Address by J. Reuben Clark, reprinted in the August, 1946 LDS Improvement Era, ‘Plain Talk to Girls’: 1

Address given to the Executives of the Young Women’s Mutual Improvement Association, in June Conference, Saturday afternoon, June 8, 1946, in Barratt Hall

When I was in Mexico in the Embassy, there were with me Sister Clark and my youngest daughter, then in her middle teens. Because she was the daughter of an ambassador, she was invited out a great deal, and every time she went out, as she was ready to go, I called her in and said: “Now, Luacine, I want you to remember this evening two things; first, you are a Mormon with certain standards to observe; second, you are the daughter of the American ambassador, and that brings to you certain responsibilities with reference to your conduct. I do not want you to forget that, wherever you go tonight.”
Well, I had done this a number of times. Finally she said to me one evening: “Daddy, you do not trust me, do you?”
I said, “No, Daughter. I do not trust myself.”
And until we are in the grave, we are not beyond the reach of Satan. None of us is safe, and he or she is most unsafe who thinks he or she is beyond the reach of the evil one.
You young people have been told so often that you are the greatest group that the world ever produced, that you are entitled to believe it, and I think perhaps some of you do. You are the greatest group that the world has ever produced in opportunity. No group of youth in the whole history of the world ever had the advantages that you have in the development of science and of arts. There come into your homes from day to day more of culture and uplift than ever came to us who lived three quarters of a century ago. But there also come into your homes, and by the same route, more of filth, more of moronic alleged entertainment, more influences to break down your morals than we dreamed of, and you must take in this life of yours with all of its opportunities, the bur- den along with the blessing, and you will be perfectly safe in this duality which is yours if all the time you will remember to pray to the Lord and to live righteously.
You know we are just the same sort of beings today that we started out to be at the very beginning. In one sense —and I hesitate to use this because there is a false doctrine predicated upon the statement that I am going to make—but in one sense we are all Adams and Eves. We all have before us the power to choose the good or to choose the evil, and we can make a mistake at the beginning which will bring to us tears and sorrows and all that go with sin forever afterwards. But we are Adams and Eves in another sense. We have all of the elemental passions which they had, and our modern veneer is very, very thin. Biological man does today whatever he thinks will preserve him biologically, preserve him as a human, mortal being. There have come into our minds and into our very beings, feelings of hate and contempt for human life, revenge and that whole sordid, terrible group of vices. There was a time when I was a boy, and perhaps when you were in school, that you held up your hands in horror, when you read of the terrible massacres in the frontier settlements of this country by the Indians, when men, women, and children were murdered and scalped and the women outraged. Yet today we look complacently upon the fact that our soldiers have destroyed, under orders, hundreds and thousands of women and children, the aged, the infirm, the decrepit, blotted them out in the fraction of a second. Does that spell very much real love for humanity? Let us put those things out of our minds and out of our hearts, and instead of talking glibly about the brotherhood of men, let us actually have it and live it.
We should hate nobody, and having said that, I wish to urge a word of caution, particularly to you young girls. It is sought today in certain quarters to break down all race prejudice, and at the end of the road, which they who urge this see, is intermarriage. That is what it finally comes to. Now, you should hate nobody; you should give to every man and every woman, no matter what the color of his and her skin may be, full civil rights. You should treat them as brothers and sisters, but do not ever let that wicked virus get into your systems that brotherhood either permits or entitles you to mix races which are inconsistent. Biologically, it is wrong; spiritually, it is wrong.
The Lord said: “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” Never go any place where you may not ask the Lord to be with you. So soon as you do, you rob yourselves of the strength and the power of the Spirit of the Lord, and in large measure you cease to be entitled to the protection which you ask. Stay in the places where you may go before the Lord and say, “Lord, help me and bless me,” and where you may do it unblushingly.
As to companions, you women had better not trifle with men, and particularly with those whom you know only casually. There is a new spirit that has come into the world with this war. The reports you have read of the universality of the immorality among our soldiers in Europe and elsewhere are too largely borne out by the reports which come to us. Too frequently men have ceased to be chivalrous, respectful of womanhood, and have come to regard you as the legitimate prey of their passions—as a prey to be seized either by flattery or by force, and it makes little difference to them which. Please, sisters, you Mutual officers, carry this back to your wards and your stakes and try to warn—and I urge this with all of the energy that I have—try to warn your young girls against this terrible sin of unchastity. This is where you can exercise your love and your patience. This is where you can use all of the Spirit of the Lord that you can get in warning those who are not here of the dangers which beset them on every hand.
And then I should like to say this: You may remember that after the resurrection of the Lord, he saw the members of his apostles’ quorum on two different occasions, one on the night of his resurrection, when all were present except Thomas, and he called later when all were present, including Thomas. Then, while he was seen here and there by individuals, and on one occasion by over five hundred at one time, he did not appear again to his apostles for some time. Then Peter, he who had been first attracted by the fact that the Lord had told him—he having fished all night without any success —to cast his net on the other side of the boat, which he did and found it filled with fish,—Peter said to some of his associates, Thomas Didymus, James, and John, the two sons of Zebedee, two other apostles, and Nathaniel: “I go fishing.” They said, “We will go with you.” The record states that immediately they went and got into their boat on the Sea of Tiberias, that is, the Lake of Galilee, around which so many of the stirring incidents and miracles performed by the Master had taken place. They fished all night, so when the morning came they were about a hundred yards away from the shore. They had caught no fish. A man stood on the shore and said to them: “Have ye any meat? “When they said, “No,” he said, “Cast the net on the right side of the ship.” And they cast their net, and it was filled. John said to Peter: “It is the Lord,” and Peter, with that impetuosity which marked him through his whole life, girded his coat about him, for he was naked, and then plunged into the sea, and walked to the shore to meet his Master.
He was naked. The Lord is not pleased with nakedness. I am sure you girls do not appreciate, you young people, and it may be not the older ones, that the nudity which your fashions now sanction and indeed call for, has its origin in those minds which seek so to clothe you that you may appeal to the baser passions of men, and if so clothed you shall be assaulted, take at least part of the blame to yourselves. I know the arguments that are made that go through your minds. “I cannot be a freak. Everybody else dresses this way. I must dress this way. I will be shunned; I will not be attractive; I will not be popular.” And so on down the whole list of alleged reasons, but really excuses. I know all that, and unfortunately there is too much truth in it, but when the man comes who wants honorably to make you his wife, then, many chances to one, he will not wish you to display your person to others. That is the way we men feel about it, and about those whom we love. When you come to us, we wish you to be ours in every whit. We do not wish to share you even by sight with others.
Sisters, you yourselves, those whom you associate with and guide and direct, for the sake of your posterity and the youth of tomorrow, please resume the modesty that your mothers and your grandmothers had, and if you want to know what that was, talk to them somewhat about what you are doing now, and they will tell you. I say to you that unless we do get modesty back among the Latter-day Saints particularly, and in the world, that we are headed for a catastrophe.
Now I hope, sisters, that you will pardon my blunt speaking. I have no desire but to help you to help yourselves and to help your posterity, for if they go as far beyond place where their parents and their grandparents were, many will fall below the standards of the beasts who have one mate and cling to it.
This is a great organization. The Lord loves you. He will help you,—that I promise you with as much certainty as I can promise anything that I can actually hand to you. If you live righteously, he will do whatever you want him to do, that is for your good, and you never ought to ask the Lord for anything that you do not say: “Father, give this to me if it would be for my best good and in accordance with thy will.” Then keep your minds open so that if you do not get what you ask for, you can understand the failure was because the Lord knew better than you. Go back to your work, you officers, filled with the enthusiasm which you are getting in this conference, with the spirit which comes to you from this conference, and go back to it with a determination that you will do your part, each of you, to stem this tide of immorality which threatens to engulf the world. You women can do it. We men will not.
May the Lord bless you. Again I ask you to be good enough to excuse my blunt speech, but I feel there come times when things must be said even as Jacob of old declared. And I would like you to read when you go home the second chapter, I think it is, of Jacob, in the Book of Mormon, because you stand just where Jacob stood, even as do I, where your duty is to warn the world, and particularly your own sisters of the evils that threaten them. The Lord said on one occasion when he was preaching: “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8: 36, 37.) And remember the philosophy of Paul when he spoke to the Romans and said: “I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.” (Romans 7:21.) You can overcome that evil so present by living the commandments of the Lord, and that you may be able to do so, I humbly pray in the name of Jesus Christ.




1 1946 LDS Improvement Era, ‘Plain Talk to Girls’ –