Elder M. Russell Ballard, member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints answered questions from Latter-day Saint young single adults at this week's Devotional.
Prefacing his answers, Elder Ballard explained his calling and life experiences allow him to answer certain types of questions, but other questions may require experts in that specific subject matter.
"It is important to remember, I am a General Authority," said Elder Ballard. "But that doesn't make me an authority ingeneral."
Q: How do we differentiate between debilitating perfectionism and Christ’s invitation to become perfect like Him?
Elder Ballard: "We should not compare ourselves with others. Please remember the Savior is interested only in our personal growth. Even He 'continued from grace to grace' until He received a fulness."
Q: What message do you have for LGBT young single adults?
Elder Ballard: "I want anyone who is a member of the Church, who is gay or lesbian, to know I believe 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. We need to listen to and understand what our LGBT brothers and sisters are feeling and experiencing. Certainly, we must do better than we have done in the past so that all members feel they have a spiritual home where their brothers and sisters love them and where they have a place to worship and serve the Lord."
Q: Where does the Church stand on LGBT civil rights?
Elder Ballard: "We believe that the core rights of citizenship should be protected for all people – for LGBT people, for people of all faiths and for everyone else. In essence, this means fairness for all. We condemn, in the strongest terms, bullying or harassment of any kind. Every person is a child of God. Everyone is entitled to love and respect. We may not agree, but we must never be disagreeable. The reason that the Church supported the LoveLoud festival, here in Utah County, was to send a strong message that LGBT youth or anyone else should never be mistreated and if any were troubled, they should seek help from friends, family members and trained professionals."
Q: My boyfriend struggles with pornography. What should I do?
Elder Ballard: "Anyone considering marriage deserves transparency and complete honesty with her or his intended spouse. Talk with each other and find out where a person’s heart is and what he or she is doing to become a saint through the Atonement of Jesus Christ."
Q: One of my Church leaders did things that hurt my trust. How can I get over it?
Elder Ballard: "Please remember that at some point in your life, you may disappoint and fail others too. Some of those you fail may be family members, Church brothers and sisters and friends. No father, mother or child is perfect; no professor or student is perfect; no missionary or mission president is perfect. The Lord provided the only real solution to living with other mortals. He asks us to forgive and love one another and stay on as the “Trek Continues”— as I said last general conference."
Q: How can young women who have chosen not to serve a mission feel as valued as those who did?
Elder Ballard: "Please remember President Monson’s announcement about lowering the age of missionary service, 'Many young women will choose to serve, but they are not under the same mandate to serve as are the young men.' However, studying the gospel and sharing it daily can be accomplished by anyone with or without an official call. Please remember that it doesn’t take a name tag to do missionary work."
Q: If I have family or friends who are less active, how far do I go in my attempts to bring them back?
Elder Ballard: "Please don’t preach to them. Your family member or friend already knows the Church’s teachings. They don’t need another lecture! What they need, what we all need, is love and understanding, not judging. Share your positive experiences of living the gospel. The most powerful thing you can do is share your spiritual experiences with family and friends in a non-preachy way. Also, be genuinely interested in their lives—their successes and challenges. Always be warm, gentle, loving and kind."
Q: I read the scriptures, pray sincerely, and follow the commandments to the best of my ability, but I rarely feel the Spirit. What am I doing wrong?
Elder Ballard: "We must learn to be righteous in the dark. I know life can be complex, busy and challenging. Yet, in one sense, the gospel is very simple. If we keep focused on the core message of the Restoration, 'Jesus Christ and Him crucified,' as we keep focused, most things will work out over time to our satisfaction."
Elder Ballardconcluded by sharing three suggestions for seeking answers to gospel questions:
You have to be living right to get the answers you seek.
Take time to "Be still and know I am God."
Focus on what is really essential.
Next Forum: Laurie Garrett, Senior Fellow for Global Health, Council on Foreign Relations
The next BYU Forum will be on November 28 at 11:05 a.m. in the Marriott Center. Laurie Garrett, Senior Fellow for Global Health at the Council on Foreign Relations, will deliver the Forum address.