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Single Mormon men who are postponing marriage should get to it right away, LDS President Thomas S. Monson said Saturday night at an all-male priesthood session of the church's 181st Annual General Conference.
Monson and other Mormon leaders focused on marriage and family issues while speaking from the LDS Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City. They also counseled young men on how to use their priesthood powers for the good of others.
In his comments to single men, Monson acknowledged that there may be financial or emotional reasons for them to hesitate, or maybe they are just having too much fun "taking extravagant vacations, buying expensive cars and toys and just generally enjoying the carefree life with your friends" to settle down.
"Brethren," Monson said, "there is a point at which it's time to think seriously about marriage and to seek a companion with whom you want to spend eternity."
The 83-year-old LDS leader assured them that if they found a compatible woman and exercised their faith, then "almost anything can be worked out."
It will require complete commitment, Monson said, which some Latter-day Saints apparently are not willing to give.
Todd Tapp, 25, a single University of Utah student who listened to Monson's speech via satellite at the LDS Institute of Religion near the campus, said he appreciated the church leader's counsel.
"It seemed kind of like a motivator for me to get out there and date more," Tapp said.
His friend Brock Searle, who served in the same LDS mission with him in north Chicago, acknowledged he might have been a little uncomfortable himself hearing such advice if he were single.
Searle, 24, who is attending BYU-Idaho, got married nearly three years ago in the Salt Lake Temple. He and his wife recently adopted a girl.
The "greatest happiness," he said, is found in marriage and family life.
Monson also turned to the tough topic of divorce.
Canceling a "sealing" or temple marriage is "the saddest and most discouraging responsibility I have," he said. Each of these marriages began as a joyous wedding in an LDS temple but ended when love died.
"It may be the result of financial problems, lack of communication, uncontrolled tempers, interference from in-laws, entanglement in sin," Monson said. "In most cases, [though], divorce does not have to be the outcome."
The vast majority of those seeking a "sealing cancellation," previously known as "temple divorce," are women who wanted to save their marriages, but couldn't overcome the challenges in the end.
Monson said he recognized that some Mormon marriages cannot be saved, but most "can be and should be."
"Do not let your marriage get to the point," Monson said, "where it is in jeopardy."
Mormon men should treat their wives with respect as an equal, the LDS leader said, never insulting or demeaning them. Men should behave honorably and above reproach.
"It is up to each of us who holds the priesthood of God to discipline ourselves," he said, "so that we stand above the ways of the world."
Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Monson's second counselor in the governing First Presidency, urged the men and boys to think more expansively about the priesthood they hold.
"The priesthood is much more than just a name or title," Uchtdorf said. "It transcend[s] our ability to comprehend."
When Mormon men grasp the "divine potential of your priesthood service," he said, "the Spirit of God will fill your hearts and minds."
It will, Uchtdorf promised, "shine in our eyes and faces."
Tribune news editor Dave Noyce contributed to this story.