Elder M. Russell Ballard, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, answered a variety of pre-submitted questions in his devotional address at BYU on Tuesday morning.
Answering questions ranging from perfectionism to LBQTQ issues, Elder Ballard put into action what he had taught educators the previous year: “to listen more and do our best to respond to sincere questions.”
After inviting two young single adult stake presidents and a few BYU professors to have young adults in their congregations and classes to submit questions, Elder Ballard said he received 767 questions for the BYU devotional address.
“(The questions) cover a variety of topics including life at BYU, dating, doctrine, marriage, revelation, seeking perfection and showing love to others,” Elder Ballard said. “I wish I could respond to every question. However, reviewing questions has been a blessing to me because it gave me another window to consider the issues and challenges you face.”
Elder Ballard spent the remainder of his speech answering some of the questions. Here are answers to a few of the heavier topics.
Perfectionism vs. being perfect
“We live in a world of comparison,” Elder Ballard said. “Social media has made this worse as we go online and compare our seemingly less exciting lives with the fake lives we see online. Many of these fake lives are edited, boastful and unreal. Some may have unrealistic expectations that they should be happy all the time, and if they are not, they feel like something is wrong with them. We should not compare ourselves with other. Please remember that the Savior is only interested in our personal growth.”
He continued to remind the congregation of students that it is through partaking of the sacrament weekly and continuous growth that Christlike perfection is reached.
“Remember perfection is a life-long journey not just a single event,” he concluded.
Women and education
Mormons and the LBGTQ community
“I want anyone who is a member of the church who is gay or lesbian to know you have a place in the kingdom, and recognize that sometimes it may be difficult for you to see where you fit in the Lord’s church, but you do,” Elder Ballard said.
Elder Ballard encouraged students to listen to and try to understand what the LBGTQ members of the church are going through. He encouraged students to love and welcome the LBGTQ community into the church.
Addressing LGBTQ rights, Elder Ballard said: “We believe the core rights of citizenship should be protected for all people. … In essence, this means fairness for all. The Church believes the best approach for balancing these rights is to protect the core rights of all groups, and then to find reasonable compromises in other areas where rights conflict.”
Referencing Utah’s non-discrimination order, Elder Ballard says the church does not tolerate bullying.
“We condemn, in the strongest terms, bullying or harassment of any kind,” Ballard said. “Every person is a child of God. Everyone is entitled to love and respect.”
Elder Ballard explained why the LDS Church chose to support the LoveLoud Festival, a concert benefiting the LGBTQ community in Utah County. He said it was because “LGBT youth or anyone else should never be mistreated. If any are troubled, they should seek help from friends, family members and professionals.”
Elder Ballard shared that he had lost friends and other loved ones to suicide, which has led him to study suicide and its relation to the gospel. In warning, Elder Ballard cautioned students to be careful in what they say about suicide.
“The Lord alone has all the facts and only He would know the intent of one’s heart,” Ballard said. “We should not judge those who do take their own lives, and we should support and comfort those who are left behind after such a death of a loved one.”
Helping pornography addicts
“Everyone you meet will have had challenges in life,” Elder Ballard warned. “Pornography is one of the main challenges we face today. Pornography seems to be winning the day in destroying lives, relationships and families.”
Elder Ballard counseled to discover where a person’s heart is when that individual struggles with pornography.
“Too many men and women suffer in silence because we have demonized those who have become addicted to pornography. Parents, family members and friends can do much more to help those in trouble by being willing to listen and offering support and encouragement.”
Watch the full BYU devotional address here.
Elder Ballard along with fellow apostle Elder Dallin H. Oaks will hold a question and answer fireside — known as LDS Face to Face — with young adults in the LDS Church on Sunday, Nov. 19 at 6 p.m. MST. People can submit questions for the Face to Face event at YSAface2face.org as well as by using the hashtag #LDSface2face on social media. The event will be broadcast on LDS.org, YSAface2face.lds.org, Mormon Channnel on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.