February YW Lesson: Why should I treat my body like a temple?

This post has been generously provided by Michelle, who loves her calling as a Laurel adviser and the opportunity to learn from the kind and talented young women in her class. She lives in the heart of the Salt Lake valley with her husband, two boys, dog, and chickens.

You can find the lds.org lesson plan here.

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Prepare yourself spiritually

Prepare to bring a variety of different gloves to class. You might want to consider: a skiing glove, weightlifting glove, knit glove, gardening glove or a glove for pruning rose bushes, etc.

When preparing, be sensitive to those who might be affected by conditions or circumstances that might affect their physical abilities or feelings about their bodies.

Introduce the doctrine

Before I began, I would read or paraphrase a passage by Kathryn Shirt from her essay “Women in the Image of the Son: Being Female and Being Like Christ”,

“One of the features of our literary heritage is that when we refer to men and women together, we use masculine nouns and pronouns … Where men can freely assume the scriptures are speaking to them personally, women must ponder and weigh the evidence. As they read the scriptures, women must constantly make decisions about whether or not to include themselves in the text.”

I would explain that when we read the scriptures and words of the prophets as women we often have to take more time and spiritual energy to ponder what the words mean for us. I have experienced great spiritual insights and I have used this practice in my own life.

I would then read together the introductory text from the lesson, with adjustments to more explicitly include the feminine:

“Our bodies were created in the image of our Heavenly Parents. They are a gift from Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother to allow us to experience mortality and continue to become more like them. This knowledge influences the way we treat our bodies and how we feel about our Heavenly Parents and ourselves. When we treat our bodies as temples we obtain physical, emotional, and spiritual blessings.”

Explain that a crucial element of the Plan of Salvation was that we would come to earth and receive a physical body.

Together read and discuss the scripture 1 Corinthians 6:19-20:

“What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

These verses are taken from a letter Paul wrote to the members of the church in Corinth. He was trying to get them to understand how their physical bodies and their spirits were interconnected and how the union of the body and spirit could bring them closer to union with Jesus Christ. Explain that today you want to talk about how our bodies are temples of the Holy Ghost and a gift from loving Heavenly Parents.

Learn together

If possible, bring a picture of Eve and place it on the table. Explain that today, you want the class members to ponder about both the creation of Eve and their own physical creation.

Ahead of time print out the following passages. Before or during the lesson you can pass them out.

Have each class member read and ponder one or more of the following passages and the discussion question which follows:

Genesis 1:26 – 27:

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness … So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”

Erastus Snow, in Journal of Discourses, 26: 214, May 31, 1885

“But to our minds the idea of a Father suggests that of a Mother. . . . Hence when it is said that God created our first parents in His likeness—‘in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them’—it is intimated in language sufficiently plain to my understanding that the male and female principle was present with the Gods as it is with man.”

The Family: A Proclamation to the World:

“ALL HUMAN BEINGS—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.”

Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, ed. John A. Widtsoe, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1954: 51

“We were created . . . in the image of our father and our mother, the image of our God.”

Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 516–17

“Implicit in the Christian verity that all men are the spirit children of an Eternal Father is the usually unspoken truth that they are also the offspring of an Eternal Mother”

Discussion Question: What does it mean to you as a woman to be created in the image of God, a Heavenly Father and Mother?

Additional questions or ideas you might bring up in the discussion:

  • Is the thought of a Heavenly Mother comforting to you? Why?
  • How does knowing you were created in the image of a Heavenly Mother help you combat negative feelings about your body?

Explain that the scriptures and modern prophets teach that our spirits look like our bodies and that they existed in the pre-earth life. We are also taught that receiving a physical body was an essential part of the Plan of Salvation. We needed experience bringing our physical urges and appetites under the control of our spirits. Our bodies can be tools that connect us to our Heavenly Parents or they can create barriers between us.

Mention that although we don’t know a lot about who our Heavenly Mother is, we can guess something about her by observing women in our lives and by being mothers ourselves. If there are other Young Women leaders or adults present, ask the other leaders to share with the class what they would like their daughters to know about their bodies and suggest that this might give us an idea of what our Heavenly Mother would say to us, her daughters, about our bodies.

Discussion Question: What would you like your daughter or friend to know about their bodies?

Additional questions or ideas you might bring up in the discussion:

  • Be thankful for the body you do have.
  • They body that you were given is the body God wants you to have to perform your specific mission.
  • Viewing your body in terms of what it can do, rather than what it looks like can help change negative attitudes and feelings.
  • Using your body to serve others helps us to appreciate the gift more.
  • Truly believing that your body is a temple will help you make better life choices.

Share how you can come to appreciate a specific body part or feature in yourself. I would share that I had always disliked my hands until I realized they are like my mother’s. Her hands are not pretty either, but one of the reasons they look the way they do is because of all good works she had performed. She has been a nurse, a builder and repair woman, and a mother. Her hands have performed hours of service to God and to her friends, family, and even strangers. I hope someday that I can say the same about my hands. I want my children to view their bodies in terms of the good they can do with what God had given them.

Show the class members the gloves you brought to class and invite the class members to choose one to try on. Ask them to describe the gloves and what they were used for. Talk about how the gloves are all different, but all of equal worth. They each have a function to perform, a purpose. Without the gloves, our hands cannot perform those functions as well. Talk about how it is important to keep the gloves in good repair if they were to perform their proper functions. Liken the gloves to ourselves. You may want to talk about how our body is like the glove and our spirit is like our hand that moves the glove, causing it to act.

Discussion Question: Why should you try to keep your body healthy and strong? 

Discuss how it can be difficult to control our passions and appetites, but that the effort to keep our bodies healthy and strong will bring blessings later in life. Explain that when we take actions to keep ourselves healthy and strong we are demonstrating self-sufficiency and can contribute to blessing the lives of others. Of course, sometimes disease or disability come through no fault of our own. When those events occur in our lives and in the lives of our loved ones we can have compassion and love for ourselves and our bodies. We can use the experiences we have with our bodies to learn important lessons and develop empathy in ourselves. We can also allow others to help us when we need the help. Accepting service provides others the opportunity to draw closer to God as well.

Together as a class read the following two passages:

Susan W. Tanner, Young Women General President, “The Sanctity of the Body,” October 2005 General Conference

“The restored gospel teaches that there is an intimate link between body, mind, and spirit. In the Word of Wisdom, for example, the spiritual and physical are intertwined. When we follow the Lord’s law of health for our bodies, we are also promised wisdom to our spirits and knowledge to our minds (see D&C 89:19–21). The spiritual and physical truly are linked.”

Barbara B. Smith, Relief Society General President, “Good Health—A Key to Joyous Living,” October 1978 General Conference

“The state of our health affects every facet of our life—our feeling of personal well-being, our approach to work, our social interactions—even our service to the Lord.”

Discussion Question: How do the actions you take with your body affect you mentally and spiritually? 

Additional questions or ideas you might bring up in the discussion:

  • Sleep
  • Physical Activity
  • Nutrition
  • Screen Time
  • Leisure Activities
  • Music

End the lesson by expressing your testimony that our bodies are gifts from loving Heavenly Parents. We can use our bodies to connect with them and serve them and those around us. Express your love for the class members and my confidence in them.

 

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