I think it’s a shame that sometimes the CES firesides, which are addressed to young single adults, often go unnoticed by the rest of the Church. When given by an Apostle, they are frequently among the most direct and instructional talks that our modern Prophets give to a large audience. Luckily, they’re available on the Church website, for the rest of us.
Last Sunday Elder David A. Bednar was at BYU-Idaho and gave the CES YSA fireside. I’ve sat there in the Hart building and listened to him speak many times when he was the President of BYU-I. As awesome and powerful as those devotionals were, ever since he became an Apostle, there is definitely something different, more powerful in his teachings of the gospel and witness of Christ.
Elder Bednar spoke on the importance of our physical bodies in God’s great plan of salvation. In my opinion, he taught these doctrines with great clarity. After doing so, he warned of Satan’s methods of trying to get us to misuse or minimize (or both) our bodies. He touched upon the age-old warnings against the misuse of our bodies, but then issued warnings that might be new to many, related to minimizing the importance of our bodies by spending too much time online, watching TV, playing video games, etc., where we forget our physical body and life is lived completely through the computer or some medium other than our God-give senses.
Characteristic of just how in-touch these great men are, he even specifically named some of today’s most popular virtual worlds and online social networks such as Second Life. Its interesting too that he speaks to both ends of the spectrum: those who spend too much time at a computer, as well as those who are overly conscious of their body and/or are adicted to their own body’s drug of adrenaline.
You can listen to or watch his entire talk here:
If you’re short on time, there’s no written version available yet, so here’s some of my favorite quotes in chronological order which make a sort of abbreviated version. Any mistakes are mine. All italics and topic headers are mine and used for emphasis:
“When any of heavenly father’s children misuse their physical tabernacles by violating the law of chastity, by using drugs and addictive substances, by disfiguring or defacing themselves, or by worshiping the false idol of body image-whether their own or that of others-Satan is delighted.”
“To those of us who know and understand the Plan of Salvation, any defiling of the body is rebellion and a denial of our true identity as sons and daughters of God.”
“We diminish the importance of our bodies, and jeopardize our physical wellbeing, by going to unusual and dangerous extremes, searching for an ever-greater and more exhilarating adrenaline rush. …Putting at risk the very instrument God has given us to receive the learning experiences of mortality, merely to pursue a thrill or some supposed fun, to bolster ego or gain acceptance, truly minimizes the importance of our physical bodies.”
Excessive Gaming and Online Activity
“My heart aches when a young couple, sealed together in the House of the Lord for time and for all of eternity, by the power of the holy Priesthood, experiences marital difficulties because of the addicting effect of excessive video gaming or online socializing.”
“You may now be asking yourself ‘but Brother Bednar you began tonight by talking about the importance of a physical body in our eternal progression. Are you suggesting that video gaming and various types of computer mediated communication can play a role in minimizing the importance of our physical bodies?’ Brothers and Sisters, that is precisely what I am declaring.”
“A simulation or model can lead to spiritual impairment and danger if the fidelity is high and the purposes are bad; such as experimenting with actions contrary to God’s commandments or enticing us to think or do things we would not otherwise think or do because ‘It’s only a game.'”
“Today I raise an Apostolic voice of warning about the potentially stifling, suffocating, suppressing, and constraining impact of some kinds of cyberspace interactions and experiences, upon our souls.” Tev’s Note: He noted that these same concerns apply to TV and other media as well.
“Please be careful of becoming so immersed and engrossed in pixels, texting, earbuds, twittering, online social networking, and potentially addictive uses of media and the internet, that you fail to recognize the importance of your physical body and miss the richness of person-to-person communication.”
“Please understand, I am not suggesting all technology is inherently bad. It is not. Nor am I saying we should not use it’s many capabilities in appropriate ways to learn, to communicate, to lift and brighten lives and to build the Church. Of course we should. But I am raising a warning voice that we should not squander and damage authentic relationships by obsessing over contrived ones.”
“Beware, to the extent personal fidelity decreases, in computer mediated communications, and the purposes of such communications are distorted, perverted, and wicked, the potential for spiritual disaster is dangerously high. I implore you to turn away immediately and permanently from such places and activities.”
Downloading MP3’s, Copying Music and Movies
“Immoral thoughts and deeds, always, are immoral, even in cyberspace. Deceitful acts, supposedly veiled in secrecy, such as illegally downloading music from the internet or copying CD’s or DVD’s for distribution to friends and family, are nonetheless deceitful. We are all accountable to God, and ultimately we will be judged of him according to our deeds and the desires of our heart. ‘For as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.'”
Defend Against Satan’s Attacks on Our Sacred Bodies
“Lucifer will encourage you to misuse and to minimize the importance of your physical body. He will attempt to substitute the monotony of virtual repetition, for the infinite variety of God’s creations, and convince us we are merely mortal things to be acted upon, instead of eternal souls blessed with moral agency to act for ourselves.”
“I offer two questions for consideration in your personal pondering and prayerful studying. Question number 1: does the use of various technologies and media invite or impede the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost in your life. Question number 2: does the time you spend using various technologies and media enlarge or restrict your capacity to live, to love, and to serve in meaningful ways?“
I was personally glad to hear his very direct comment about illegally downloading music and movies, and also copying CD’s and DVD’s. If you read my previous post on our divine potential, you know that I struggled with this at one time. I’ve since felt something of a need to defend my position on something that seems to have become so commonly accepted in our modern society. Its great to have the clarity of an Apostle of the Lord on the subject. I guess this is just one more way in which we as members of the true church will need to stand out and be different from those around us.