Are We People of Virtue?

As a woman in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), I am a member of the largest women’s organization in the world. This group is called the Relief Society. Several years ago, a declaration was written for the Relief Society and the posts in this series are an attempt to apply this declaration to my life more. In this attempt I will be breaking down the parts of it into questions that I would like to try to answer through study. To view other posts related to this declaration, go here: Relief Society Declaration.

We are beloved spirit daughters of God, and our lives have meaning, purpose, and direction. As a worldwide sisterhood, we are united in our devotion to Jesus Christ, our Savior and Exemplar. We are women of faith, virtue . . .

My next question in this series is are we people of virtue? Not long ago, the motto for the Young Women of the church added a value, which I wish had been added while I was in my youth. The value was “virtue”. This is such an important quality for all people to have, especially women. What is virtue? It is being morally excellent, or having really high standards of morality. It’s being chaste and holy. Virtue is the “quality of doing what is right and avoiding what is wrong” (online dictionary).

This value is one that is being diminished in the world. If I was asking this question of the world, I don’t think that I could truthfully answer in the affirmative. Virtue is seen as old fashioned and of little importance. Satan is doing all that he can to keep us from being a virtuous people. The gospel, however, has not changed with the times because it is unchanging. The gospel continues to teach us the value of virtue. In Proverbs 31:10 we read, “Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.” I know this is true. Being virtuous, is choosing to focus our lives on things of eternal importance, rather than giving into our passions and the things which give us instant gratifications, especially those things of an intimate and physical nature.

I really liked a quote from the October 2011 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In speaking to the men of the church, Elaine S. Dalton, the Young Women General President, said the following:

You must be the guardians of virtue. “A priesthood holder is virtuous. Virtuous behavior implies that [you have] pure thoughts and clean actions. … Virtue is … an attribute of godliness.” It “is akin to holiness.” The Young Women values are Christlike attributes which include the value of virtue. We now call upon you to join with us in leading the world in a return to virtue. In order to do so, you “must practise virtue and holiness” by eliminating from your life anything that is evil and inconsistent with one who holds the holy priesthood of God. “Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and … the Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion.” So be cautious about what you view in entertainment media or print. Your personal virtue will model for your daughters, and also your sons, what true strength and moral courage are. By being a guardian of virtue in your own life, in your home, and in the lives of your children, you are showing your wife and daughters what true love really is. Your personal purity will give you power. (See also Doctrine and Covenants 46:33; 121:45, 46)

A person can be virtuous whether they are married or not, male or female, young or old. The things that will claim our virtue are not particular to one group of people, but they can tempt every person. Being virtuous today, requires standing above the ways of the world. We can be virtuous if we keep our thoughts clean and avoid those things that easily de-sensitize us. These things are around us all the time in most places. A disciple of Christ must work to maintain his or her virtue. President Ezra Taft Benson once said, “Whenever a priesthood holder departs from the path of virtue in any form or expression, he loses the Spirit and comes under Satan’s power. He then receives the wages of him whom he has chosen to serve.” We cannot serve both Christ and Satan, and therefore we must guard our virtue constantly if we want to live as a disciple of Christ. In Doctrine and Covenants 121:45 we read, “Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.” I love that this scripture uses the word “unceasingly”. It really is something that we need to remember all the time. The things that place our virtue in peril, are subtle and often times completely natural. They quite frequently seem completely innocent in the beginning. The key is to recognize where the dangers are and to make a strict commitment to avoid them. If there is a show on tv, which places our minds along the path of unclean thoughts, then we need to avoid that show. If we are married and we find that we have a desire to speak with a friend of the opposite sex more than our own spouse, then we need to avoid individual, private conversations with them. If being in certain places causes our minds to focus on those things that would make us unworthy, then we should avoid those places.

Being a person of virtue, means that we could, at any moment, say that we are worthy in our thoughts and actions, to go and be in the holy house of the Lord. In Psalms 24 we read the following:

3 Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place?
4 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.

Our worthiness depends on us being virtuous. We need to recognize that it is just as important to keep our bodies and minds clean, as it is to keep the temple clean. In 1 Corinthians 3:17 we read, “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” Our bodies are the temples which God has given to us and we have the power and ability to keep them worthy, if we remain virtuous in thought and deed.

As a member of the Relief Society program, I am committed to keeping my life clean and virtuous. I know the importance of purging our lives of those things that draw us away from that which is sacred and of eternal significance. I know that when I live in a manner that keeps me worthy, I can have the spirit with me, to inspire me to do the work the Lord would have me do. I know that living a life of virtue is not the popular thing today and that the world would have me believe it is not necessary for happiness. I know that to have the eternal happiness that I am working towards, rather than the “happiness” that Satan and the world give, I need to live a life of virtue.

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About My Scripture Study Buddy

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.
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