Samuel Johnson once said, “Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.”

Wow.  What a great thought….Reading it took my mind in a number of directions.

If we were all in a large room and I was speaking these words to you, I’d probably ask for a raise of hands – “Who believes the world is much more deeply steeped in false allure, wrongful choices, and unrighteous alternatives than it used to be?”  I imagine every single hand would go up. Even my kids see the difference in available influencers to lure our young away from good and decent thoughts.

Internet? While it offers so much good, it can be a cesspool of vulgarity. Unscrupulous people lure children [and adults] by showing pictures and offering enticements that are shameful.

Television? Pardon me here if I offend anyone about this, but even some children’s shows are more pessimistic. Is it just me, or does anyone else notice the kid’s shows that offer caricatures of adults, and include dialogue with the youngsters making fun of, showing disrespect, and laughing behind the backs of older people?  Not that there aren’t plenty of adults in need to a good talking-to. But to influence our children into believing it’s fine to think and speak that way? Not cool.

Dress standards?  Good luck finding a prom dress or other ‘gown’ that is appropriately in keeping with the Church’s modesty standards [with the exception of a few companies who specifically offer them- bless them].  Like my friend Steven Kapp Perry said years ago, “We used to live in a time of strapless evening gowns. We now live in a time of gown-less evening straps.” Ha!  Absolutely. 

Language?  Good grief. There are words I’d never heard until I was in college [showing my age here], and where I grew up, it just wasn’t acceptable to be so gritty and crude. It was a shock to my system. The shock these days is finding a group of folks whose language is suitable. I mean, suitable for inclusion if the Savior was part of the group.

And this brings me to the point of today’s article:  What can we better do about this onslaught? Or how can we better defend against it…besides imprisoning ourselves or our kids in a weak attempt to keep them from the ugly manipulation of the world?  The things that matter most are the things of the heart and mind, based on eternal truths and righteous concepts. Not so popular in much of today’s world, right?

Integrity is a short word with a long meaning. At least, when we understand that meaning according to our leaders. Here’s what President N. Eldon Tanner had to say about it:

“We have heard sermons upon honesty, trust, righteousness, dependability, truthfulness, kindness, justice, mercy, love, fidelity, and many other principles of right living.  When one has integrated all of these attributes within his being, when they become a moving force of all his thoughts, actions, & desires, then he may be said to possess integrity; which has been defined as “a state or quality of being complete, undiluted, or unbroken; moral soundness, honesty and uprightness.” [Ensign, May 1977, p. 14.]

Now, lest you think I’m resting on my laurels or trying to teach you something I have down pat, please think again. My kids have done plenty of stuff to make me cringe. At some time or another, they’ve gone places, seen things, spoken, or acted like I never wanted one of my own to choose. But they have this thing called “agency” that allows them to choose for themselves. Some learn more quickly than others. When under my roof growing up, they knew our standard. While they were taught the concepts that matter most, they were taught that they must search their own souls for those things that will bring them lasting happiness. My trust is that each one will make his or her way to the point of making all their decisions based upon those things that matter most.

A few ideas I thought about – once again, and am figuring how to re-enforce better – once again, are these:

  • Limiting the Internet time. While it’s great for school work, research, and such, it’s not the be-all and end-all. We’ve been on board with keeping the computer in a place open to the family, & are careful to use a net nanny. But how bizarre is it to search for an image with your child or grandchild, for a simple thing like “flower” and find a corrupt, disgusting picture?  I say, hang out with whatever under-age person is online. We might see the offensive image before they do, and can quickly click away from it.
  • Short of getting rid of the TV [which some have done, but I just can’t see it happening in our family], monitor every show. Youth- monitor yourselves. If it’s not a show the Savior would appreciate if he walked into the living room, turn it off. I realize there becomes a short list of shows…but, so be it. It’s good for our mind and better for our spirit.
  • Dressing modestly. As society gets more casual & revealing, all of culture becomes more relaxed. Sometimes you young folks just ‘need’ to fit in enough to have a couple of things that look like the rest of the kids school. Sometimes moms and dads feel pressure to allow this top or that outfit, so the kid isn’t ‘odd man out’. As hard as it may be, and as ‘mean’ as we might be seen as a parent, our obligation is to help fit our children for the Kingdom for which they were born. Moving in a celestial direction will never allow us to fit in with the world. Hard stuff. But worth it.
  • Language – sigh. I love words. Their usage, their connection to mind & soul, & the joy that they can bring. I’m so “cringed out” from wincing every time I hear certain words used, so embarrassed over snippets of conversation I hear at a store, on the street, or on the radio, that I’m needing to shore up. Why? So I don’t accept it as the new norm, myself, or stop squirming at offensive language. I never want to become that relaxed or unfazed.

At a fireside back in the Old Days at BYU, a teacher told us, “Profanity is the crutch of a conversational cripple.” Those words stuck with me. I wish we could stick them to every heart- and every mouth! Beautiful words of love – one day we will live in a setting where that is the norm.

Integrity- focusing on the things that matter most- grants us hope when things seem hopeless and strength when we are weakened by the assault of adversarial attacks. It removes from us the desire for wrongdoing in any form.

The things I’ve pointed out are the easy ones. They build a bit of vigor for growing the deeper, sweeter attributes based on mixing integrity and knowledge. The ones of which President Tanner spoke.

The city, the neighbors, teachers, or friends may think we’re over- zealous. In truth, we are simply trying to be devoted disciples of Christ. That will never be fashionable with a large part of this world.

In closing, President Spencer W. Kimball’s words resonate in my soul. I think they will in yours, as well:

“We make no apology then for raising our voices loud to a world that is ripening in sin. The Lord has said, “Say nothing but repentance unto this generation”; The adversary is subtle, cunning, he knows that he cannot induce good men and women immediately to do major evils so he moves slyly, whispering half truths until he has his intended victims following him. Finally he clamps his chains upon them and fetters them tight, and then he laughs at their discomfiture and their misery.”

Surely our prophet meant to instill in us the desire to fight off the nature of the worldly man and take on the divine nature. We have knowledge of truth [and there is plenty more to find as we read and study]. With integrity to match our knowledge, there is no force so dark that our testimony of truth- that our intent to include within ourselves the things that matter most- cannot overcome!

Vickey has taught Church youth & family programs for 25 years, and has written books, hundreds of columns, & created hundreds of songs all with the intent of growing goodness and pointing people to Christ. Visit her website at