long as you love the person. They say that they’re not going to do it, but that it’s my decision and that they’ll still like me no matter what I decide. Others have told me that it’s just fine as long I’m safe. I think that’s stupid. If it’s okay, then it should be okay. And if it’s wrong, then it should be wrong. And there shouldn’t be an ‘ifs’ about it. So, I am trying to look at this very rationally. As rationally as possible, without any emotional involvement. Why not have sex? Why not?”
I hope some of the things we’ve discussed tonight might help you as you formulate an answer to your friend’s question. I hope you remember the spirit that was felt here this evening. And I hope you remember that I am pulling for you and that I love you. If you forget everything else that we’ve talked about tonight, please don’t forget this: I love you. I know how difficult it is. I am a teacher. I know what goes on in your schools everyday. I know the pressure and temptations you deal with. I know. But I also know you. If I know anything in my life, I know the youth of this church. I know you. I know you’re strength. I know you’re goodness. I know the light that I see in your eyes. And I believe in you. You can do it. You can do it. You can live a morally clean life and you can do it for the right reasons. In a world where every book has given up on teenagers, where every expert in the country has said, “Well, we know they’re going to do it anyways, so we might as well tell them to do it safely.” When everyone in the entire world is giving up on you completely, I am not giving up on you. Your parents are not giving up on you. Your leaders are not giving up on you. The prophets are not giving up on you. We believe in you. We know you can do the right thing. We know you can do the right thing for the right reason. We know you love the Savior. And we know that through the Savior, you can find the strength and the motivation to stay morally clean. To live a morally clean life.
I leave you with my testimony that the church is true and that your efforts towards self-betterment are not efforts spent in vain. The time you spend in this church is not time wasted. And your struggles to live your standards are not struggles that are thrown out the window. They count, because we are in truth. Our prophet says, “This is the way, the truth, and the life. It is the right way. It is the saving truth. And it is the abundant life.” Of that I also testify, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Sex is Like an Apple – Brad Wilcox (MP3, 49.7MB)