If you begin by asking the wrong questions, it will lead you to the wrong answers. In contrast, starting with the right questions and looking to the right sources can lead to correct answers. In October 1972, Harold B. Lee made it clear what were the correct questions and who one could look to for answers.
He mentioned that “in these days of frustration, from every side” they had been bombarded with questions on the Church’s position on the hot political issues of the day such as the Vietnam war, birth control, abortion, and the threat of communism in the world. These questions are and were important ones. Our various political debates today are also very important.
But these questions are ultimately ancillary ones. The correct answer will flow based on what one’s perspective is on a whole host of other primary questions.
And if we focus on the secondary issues too much, we are likely to lose focus of the things that matter most. Ultimately, the most important thing that we can preach and teach is God’s plan of redemption and happiness. President Lee quoted President David O. McKay who said: ”
“Today, in the midst of the world’s perplexity, there should be no question in the mind of any true Latter-day Saint as to what we shall preach. The answer is as clear as the noonday sun in a cloudless sky. …
In simple words, then, this is the word that we should preach—the gospel plan of salvation. . . .
But I say to you, preach in season and out of season belief in God the Eternal Father, in his Son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
Proclaim that fundamental in the gospel plan is the sacredness of the individual; that God’s work and glory is ‘to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.’ (Moses 1:39.) …
Proclaim that God lives, and that his Beloved Son is the Redeemer and Savior of mankind; that he stands at the head of his Church that bears his name; that he guides and inspires those who are authorized to represent him here on earth. …
Preach that the responsibility of declaring this plan of life, this way of life, this plan of salvation, rests upon the entire membership of the Church, but most particularly upon those who have been ordained to the priesthood and who have been called as leaders and servants of the people.”
These truths are those that must be preached even when “out of season.” Even if it is unpopular to declare our belief in Christ and in his Church on the earth, we must do so. These ideas are essential to the morality and well-being of the people. If we teach these correct principles, I believe that so much else follows out of them.
President Lee declares”These eternal verities are as applicable in the year 1972 as they were when Jesus first promulgated them, and they will remain fundamental and essential in man’s progress and happiness as long as life and being last.” I too testify that they are as applicable in the year 2016 as they were in 1972.
President Lee went on to address some of the questions that he was asked. The answers themselves do not seem significant to me as this point of departure.
Unfortunately, President Lee notes that once society broadly had a common understanding of Jesus Christ and of God. These shared moral values held the nation together. But today, these values are ever more distant from the public conscience. It is the Gospel preached that provides a moral foundation to answer the other great questions, and “If there is to be social and political regeneration in our Republic and in the rest of the world, it must be by tremendous regeneration of moral ideals.” (President Lee quoting Dr. J. William Hudson).
We should never be ashamed of proclaiming divine truth about things of eternity. These truths are the essential first steps to a correct understanding of the world as it really is and things as they really are. From these questions and answers flows everything else.