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Elder Holland Talks Candidly About Marriage, Missions, Sexual Sin, and More

“Welcome to Face to Face. This is the only face I have,” Elder Holland said at the start of the first-ever LDS Face to Face Event with young single adults. Accompanying Elder Holland was Elder Donald L. Hallstrom, a member of the Presidency of the Seventy, and Sister Carole M. Stephens, first counselor in the General Relief Society Presidency.

Young single adults from around the world submitted over 3,000 questions for the event, and these inspired Church leaders provided unscripted, candid answers to their current concerns. Here is a sampling of some of these questions.

During the night, Elder Holland hoped that the young adults would feel God’s love for them, the strength of members united across the world, and that they are a royal generation and the future of the Lord’s Church on earth. View the full event here.

Questions: A lot of us think it is scary to get married and we have a lot of fear because of what we see. Is it really possible to have a happy marriage?

“First let me declare unequivocally, absolutely, adamantly that happy marriages are the rule. They are not the exception,” Elder Holland stated. Despite divorce or difficult marriages that are easy to see within our society, Elder Holland said that we are also surrounded by happy, successful marriages. He and Sister Holland are living proof to us all ”that you cannot just be happy, you can be ecstatically happy. You can just be movingly happy in all the right ways for all the right reasons.”

During the night, Elder Holland, Sister Stephens, and Elder Hallstrom all shared tips about how to build these types of happy marriages.

“From our first date to marriage, we most commonly discussed the gospel,” said Elder Hallstrom. “We had no desire to prove who’s right, only a desire to prove what’s right.”

Sister Stephens added insights into how to build a successful marriage from the start by following the promptings of the Spirit while dating. When asked how she knew her husband was the "right one," Sister Stephens said she felt peace. “The Spirit speaks to us through peace,” she added.

Elder Holland told the young adults that they should start practicing and living celestial laws now to build strong marriages and families—which are the units of not only society, but eternity. “The only thing that we know for a governing principle and a governance of people in heaven are families,” he said. “That’s all we’ve been taught and, so far as I know, it’s all that’s there. That’s why we have temples. We unite people in temples family to family to family and someday, somewhere have this entire family together under the Fatherhood of God, that that will be the ideal celestial life.”

But, he pleaded with the young Latter-day Saints, “don’t get too anxious or stressed when we talk about the ideal.”

“You don’t have to be hasty and you don’t have to have peptic ulcers over getting married, but you also should not hold back on a good thing,” he said. “You go for a good thing and don’t wait. For example, don’t wait for money. If we had waited until we had money, we still wouldn’t be married.”

Elder Holland shared that at the time of their marriage, he and Sister Holland had $300 between them. “We had each other and faith and prayer and the gospel and we were crazy about each other, and on $300 we went for broke.

“Don’t wait until you are clear through school. Don’t wait until you have a job or a home or a car or two or three. You’ll miss all the things you would have gone through together.”

Elder Holland recognized that there were many watching “who are not married yet, and some might not marry for a long time, and some conceivably may not marry at all in this life, but we do teach that these promises are for everyone, that everyone will have that privilege. And so we’re not going to retreat; we’re not going to shy away from talking about the ideal.”

Questions: How can we help girls who haven’t gone on missions know that they are not any less than those who did serve? The social rejection is sometimes unbearable.

“President Monson was adamant that we do not create a second-class citizenship for young women who choose not to serve a mission,” Elder Holland stated. “He never intended that all young women must go. I don’t want anyone feeling left out or inadequate or undignified or tarnished because she chose not to serve a mission. We are a little irritated with young men who say, well I’m not going to date you because you didn’t serve a mission . . . We do not want that kind of climate over dating or marriages or who is really faithful in the Church and who isn’t.”

He also added that, though we encourage all young men to serve a mission, their choice not to serve, for whatever reason, does not keep them from being loyal, active, loved, and admired members of the Church.

“What we’re dealing with here is the worth and wonder and beauty of human beings and choices being made and agency that exists,” he said.

Question: Those who experience same-gender attraction feel alone in the Church. If you could meet with them face to face, how would you respond to them?

“We have talked altogether too much about gender and altogether too little about chastity. The issue is about chastity and not about gender,” Elder Holland stated.

“We are not passing judgment on some who has a feeling, to someone who has an attraction. . . . We’re just talking about a single standard of the Lord’s commandments.”

Elder Holland made it clear that we are all important members of the same Church with the same standard to live by: “Be faithful. Be true.”

But he also assured those struggling with same-sex attraction that “we issue all of our love and all of our help and anything we can do to help people meet that standard.”

Question: If we find out that someone we are dating has an issue with pornography, should we continue to date them or should we run?

Sister Stephens tackled this topic by providing an example from the Book of Mormon, when Alma counseled his son Corianton, who had not kept the law of chastity. “Would you give up on Corianton? What’s in the heart? Are you dating someone who has a good heart, who’s honest about it, who is willing to work with you, who is willing to take the 12-step course and to really study the scriptures?” she asked. “Can you work through this together?”

Sister Stephens said the condition of someone’s heart is key and will help anyone when they are making this extremely personal decision. She counseled members in these situations to read Alma 48, which demonstrates the true power of the Atonement and how it can transform hearts, even those like Corianton.

Quoting Alma 48:17-18, Sister Stephens called every member to notice how this scripture doesn’t say “Alma and his sons, except for Corianton.” It lists him among those who are “like unto Moroni” and if more men were like him, “behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.”

Question: How can we regain the faith and hope of the gospel when we are confronted with the suffering and cynicism of the world?

“It's a natural thing in this world to have disappointments,” Elder Hallstrom shared. “This is a world that has much joy and much disappointment. It's part of why we're here on this earth. It's part of our purpose on this earth—to have opposition, to have challenges, to have difficulties. But how we face them is a part of how we're refined, so that we can gain the greatest of all the gifts of God—eternal life.”

So how do we find hope? Elder Hallstrom shared, “We start with what our absolute core is and then we work from there. . . .

“Our effort is to work through those disappointments but do it with a sense of hope that’s founded on the Savior Jesus Christ. One of the fruits of the Atonement is hope that whatever our circumstances might be, whatever our challenge is that it’s not the end, that there is a temporary nature to it. . . .

“The hope for the future is more glorious than whatever we envisioned our live to be.”

Question: How can we decipher the difference between our own thoughts and feelings and the promptings of the Holy Ghost?

“I think sometimes we can get almost immobilized over that question. Is it me or is it the Spirit? I think sometimes that’s almost a non-issue,” Elder Holland shared. “God can speak to your heart, in your intelligence, in your mind, in your experience. You can be like Enos, you can hear a voice in your head, in your ear. You can have a full vision. There are all these different ways that God can communicate. It’s counterproductive to worry about where that’s coming from.”

Testimony

At the end of the event, Elder Holland shared this moving testimony, as well as an apostolic blessing:

“All of this has substance and significance tonight because of God the Eternal Father, His Only Begotten Son and the power of the Holy Ghost in our lives as the three great members of the Godhead who are committed all day and all night to our health and our happiness. They, who never sleep, nor ever slumber are engaged entirely and totally in providing for the happiness of us as children of God.

“The matters of the universe, of keeping planets in order and whether the daffodils come up in the spring, those are nice ancillary issues. What They do without sleep or slumber is try to bring happiness and health and joy to us. I bear witness of that. I testify of it. I am the recipient of that love and so are you. Even on the days when it might not be as recognizable, it is true, it is Their nature, it is the way of Godliness. It is the promise that Their grace is sufficient and They can make us holy and happy."

To read the full testimony, click here.

Lead image from LDS.org.