During the BYU-Idaho Devotional on Valentine's Day, Elder Neil L. Andersen, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, reminded BYU-Idaho students to remain grounded and deeply rooted in the gospel.
He gave students two pieces of advice for building strong dating relationships to prepare for marriage, the first counselled students to be courageous in dating.
"Push yourself to develop one-on-one friendships - young men with young women, and young women with young men," Elder Andersen said. "You don't need to think every friendship will necessarily develop into romance, but much will be discovered in the one-on-one interaction."
He said single students need to be willing to speak, interact and enjoy activities in couples. He said group activities are not sufficient to building lasting relationships that could move into marriage.
He quoted Elder Dallin H. Oaks, of the Quorum of the Twelve, when he said "'We counsel you to channel your associations with the opposite sex into dating patterns that have the potential to mature into marriage, not hanging-out patterns that only have the prospect to mature into team sports like touch football. Marriage is not a group activity - at least not until the children come along in goodly numbers.'"
Elder Andersen said it is important to obey the laws of purity, discipline and chastity when looking to expand a relationship beyond friendship into romance.
"You know that you have strong, physical emotions and passions that must be controlled and carefully governed, whether excessive kissing or any kind of inappropriate touching," Elder Andersen said. "I assure you as an Apostle of the Lord that excusing yourself because you feel you are so much for one another, and moving inappropriately close to breaking the law of chastity, will not help you in the very important spiritual choice you are hoping to make."
Elder Andersen's next item of advice for single students was to not be afraid to take the chance with someone who might not be an obvious choice.
He told of how, when he met his wife, Kathy, he thought she wouldn't be interested in him because she was a "Floridian princess," and he was an Idaho farm boy.
"Kathy took a chance on me," he said. "I am sure my background was different than she thought her potential husband would have. We don't have to only meet those who come from backgrounds just like our own. We look deeper and farther into who they are and who they will become."
Elder Andersen gave four words he wanted students to remember: "Complete honesty, unselfish humility."
He said that as single students progress in their dating relationships, they should share their most private thoughts, dreams and fears with the other person.
"You share who you are, who you have been and who you want to be come," he said. "Complete honesty and unselfish humility."
He said potential spouses should know of past difficulties with addictions, keeping the law of chastity, lying or stealing because a marriage proposal is accepted and announced.
"A thoughtful approach is to ask yourself what you would want to know if you were in the place of your companion, prayerfully preparing to spend your life with someone you love," Elder Andersen said.
He reminded students that no one is perfect.
"All of us have made mistakes," he said. "As the person you love speaks honestly to you, respect the courage that he or she is showing. If something is clearly in the past, keep this scripture in your heart: ‘He who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.'"
To close, Elder Andersen made a promise to all students and faculty, married and single.
"I promise you happiness and peace as you keep the commandments," he said. "I bless you that as you follow the counsel you have heard from this pulpit and from on high today, heaven will bless you in your decisions and in your eternal associations."
In honor of Valentine's Day, Elder Andersen also introduced his valentine, his wife, Kathy.
"We lived in France for a number of years and there was a French poet, and loosely translated into English, one of my favorite couple of lines from a French poem are, ‘I love you more today than yesterday, but less than tomorrow," Sister Andersen said. "That is how I feel about this man that I love so much, and I'm so thankful for him."
Elder Andersen said he and his wife have spent 43 years together, 42 as a married couple.
"I've never had a Valentine's Day where I didn't get a very beautiful card, and beautiful gifts, and more important, beautiful hugs," Elder Andersen said.