Reading older general conference addresses is a rewarding mix of challenging and comforting messages.
The first session of the October 1976 conference offered lots of both, but I’m going to focus on some of the parts that were personally challenging.
President Kimball spoke of the evil’s of pornography and urged members to join the fight against obscenity:
And so we say to you: Teach your children to avoid smut as the plague it is. As citizens, join in the fight against obscenity in your communities. Do not be lulled into inaction by the pornographic profiteers who say that to remove obscenity is to deny people the rights of free choice. Do not let them masquerade licentiousness as liberty.
Precious souls are at stake–souls that are near and dear to each of us.
As someone who has long been just about a free speech absolutist, this is a very challenging message that feels directed right at me. As I read such thoughts, I reflect deeply on how I can do better to align my professional and intellectual vocations with the demands of God through a living Prophet. I find such challenges to be one of the greatest things about having a living prophet on the earth.
Another point from President Kimball likewise challenged me as a conservative who usually wants to see limited or smaller government. President Kimball spoke of the importance of family life, and held up a social program in France as an example:
Family life is gaining ground. Some countries are coming to an appreciation for children and family life.
We note that France has now repudiated that program which would limit life. It is said that if a couple’s combined ages in France do not exceed fifty-two and one of them is employed, the couple can borrow $1,350 from the government on demand. This is for the payment of rent, payment on a home, or for household equipment, with fifteen months to pay.
If a French couple has a baby before the loan payment is due, their debt is reduced by 15 percent for the first child, 25 percent for the second child, 25 percent for the third, and complete debt forgiveness for the fourth. In France the expectant mother is said to receive $150 for prenatal care. This is a step in the right direction.
President Kimball’s remarks suggest that government can and should play a role in supporting and promoting the family and family values. This pushback on more traditional anti-government conservatives views is extremely valuable for all who listen. This is exactly how it should be.