Monday, September 3, 2012

MMM Sermons: "Lock Your Heart"



by Saint Mark (bio)

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints call them "talks," but most (non)Christians call them sermons. This is a series of sermons that many Latter-day Saints love and believe. I hope these sermons promote and perfect your faith as they do mine.

When I served a mission, President Spencer W. Kimball's talk entitled "Lock Your Heart," which he gave in 1968, was one of the first talks I received as a new missionary. It was one of a handful of sermons by the Apostles inserted in our "Modern-Day Ammon" handbook.

After reading it the first time, I was shocked by the stories President Kimball shared. But nothing shocked me as much as when I was transferred to the city of Oita at the tail end of my mission. Disclaimer: the story I am about to relate is ad infinitum hearsay. It's only rumor but sometimes myths and cautionary tales have vestiges of truth. The following story reminded me of the justified importance of locking our hearts from romantic involvement as missionaries.

Oita was a large area. One could drive for three hours in any direction and still be in our district's area. There were only six elders who served this entire area and I was the District Leader. While looking over a map of the area, I noticed a large city just south of Oita called Beppu. There was an area within Beppu named Jigoku Beppu that seemed a little ominous since "jigoku" means hell, but Beppu still sounded promising. One of the elders in our district was from Japan and had a relation in Beppu. I found out from this elder that no missionary had proselyted in that city for a long time. I thought it would be a great opportunity to preach the gospel to a people who had not heard from a servant of the Lord for who knows how long.

However, when I asked for permission from my Zone Leaders, they said that we could not go to Beppu. When I asked why, I received a cryptic answer. What I learned from subsequent questioning and research was that Beppu had been closed to missionary work for twenty years! Why? Because allegedly there had been a prostitution ring that was being run by missionaries in that city. A new missionary who was transferred to Beppu found out what was happening. The other missionaries supposedly tied him up, locked him in a closet and left him there for days. He finally escaped, phoned the Mission President, and the transgressors were excommunicated while the new missionary went home scarred and in need of therapy.

Again, I reiterate that this story is not confirmed and only rumor of the highest order. But, if a missionary left his/her heart open to romantic involvement and kept his/her eye single to the opposite sex instead of to the glory of God, couldn't Satan tempt that missionary to sin and betray the covenants made in the baptismal font and in the temple? As President Kimball points out in his sermon, it isn't only theoretical. It's probable.

Read the entire sermon here.

Now that I've given the extreme mission legend tale, I know that everyone has different opinions on whether one should have a girlfriend/boyfriend back home when they serve a mission. I didn't and I found that it helped me to focus on my relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ instead of leaning on "the arm of flesh." I remember there was a Zone Leader in my mission who would help write "Dear Jane" letters for elders who still had girlfriends back home. He was a little extreme for my taste.

But, for those of you who had a significant someone back home and you wouldn't change that, why do you feel so? I'm curious how having a girlfriend/boyfriend back home fostered a better mission experience for you. I even know there are some of you who met your wives/husbands on your mission. Fill us in on your view.

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