Address given at a
Twelve Stake Fireside
Brigham Young University
March 5, 1978
Regarding Moral Transgressions and Addictions:
The principles that we have talked about apply to any moral temptation.
There are counselors and professionals to help you.
Have you explored the possibility that the cause, when found, will turn out to be a very typical form of selfishness–selfishness in a very subtle form?
When one has the humility to admit that a spiritual disorder is tied to perversion and that selfishness rests at the root of it, already the way is open to the treatment of the condition.
It is very possible to cure it by treating selfishness.
Individuals guilty of very selfish acts inevitably hurt those around them. No person ever made a conscious decision to make unnatural behavior his life-style without sending brutal, destructive, selfish signals to those who love him.
The admission that one may suffer from selfishness cuts to the very quick. That is how deep the cut must be to repair many physical disorders.
If unselfishness can cure it–if it has to be applied for a long period of time, and thereafter continually–is it not worth it?
If I could announce to you some dramatic, even bizarre, cure for this condition, I am sure many would move without hesitation to accept it, but when we talk of little things, most, I fear, will receive it just as Naaman first received the message from the prophet Elisha. If I should tell you to do some great thing and you would be cured, would you not do it? How much better, then, for you to do the little things?
Do not try merely to discard a bad habit or a bad thought. Replace When you try to eliminate a bad habit, if the spot where it used to be is left open it will sneak back and crawl again into that empty space. It grew there; it will struggle to stay there. When you discard it, fill up the spot where it was. Replace it with something good. Replace it with unselfish thoughts, with unselfish acts. Then, if an evil habit or addiction tries to return, it will have to fight for attention. Sometimes it may win. Bad thoughts often have to be evicted a hundred times, or a thousand. But if they have to be evicted ten thousand times, never surrender to them. You are in charge of you. I repeat, it is very, very difficult to eliminate a bad habit just by trying to discard it. Replace it.
It is essential that you break all connections with those who for one reason or another encourage it. Do not go back to places where you were tempted. Do not frequent those places where people with like attractions gather. This may require an adjustment socially, occupationally, even geographically.
If you are involved in a liaison, no matter how innocent it may appear, break it up right now. Some things tie you to this kind of temptation. Quit them. Avoid the very appearance of evil. This may be very painful if you are entangled in a relationship with deep emotional ties. Cut those ties and encourage the other person to do likewise. Get it done soon, and get it done completely and finally.
The longer you have been afflicted, or the more deeply you have been involved, the more difficult and the longer the cure. Any relapse is a setback. But it this should happen, refuse to be discouraged. Take your medicine, however bitter it tastes. There is great power in the scriptures. Study the gospel–live it. Read the revelations. Every prescription against selfishness of any kind will bring some control of this disease. Every routine of unselfishness will give you more strength.
Oh, if I could only convince you that you are a son or a daughter of Almighty God! You have a righteous, spiritual power–an inheritance that you have hardly touched. You have an Elder Brother who is your Advocate, your Strength, your Protector, your Mediator, your Physician. Of Him I bear witness. The Lord loves you! You are a child of God. Face the sunlight of truth. The shadows of discouragement, of disappointment, of deviation will be cast behind you.
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