A number of years ago the following report appeared on the BBC website:
‘Lust has been wrongly branded a vice and should be “reclaimed for humanity” as a life-affirming virtue, a top philosopher reportedly believes. Professor Simon Blackburn of Cambridge University is trying to “rescue” lust, arguing it has been wrongly condemned for centuries, the Sunday Times says. His campaign is part of an Oxford University Press project on the modern relevance of the seven deadly sins. The list of sins was drawn up by Pope Gregory the Great in the 6th Century. OUP has commissioned books on each of the sins – lust, anger, envy, gluttony, sloth, pride and greed. Controlling lust It says Prof Blackburn is aiming to save lust “from the denunciations of old men of the deserts, to deliver it from the pallid and envious confessor and the stocks and pillories of the Puritans, to drag it from the category of sin to that of virtue”. ‘
Our moral environment is far more polluted than our physical environment. It seems as though good and evil are being homogenized out of existence by a generation led by ‘foolish and blind guides.’ What was once whispered in shame is now electronically shouted from the housetops as the famous and the foolish appear on television to parade their sins, like so many medals, before laughing, applauding audiences (Rodney Turner, “To Learn With Joy,” p. 272).
In the Doctrine and Covenants we read: “Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God. … “The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion” (D&C 121:45–46; emphasis added). How can we let virtue garnish our thoughts unceasingly? Preach my Gospel teaches us:
Virtue originates in our innermost thoughts and desires. It is a pattern of thought and behaviour based on high moral standards. Since the Holy Ghost does not dwell in unclean tabernacles, virtue is prerequisite to receiving the Spirit’s guidance. What you choose to think and do when you are alone and you believe no one is watching is a strong measure of your virtue.
The problem that we have is that impure thoughts can come into our minds without us wanting them to, but as the saying goes – you may not be able to stop a bird from landing on your head but you can stop it from building a nest in your hair. In Proverbs 23:7 we read: ‘For as he athinketh in his bheart, so is he.’ Truman G Madsen wrote:
”Re-read the oft-quoted passages about the thoughts. You will note that it is not the occurrence of ideas in the head but their lodgement in the heart that degrades.. The issue is not so much what thoughts occur in our minds but how we nurture them in our desires.”
What Are the Promised Blessings of Living a Life of Virtue? The Doctrine and Covenants sets out some wonderful blessings: D&C 121: 45 Let thy abowels• also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let bvirtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy cconfidence wax strong in the dpresence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the edews• from heaven. 46 The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant acompanion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of brighteousness and truth; and thy cdominion• shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever. How wonderful it would be to feel one’s confidence wax strong in the presence of the Lord – to feel at home in his presence because we have lived a life of virtue. James E Talmage said:
Any man may enter the highest degree of the celestial kingdom when his actions have been such that he can feel at home there.
We all want to return home – but we also want to feel ‘at home’ there. Another blessing promised is that ‘the Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion’ – because we won’t do anything to offend the Spirit. And finally, we shall receive a scepter of unchanging righteousness and truth; in other words we will be joint heirs with Christ. To me, regardless of what Professor Blackburn or other so called learned men may say, those promises – the blessings of virtue – are truly ‘life-affirming’.