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A talk I gave in Sacrament Meeting 2012

I take my talk today from Sister Susan Tanners talk, the sanctity of the body, from President Hinckley and from Elder C Todd Christofferson

In the pre existence we learned that the body was part of God’s great plan of happiness for us. It states in the family proclamation:

Spirit sons and daughters knew and worshiped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize his or her divine destiny as an heir of eternal life.

Sis. Tanner: We shouted for joy to be part of this plan. Why were we so excited? We understood eternal truths about our bodies. We knew that our bodies would be in the image of God. We knew that our bodies would house our spirits. We also understood that our bodies would be subject to pain, illness, disabilities, and temptation. But we were willing, even eager, to accept these challenges because we knew that only with spirit and element inseparably connected could we progress to become like our Heavenly Father and receive a fullness of joy.

Satan learned the same truths we did and he chose a different path. His punishment is that he does not have a body, therefore he tries to do everything he can to get us to abuse or misuse this precious gift. He gets us to despise our bodies, to worship our bodies, or regard them as merely an object.

The scriptures tell us that our bodies are temples, Christ was the first to compare his body to a temple. Later Paul speaking to the people of Corinth said:

Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy which temple ye are. (1Corinthians 3:16-17)

President Hinckley has said:

“Of all the creations of the Almighty, there is none more beautiful, none more inspiring than a lovely daughter of God who walks in virtue with an understanding of why she should do so, who honors and respects her body as a thing sacred and divine, who cultivates her mind and constantly enlarges the horizon of her understanding, who nurtures her spirit with everlasting truth.”

In talking of temples he said:

The stately new temple, recently completed on the outskirts of Washington, D.C., is the 16th such structure operated by the Church. These buildings, different from the thousands of regular Church houses of worship scattered over the earth, are unique in purpose and function from all other religious edifices. It is not the size of these buildings, or their architectural beauty, that make them so. It is the work that goes on within their walls.

Our bodies are the temple of God, the temple he provided for our spirits. These temples come in all shapes and sizes and colors, each created in his image, each beautiful in his sight.

In primary we sing:

The Lord gave me a temple to live within on earth

Once in heaven I was spirit, but I left my home at birth

I’ll make my temple brighter, I’ll keep my spirit free

My body is the temple my Father gave to me.

Elder D Todd Christofferson gave a wonderful talk called a sense of the sacred. I believe that it applies here as we learn of the sacredness of our bodies. He said: The importance of having a sense of the sacred is simply this—if one does not appreciate holy things, he will lose them. Absent a feeling of reverence, he will grow increasingly casual in attitude and lax in conduct. He will drift from the moorings that his covenants with God could provide. His feeling of accountability to God will diminish and then be forgotten. Thereafter, he will care only about his own comfort and satisfying his uncontrolled appetites. Finally, he will come to despise sacred things, even God, and then he will despise himself.

On the other hand, with a sense of the sacred, one grows in understanding and truth. The Holy Spirit becomes his frequent and then constant companion. More and more he will stand in holy places and be entrusted with holy things. Just the opposite of cynicism and despair, his end is eternal life.

See that ye take care of these sacred things, yea, see that ye look to God and live” (Alma 37:14, 47; emphasis added).

Some have mistakenly supposed that, with respect to their body, they answer to no one. We are specifically told, however, that we remain accountable to God. “Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

“For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20). “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are” (1 Corinthians 3:17). “I beseech you therefore . . . , by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).

How are we to preserve the sanctity of this most important and sacred of God’s creations? At a minimum, we would not in any way defile our bodies. To be specific, if we possess a sense of the sacred, we would not deface our body as with tattoos and piercings. Some wonder at the fact that the President of the Church has taken notice of this matter. They are puzzled at the directness and specificity of his counsel on this subject. He has stated: “A tattoo is graffiti on the temple of the body. “Likewise the piercing of the body for multiple rings in the ears, in the nose, even in the tongue. Can they possibly think that is beautiful? It is a passing fancy, but its effects can be permanent. . . . The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve have declared that we discourage tattoos and also ‘the piercing of the body for other than medical purposes.’ We do not, however, take any position ‘on the minimal piercing of the ears by women for one pair of earrings’—one pair” (Gordon B. Hinckley, in Conference Report, Oct. 2000, 70–71; or Ensign, Nov. 2000, 52).

Why would the prophet of God talk about things so seemingly insignificant? Because they are not insignificant. Defiling or defacing God’s creation, His temple, makes a mock of that which is sacred. This can be perceived as insignificant only to one who has lost a sense of the sacred. Don’t do it.

Immodest dress also tarnishes the sacredness of the human body. Many rationalizations have been put forth to justify immodest fashion and pornography. Some vigorously assert that no law can be adopted to prevent such expression and then argue that it can’t be wrong because there is no law against it.

Satan has us running backwards and forwards always trying to justify, to fit in, to believe it doesn’t matter what we do. We are taught better, we know better, now we need to do better.

Sister Tanner tells us that she worries about the extreme makeover programs making us believe that unless we have the worlds standard of beauty we will never be good enough. True happiness comes from accepting the bodies we have been given as divine gifts and enhancing our natural attributes.

The Lord desires that we be made over but made in his image not in the image of the world. We must learn that true beauty comes from within, interestingly this is the same place true ugliness comes from.

When we become other-oriented, or selfless, we develop an inner beauty of spirit that glows in our outward appearance. This is how we make ourselves in the Lord’s image.

Women it seems are constantly bombarded with, if you don’t do this or look like this you’re nothing, so lets think about some things.

How many women do you have in your lives that would win a beauty contest? How many women do you know with the perfect body or the perfect smile or even the perfect hair?

Now think of how many women you have in your life that make life worth living.

Who is the woman that gives the best hugs, the gift of laughter, the softest shoulder to cry on. Who is the woman who taught you to pray, to read your scriptures, to cook Sunday dinner. Whose home feels warm and inviting, who keeps your confidences, who sets you straight when you stray? Who gives the lessons that cause you to re-evaluate and try harder? Who is there for you when a child is in trouble, when your parents pass away, when your greatest fears come to pass? Who do you call when you have such exciting news to share? Who can you wake in the middle of the night when you have a nightmare, or return from the world’s best date. Who will sing your praises and lift your spirits and bear your burdens. Who will cry with you, laugh with you be there no matter what? Who knows your heart?

Who do you think of as beautiful? What makes her beautiful?

I don’t know of anyone in my life that would make it to the Miss America contest. But I know many women that are truly beautiful and will easily qualify for the celestial kingdom. I know women who have been true examples of service, righteousness, and gratitude. I know women who have taught me up close and from afar, those who have allowed me to watch over their shoulders and learn and those who took me by the hand and showed me how it was done. I know women who have unimaginable burdens that always have time for others. I know women who glow with love for their savior and show each of us that we are loved too. Many of these women sit in this congregation, some are gone from us now, most I’m sure never knew how beautiful they were or the legacy they left for me to cling to.

Who are the truly beautiful women in your life? Who are the women you are truly grateful to know and love and learn from.

True beauty comes from within. A body taken care of as best you can, washed and clean and treated with respect is a must. A spirit that shines through, made over in the image of God brings true beauty to that well cared for body.

No amount of make up can hide ugliness of spirit, no amount of disfigurement can hide true beauty.

As brothers and fathers President Hinckley tells you what you can do to encourage young women to treat their bodies as temples and become happy with who they are. As a brother, you can have a powerful, positive influence in your sister’s life. Compliment her when she looks especially nice. She may listen to you more than to your parents when you suggest that she wear modest clothing. Simple courtesies like opening the door for her and building her self-esteem will encourage her to find her real worth.

Be a wise father who showers attention on each daughter. It will bring joy to you and fulfillment to her. When a daughter feels the warmth and approval of her father, she will not likely seek attention in inappropriate ways. As a father, acknowledge her good behavior. Listen to her and praise her for her strengths. You will greatly enrich her life. She will model the behavior she observes. Let her see you treat your wife and other women with admiration and honest respect.

You have the opportunity to help the women in your lives attain true beauty, true happiness and to become all that they are meant to be. Fathers and brothers carry a great deal of influence among the women in their lives even though we hate to admit it.

Although I focused mainly on women these lessons apply to us all. Our bishop is an example of inner beauty, we feels of his love for each of us and his spirit shines through. Our prophet would not be thought a handsome man by world’s standards but can you deny how truly beautiful he is from the inside out?

We all have temples given to us by a loving Heavenly Father, temples made in his image, temples to care for and treat with reverence and respect. I do not believe that the temple buildings we dedicate as the house of God carry more importance than the sacred temples he has created for each one of us. We are his children made in his image with the potential to become like him and he loves us.

Sister Tanner pleads:

Let us treat this divine gift of the body with great care, let us respect the sanctity of the body during mortality so that the Lord may sanctify and exalt it for eternity.

I pray that we come to understand our bodies as the gift that they are, that we may become accepting of ourselves and strive to improve in ways that are pleasing to the Father. I pray that we will encourage each other to look beyond the world’s beauty and find that lasting beauty within and nurture it, help it to grow and shine.