the loss of moral values in society

We are lathered with soap operas in need of nothing so much as soap—for the scrubbing of themselves! Some seriously maintain that media violence and sleaze leave consumers untouched. But revenue is received from commercials precisely because of their influence. Either we deserve reforms, or sponsors deserve refunds!

Those who mock the traditional moral values should heed this lesson of history from the Durants:

“A youth boiling with hormones will wonder why he should not give full freedom to his sexual desires; and if he is unchecked by custom, morals, or laws, he may ruin his life before he matures sufficiently to understand that sex is a river of fire that must be banked and cooled by a hundred restraints if it is not to consume both the individual and the group.” (Will and Ariel Durant, The Lessons of History, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1968, pp. 35–36.)

Lasciviousness wrongly celebrates the capacity to feel, so that people lose their capacity to feel! Three different prophets in three different dispensations bemoaned those who became “past feeling.” (See  1 Ne. 17:45;  Eph. 4:19;  Moro. 9:20.) Do we really expect those presently “past feeling” to fashion an acceptable future? Gross sin not only dulls the feelings, it also impairs the intellect. After murdering Abel, Cain ironically boasted, “I am free”! ( Moses 5:33.) Did the herd of Gadarene swine similarly console themselves, thinking that they were actually rugged individualists as they raced down the hill to their destruction?

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn lamented recently how those who hold “there is no God, there is no truth, the universe is chaotic, all is relative” constitute a “relentless cult of novelty … [which] conceals an unyielding and long-sustained attempt to undermine, ridicule and uproot all moral precepts.” (“The Relentless Cult of Novelty and How It Wrecked the Century,” The New York Times Book Review, 7 Feb. 1993, p. 17.)

Today’s anguishing mortal scene gives rise to still other questions.

Pornography especially victimizes women and children. Why then the inordinate preoccupation with its protection? Pornography is better protected than citizens on the streets!

Even with its flaws, the family is basic, and since no other institution can compensate fully for failure in the family, why then, instead of enhancing the family, the desperate search for substitutes? Why not require family impact studies before proceeding with this program or that remedy, since of all environmental concerns the family should be first? Hundreds of governmental departments and programs protect various interests, but which one protects the family?

Since democracy depends upon citizens’ “obedience to the unenforceable,” why then the stiff resistance to moral education which could emphasize widely shared and time-tested principles?

Only reform and self-restraint, institutional and individual, can finally rescue society! Only a sufficient number of sin-resistant souls can change the marketplace. As Church members, we should be part of that sin-resistant counterculture. Instead, too many members are sliding down the slope, though perhaps at a slower pace.

Neal A. Maxwell (“Behold the Enemy is Combined”) Ensign, May 1993, p. 76

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