Better Dead Clean, Than Alive Unclean

Prodigal Son


Time:  April 1942.  World War II was wreaking death and havoc around the globe.

Place:    The tabernacle on Temple Square, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Occasion:  April General Conference of the Mormon Church.

Message:  An official statement from First Presidency regarding sexual purity:                                               Better dead clean, than alive unclean.

Drilling and Instilling

Now, it was an official slogan of the church.  It would soon be reinforced through publication in the Improvement Era.  The article was entitled “Be Ye Clean.”  It quoted the First Presidency’s message word for word:  Better dead clean, than alive unclean.

This prophetic motto would then be drilled into the minds of the youth.  It was adopted by the MIA, where it was memorized and repeated at their weekly meetings.  Just imagine our children, aged 12 to 18, standing-up in a meeting, every week and rehearsing the phrase, Better dead clean, than alive unclean.  Better dead clean, than alive unclean.  Better dead clean, than alive unclean.  Actually, they would only recite it once each week.  That adds up to 52 times a year.  Three hundred times over the course of their adolescent and teen years.

Harold B. Lee was an apostle all during my growing up years and the prophet during my mission.  He drove this mantra home by saying:

“May I remind you of what our youth repeated some years ago as a slogan in the MIA…. How glorious and near to the angels is youth that is clean. This youth has joy unspeakable here and eternal happiness hereafter. Sexual purity is youth’s most precious possession. It is the foundation of all righteousness.  Better dead clean, than alive unclean.

In 1979, less than 1 year after I was married, Elder Marion G. Romney amplified this now well known teaching.   You can listen to his April General Conference talk HERE.  At the time, he was serving as the first counselor in the First Presidency.

To Everything There Is A Season…

A time to avow, a time to disavow.  A time to confirm, a time to condemn.

For 130 years, prophets officially avowed and confirmed that black people were cursed.  As of 3 years ago, our prophets now disavow and condemn our past racism, racist practices and racist policies.

Today, I’m following suit.  I disavow and condemn the official statement, Better dead clean, than alive unclean.

I want my children and grandchildren to know that they are precious and valued regardless of their choices.  They are better alive….period!!!

May my loved ones remember Christ’s beautiful parable of the Prodigal Son.  Can you imagine the father in the story saying, Better dead clean, than alive unclean?  Nope.  The whole point of the story was the polar opposite.


Oh, the irony that this official statement was made as we were sending our children to war.  We sent then off with this:  God would prefer you to die in harms way, than to have a roll in the hay.