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President Oaks Urges Young Adults to ‘Be of Good Cheer’ in Their Challenges

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President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints urged young adults worldwide to keep an eternal perspective as they navigate today’s “stressful times.”

Despite the challenges young adults endure, the Apostle said, they can “be of good cheer” because Jesus Christ “has overcome the world” and “we can too.”

“Remember,” President Oaks added, “our Father’s plan is a plan of happiness.”

The First Counselor in the First Presidency was joined by his wife, Kristen, during the devotional, which was broadcast globally from the Conference Center Theater on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Sunday, May 21, 2023.

 

“Whatever our own variations in the diversity of our Father in Heaven’s creations, He loves all of us, and His perfect plan of happiness has a place for all,” President Oaks said. “We show our love for Him by keeping His commandments, including love for His children.”

President Oaks expressed worry about the high number of people who aren’t married or are choosing not to have children, as well as the rising age at which Latter-day Saint men and women decide to marry. He acknowledged the role the shortage of homes and rise in student debt play in these decisions.

Even so, he encouraged young adults to “go forward with faith” because “marriage is central to the purpose of mortal life and what follows.” He and Sister Oaks encouraged young adults to date and have children — and remember the examples of early Latter-day Saints.

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“Our early pioneers left their homes and possessions to bring their families to spiritual safety in the mountain west,” he said. “Today, we urge you not to leave spiritual safety and family to obtain material possessions.”

“If you find yourself marking time waiting for a marriage prospect,” Sister Oaks added for women in the audience, “stop waiting and start preparing. Prepare yourself for life — by education, experience and planning. Don’t wait for happiness to be thrust upon you. Seek out opportunities for service and learning. Most importantly, trust in the Lord.”

President Oaks then addressed some of his remarks to high school seniors in attendance. He acknowledged their generation’s prevalent struggles with anxiety, drugs and social media. He shared a portion of a letter he received from a young woman about gender dysphoria.

“I truly don’t understand why so many youth in our church don’t see any problem with people changing their gender every other day, dating people who are the same sex or identify as no gender,” the young woman wrote. “I know we are supposed to love everyone and show them respect, and I always do. I [just] feel there is a line being crossed.”

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President Oaks responded by pointing to the way Jesus balances His love while emphasizing the importance of law in John 8 in the New Testament. When religious leaders of the time brought a woman to him to be judged for adultery, Jesus responded, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” Jesus later applied the power of love by declining to condemn her and affirmed the law by saying that she should “sin no more.”

President Oaks urged his audience to live the commandments of love and law “in a more complete way. Anyone who does not treat individuals who face gender identity challenges with love and dignity is not aligned with the teachings of the first and second great commandments. Thus, on the subject of God’s law, we need to remember that God has revealed again and again that He created male and female. And on the subject of our duty to love our neighbor, we need to remember that God has commanded us to love even those who do not keep all the commandments.

“If you, a family member or a friend is struggling with these issues of confusion of identity,” he continued, “I urge you to apply both the law of the gospel and the love and mercy of our Savior and Redeemer, who will help and guide you, if you patiently walk in His paths.”

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To those who experience same-sex attraction, President Oaks taught that God loves each of His creations and has a place for everyone in the divine plan of happiness.

President Oaks also quoted from President Russell M. Nelson’s teachings to beware how we label ourselves.

“No identifier should displace, replace or take priority over these three enduring designations: ‘child of God,’ ‘child of the covenant,’ and ‘disciple of Jesus Christ,” President Nelson said. “Any identifier that is not compatible with these three basic designations will ultimately let you down. Other labels will disappoint you in time because they do not have the power to lead you toward eternal life in the celestial kingdom of God.”

What does have power to lead us to eternal life are covenants, President Oaks said.

“Once you and I have made a covenant with God,” he said, again quoting President Nelson, “our relationship with Him becomes much closer than before our covenant. Now we are bound together. Because of our covenant with God, He will never tire in His efforts to help us, and we will never exhaust His merciful patience with us. Each of us has a special place in God’s heart.”

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In conclusion, President and Sister Oaks encouraged young adults to look to and rely upon God for guidance.

“Look to God and live,” Sister Oaks said. “Look to the words spoken tonight, the words of our prophet, the scriptures, the plan of salvation, and your patriarchal blessings. Pray and the Lord will be with you. That does not mean any of us will go unscathed, but it does mean we will not be alone, and we will go forward guided and protected from the evil around us.”

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“Diligently seek to know Jesus Christ, to feel His love and have faith in Him and His loving guidance along the covenant path to our eternal destiny,” President Oaks said.

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