This past week I had the opportunity of teaching 12 young women in my congregation the importance of strengthening their future marriage. How would I do this, you might ask? Through four easy steps:
Step 1: Remember the importance of keeping baptismal covenants: As twelve-year-old girls begin to blossom, they start to observe their surroundings with the onset of teenage years. Many times they are in a new setting at school and peer pressure becomes a life style. These youth also start to realize and ponder what they have learned through religious education and if they have been baptized (by immersion) as a child, they begin to realize how important those covenants really are in their world.
When we are baptized at eight years old in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints, (LDS Church) we promise ourselves and God that we take upon the name of Jesus Christ and always remember Him. We will keep His commandments and serve Him to the end. How does this covenant affect 12 to 13 year old youth who enter into a world of teen sex, drugs and alcohol?
This covenant gives youth a strong foundation. LDS church leader, Elder Richard G. Scott observed, “One of the greatest blessings we can offer to the world is the power of a Christ-centered home where the gospel is taught, covenants are kept, and love abounds.” These baptismal covenants help us to remember to choose the right.
Step 2: Keeping a Modest Attitude: The whole world is now easily accessible right in front of our faces and keeping modesty as a goal is a difficult task. But with the knowledge that our bodies and minds should be kept clean and dressed helps youth to feel comfortable and strong. 1 Corinthians 6: 19 says “What? 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?”
We must respect our bodies as a gift from God and through our dress and appearance, we gain strength. A modest attitude, which includes the elimination of vulgarity, helps youth to understand their divine nature.
Step 3: Learn to stay virtuous: Our youth need to learn and remember that they can keep their minds pure. Ignore peer pressure to join in dirty jokes, speak vulgar language or watch inappropriate videos. LDS church General Young Women’s President Elaine Dalton said “I testify that a return to virtue is possible because of the Savior’s example and the “infinite virtue of His great atoning sacrifice.” I testify that we will be enabled and strengthened not only to do hard things but to do all things. Now is the time for each of us to arise and unfurl a banner to the world calling for a return to virtue. May we so live that we can be instruments in preparing the earth for His Second Coming, “that when he shall appear we shall be like him, . . .purified even as he is pure.”
Step 4: Date worthy youth: When our youth become the age of sixteen, they can venture out to date each other. Dating can help youth find lasting friendships as well as teach the importance of appreciating each other. Going in groups is the best way to start and dates with others who have a high moral standard keeps everyone safe. Marriage at that age is way out of the question but learning to communicate and understand the process of a relationship will strengthen youth at an impressionable age which will help them later on in life. Past LDS Church President and Prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley says: “The Lord has made us attractive one to another for a great purpose. But this very attraction becomes as a powder keg unless it is kept under control. It is beautiful when handled in the right way. It is deadly if it gets out of hand” (President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008), “A Prophet’s Counsel and Prayer for Youth,” New Era, Jan. 2001, 13.)
Parents who take the time to teach good dating habits will reap the benefit of happy teens. It’s fun to spend time with friends and learn appropriate behavior early and as teens spend time together in clean entertainment, dressed modestly in thought and action, they will build confidence in themselves. All four steps will show a positive result in our youth later on in life. Keeping baptismal covenants, a modest attitude, staying virtuous and dating those with the same high standard will keep our youth strong from the wiles of the world. With the help of parents teaching correct principles and encouraging them to make good choices then their choice in who to marry and how their marriage relationship develop and strengthen will have a positive affect for the rest of their lives.
Valerie Steimle has been writing as a family advocate for over 25 years. As a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she promotes Christian living in her writings and is the mother of nine children and grandmother to twelve. Mrs. Steimle authored six books and is a contributing writer to several online websites. To her, time is the most precious commodity we have and knows we should spend it wisely. To read more of Valerie's work, visit her at her website, The Blessings of Family Life.