Thus they were prepared, yea, a body of their strongest men, with their swords and their slings, to smite down all who should attempt to come into their place of security by the place of entrance; and thus were they prepared to defend themselves against the Lamanites. ( Alma 49:20)
I huddled my three young sons around me and looked directly into their eyes. They fixated on me, and I explained to them that we were now in a war zone. They needed to follow me carefully to safety. I told them we were under attack and we had to do everything possible to get out unharmed. We walked quickly together toward the nearest exit.
“Protect your eyes, boys!” was my battle cry as we rushed from the danger.
Earlier, upon entering the baggage claim area of the Las Vegas , Nevada airport, I noticed my two oldest sons, ages 9 and 6, hypnotized by the dozens of posters and television screens displaying scantily clad women in seductive poses. I knew I had to lead my boys to safety.
It took us only five minutes to collect our bags and get out the door. Yet, still, the sexually charged images assaulted our senses.
As we made the two-hour drive back to our home in St. George , Utah , I wondered if what they saw planted seeds of destruction in their developing minds. I felt anger toward those who shamelessly blast their lewd and seductive images toward me and my family. I regretted that we had to enter the baggage claim corral and be surrounded by the diabolic displays. I felt grateful that my boys heard my voice and joined me in looking at the ground directly in front of us as we left the building.
I pondered the observation President Boyd K. Packer made in the April 2006 General Conference when he said, “It is a wicked, wicked world in which we live and in which our children must find their way. Challenges of pornography, gender confusion, immorality, child abuse, drug addiction, and all the rest are everywhere. There is no way to escape from their influence.”
I feel relief knowing that we did the best we could in the given circumstances. I am re-committing myself to stay prepared as the protector of my family. In addition to helping my sons avoid places and situations where they will encounter the adversary’s aggressive assaults, I also want to teach them what to do when they can’t avoid them.
I will continue to tell them of President Gordon B. Hinckley’s warning that “there is so much of evil everywhere” (“My Testimony”, Ensign , May 2000, p. 69). They’ll have to know of the powerful draw immodest images and sounds will exert on their minds and hearts. I want them to know that just because it might catch their notice, they don’t have to pay attention.
I will reassure them they’re not bad kids for noticing these things. I will continually challenge them to develop righteous reflexes to look away quickly. I will invite them to talk with me about times when they see things that upset them or when they’ve looked too long and feel guilty.
I will make sure they understand that their mom and dad also have to work diligently to protect themselves from the negative influence of these images, words, and sounds.
I will forever teach them about the cleansing power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the power of taking the sacrament worthily every Sunday. Although my two younger sons aren’t at the age of accountability, they can still learn a pattern of approaching the Lord each Sabbath to renew, cleanse, and recommit.
I will regularly review the teachings found in Alma chapters 48-50 on how to find safety from the incessant attacks of Satan and his followers. Captain Moroni understood the weakest part of a city was its place of entrance. My sons will know that while they don’t have drawbridges, they have seven sacred places of entrance on their heads that are open to the temptations of Satan (When I first introduced this idea to them, they correctly pointed to their two eyes, their two ears, their two nostrils, and their mouth).
We will have ongoing conversations about what they can do to protect these places of entrance, especially in light of what they experienced at the Las Vegas airport.
They will know of the reassuring truth found in Alma chapter 49 verse 23 that, like the Nephite warriors of old, we too can have “all power over [our] enemies” as we heed the teachings of the prophets and protect ourselves from the enticements of the master deceiver and destroyer.
This is a long conversation in which we’ll all be engaged during our time on earth. My sons will know that their father will not stop talking about ways to prevent, avoid, and deflect the “fiery darts of the adversary” (D&C 3:8). The Lord’s promises are true and secure. We will not and we cannot be destroyed if we follow the voices of his servants and stay conscious and alert all the days of our lives.
My sons will know of these glorious promises along with the merciful promises outlined by a loving Father who sent his Son to heal the wounds of those of us who live in this telestial sphere. They will need His healing regardless of the depth of their wounds. For we all fall short and require His redemptive power.
I rejoice in the examples of ancient and modern-day fathers and mothers who work to protect their children from the temptations that surround them. I join ranks with all faithful parents in a pledge to do my part to shield and instruct my children as it relates to their spiritual safety.