Elder Bednar recently gave a powerful talk (in the monthly CES Fireside) to the young adults of the Church. You can watch a rebroadcast by going here. The broadcast is currently available in English, Spanish (Español), Portuguese (português), and American Sign Language (ASL). (You can find other CES firesides on the broadcast page as well.)
Below, we give some highlights from his talk that stood out to us.
Elder Bednar discussed the importance of truth, “things as they really are.” He focused particularly on the truths about the importance of our bodies in the plan of our Father in Heaven, quoting from The Family: A Proclamation to the World, teaching us that as spirit children of God, we:
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.
Our bodies give us experience that is essential for our eternal growth. The adversary has no body, and as such, cannot have the opportunities and growth (and even challenges) available to us because we do. He does all he can to distort God’s plan, and to make us miserable like he is.
The devil seeks to influence us, Elder Bednar taught, to misuse our bodies, and to minimize the importance of our physical bodies in God’s plan. He warned against defiling of the body, and improper focus on body image. He invited us to learn “by study and also by faith” the ways we can discern what is and isn’t correct in relation to the proper use of the gift of a physical body.
Elder Bednar warned against extreme forms of extreme “entertainment” (sought for thrill or ego or social acceptance) that could put our physical safety at risk. He also warned against “digital distractions, diversions, and detours that have no lasting value.” Video and online games and social networking sites were two specific digital distractions he mentioned that can distort reality, rob us of the joy of eternally-important relationships, and even become addictions.
Elder Bednar made it clear that digital tools can be of great benefit when used for good purposes, but he reminded us that they can also be seemingly-harmless distractions that can numb our minds and spirits and gradually, subtly pull us away from truth and truly fulfilling relationships and activities. He pleads with us to not become so “engrossed in pixels, texting, ear buds, Twittering, online social networking, and potentially addictive uses of media and internet that you fail to recognize the importance of the physical body, and miss the richness of person-to-person communication.” What starts as “entertainment” can become enslavement if we are not vigilant.
He quoted from a sobering Wall Street Journal article, relating a tragic story about a man who spent so much time on Second Life (a virtual reality site), “married” to someone else, that he ignored his new wife of only seven months. Elder Bednar also quotes statistics from the article, illustrating that many who participate in online gaming tout their virtual relationships and experiences as being as good as, or even better than, “real-life” relationships and experiences.
He reminds us that electronic tools can also, of course, be used for outright evil and blatant disobedience of God’s commandments. But we found the more subtle ways media can distract from the richness of life and distort the truths of God to be the potent core of his talk. He quotes Paul, who reminds us that we “should know how to possess [our] vessels [bodies] in sanctification and honour.
We highly recommend his talk to anyone who uses the computer, who has children who do, who is wondering about the appropriate use of new media, and/or who desires to ponder more about the importance of the physical body in the plan of our Heavenly Father.
See other reviews here.