You’ve heard the phrase. You’re sitting in Sunday school and the teacher says something along the lines of:
“So how can we have greater faith? Other than the primary answers, of course.”
You know the ones.
- Read your scriptures
- Say your prayers
- Go to church
They have become so rote and repeated that it almost feels like a cop-out answer if you mention any of them. Like if you’re gonna raise your hand and offer a comment, it ought to be something more deep and profound than something that a kid in Primary could say. Like those answers are just too easy and basic to be taken seriously.
THAT IS BONKERS.
Do you hear me? Absolutely bonkers. Why in the world would we subconsciously deride or belittle the most foundational answers to our lives’ greatest problems?
There is a very good reason that every Primary kid, from the adorable Sunbeams up to the angsty 11 year olds who are way too cool to be there, are taught these basic principles. They are the foundation to a solid testimony. They are the bedrock of our earthy mission to “endure to the end” (a.k.a. press forward ever – see what we did there?). We don’t teach it to the youngest children because we don’t think they can handle the really important stuff yet – we teach it to them because it is the most important stuff!
Only in the LDS culture does the word “Primary” have this connotation of being simple, just for kids, or too elementary. In the rest of the world, in almost any branch of study from law to physics, “primary” is defined as:
pri∙ma∙ry (adj) : of chief importance; first or highest in rank; principal
In research you must have “primary sources,” in medicine you have “primary care,” in art you have “primary colors,” in law you have “primary evidence.” In each of these cases, primary is understood to be the most important, the most vital, and the most needed. So why have we decided that “primary answers” aren’t good enough to be shared in Sunday school?
Maybe it’s because we hear them so often that we assume everyone knows them. Maybe it’s because we want to look smarter then everyone else by mentioning more “advanced” doctrine like Kolob or something.
But lets be perfectly honest here: how many of us are actually, truly, faithfully completing these “primary answers?”
- Do we really read our scriptures – I mean really truly study and internalize, not just gloss over – every day?
- Do we really pray – I mean really truly communicate with our Heavenly Father, not just repeat the same phrases we’ve repeated since we were 8 – every day?
- Do we really go to church – I mean really truly participate and ponder and make the most of our meetings, not just sit through the three hour block (or worse, leave early) – every week?
I know I’m not, and I’d be willing to bet that most of us fall short on this list more often then we’d like to admit. But these primary answers – these basic, fundamental, of chief importance answers – make all the difference in our lives.
President Nelson and the rest of the Apostles aren’t sitting up in the Salt Lake Temple in a secret meeting debating when they should reveal the really good stuff. There isn’t a secret doctrine or new ordinance that they are keeping from us. We have the really good stuff. We are taught it from our earliest childhood for a reason: because those primary, of chief importance, highest rank teachings and principles will cary us through every day, because they are how we access divine help. They can make an unimaginable difference in every aspect of life.
Thank goodness for those primary answers.