On Covenant-Based Relationships
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A covenant-based relationship is the best kind of relationship one can have with Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. Given in the Opening Session of the Warrenton, Virginia Stake Youth Conference on 21 July 1999.
On Covenant-Based Relationships
A Talk Given in the Opening Session of Youth Conference
of the Warrenton, VA Stake
By D. Calvin Andrus, High Council
21 July 1999, Version 1.0
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Good evening. My name is Calvin Andrus. I am from the Sterling Park Ward. I have been the High Council Advisor to the Youth Conference Planning Committee. Before I begin my talk, I want to publicly express my appreciation to all those who have helped plan and will now carry out this conference. They have worked hard and have done so with the best interests of the young people of this Stake at heart. This year's youth conference celebrates the 25th anniversary of the dedication of the Washington D.C. Temple. The theme is, "A Covenant People." Before I talk about that, I want to tell you a story.
I started my senior year in high school in the fall of 1970. My high school had a custom that when a young man wanted a young woman to be his girlfriend, he would ask her to wear his high school ring. If she agreed to do so, then they entered into a relationship known as "going steady." In such an arrangement, it was expected that they had exclusive dating rights with each other. That is, the young man would not go on any dates with any other young woman, nor would the young woman go on dates with any other young man. Moreover, when any occasion arose for which a date was appropriate--such as a dance or a ball game--they each expected that they would go to the occasion with each other.
There were other social customs associated with going steady. If the young man were standing with a group of his friends and his steady girlfriend would come by, he would leave his friends to go talk to her. Alternatively, if she walked up to the group of young men, she would walk up to her boyfriend first, before talking with any of the other young men.
This social protocol was very serious business, and respected by all. If I saw a girl with another young man's ring, I wouldn't even think of asking her on a date. Similarly, a girl with a young man's ring would stop flirting with other young men.
Well, at the beginning of my senior year in high school, I started dating a fun-loving and "foxy" young lady by the name of Debbie. After a few weeks, we were only dating each other. It got to the point that I should have asked her to wear my ring. She wanted to go steady with me and wanted to wear my ring. I wanted to go steady with her, but I didn't want to give her my ring to wear.
This was the cause of some contention in our relationship. She felt like I wasn't fully committed to our relationship--that I really didn't like her enough to give her my ring. She felt like I didn't trust her with my ring. And when she felt like I didn't trust her, she began to not trust me. Did I want to keep my ring so I could date other young women? Did I want to flirt with other young women? Wasn't I proud of her as a girlfriend? Didn't I want to let everyone know she was my girlfriend? Was I trying to hide something? No matter how much I reassured her that I was proud to be her boyfriend and was committed to the relationship, she was never quite convinced, because I wouldn't let her wear my ring.
Within a few weeks I noticed she had started flirting with other young men. Little things in our relationship would turn into fights. We were on a downward slope, and as hard as we tried, we eventually had a really big fight and broke up. This was due, in part, because of a lack of commitment that resulted from not having passed the high school ring as a token of our "love."
Let us stop for a moment and analyze this situation. When a girl in my high school wore the school ring of a young man, how was her relationship with that young man different than the relationship all the other girls in the high school had with that young man? Right! She was special to him. And he was special to her. In my high school, the passing of the ring signified that the couple had a special relationship. They had a social bond that was stronger to each other than to the other young men and women in my high school. They were socially bound together. And where one went, the other would go. The passing of the ring was a symbol or token of a promise the two had made to each other. The promise was that they would date exclusively. Such a promise added stability to the relationship. It brought them closer together. It allowed them to rely on each other. And they could trust that they would not leave each other behind.
So, we can conclude that a friendship with a promise and a symbol or token (the ring), is stronger than a friendship without a promise and an associated symbol or token. Let me say that again so you get it. A promise-based relationship (which we sometimes call a covenant-based relationship) is stronger than a relationship without a promise or covenant.
Do you have any promise-based or covenant-based relationships? Let me suggest that we all have at least one, very important, covenant-based relationship. When we were baptized each of us traded promises with our Father-in-Heaven. On our side, we promised to take upon ourselves the name of His Son (Christ) and keep His commandments. On His side, Heavenly Father promised to forgive us of our sins and send the Holy Ghost to be our Companion. As a symbol or token of this promise, we were lowered into the water and brought back out of the water. Just like the ring was a token of a covenant of exclusive dating, so immersion is a token of our baptismal covenants.
So, let me ask a question. Is your relationship with Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost different from the relationship your non-baptized friends have with the Godhead? You bet it is. Your baptismal covenant binds you to Heavenly Father. This is a good thing. This means you are eligible to have Him take you home with Him into the Celestial Kingdom.
Imagine yourself at the judgment bar of God. Imagine there are thousands or millions or billions of people standing around at the judgment bar. If Christ were to come walking by, whom would He go up to first? You guessed it--the ones that are bound to him by covenants. When Heavenly Father reviews your life with you, the Savior will be at your side. Some of you will want to hug the Savior and not let go so He would take you into the Celestial Kingdom when He goes in. Let me suggest that your arms are not strong enough to grab you into the Celestial Kingdom. You must bind yourself to the Savior with something stronger than arms. You must bind yourself to Him with covenants. The more covenants we make with Him, the more tightly bound we are to Him. We start with the baptismal covenants. We then have the Melchizedek Priesthood covenant. From there we go to the temple to bind ourselves even tighter through the Endowment Covenants and the Marriage Covenants.
That is one of the wonderful things about the Temple. It gives us an opportunity to bind ourselves--through covenants--not just to our families, but also to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. For this reason I am especially excited that this youth conference has as its theme the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the dedication of the Washington D.C. Temple.
My dear young friends--when we think about our relationship with Heavenly Father and with the Savior let us think about our covenant-based relationship with Them. The way to get closer and closer to Them is to enter into and keep covenants with Them. A covenant-based relationship with Christ is the closest and best relationship with Christ. To these things I bear my testimony.
In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
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