Who is it that we really honor?

Below are several comments from Church and educational leaders that directly or indirectly relate to the Honor Code. I appreciate they way they expand my thinking about the relationship between dress and conduct and the process of learning in spaces that are dedicated to God.

1. Dressing for “Brain Work”

Elder Charles Didier made these comments in his devotional address on 21 September 2004:

What about our clothing and our physical appearance on this campus or in other circumstances? Does it matter, or does it make a difference in your behavior and influence your environment if you wear baggy or immodest clothes or tattered jeans? Does what I read in the Honor Code about modesty really apply to you? “Modesty and cleanliness are important values that reflect personal dignity and integrity, through which students, staff, and faculty represent the principles and standards of the Church” (Dress and Grooming Standards, BYU Honor Code).

I cannot resist quoting from one of your professors, S. Neil Rasband, stating that what you wear affects the educational environment:

What about torn or tattered jeans? They simply suggest that someone is unable to distinguish between being engaged with intellectual challenges and working on the welfare farm. They’re dressed for barn work, not for brain work. . . .
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The answers are in the scriptures

Two quotes that reinforce the power of the Lord’s word to answer the questions we have and help us solve the challenges we face.

President Boyd K. Packer:
“If your students are acquainted with the revelations, there is no question—personal or social or political or occupational—that need go unanswered. Therein is contained the fulness of the everlasting gospel. Therein we find principles of truth that will resolve every confusion and every problem and every dilemma that will face the human family or any individual in it.” (“Teach the Scriptures,” address to seminary and institute teachers, October 14, 1977, 6.)

President Henry B. Eyring:
“Going to the scriptures to learn what to do makes all the difference. The Lord can teach us. When we come to a crisis in our life, such as losing a child or spouse, we should go looking in the scriptures for specific help. We will find answers in the scriptures. The Lord seemed to anticipate all of our problems and all of our needs, and He put help in the scriptures for us—if only we seek it.” (“A Discussion on Scripture Study,” Ensign, July 2005, 22–26.)

Homes are made permanent through love

David O. McKay Homes are made permanent through love. Oh, then, let love abound! If you feel that you have not the love of your children, live to get it. Though you neglect some of the cattle, though you fall short in some material matters, study and work and pray to hold your children’s love.

Clare Middlemiss, comp., Man May Know for Himself: Teachings of President David O. McKay (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1969), p. 227. Quoted by James MacArthur in his BYU devotional.

Developing a plan to better understand the Atonement

Richard G. Scott I’ve appreciated the way Elder Richard G. Scott has encouraged us to learn about the Atonement of Christ. Here is a powerful invitation he recently left BYU students (italics added):

I energetically encourage you to establish a personal plan to better understand and appreciate the incomparable, eternal, infinite consequences of the perfect fulfillment by Jesus Christ of His divinely appointed calling as our Savior and Redeemer. Profound personal pondering of the scriptures accompanied by searching, heartfelt prayer will fortify your understanding of and appreciation for the Atonement. Your understanding can be strengthened through related classes as well as by discussions with faculty and students. Your understanding could be enhanced by a pause in your university studies to fulfill a call as a devoted full-time missionary. Whatever path you follow, please establish for yourself a must-be accomplished goal to acquire a better understanding of the Atonement while you are a student at Brigham Young University.

This may seem to be a significantly added burden that you cannot realize because of the press of all else you are required to do while enrolled here. However, as an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ—and I do not use those words lightly—I testify that your understanding of the Atonement and the insight it provides for your life will greatly enhance your productive use of all of the knowledge, experience, and skills you acquire at this university.

(Elder Richard G. Scott, “To Establish a Secure Foundation for Life,” BYU Devotional, March 18, 2008)

Elder Scott gave a similar invitation in his October 2006 conference address (italics added):

I believe that no matter how diligently you try, you cannot with your human mind fully comprehend the eternal significance of the Atonement nor fully understand how it was accomplished. We can only appreciate in the smallest measure what it cost the Savior in pain, anguish, and suffering or how difficult it was for our Father in Heaven to see His Son experience the incomparable challenge of His Atonement. Even so, you should conscientiously study the Atonement to understand it as well as you can. You can learn what is needful to live His commandments, to enjoy peace and happiness in mortal life.

Elder Maxwell shared this thought about teaching the Atonement:

When we share the gospel as members or full-time missionaries, our friends and investigators need to feel our convictions and testimonies about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Yes, we are teaching a deep concept, but we should also be sharing a deep conviction about that powerful doctrine.

The most important thing we can do in preparing individuals to receive the full blessings of the Atonement is to understand it and to believe in it ourselves. By understanding and believing in the Atonement personally, you and I can teach and testify of the Atonement with greater gratitude, greater love, and greater power.

Neal A. Maxwell, “Testifying of the Great and Glorious Atonement,” Ensign, Oct 2001, 10

Preparing for the resurrection

The greatest events of history are those that affect the greatest number for the longest periods. By this standard, no event could be more important to individuals or nations than the resurrection of the Master. The eventual resurrection of every soul who has lived and died on earth is a scriptural certainty, and surely there is no event for which one should make more careful preparation. A glorious resurrection should be the goal of every man and woman, for it is a reality. Nothing is more absolutely universal than the resurrection. Every living being will be resurrected. “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Cor. 15:22.)

Ezra Taft Benson, “‘Because I Live, Ye Shall Live Also’,” Ensign, Apr 1993, 2

The full attention we need to give to God

As I have read the Book of Mormon recently, I have been impressed with the complete attention we are asked to give to God. This passage in Alma 37 is a good example:

36 Yea, and cry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever.

37 Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good; yea, when thou liest down at night lie down unto the Lord, that he may watch over you in your sleep; and when thou risest in the morning let thy heart be full of thanks unto God; and if ye do these things, ye shall be lifted up at the last day.

Not offending, but listening to, the Holy Ghost

I hope a day doesn’t begin or end that you don’t consider whether something you did might have offended the Holy Ghost or made it harder for the Spirit to influence you. That is what it means to me to have a repentant heart.

You might, in addition, be eager to conform to the quiet promptings that urge you to take action. Make a commitment that the next time you are taught by one of the servants of God, you will heed any prompting, even the faintest prompting, to act, to do better. In fact, you could commit to opening your heart to those promptings even while reading these words. That also is the spirit of repentance.

I had that happen to me not long ago. I was sitting in my home ward in the presence of a teacher who said something, and I felt a very faint prompting from the Spirit to act that day. I bear you my testimony that the scriptures are not being poetic when they describe the Holy Ghost as the still, small voice. It is so quiet that if you are noisy inside, you won’t hear it. It is real. I felt also that if I didn’t do it promptly, I would not again, at least not soon, feel that gentle instruction. So I did it. I am confident that because I went and did the small thing that I felt impressed by the quiet voice to do, I made it more likely that I could receive a spiritual nudge again.

Henry B. Eyring, To Draw Closer to God, pp. 17-18.