Relief Society Lesson 17: The Law of Chastity

I’m going to ask for reader input on this one. We get a lot of google traffic from teachers looking for “Relief Society Lesson Helps.” And I’m guessing that this lesson will bring more seekers than usual, because (well) it’s not always an easy topic to talk about with our peers in a church setting.

Here are the section headings for the quotes by Kimball:

  • The law of chastity prohibits all sexual relations outside marriage.
  • Love is wholesome and selfless, but lust is corrupt and selfish.
  • We must shun pornography and other forms of immorality.
  • Parents and leaders should safeguard children and youth against immoral influences.

And here are a few of the questions the lesson suggests:

  • What would you say to someone who claims that chastity is old-fashioned? What are some of the consequences of disregarding the law of chastity? What are some of the blessings of obeying it?
  • How should our understanding of love influence our thoughts and actions?
  • Why should parents and leaders begin teaching the law of chastity early in a child’s life? What can parents and leaders do to help youth stay true to the Church and its standards?
  • How are modesty and chastity related?
  • How can we help youth understand the need for modesty in all aspects of their lives?

What question would you ask if you were teaching this lesson? What direction would you want to take the discussion? What scriptures would you share or discuss? What would be your hopes for such a lesson? The challenge of this topic is to help the class leave feeling edified or enlightened instead of “heavy.” I think we all know the potential pitfalls for this lesson — so let’s focus on constructive possibilities!

How’s that for a Thursday challenge.

Deborah

Deborah is K-12 educator who nurtures a healthy interest in reading, writing, running, ethics, mystics, and interfaith dialogue.

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  1. Caroline says:

    One thing I would be sure to emphasize is that a sexual sin, while painful and serious, is not the end of the world. It is forgivable. It is possible to repent and leave it completely behind. I would then quote that scripture about scarlet sins becoming white in the eyes of God.

  2. Caroline says:

    Another thing I might ask revolves around that last section “Parents and leaders should safeguard children and youth against immoral influences.”

    How do we balance our desire to safeguard our children with our desire to respect their free agency?

  3. Liz says:

    I think a lot of people equate chastity with silence about anything of a sexual nature. Yes, we should try to be pure in heart and mind, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t talk about it. And I think parents and leaders need to keep this in mind.

    I know of a lot of young sisters who would have benefited from a more frank discussion of sex before (and after) they married, but because of the misguided ideas on chastity, they didn’t get any help.

    It benefits no one to be kept in the dark and only leads to the idea that sex is taboo. This can also cause some to feel like they’ve sinned just by asking questions.

    You can be chaste while being informed.

  4. Steve M. says:

    Too often, chastity lessons are centered on negatives–the dangers of sexual sin, the negative consequences of transgression, etc.

    I would personally love to have a pro-sex lesson on chastity. It would be quite refreshing to talk about the blessings of sex and sexuality, and the importance of sex in the marital relationship.

  5. skyeJ says:

    I had a bishop in my (singles) ward give a chastity talk encouraging us look at sex the way we do temple ordinances. It is sacred, not secret. There is a time, a place and a respectful way to talk about it. We do not perform temple ordinances anywhere we like, but in the appropriate setting. We don’t make temple covenants until after the baptismal covenant and after reaching a certain level of maturity. He went on to say that when he and his wife were treating sex as the sacred act it was, the intensity of the feelings they shared during sex were a lot like the intensity of some of the most spiritual moments they’d had in the temple at times. We were all a little shocked to hear him make this sort of frank comparison. However, this is the ONLY chastity talk that I can remember out of almost ten years (and counting) of singles wards. I remember it because it was one of a very few that wasn’t threatening, uncomfortable, or filled with flowery euphemisms that merely confused a good portion of the audience. It also gave me a vastly different perspective on sex in comparison to the perspective the rest of the world provides. (Sadly, this includes many of the other chastity lessons I’ve sat through in church during my life.) His heartfelt and frank emphasis on the enormous blessings of obeying the law of chastity were far more motivating than any threats of spiritual darkness.

  6. Starfoxy says:

    I’ve thought of the sex::Temple comparison before and I think it’s very effective.

    I also second Caroline’s suggestion to stress that sexual sins are not the end of the world.

    One last thing is that this already awkward lesson may be the ideal time to mention that couples might want to include contraception of some sort in their year supply.

  7. LauraandAndy says:

    I think children really need to understand the pitfalls of sex before marriage. I had a non-member human biology teacher in college that gave us a bunch of information about STDs being an epidemic among preadolescents. This is heartbraking to me. Their are many blessings associated with the law of chastity, but on a less spiritual level, it is truly there to physically protect us.

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