Two addresses given at the most recent general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were shared as part of Harvard’s Faith and Flourishing: Strategies for Preventing and Healing Child Sexual Abuse symposium website. The talks were included as part of the symposium’s online “exhibit hall” for participants, which provided resources on the topic discussed.
The symposium took place on April 8, 2021, only a few days after general conference, but that didn’t stop them from including Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s “Not as the World Giveth” and Sister Joy D. Jones’s “Essential Conversations” among their resources.
The goal of the symposium is to give participants, “a unique opportunity to engage with scholars, public health and mental health care professionals, child abuse prevention experts, and religious leaders of diverse faith traditions to share experiences, discover new resources, and identify strategies they can implement to prevent child sexual abuse and foster healing for survivors of abuse in their communities.”
The two addresses were included in video format along with videos of seven other addresses from leaders of various faiths. As a reminder of the insights shared on this topic from these talks, read the excerpts below:
Sister Jones, who was released from her calling as Primary General President at this last conference, said of children that “[Heavenly Father] trusts us to value, respect, and protect them as children of God. That means we never harm them physically, verbally, or emotionally in any way, even when tensions and pressures run high. Instead we value children, and we do all we can to combat the evils of abuse. Their care is primary to us—as it is to Him.”
Elder Holland addressed abuse more generally when he said:
Or perhaps we see other forms of abuse or indignity. How doubly careful we have to be as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ not to participate in any such behavior. In no case are we to be guilty of any form of abuse or unrighteous dominion or immoral coercion—not physical or emotional or ecclesiastical or any other kind. I remember feeling the fervor of President Gordon B. Hinckley a few years ago when he spoke to the men of the Church regarding those he called “tyrants in their own homes”:
“How tragic and utterly disgusting a phenomenon is wife abuse,” he said. “Any man in this Church who abuses his wife, who demeans her, who insults her, who exercises unrighteous dominion over her is unworthy to hold the priesthood. . . . [He] is unworthy to hold a temple recommend.” Equally despicable, he said, was any form of child abuse—or any other kind of abuse.
In too many instances, otherwise faithful men, women, and even children can be guilty of speaking unkindly, even destructively, to those to whom they may well be sealed by a holy ordinance in the temple of the Lord. Everyone has the right to be loved, to feel peaceful, and to find safety at home. Please, may we try to maintain that environment there. The promise of being a peacemaker is that you will have the Holy Ghost for your constant companion and blessings will flow to you “without compulsory means” forever. No one can employ a sharp tongue or unkind words and still “sing the song of redeeming love.”
Here the videos of each address that were shared on the website for the symposium: