On May 3, 2009, Elder David A Bednar of the quorum of the 12 Apostles spoke to the young adults of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints at a Church Education System fireside. He entitled his fireside, “Things as They Really Are”. This title derived from a passage in the Book of Mormon Jacob 4:13 (see alsoD&C 93:24).
I have also loved these scriptures that define truth and knowledge as “Things as They Really Are”. I have been studying this talk and listening to it over and over on my IPOD. Many people may be tempted to summarize this talk by simply stating that Elder Bednar is warning us against the improper us of video-games and online social media, but I believe he is also teaching us eternal truths, foundational truths about the value of our physical body. He is issuing an apostolic warning about the importance of our physical body in the plan of salvation.
These are a few of my favorite quotes from the fireside given my Elder Bednar.
PHYSICAL BODIES- Instrument of the Mind
Our physical bodies make possible a breadth, a depth, and an intensity of experience that simply could not be obtained in our premortal estate. President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, has taught, “Our spirit and our body are combined in such a way that our body becomes an instrument of our mind and the foundation of our character.” 3 Thus, our relationships with other people, our capacity to recognize and act in accordance with truth, and our ability to obey the principles and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ are amplified through our physical bodies. In the classroom of mortality, we experience tenderness, love, kindness, happiness, sorrow, disappointment, pain, and even the challenges of physical limitations in ways that prepare us for eternity. Simply stated, there are lessons we must learn and experiences we must have, as the scriptures describe, “according to the flesh” (1 Nephi 19:6; Alma 7:12–13).
Adversary’s Attacks- Misuse our bodies and to minimize the importance of our bodies
Because a physical body is so central to the Father’s plan of happiness and our spiritual development, we should not be surprised that Lucifer seeks to frustrate our progression by tempting us to use our bodies improperly. One of the ultimate ironies of eternity is that the adversary, who is miserable precisely because he has no physical body, invites and entices us to share in his misery through the improper use of our bodies. The very tool he does not have and cannot use is thus the primary target of his attempts to lure us to physical and spiritual destruction. The adversary attempts to influence us both to misuse our physical bodies and to minimize the importance of our bodies. These two methods of attack are important for us to recognize and to repel.
Beware How Satan will lead us to physical and Spiritual destruction
Because a physical body is so central to the Father’s plan of happiness and our spiritual development, we should not be surprised that Lucifer seeks to frustrate our progression by tempting us to use our bodies improperly. One of the ultimate ironies of eternity is that the adversary, who is miserable precisely because he has no physical body, invites and entices us to share in his misery through the improper use of our bodies. The very tool he does not have and cannot use is thus the primary target of his attempts to lure us to physical and spiritual destruction.
Video-Gaming and Computer-mediated Communication CAN play a role in minimizing the importance of physical bodies
You may now be asking yourself, “But, Brother Bednar, you began today 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?” That is precisely what I am declaring.
Maxwell-Youth Greatest Capacity for Obedience
I remember Elder Maxwell making a statement that greatly impressed me. He said, “The youth of this generation have a greater capacity for obedience than any previous generation.”
George Q. Cannon- Strength of the Rising Generation
He then indicated that his statement was based upon a truth taught by President George Q. Cannon (1827–1901), First Counselor in the First Presidency: “God has reserved spirits for this dispensation who have the courage and determination to face the world, and all the powers of the evil one, visible and invisible, to proclaim the gospel and maintain the truth and establish and build up the Zion of our God fearless of all consequences. He has sent these spirits in this generation to lay the foundation of Zion never more to be overthrown, and to raise up a seed that will be righteous, and that will honor God, and honor Him supremely, and be obedient to Him under all circumstances.”
Obedience- Constant Companionship of the Holy Ghost
Obedience opens the door to the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. And the spiritual gifts and abilities activated by the power of the Holy Ghost enable us to avoid deception—and to see, to feel, to know, to understand, and to remember things as they really are. You and I have been endowed with a greater capacity for obedience precisely for these reasons.
Obedience is a weapon
If the adversary cannot entice us to misuse our physical bodies, then one of his most potent tactics is to beguile you and me as embodied spirits to disconnect gradually and physically from things as they really are. You and I are to be valiant and “obedient to Him under all circumstances.” Thus, obedience is the principal weapon upon which the rising generation must rely in the latter-day battle between good and evil.
And for the final quote… Elder Bednar invites us to consider to questions for our personal pondering and prayerful study.
For your happiness and protection, I invite you to study more diligently the doctrine of the plan of salvation—and to prayerfully ponder the truths we have reviewed. I offer two questions for consideration in your personal pondering and prayerful studying:
1. Does the use of various technologies and media invite or impede the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost in your life?
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?
You will receive answers, inspiration, and instruction from the Holy Ghost suited to your individual circumstances and needs. I repeat and affirm the teaching of the Prophet Joseph: “All beings who have bodies have power over those who have not. The devil has no power over us only as we permit him.”
These eternal truths about the importance of our physical bodies will fortify you against the deception and the attacks of the adversary. One of my deepest desires for you is an ever-increasing testimony of and appreciation for the Resurrection—even your own resurrection with a celestial, exalted body “because of your faith in [the Lord Jesus Christ] according to the promise” (Moroni 7:41).
I know that we are tempted to misuse and minimize the importance of our physical bodies. I feel it is so important to share the message, to remember the importance of our physical bodies and provide these instruments with the care they stand in need of so that we may each fulfill our unique purpose one this earth.