In many missions,
the mission president gives the new missionaries a copy of a document
entitled "Lock Your Heart" and instruct them to read it frequently and
rigorously heed its council. It is allegedly the transcript of a
discourse that Spencer W. Kimball gave to a group of missionaries in the
1960's, although nobody seems to know the specific date it was given or
where the transcript originated. It is listed in the
Mormon Texts Archives. The document puts a lot of pressure on
missionaries to obey the rules and control their emotions. It
frequently elicits guilt and low self-esteem.
"Lock Your Heart."
That is pretty disturbing counsel, now that I think about it. Cold.
Unfeeling. Inhuman. I suggest you do the opposite: Open Your Heart.
Elder Spencer W. Kimball
Latin American Mission Tour, 1968
If there are problems in the mission that
you can give me light on so that I can help your President and help you,
that's what I'd like. if there are situations that are difficult, if there
are problems that are unknown - let me give you one example:
In one of the missions I found a bad
situation. One or two missionaries had been breaking rules (as the
President has talked about this morning). They began to break some rules.
All they did was go over to a certain home every Sunday night for a
dinner. The President didn't know anything about it. It wasn't very
serious; they should have been home studying, but it was a regular thing
every week. After a little while these missionaries were bringing others
and pretty soon they were dancing on Sunday night, a few of them. Then
they were doing a little flirting and then a few of them got to playing
cards there every Sunday night. And then they were dancing in the dark
with some of the Saint's girls!
The next thing we knew there was an
excommunication. I came there and the things were revealed. I found that
where there was only one boy who had actually gone to the extreme where he
had to be excommunicated, there were about eighteen missionaries in this
area who had followed like sheep over the ledge. They had not intended to
do anything wrong, but they had just kind of followed the leadership. They
had gone there to the meals - and they had gotten into little flirtations
- not too deeply, but the thing is that there were eighteen missionaries
who knew that this boy had gone too far. They knew that he was necking and
petting but not one of them would ever tell! When I interviewed them and
visited with them I said, "Why didn't you tell the President that
conditions were bad?" One of them said, "Well, That's none of my business!
This Elder can do as he pleases! If he wants to wreck his mission, that's
okay with me, it's his business, it's his mission! If he wants to ruin his
life that's up to him. It's his-life!!"
And then I said to these Elders, "Well
what about your missions? Isn't this your mission, too? Isn't this your
church, too? Are you willing that one person nullify all that you've done
here? You've spent 20 months down here, Elder, and you have been working
reasonably hard and at times you have done remarkably good work. Are you
willing that one scandal - one scandal in this out-of-the-world place -
will neutralize all that you've done? All of your efforts? That's what
happens! Are you willing to do that?" He said, "Well I hadn't thought of
it like that." Well, but that's what happened, isn't it, Elders? This is
your mission! This is your Church! One scandal in a community is enough
to annihilate the work of all of you, maybe all the work you do
cumulatively- for all your two years - neutralized by one scandal in the
community! Do you think that you have a loyalty? Where are your loyalties?
Are you loyal to yourself? Are you loyal-to your companion? Are you
willing to let him go on, and on, and on, and on, until he breaks his
When he was excommunicated it was a sad
day in that mission because he was a fine young man and all the
missionaries loved him, and some of them were weeping that day. I
remember! Some of them were weeping tears! Their brother was being
excommunicated from the Church and sent home in disgrace!
And then I said to them, "Elders! Do you
know who excommunicated this boy? Not me; not your President; not the
Elder's court. It was you!! You excommunicated your brother! How? Well, if
you'd have said, 'Elder, lets not do that! That disturbs our whole
program. We lose spirituality, all of us, when things like this happen.'
Now suppose that he didn't yield and you said to him again, 'Elder, you
shouldn't do that! We can't be doing those kinds of things!' And then
suppose you'd gone a third time and said, 'Elder, I'm sorry, if you don't
desist I'm going to have to report to the Mission President because I'm
not going to have you destroy my work! I've worked too hard to have it all
go to the wind! I'm going to tell the President, not as a tattletale, but
I'm going to report to the President so that he can protect the whole
program, if you don't desist!'"
You see there is nothing ugly about that,
is there? That's the way it should be because our loyalty is first to the
Lord, to the Church, to the mission, to the World, isn't it?
One more little incident that is
connected: In one United States mission one day a neighbor came into the
home of a new member. The neighbor was not a member, but she came and she
was used to just walking in through the door- you know, she didn't always
knock! So she came over to this home this day and she saw her friend, the
Latter-day Saint sister, sitting on a chair here and an Elder at her feet-
this will shock you- trimming her toe-nails or painting her toe-nails, or
something! Well, now that isn't an unpardonable sin, but it was
indiscreet, wasn't it? Even if there was nothing else that happened, just
the fact that he was sitting on the floor and that he didn't have on his
tie and coat, and here was a woman partly dressed, and here he was
painting her toe-nails or doing something! Anyway. that city was closed,
absolutely closed to missionary work for 20 years! Do you think
missionaries could go in that city? Why of course they couldn't! Because
there was still the memory of this indiscretion! They hadn't committed
sin; at least, I'm quite sure he had never committed immorality. I think
it wasn't any more than an ugly indiscretion. It was ugly enough, wasn't
it? It was what it led to, you see?
That's why I say this mission belongs to
you. There are 150 of you and this mission belongs to all of you. If
anything happens to any part of this mission it gets a black eye! It makes
it more difficult to do anything! And it makes it more difficult for you
to go into the homes where they have heard ugly things about the Church.
That's why one Elder isn't by himself. He can't be a loner, He has got to
fit into the program, hasn't he? And everyone of you is interested.
Everyone!! And you can't afford to let your companion, or anyone you know,
do anything very serious because it all brings trouble to you and to the
whole program, Well, think about that a little, because some people say,
"I'm not going to be a stool pigeon! I'm not going to tattle! I'm not
going to be telling on people!" It isn't that at all! It's a reporting
just like if you saw a couple of robbers going into your neighbor's home.
Would you say, "Well, it's up to them! It's up to my neighbors!" No! !
We'd become involved! We'd rush to the telephone, we'd call the police! In
every case, wouldn't we?
If we saw somebody being injured, being
killed - like in New York sometime ago, a girl was stabbed and cut all to
pieces by some maniac, and there were many people who saw it and did
nothing about it! She yelled for help, screamed for help, said, "He's
killing me!!" But nobody would move! They didn't even call the police and
there she lay, finally dead, on the street! Nobody would involve
themselves. It's time we would begin to get involved when involvement is
proper. And when any missionary in any mission begins to break mission
rules, it's time that all his companions should become involved! It
doesn't mean that they take over. It doesn't mean that they get ugly and
mean. It just means that they are interested and involved. There is a nice
way to do it! I tell you there wouldn't be very many broken rules if one
missionary would just say to the other, "Brother, lets not do that! Let's
don't do that! 'Let's don't stand there and talk to those girls! That
isn't good!" And if we stop it when it's fresh - when it's young you can
stop it - but when it gets deeply entrenched, that sin is awfully hard to
dig out. And many times we have to send missionaries home to their
families in disgrace, with excommunication frequently, because maybe their
companions didn't love them enough! Maybe their companions weren't helpful
enough to say, "Well, now, you're getting off the line just a little here!
Let's don't do that! Let's get busy and do this, and this, and this!"
This is one program and we are all
concerned about it. These mission rules, you see, are very important.
We've had 137 years of experience. Now that ought to be enough experience
to prove something, shouldn't it?
Through 137 years we have come to the
conclusion that if two people will stay together the chances for sin or
serious trouble are reduced about 98%. Once in a great while two
companions will both go sour at the same time, but it isn't the usual
thing. If missionaries will, when they leave Salt Lake City, the Mission
Home - the day they are set apart - if they will just lock their hearts!
If they've got a girl in there that's all right, lock her in! But if you
haven't got one in, then lock it against all other girls of every
description! And the same applies for young women, too. I am talking
mainly to you Elders. You lock your heart and leave the key at home. And
you never open it here! It's impossible to fall in love with someone
unless you open your heart! Your heart is the only organ that has any
ability to get into love, you see, and when a missionary says, "I just
fell in love with a girl!" Well, that's as silly as it can be! Nobody
does, nobody ever did!
So we just don't fall in love unless we
are fooling around. We never fall in a crater unless we are somewhere near
the edge of it. I have been up to Vesuvius and on a number of craters and
volcanoes and I know you just don't ever fall in a crater, unless you are
on the edge of it. And so you just keep your hearts locked! I said lock
them in Salt Lake when you leave the Mission Home and don't give a thought
to it. But if you go around say, "Well, she is kind of a pretty girl! She
surely is a sweet little thing! She's a nice girl! I'd like to talk to
her- I'd just like to visit with her!" Well, you are in for trouble and
that trouble can bring you a lifetime of trouble and a lifetime of regrets
if you continue on with it.
So, can I impress that again? LOCK YOUR
HEARTS and leave the key at home! Wherever you live, leave the key home
with your folks. And your heart - it's only that part of it that deals
with people generally that you open up. We just can't tolerate it, can we?
We can't individually; we can't totally. Someone said, "Well, is there
any harm to marry a Mexican girl if you are working in Mexico! "No, that
isn't any crime, but it proves that some missionary has had his heart
open! He has unlocked it! Is it wrong to marry a German girl when you have
been on a German mission? Why no, there is no crime in that, if you met
her some other way. But when you meet her in the mission field and you
have opened your heart, I tell you it isn't right, and you have
shortchanged your mission! Just keep your hearts locked. Your whole
thought should be missionary work. How can I make it more plain and more
important than that? I'd like to because there is no reason whatever for
any missionary to ever become involved, not even in a decent way, with any
girl in the mission field. It isn't the place! You guaranteed, you
promised! You went through the Temple! You remember what you did in the
Temple? Remember you promised you'd do all the things the brethren request
of you, to live the commandments. That's one of the commandments when you
go into the mission field: "Thou shalt not flirt! Thou shalt not associate
with young women in the mission field - or anyone else for that matter -
on any other basis than the proselyting basis." You promised, and you
would not want to break a promise you made before the Lord in the Holy
Temple of the Lord. And when you wrote, the letter of acceptance to
President McKay that was implied in it. You knew of course - every
missionary knows - that he isn't going out to court, that he isn't going
out to find a wife! He's got plenty of opportunity when he gets home, and
the mission field isn't the place.
Sometimes we find a young man who has not
been popular at home; he has been very, very backward at home and he
hasn't had many dates. So when he gets out into the mission field and
somebody flatters him a little- some girl shows a lot of interest in him -
why he's flattered. He thinks all at once, "Well, that's whom I should
marry!" Well, I say this once more by repetition and for emphasis, you
LOCK YOUR HEARTS and if you haven't done so, do it now and send the key
back! You will not permit any impression, no romantic thought or
impression in your mind. For two years you have given yourself to the
Lord, totally, to teach the Gospel to the world. When you have done this
perfectly for two years and then you go home, you are infinitely more
attractive, more able, more dignified, more mature to make those important
decisions for your life in the matter of personages to enjoy eternity with
Well, I didn't intend to get on to that,
either, but I've been on it, and I hope I have not been offensive in it at
all. I hope you got the spirit of it. Should you know of any problems that
are aborning, problems that are beginning to develop, some missionary who
is getting off the track, some group that is getting a little careless
about mission rules, you can talk to them in a sweet kindly way. If they
persist, then there is something else to do and you have a loyalty to it.
God bless you missionaries and I hope to
visit with you a little longer later.