Gospel Essentials


Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has said, “As you seek spiritual knowledge, search for principles. Carefully separate them from the detail used to explain them. Principles are concentrated truth, packaged for application to a wide variety of circumstances. A true principle makes decisions clear even under the most confusing and compelling circumstances” (“Acquiring Spiritual Knowledge,” Ensign, Nov 1993).

Because everyone’s circumstances are different, including among those who experience homosexual attraction or gender identity concerns, it’s important for each of us to understand pure gospel principles, separate from details used to explain them or any other individual’s interpretation or articulation of them. And only the God can infuse this Divine understanding into our hearts as we hear and receive the “word of truth…by the Spirit of truth” (D&C 50:17-22).

In an effort to more fully understand gospel principles as they may apply to and empower individuals who experience homosexual attraction or gender identity concerns, there are a number of books, articles and addresses by General Authorities and others, including Latter-day Saints and others not in the Church, that various members of the North Star community have recommended as a “must read” or “essentials” collection. The following resources make up this organic and evolving list of recommendations. While there may be innumerable addresses, articles, books, or other resources that have helped various individuals, this section is of those where there has been the greatest “overlap” of recommendations by those in our collective community.

In addition, while the majority of these articles and books address concepts that are explicitly religious or spiritual in nature, the term gospel comes from the Old English word godspel word that literally meant “good news” or “good message,” and there are ideas and concepts that we might consider “good news” simply because they are true and ignite and empower the best that is within us as God’s children, even if they may not be explicitly religious or spiritual in nature. As the Lord said in revelation to Joseph Smith, Latter-day Saints are to “seek [learning] out of the best books words of wisdom…even by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118).

We hope all in the North Star community can find these messages inspiring, empowering, and sanctifying as we allow them to turn us ever more fully to the Savior and to His redeeming power.

 

Addresses by General Authorities and Auxiliary Officers

The articles in this first section are by those who are current or former General Authorities and General Auxiliary leaders in the Church. These articles and addresses expound doctrines and teachings that are essential to understand in establishing a spiritual foundation that will sustain individuals in a vibrant faith in Christ and His restored Church as they may struggle to reconcile their sexuality with their spirituality or work through a myriad of life challenges.

The Inconvenient Messiah

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Jeffrey R. Holland was president of Brigham Young University when this devotional address was given on 27 February 1982. Elder Holland was called as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy in 1989 and as an apostle of the Lord in 1994.

“There is too much sexual transgression… This highest of all physical gratifications you were designed and created to enjoy. It is as natural as it is appealing. It is given of God to make us like God. And Satan has certainly capitalized on a divinely ordained appeal. But it is not yours without price. Not instantly. Not conveniently. Not with cozy corruption of eternal powers. It is to be earned, over time and with discipline. It, like every good thing, is God’s right to bestow, not Satan’s. When faced with that inherent appetite, a disciple of Christ must be willing to say, ‘Yes, but not this way.’ In time, with love, after marriage. The right and proper and sanctified physical relationship of a man and a woman is as much a part–indeed more a part–of God’s plan for us as is the eating of our daily bread. But there is no convenient Messiah. Salvation comes only through discipline and sacrifice.”

See the full address in multiple formats at BYU Speeches

Timing

Elder Dallin H. Oaks
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

BYU devotional address delivered on January 29, 2002.

“The first principle of the gospel is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith means trust–trust in God’s will, trust in His way of doing things, and trust in His timetable. We should not try to impose our timetable on His. As Elder Neal A. Maxwell has said: ‘The issue for us is trusting God enough to trust also His timing. If we can truly believe He has our welfare at heart, may we not let His plans unfold as He thinks best? The same is true with the second coming and with all those matters wherein our faith needs to include faith in the Lord’s timing for us personally, not just in His overall plans and purposes.’… Indeed, we cannot have true faith in the Lord without also having complete trust in the Lord’s will and in the Lord’s timing.”

Get the full address in multiple formats at BYU Speeches

In the Strength of the Lord

Elder David A. Bednar
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

BYU devotional address delivered on October 23, 2001. Elder Bednar was in the Seventy and serving as president of BYU-Idaho when this address was delivered.

“I suspect that you and I are much more familiar with the nature of the redeeming power of the Atonement than we are with the enabling power of the Atonement. It is one thing to know that Jesus Christ came to earth to die for us. That is fundamental and foundational to the doctrine of Christ. But we also need to appreciate that the Lord desires, through His Atonement and by the power of the Holy Ghost, to live in us–not only to direct us but also to empower us. I think most of us know that when we do things wrong, when we need help to overcome the effects of sin in our lives, the Savior has paid the price and made it possible for us to be made clean through His redeeming power. Most of us clearly understand that the Atonement is for sinners. I am not so sure, however, that we know and understand that the Atonement is also for saints.”

Get the full address in multiple formats at BYU Speeches

Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread

Elder D. Todd Christofferson
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

CES fireside address delivered on January 9, 2011.

“Some time before I was called as a General Authority, I faced a personal economic challenge that persisted for several years… Though I suffered then, as I look back now, I am grateful that there was not a quick solution to my problem. The fact that I was forced to turn to God for help almost daily over an extended period of years taught me truly how to pray and get answers to prayer and taught me in a very practical way to have faith in God. I came to know my Savior and my Heavenly Father in a way and to a degree that might not have happened otherwise or that might have taken me much longer to achieve. I learned that daily bread is a precious commodity. I learned that manna today can be as real as the physical manna of biblical history. I learned to trust in the Lord with all my heart. I learned to walk with Him day by day.”

Read or watch the full address on LDS.org

“Cast Not Away Therefore Thy Confidence”

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Ensign, October 2007

BYU devotional address delivered on March 2, 1999.

“The third lesson from the Lord’s spirit of revelation in the miracle of the crossing of the Red Sea is that, along with the illuminating revelation that points us toward a righteous purpose or duty, God will also provide the means and power to achieve that purpose. Trust in that eternal truth. If God has told you something is right, if something is indeed true for you, he will provide the way for you to accomplish it. That is true of joining the Church. It is true of getting an education, of going on a mission or of getting married or of any of a hundred worthy tasks in your young lives. Remember what the Savior said to the Prophet Joseph in the Sacred Grove. What was the problem in 1820? Why was Joseph not to join any other Church? It was at least in part because ‘they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof’.”

Get the full address in multiple formats at BYU Speeches

Content With The Things Allotted Unto Us

Elder Neal A. Maxwell
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

“Yet there are other fixed limitations in life. For instance, some have allotments including physical, mental, or geographic constraints. There are those who are unmarried, through no fault of their own, or yearning but childless couples. Still others face persistent and unreconciled relationships within their circles of loved ones, including offspring who have ‘[become] for themselves,’ resistant to parental counsel (3 Ne. 1:29). In such and similar situations, there are so many prickly and daily reminders… Some undergo searing developments that cut suddenly into mortality’s status quo. Some have trials to pass through, while still others have allotments they are to live with. Paul lived with his ‘thorn in the flesh’ (2 Cor. 12:7). Suffice it to say, such mortal allotments will be changed in the world to come. The exception is unrepented sin that shapes our status in the next world.”

Read or watch the full address on LDS.org

The Tongue Can Be a Sharp Sword

Elder Marvin J. Ashton
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

“Perhaps the greatest charity comes when we are kind to each other, when we don’t judge or categorize someone else, when we simply give each other the benefit of the doubt or remain quiet. Charity is accepting someone’s differences, weaknesses, and shortcomings; having patience with someone who has let us down; or resisting the impulse to become offended when someone doesn’t handle something the way we might have hoped. Charity is refusing to take advantage of another’s weakness and being willing to forgive someone who has hurt us. Charity is expecting the best of each other.”

Read or watch the full address on LDS.org.

Lessons from Liberty Jail

Elder Jeffery R. Holland
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

“Remaining true to our Christian principles is the only way divine influence can help us. The Spirit has a near-impossible task to get through to a heart that is filled with hate or anger or vengeance or self-pity. Those are all antithetical to the Spirit of the Lord. On the other hand, the Spirit finds instant access to a heart striving to be charitable and forgiving, long-suffering and kind—principles of true discipleship. What a testimony that gospel principles are to apply at all times and in all situations and that if we strive to remain faithful, the triumph of a Christian life can never be vanquished, no matter how grim the circumstance might be.”

Read or watch the full address on LDS.org.

“According to the Desire of [Our] Hearts”

Elder Neal A. Maxwell
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Desire denotes a real longing or craving. Hence righteous desires are much more than passive preferences or fleeting feelings. Of course our genes, circumstances, and environments matter very much, and they shape us significantly. Yet there remains an inner zone in which we are sovereign, unless we abdicate. In this zone lies the essence of our individuality and our personal accountability. Therefore, what we insistently desire, over time, is what we will eventually become and what we will receive in eternity. “

Read or watch the full address on LDS.org

“The Desires of Our Hearts”

Elder Dallin H. Oaks
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

BYU devotional address delivered on October 8, 1985.

“Our divinely granted willpower gives us control over our desires, but it may take many years for us to be sure that we have willed and educated them to the point that all are entirely righteous. President Joseph F. Smith taught that the ‘education…of our desires is one of far-reaching importance to our happiness in life.’ How do we educate our desires? We begin, I suppose, with our feelings. The desires of our hearts are deep-seated and fundamental. But our feelings are closer to the surface and easier for us to identify and influence… In order to have righteous desires, we have to control our thoughts and achieve appropriate feelings. My widowed mother understood that principle. ‘Pray about your feelings,’ she used to say. She taught her three children that we should pray to have the right kind of feelings about our experiences—positive or negative—and about the people we knew. If our feelings were right, we would be more likely to take right actions and to act for the right reasons.”

Get the full address in multiple formats at BYU Speeches

But if Not…

Elder Dennis E. Simmons
Of the Second Quorum of the Seventy
Ensign, May 2004

“The Lord has given us agency, the right and the responsibility to decide. He tests us by allowing us to be challenged. He assures us that He will not suffer us to be tempted beyond our ability to withstand. But we must understand that great challenges make great men. We don’t seek tribulation, but if we respond in faith, the Lord strengthens us. The but if nots can become remarkable blessings.”

Read or watch the full address on LDS.org

Of Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments

Elder Jeffery R. Holland
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

BYU devotional address delivered on 12 January 1988. Jeffrey R. Holland was president of Brigham Young University when this devotional address was delivered.

“I submit to you that no power, priesthood or otherwise, is given by God so universally to so many with virtually no control over its use except self-control. And I submit to you that you will never be more like God at any other time in this life than when you are expressing that particular power. Of all the titles he has chosen for himself, Father is the one he declares, and Creation is his watchword–especially human creation, creation in his image… You and I, we are his prized possessions, and we are the earthly evidence, however inadequate, of what he truly is. Human life–that is the greatest of God’s powers, the most mysterious and magnificent chemistry of it all–and you and I have been given it, but under the most serious and sacred of restrictions. You and I who can make neither mountain nor moonlight, not one raindrop nor a single rose–yet we have this greater gift in an absolutely unlimited way. And the only control placed on us is self-control–self-control born of respect for the divine sacramental power it is.”

Read the full address. | Purchase MP3 or eBook at DeseretBook.com

“Endure It Well”

Elder Neal A. Maxwell
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

“On one of those rare occasions when His very voice was heard, the Father testified, ‘Yea, the words of my Beloved are true and faithful. He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved’ (2 Ne 31:15). Of all that the Father might have said, He stressed endurance. Why? First, because God has repeatedly said He would structure mortality to be a proving and testing experience (See Abr. 3:25; Mosiah 23:21). Brothers and sisters, he has certainly kept His promise. He has carried out His divine intent, hasn’t He? Thus, even our fiery trials, said Peter, should not be thought of as ‘some strange thing’ (1 Peter 4:12). Hence, enduring is vital, and those who so last will be first spiritually!”

Read or watch the full address on LDS.orgVideo

Quick to Observe

Elder David A. Bednar
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

BYU devotional address delivered on May 10, 2005.

“The gift of discernment opens to us vistas that stretch far beyond what can be seen with natural eyes or heard with natural ears. Discerning is seeing with spiritual eyes and feeling with the heart—seeing and feeling the falsehood of an idea or the goodness in another person. Discerning is hearing with spiritual ears and feeling with the heart—hearing and feeling the unspoken concern in a statement or the truthfulness of a testimony or doctrine.”

Get the full address in multiple formats at BYU Speeches

“An High Priest of Good Things to Come”

Elder Jeffery R. Holland
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

“Every one of us has times when we need to know things will get better. Moroni spoke of it in the Book of Mormon as ‘hope for a better world.’ 2 For emotional health and spiritual stamina, everyone needs to be able to look forward to some respite, to something pleasant and renewing and hopeful, whether that blessing be near at hand or still some distance ahead. It is enough just to know we can get there, that however measured or far away, there is the promise of ‘good things to come.'”

Read or watch the full address on LDS.org

Continue in Patience

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Second Counselor in the First Presidency
Ensign, May 2010

“Brigham Young taught that when something came up which he could not comprehend fully, he would pray to the Lord, “Give me patience to wait until I can understand it for myself.” 5 And then Brigham would continue to pray until he could comprehend it… Often the deep valleys of our present will be understood only by looking back on them from the mountains of our future experience. Often we can’t see the Lord’s hand in our lives until long after trials have passed. Often the most difficult times of our lives are essential building blocks that form the foundation of our character and pave the way to future opportunity, understanding, and happiness.”

Read or watch the full address on LDS.org

Patience

Elder Neal A. Maxwell
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

BYU devotional address delivered on 27 November 1979.

“In our approach to life, patience also helps us to realize that while we may be ready to move on, having had enough of a particular learning experience, our continued presence is often needed as a part of the learning environment of others. Patience is thus closely connected with two other central attributes of Christianity–love and humility.”

Get the full address in multiple formats at BYU Speeches

A Sense of the Sacred

Elder D. Todd Christofferson
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

CES fireside address delivered on November 7, 2004.

“The importance of having a sense of the sacred is simply this—if one does not appreciate holy things, he will lose them. Absent a feeling of reverence, he will grow increasingly casual in attitude and lax in conduct. He will drift from the moorings that his covenants with God could provide. His feeling of accountability to God will diminish and then be forgotten. Thereafter, he will care only about his own comfort and satisfying his uncontrolled appetites. Finally, he will come to despise sacred things, even God, and then he will despise himself. On the other hand, with a sense of the sacred, one grows in understanding and truth. The Holy Spirit becomes his frequent and then constant companion. More and more he will stand in holy places and be entrusted with holy things. Just the opposite of cynicism and despair, his end is eternal life.”

Get the full address in multiple formats at BYU Speeches

But for a Small Moment

Elder Neal A. Maxwell
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

BYU fireside address delivered on 1 September 1974.

“It is interesting to me, brothers and sisters, to note that among the qualities of a saint is the capacity to develop patience and to cope with the things that life inflicts upon us. That capacity brings together two prime attributes–patience and endurance. These are qualities, in the process of giving service to mankind that most people reject or undervalue. Most people would gladly serve mankind if somehow they could get it over with once, preferably with applause and recognition. But, for the sake of righteousness, to endure, to be patient in the midst of affliction, in the midst of being misunderstood, and in the midst of suffering–that is sainthood!”

Get the full address in multiple formats at BYU Speeches

Love and Law

Elder Dallin H. Oaks
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Ensign, November 2009

“Some seem to value God’s love because of their hope that His love is so great and so unconditional that it will mercifully excuse them from obeying His laws. In contrast, those who understand God’s plan for His children know that God’s laws are invariable, which is another great evidence of His love for His children. Mercy cannot rob justice, and those who obtain mercy are ‘they who have kept the covenant and observed the commandment’ (D&C 54:6).”

Read or watch the full address on LDS.org

It Is Not Good for Man or Woman to Be Alone

Sister Sheri L. Dew
Second Counselor, General Relief Society Presidency
Ensign, November 2001

“Neither Adam with his priesthood nor Eve with her motherhood could bring about the Fall alone. Their unique roles were interconnected. They counseled with one another, lifted burdens neither could have lifted alone, and then faced the wilderness, with all of its uncertainty, together. This is the Lord’s pattern for righteous men and women.

“Now, some of us encounter life circumstances that are less than ideal. I understand this. I personally deal with this. And yet, my dear young friends, in whose hands rests the future of the Church and its families, I must tell you that your understanding of this divine pattern will affect your marriage, your family, your ability to help build the kingdom, and your eternal life.”

Read or watch the full address on LDS.org

The Meaning of Repentance

Elder Theodore M. Burton
Of the First Quorum of Seventy
Ensign, August 1988

“As a General Authority, I have prepared information for the First Presidency to use in considering applications to readmit repentant transgressors into the Church and to restore priesthood and temple blessings. Many times a bishop will write, ‘I feel he has suffered enough!’ But suffering is not repentance. Suffering comes from lack of complete repentance. A stake president will write, ‘I feel he has been punished enough!’ But punishment is not repentance. Punishment follows disobedience and precedes repentance. A husband will write, ‘My wife has confessed everything!’ But confession is not repentance. Confession is an admission of guilt that occurs as repentance begins. A wife will write, ‘My husband is filled with remorse!’ But remorse is not repentance. Remorse and sorrow continue because a person has not yet fully repented. Suffering, punishment, confession, remorse, and sorrow may sometimes accompany repentance, but they are not repentance. What, then, is repentance?”

Read the full article on LDS.org

Concern for the One

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Ensign, May 2008

BYU devotional address delivered on May 10, 2005.

“Some are lost because they are different. They feel as though they don’t belong. Perhaps because they are different, they find themselves slipping away from the flock. They may look, act, think, and speak differently than those around them and that sometimes causes them to assume they don’t fit in. They conclude that they are not needed.

“Tied to this misconception is the erroneous belief that all members of the Church should look, talk, and be alike. The Lord did not people the earth with a vibrant orchestra of personalities only to value the piccolos of the world. Every instrument is precious and adds to the complex beauty of the symphony. All of Heavenly Father’s children are different in some degree, yet each has his own beautiful sound that adds depth and richness to the whole.”

Read or watch the full address on LDS.org

Truth and Tolerance

Elder Dallin H. Oaks
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

BYU devotional address delivered on 11 September 2011.

“The philosophy of moral relativism, which holds that each person is free to choose for himself what is right and wrong, is becoming the unofficial creed for many in America and other Western nations. At the extreme level, evil acts that used to be localized and covered up like a boil are now legalized and paraded like a banner. Persuaded by this philosophy, many of the rising generation—youth and young adults—are caught up in self-serving pleasures, pagan painting and piercing of body parts, foul language, revealing attire, pornography, dishonesty, and degrading sexual indulgence.”

Read the full address on LDS.org | Watch Video

The Other Prodigal

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Ensign, May 2002

“No one of us is less treasured or cherished of God than another. I testify that He loves each of us—insecurities, anxieties, self-image, and all. He doesn’t measure our talents or our looks; He doesn’t measure our professions or our possessions. He cheers on every runner, calling out that the race is against sin, not against each other. I know that if we will be faithful, there is a perfectly tailored robe of righteousness ready and waiting for everyone, ‘robes … made … white in the blood of the Lamb.'”

Read or watch the full conference address on LDS.org

One Step after Another

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Ensign, November 2001

“Our Heavenly Father knows that we must begin our climb from where we are. ‘When you climb up a ladder,’ the Prophet Joseph Smith taught, ‘you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the gospel—you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation. But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil before you will have learned them.’

“Our Heavenly Father loves each one of us and understands that this process of climbing higher takes preparation, time, and commitment. He understands that we will make mistakes at times, that we will stumble, that we will become discouraged and perhaps even wish to give up and say to ourselves it is not worth the struggle.”

Read or watch the full conference address on LDS.org

Put off the Natural Man and Come off Conqueror

Elder Neal A. Maxwell
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

“One of the last, subtle strongholds of selfishness is the natural feeling that we ‘own’ ourselves. Of course we are free to choose and are personally accountable. Yes, we have individuality. But those who have chosen to “come unto Christ” soon realize that they do not ‘own’ themselves. Instead, they belong to Him. We are to become consecrated along with our gifts, our appointed days, and our very selves. Hence, there is a stark difference between stubbornly “owning” oneself and submissively belonging to God. Clinging to the old self is not a mark of independence, but of indulgence!”

Read or watch the full address on LDS.org

The Tender Mercies of the Lord

Elder David A. Bednar
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

“We should not underestimate or overlook the power of the Lord’s tender mercies. The simpleness, the sweetness, and the constancy of the tender mercies of the Lord will do much to fortify and protect us in the troubled times in which we do now and will yet live. When words cannot provide the solace we need or express the joy we feel, when it is simply futile to attempt to explain that which is unexplainable, when logic and reason cannot yield adequate understanding about the injustices and inequities of life, when mortal experience and evaluation are insufficient to produce a desired outcome, and when it seems that perhaps we are so totally alone, truly we are blessed by the tender mercies of the Lord and made mighty even unto the power of deliverance (see 1 Ne. 1:20).”

Read or watch the full address on LDS.org

“Lest Ye Be Wearied and Faint in Your Minds”

Elder Neal A. Maxwell
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

“One’s life, therefore, cannot be both faith-filled and stress-free. President Wilford Woodruff counseled us all about the mercy that is inherent in some adversity: ‘The chastisements we have had from time to time have been for our good, and are essential to learn wisdom, and carry us through a school of experience we never could have passed through without.’

“Therefore, how can you and I really expect to glide naively through life, as if to say, ‘Lord, give me experience, but not grief, not sorrow, not pain, not opposition, not betrayal, and certainly not to be forsaken. Keep from me, Lord, all those experiences which made Thee what Thou art! Then let me come and dwell with Thee and fully share Thy joy!'”

Read or watch the full address on LDS.org

For Times of Trouble

Elder Jeffery R. Holland
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

BYU devotional address delivered on March 18, 1980. Jeffrey R. Holland was president of Brigham Young University when this devotional address was delivered.

“If there is one lament I cannot abide—and I hear it from adults as well as students—it is the poor, pitiful, withered cry, ‘Well, that’s just the way I am.’ If you want to talk about discouragement, that phrase is one that discourages me. Though not a swearing man, I am always sorely tempted to try my hand when I hear that. Please spare me your speeches about ‘That’s just the way I am.’ I’ve heard that from too many people who wanted to sin and call it psychology. And I use the word sin again to cover a vast range of habits, some seemingly innocent enough, that nevertheless bring discouragement and doubt and despair.”

Get the full address in multiple formats at BYU Speeches

On Being Worthy

Elder Marvin J. Ashton
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Ensign, May 1989

“It occurs to me that there are probably hundreds or even thousands who do not understand what worthiness is. Worthiness is a process, and perfection is an eternal trek. We can be worthy to enjoy certain privileges without being perfect. Perhaps it is reasonable to conclude that personal measurement or judgment oftentimes may be severe and inaccurate. We may get bogged down as we try to understand and define worthiness. All of us are particularly aware of our shortcomings and weaknesses. Therefore, it is easy for us to feel that we are unworthy of blessings we desire and that we are not as worthy to hold an office or calling as someone next door.”

Read or watch the full address on LDS.org

When Do the Angels Come?

Elder Bruce C. Hafen
Of the First Quorum of Seventy
Ensign, April 1992

Bruce C. Hafen was provost at Brigham Young University when this article was published.

Unseen angelic manifestations in the “extremities” of our lives may, over time, have more profound meaning than the more visible outpouring of Kirtland. The Lord has promised that if you are true and faithful, the Lord himself may be ‘in your midst and ye cannot see me.’ (D&C 38:7.) Even if you do not see him, he can “be on your right hand and on your left, and [his] Spirit shall be in your hearts,” and the angels who came to Kirtland will be ’round about you, to bear you up.’… When do the angels come? If we seek to be worthy, they are near us when we need them most. The mountain might even be full with the horsemen of Israel and their chariots of fire.”

Read the full article on LDS.org

God is a Gardener

President Hugh B. Brown
Of the First Presidency of the Church

BYU Commencement address delivered on May 31, 1968.

“There are many of you who are going to have some very difficult experiences: disappointment, heartbreak, bereavement, defeat. You are going to be tested and tried to prove what you are made of. I just want you to know that if you don’t get what you think you ought to get, remember, ‘God is the gardener here. He knows what he wants you to be.’ Submit yourselves to his will. Be worthy of his blessings, and you will get his blessings.”

Download the audio of this address at BYU Speeches. | Read selection of this address on LDS.org

Articles and Addresses by Latter-day Saints and Others

The articles in this section are by those Latter-day Saint thinkers, scholars, teachers, and inspirational writers, as well as other thinkers and writers who are not members of the Church. These articles and addresses expound concepts and ideas that are likewise essential to understand in establishing a spiritual and intellectual foundation that will sustain individuals as they wrestle with difficulties and doubts they may have as they struggle to reconcile their sexuality with their spirituality.

God and Human Tragedy: How the Lord Transforms Tragedy Into Triumph

Robert L. Millet, Ph.D.
BYU Education Week | August 18, 2003

“It seems to me that there is a mindset, characteristic of our day, that opens us to despair. That mindset is one in which we assume, given all the pleasures and luxuries of our day and age, that all should be well with us, that we should be perpetually happy. Many of us have bought into and imbibed the jargon and the philosophy of our pop psychology world. The fact is, life can be tough. We are not guaranteed a stress free existence, nor did the Lord promise us a mortal life void of challenge and difficulty.”

Listen to the full address at BYU Broadcasting. | Video

“Believest thou…?”: Faith, Cognitive Dissonance, and the Psychology of Religious Experience

Wendy Ulrich, Ph.D.
2005 FAIR Conference Address

“In my experience, neither critics nor apologists for the Church do much to convince me whether or not to believe. Debates, analysis, and scientific evidence may alternately undermine or support my beliefs, but belief itself is a choice I wrestle God for, somewhere in a dark swampland of my inner landscape, where not only God’s credibility but my own are at stake….

“I remember a discussion about apostasy in a Relief Society class in which someone commented that one reason people leave the church is because they become disillusioned, and that therefore we need to be careful not to become disillusioned. But it seems to me that disillusionment is a very good thing. I do not want to live a life based on illusions, and being disillusioned is very valuable to me. I suspect that I have many illusions, many expectations and beliefs that are not well-founded and that I am well-served to be rid of.”

Read the full address at FAIRLDS.org. | Video, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6

Why the Church is as True as the Gospel

Eugene England, Ph.D.
Sunstone 22, 3/4 (June 1999): 61–69.

“Yet one cliche Mormons often repeat is that while the gospel is true, even perfect, the Church is, after all, a human instru­ment, historybound, and therefore understandably imper­fect—something to be endured for the sake of the gospel. Nevertheless, I am persuaded…by my best thinking that, in fact, the Church is as ‘true,’ as effective, as sure an instrument of salva­tion as the system of doctrines we call the gospel—and that is so in good part because of the very flaws, human exaspera­tions, and historical problems that occasionally give us all some anguish.”

Read the full article at EugeneEngland.org. | PDF

“Lightning Out of Heaven”: Joseph Smith and the Forging of Community

Terryl L. Givens, Ph.D.
BYU Studies, 45:1, 2006

“It would seem that among those who vigorously pursue the life of the mind in particular, who are committed to the scholarly pursuit of knowledge and rational inquiry, faith is as often a casualty as it is a product. The call to faith is a summons to engage the heart, to attune it to resonate in sympathy with principles and values and ideals that we devoutly hope are true, and to have reasonable but not certain grounds for believing them to be true. I am convinced that there must be grounds for doubt as well as belief in order to render the choice more truly a choice—and, therefore, the more deliberate and laden with personal vulnerability and investment… We are acted upon, in other words, by appeals to our personal values, our yearnings, our fears, our appetites, and our egos. What we choose to embrace, to be responsive to, is the purest reflection of who we are and what we love. That is why faith, the choice to believe, is, in the final analysis, an action that is positively laden with moral significance.”

Read the full address in BYU Studies. | Get audio and other formats at BYU Speeches.

Values of Christian Families: Do They Come from Unrecognized Idols?

Brent D. Slife, Ph.D.
BYU Studies, 38:2, 1999

“The important political and religious debate that is now occurring in regard to family values requires some knowledge of both philosophies [of modernism and post-modernism]. Christians in this debate may need to pay particular attention to the possibility that only a relational center for family values creates the space necessary for a specifically God-centered outcome. The other three–hedonism, moralism, and relativism–lead to an unrecognized idolatry where Christians are drawn away from God, who should be the source of their values.”

Read the full address in BYU Studies.

Books by General Authorities and Auxiliary Officers

The books in this section are by those Latter-day Saint thinkers, scholars, teachers, and inspirational writers, as well as other thinkers and writers who are not members of the Church. These books expound concepts and ideas that are likewise essential to understand in establishing a spiritual and intellectual foundation that will sustain individuals as they wrestle with difficulties and doubts they may have as they struggle to reconcile their sexuality with their spirituality.

All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience

Elder Neal A. Maxwell
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

“In the midst of deep affliction, the Prophet Joseph Smith was told, ‘All these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.’ The world at that moment was shown anew that God is aware of man’s suffering, and that pain is not without purpose. Such concepts are not always easy to accept, but, as Elder Maxwell observes, ‘the hardness is usually not in their complexity, but in the deep demands these doctrines make on us.’

All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience focuses on some of the ‘hard doctrines’ that members of the Church must grapple with in the latter days. This book will help the Saints prepare for the trials ahead, while assuring them that the power of God’s love is constantly available to the faithful.”

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The Broken Heart: Applying the Atonement to Life’s Experiences

Elder Bruce C. Hafen
Of the First Quorum of the Seventy

“The Savior taught that he came to earth in part to ‘heal the brokenhearted.’ The Broken Heart begins with the assumption that life is a learning laboratory. In order to learn, we undergo experiences that subject us to sorrow and contamination. Elder Bruce C. Hafen offers hope by teaching that the Savior’s victory can compensate not only for our sins, ‘but also for our inadequacies; not only for our deliberate mistakes, but also for sin committed in ignorance, our errors of judgment, and our unavoidable imperfections.’ The Broken Heart shows how the Atonement is the ultimate source of our forgiveness, our perfection, our peace of mind.”

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The Believing Heart: Nourishing the Seed of Faith

Elder Bruce C. Hafen
Of the First Quorum of the Seventy

“The four essays in The Believing Heart offer fresh insights into the principle of faith. Using true experiences and scriptural illustrations, Bruce C. Hafen shows the pattern of how faith grows The author recognizes the problems in developing faith and the questions that obscure it: What is the purpose of agency? Why does a veil separate us from God? How can we bridge the gap between the real and the ideal? Addressing these questions and others, the author offers compelling arguements for the principle and practice of faith in the modern world.”

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The Belonging Heart: The Atonement and Relationships with God and Family

Elder Bruce C. Hafen
Of the First Quorum of the Seventy

“The third in a trilogy of books relating to the Atonement, The Belonging Heart explores what it means to feel at one with our Father in Heaven, with Christ and his cause, and with our family and friends. This book’s theme deals with how the Atonement helps us build our relationships with the Lord and with others, especially family members. As we accept the Atonement, the Lord blesses us with a belonging heart. When we commit our lives to God, we show that commitment by how we give our lives, a day at a time for the benefit of those we love by how fully we let ourselves belong to them. The authors explain, ‘In this kind of life, a full life of gracious connections with God and with other people, we may find where we really belong — for what we really were made.’ This thought-provoking book helps us learn to gain the fullness of mortality by ‘always abounding in good works…[that] Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal [us] his’ (Mosiah 5:15).”

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The Infinite Atonement

Elder Tad R. Callister
Of the Presidency of the Seventy

“With The Infinite Atonement, Brother Tad R. Callister offers us what may be the most comprehensive, yet understandable, treatment of the Atonement in our day. He thoughtfully probes the infinite scope of this “great and last sacrifice,” describing its power and breadth and explaining how it redeems us all.

“Using the scriptures and the words of the prophets, Brother Callister explores the Savior’s divinity and the depth of his love for mankind. He explains the blessings that flow from the Atonement, providing insight into the resurrection, repentance, and the gifts of peace, motivation, freedom, grace, and exaltation. He explains the relationship of justice and mercy and the importance of ordinances. Through discussing the effects of the fall of Adam and our individual sins, he reminds us in a powerful way of the incalculable debt of gratitude we owe Christ for his unparalleled offering.”

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Books by Latter-day Saints and Others

The following books are by current or former General Authorities and General Auxiliary leaders in the Church. They likewise expound doctrines and teachings that are essential to understand in establishing a spiritual foundation that will sustain individuals in a vibrant faith in Christ and His restored Church as they may struggle to reconcile their sexuality with their spirituality or work through a myriad of life challenges.

The Continuous Atonement

Brad Wilcox

“‘I’ll never do it again,’ we say — and then we do it. In a world full of challenges, temptations, and even addictions, it is easy to lose hope for ourselves and those we love. During times of discouragement, we must remember that the purpose of the Atonement of Jesus Christ is not just to cleanse and console, but also to transform — and that takes time. Christ is not waiting at the finish line once we have done —all we can do.” He is with us every step of the way, and His Atonement will be available as long as the perfecting process takes — continually…

“Most members of the Church acknowledge that perfection is a long-term process, but overlook the continuous nature of Christ’s Atonement that makes that process possible. Peace is found not by giving up or erasing the need to change, but by turning to the One who makes change possible and realizing that we get lots of chances to start again. So, if at first you don’t succeed either, don’t find excuses. Find the Savior and the blessings of His continuous Atonement.”

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Believing Christ: The Parable of the Bicycle and Other Good News

Stephen E. Robinson

“Author Stephen Robinson illustrates the power of the Savior as he uses analogies and parables, such as his own bicycle story, and scriptures and personal experiences in this moving, best-selling book. ‘Mortals have finite liabilities,’ he explains, ‘and Jesus has unlimited assets.’ By merging the two, exaltation can come. As long as we progress in some degree, the Lord will be pleased and will bless us. We must not only believe in Christ but also believe him — believe that he has the power to exalt us, that he can do what he claims. People will better understand the doctrines of mercy, justification, and salvation by grace after reading this book.”

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After All We Can Do: Grace Works

Robert L. Millet

“‘This book is about grace,’ writes Robert L. Millet. ‘This is a book about works. It is, in fact, a book about how “grace works.”‘ Members of many Christian faiths stress the importance of grace — some even denying the necessity of good works. Some Latter-day Saints react by mistakenly arguing that we don’t believe in grace. Brother Millet writes about our plight as fallen beings, what it means to be saved by grace, and why we should not fail to appreciate this heavenly gift. As he observes, ‘We have an obligation to cooperate with God in the salvation of our souls.’ Grace Works shows how each of us can allow Christ’s Atonement to purify and strengthen us as we strive to overcome our individual sins and mortal limitations.”

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Mere Christianity

C.S. Lewis

Mere Christianity is C.S. Lewis’s forceful and accessible doctrine of Christian belief. First heard as informal radio broadcasts and then published as three separate books — The Case for Christianity, Christian Behavior and Beyond PersonalityMere Christianity brings together what Lewis sees as the fundamental truths of the religion. Rejecting the boundaries that divide Christianity’s many denominations, C.S. Lewis finds a common ground on which all those who have Christian faith can stand together, proving that ‘at the center of each there is something, or a Someone, who against all divergences of belief, all differences of temperament, all memories of mutual persecution, speaks the same voice.'”

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Weakness is Not Sin: The Liberating Distinction that Awakens our Strengths

Wendy Ulrich

“What is the difference between sin and weakness? And what difference does it make to distinguish between them? With keen doctrinal and professional insights, psychologist Wendy Ulrich helps us understand that sin and weakness have different origins, lead to different consequences, and call for different responses. She teaches readers how to distinguish motivating guilt from debilitating shame; how to become genuinely humble; how to identify specific strengths; and how to build a life based on contributing from our strengths. Understanding the liberating distinction between weakness and sin sets us free to put more energy into building on our strengths, helping us to feel worthy and to find true joy in our redemption.”

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The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

Brene Brown

“In The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown, a leading expert on shame, authenticity, and belonging, shares ten guideposts on the power of Wholehearted living—a way of engaging with the world from a place of worthiness.

“Each day we face a barrage of images and messages from society and the media telling us who, what, and how we should be. We are led to believe that if we could only look perfect and lead perfect lives, we’d no longer feel inadequate. So most of us perform, please, and perfect, all the while thinking, “What if I can’t keep all of these balls in the air? Why isn’t everyone else working harder and living up to my expectations? What will people think if I fail or give up? When can I stop proving myself?”

“In her ten guideposts, Brown engages our minds, hearts, and spirits as she explores how we can cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, ‘No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough,’ and to go to bed at night thinking, ‘Yes, I am sometimes afraid, but I am also brave. And, yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am worthy of love and belonging.'”

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Man’s Search for Meaning

Viktor E. Frankl

“Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl’s memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival. Between 1942 and 1945 Frankl labored in four different camps, including Auschwitz, while his parents, brother, and pregnant wife perished. Based on his own experience and the experiences of those he treated in his practice, Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose. Frankl’s theory—known as logotherapy, from the Greek word logos (‘meaning’)—holds that our primary drive in life is not pleasure, as Freud maintained, but the discovery and pursuit of what we personally find meaningful.

“At the time of Frankl’s death in 1997, Man’s Search for Meaning had sold more than 10 million copies in twenty-four languages. A 1991 reader survey by the Library of Congress and the Book-of-the-Month Club that asked readers to name a ‘book that made a difference in your life’ found Man’s Search for Meaning among the ten most influential books in America. “

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The Peacegiver: How Christ Offers to Heal Our Hearts and Homes

James L. Ferrell

“How is Christ the answer to a strained relationship with child, parent or sibling? What if I am being mistreated — what does the atonement say about that? How can I discover the desire to repent when I don’t feel the need to repent? These are the challenging questions of daily life, the questions to which the gospel must provide an answer if it is to have living, cleansing, redeeming power.

The Peacegiver is a book about the answers to these questions. In both content and form it is unlike other books about the atonement, for it unfolds as compelling story in which the characters learn about the Atonement as they struggle over the problems in their lives — problems we each share. The book therefore allows us not only to “learn about” the Atonement but also to have an experience with it.

“‘My peace I give unto you,’ the Savior declared. The Peacegiver explores in a deeply personal way what we must do to receive the peace he stands willing to give.”

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Falling to Heaven: The Surprising Path to Happiness

James L. Ferrell

“As incredible as it may sound, much of the sadness and frustration we feel in mortality is actually created by our well-meaning efforts to find happiness. Relief from this predicament can be found through a divine gospel paradox that rescues us from failed roads and puts us on the surprising path to happiness.

“Through engaging stories and fresh, invigorating gospel insights, James Ferrell has written a book that challenges our unquestioned and perhaps mistaken assumptions about many of life’s fundamental concerns. For example, what if happiness depends less on forgiving ourselves than on giving up that quest? What if repentance is even sweeter than forgiveness? What if neither happiness nor heaven can be reached by climbing?

Falling to Heaven is an account of a gospel that’s specifically designed to change our minds and transform our hearts. It is an account of the truths of Christ that really do set us free.”

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Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul

John Eldredge

“God designed men to be dangerous, says John Eldredge. Simply look at the dreams and desires written in the heart of every boy: To be a hero, to be a warrior, to live a life of adventure and risk. Sadly, most men abandon those dreams and desires-aided by a Christianity that feels like nothing more than pressure to be a “nice guy.” It is no wonder that many men avoid church, and those who go are often passive and bored to death. In this provocative book, Eldredge gives women a look inside the true heart of a man and gives men permission to be what God designed them to be-dangerous, passionate, alive, and free.”

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The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth

M. Scott Peck

“Perhaps no book in this generation has had a more profound impact on our intellectual and spiritual lives than The Road Less Traveled. With sales of more than seven million copies in the United States and Canada, and translations into more than twenty-three languages, it has made publishing history, with more than ten years on the New York Times bestseller list…

“Written in a voice that is timeless in its message of understanding, The Road Less Traveled continues to help us explore the very nature of loving relationships and leads us toward a new serenity and fullness of life. It helps us learn how to distinguish dependency from love; how to become a more sensitive parent; and ultimately how to become one’s own true self.”

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Bonds That Make Us Free: Healing Our Relationships, Coming to Ourselves

C. Terry Warner

Bonds That Make Us Free is a ground-breaking book that suggests the remedy for our troubling emotions by addressing their root causes. You’ll learn how, in ways we scarcely suspect, we are responsible for feelings like anger, envy, and insecurity that we have blamed on others. (How many times have you said, “You’re making me mad!”)

“Even though we fear to admit this, it is good news. If we produce these emotions, it falls within our power to stop them. But we have to understand our part in them far better than we do, and that is what this remarkable book teaches.

“Because the key is seeing truthfully, the book itself is therapeutic. As you read and identify with the many true stories of people who have seen a transformation in their lives, you will find yourself reflecting with fresh honesty upon your relationships. This will bond you to others in love and respect and lift you out of the negative thoughts and feelings that have held you captive. You will feel your heart changing even as you read.”

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