Tonight the youth and their parents in our ward had a “Standards Night” event that centered around watching a DVD of a John Bytheway presentation to youth on morality. I must admit that I learned a lot from his perspectives and really enjoyed it. He explained how “Satan is the enemy of romance” – a good way of expressing an important truth in a world that has almost no idea of how wonderful real love and romance can be. And I really appreciated his discussion on the three ways that we might approach the standards of the Church on morality: (1) How bad can I be? (2) How good do I actually have to be? (3) I want to be valiant.
But for me the main learning came in his discussion of Alma 39, where Alma confronts his son, Corianton, after he has departed from his ministry to pursue a prostitute. Bytheway noted that he did not begin by chastising his son for violating the principle of morality, but for his pride:
. . . Now this is what I have against thee; thou didst go on unto boasting in thy strength and thy wisdom.
 And this is not all, my son. Thou didst do that which was grievous unto me; for thou didst forsake the ministry, and did go over into the land of Siron, among the borders of the Lamanites, after the harlot Isabel.
 Yea, she did steal away the hearts of many; but this was no excuse for thee, my son. Thou shouldst have tended to the ministry wherewith thou wast entrusted.
Corianton’s fall apparently began with his pride and trusting in his own wisdom, followed by abandoning his duties in his ministry, and then the fall into immorality, which Brother Bytheway generalized as associating with the wrong crown or pursuing the wrong things. And as I pondered his points, I realized that Alma 39 applies to me much more than I thought. I considered my own challenges with pride, my own recent tendencies to neglect some aspects of my callings and other duties, and the danger of pursuing things that are detrimental or of little value. It was a timely wake-up call – one of several I’ve had recently. Maybe now is the time to actually wake up!
I love how the Book of Mormon can become alive and wonderfully current when we ponder it and apply it to our own lives. There are so many subtle and powerful points in that inspired book.