Thursday, June 25, 2009

I Believe in Virtue

Articles of Faith #13
[I] believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, [I] may say that [I] follow the admonition of Paul—[I] believe all things, [I] hope all things, [I] have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, [I] seek after these things.

This is the last of my series on the Articles of Faith, and perhaps one of the most poignant for me right now. I have thought on this Article since I first began writing these statements of my personal faith just short of a year ago. I little knew at the time how my testimony of this particular statement would change from beginning to end. If I had realized how my hope and strength would be stretched to the breaking point as I found myself in a situation seeming to have little to do with beauty and purity, I don't think I would have had the courage to go on.

There has been some talk over the past year about virtue, in particular, as it has been added to the Young Women Values. When I once thought of virtue, I thought of a white knight, standing ready to defend the helpless at sometimes great personal sacrifice, never wavering in temptation. Now, the image is more along the lines of the Little Match Girl, cowering in a corner and lighting her own personal testimony to keep her warm, trying to share her matches with others who do not have time or interest to buy.

Virtue is something that keeps you standing tall, tattered, ragged and besmirched with mud thrown from misunderstanding hands. It is an inner loveliness that surmounts all other forms of beauty and ugliness. It makes the "most beautiful" women in the world look stale. It incorporates integrity, faith, duty, dedication, the Spirit of God, seeking everything praiseworthy, and all the things mentioned in this Article.

More than anything, I think it is the power derived from all these things.

Several times in scripture, the word "virtue" is used almost interchangeably with "power". When the woman touched Jesus's hem, he perceived that the virtue had gone out of Him—that some sort of power had gone from him to her, healing her. In Alma, they try the virtue of the word of God—preaching had more power than any other source of power they knew to change the hearts of men.

In one final example, Joseph Smith tries to teach us the secrets of Priesthood power, that it comes from virtue. I believe that this is the key misunderstanding to those who covet and misuse the Priesthood of God. There is no true power in the Priesthood except that which is gained through virtue: through the power gained in integrity, faith, and pure charity.

In the situation I find myself now, it is easy to feel as if I am cheap and used, without virtue. Yet, I am slowly being taught by the Spirit that by doing my best to follow God's will, to live true to my faith in Him and my covenants, and to do my best to be a blessing, despite my failure I come closer to a virtuous life than I was before.

I believe that true virtue can only come through the cleansing fire of the Atonement and of the Spirit. When we understand Christ and His eternal connection to us, we become purified, sanctified, and eventually exalted. How grateful I am to be drawn into the filth of this life so that I may understand the virtue and power of God.


  1. I'm not grateful to be drawn into the filth of the world--I'd much rather just skip that part. I don't know if I believe it is necessary, but unfortunately all of us seem to experience, directly or indirectly, the dark places in life and society.

    Part of my patriarchal blessing basically says that if I lose virtue I will lose the ability to enjoy my life. I thought of that when you compared it with power. Being able to enjoy one's life, in whatever situation, certainly is a type of power, I think.

  2. That was extremely well said. It applies to all who are seeking to be more Christlike...LDS or not.

  3. Those verses in the Doctrine and Covenants about the priesthood are wonderful. (They are great parenting tips too).

    You opened my eyes to the power of virtue. This week I went out into the world more than usual. I felt the mud hitting close to home a few times. Going through these experiences truly are refiner's fires. They teach us about ourselves - how much we truly believe when we are willing to go through so much while ultimately standing virtuous in the end.

    Adam, neat counsel from your PB. Probably applies to us all.


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