Gospel Principles 39: The Law of Chastity

Start the discussion be reading and dissecting the Note to Parents. It is a remarkably accurate and progressive stance on sexual education.


“Our Church leaders have told us that parents are responsible to teach their children about procreation (the process of conceiving and bearing children). Parents must also teach them the law of chastity, which is explained in this chapter.

Parents can begin teaching children to have proper attitudes toward their bodies when children are very young. Talking to children frankly but reverently and using the correct names for the parts and functions of their bodies will help them grow up without unnecessary embarrassment about their bodies.

Children are naturally curious. They want to know how their bodies work. They want to know where babies come from. If parents answer all such questions immediately and clearly so children can understand, children will continue to take their questions to their parents. However, if parents answer questions so that children feel embarrassed, rejected, or dissatisfied, they will probably go to someone else with their questions and perhaps get incorrect ideas and improper attitudes.

It is not wise or necessary, however, to tell children everything at once. Parents need only give them the information they have asked for and can understand. While answering these questions, parents can teach children the importance of respecting their bodies and the bodies of others. Parents should teach children to dress modestly. They should correct the false ideas and vulgar language that children learn from others.

By the time children reach maturity, parents should have frankly discussed procreation with them. Children should understand that these powers are good and were given to us by the Lord. He expects us to use them within the bounds He has given us.

Little children come to earth pure and innocent from Heavenly Father. As parents pray for guidance, the Lord will inspire them to teach children at the right time and in the right way.”

Thus, we are counseled by our church leaders that sexual education is the primary responsibility of parents and that we need to take that job seriously.

How can we do that? Consider typing up these points below and giving them out to the class as a handout. Which of these points below is most surprising? Which strikes you as a particularly good idea? What experiences have you personally had with teaching children about reproduction?

1) Pray for guidance and the Lord will inspire you how to teach at the right time and in the right way

2) Help children have proper attitudes toward their bodies

3) Teach them that procreative powers are good and given to us by the Lord, but should be used within the bounds he has given us

4) Talk frankly, but age appropriately. By the time children have reached maturity parents should frankly discussed

5) Use proper names for the parts and functions of the body

6) Protect them from unnecessary embarrassment (or worse) about their bodies

7) Understand that children are naturally curious about their bodies

8) Teach them how their bodies work and where babies come from

9) Answer questions immediately and clearly

10) Create a relationship of communication and openness where children will feel like they can go directly to parents for future questions

11) Don’t be awkward, uncomfortable, dismissive, or euphemistic

12) If children feel embarrassed, rejected, or dissatisfied with their questions they will probably go to someone else and could get incorrect ideas or improper attitudes

13) Teach your children based on their ages. They do not need all the information at once, but there should be continual teaching as they age.

14) Fundamentally, teach children to respect their own bodies and the bodies of others. All other principles (of chastity and modesty) and problems (pornography, abuse, etc.) fall under these two requirements.


*Note: it is not enough to teach children just about the biology of their own gender. As they age, they will also need to know the physical names and functions of the opposite gender as well, but this can be communicated based on the same steps above. Also, it is okay for one parent to teach children about these topics, however, it is important to know that each parent has a role in the sexual education and application of these principles. New research shows that a girl’s age at first sexual experience is directly correlated with her relationship to her father. The less of a close emotionally supportive relationship girls have with their fathers the more they seek male attention outside of the home and developing this father-daughter relationships can be a crucial part of remaining chaste until marriage and no father should abdicate that responsibility.


Bear your testimony or give a personal experience about one of these topics. You can’t emphasize enough how important these 15 steps are.



The power to procreate is a gift, a blessing, and a commandment. It is part of the plan of happiness.



However, God also commands that the power of procreation should only be used with a spouse to whom one is legally married. Having sex before or outside of marriage or with another partner is a serious violation to that commandment.

The manual mentions homosexual behavior as one way to violate the law of chastity. Then it quotes President Hinckley saying, “We want to help [gays and lesbians], to strengthen them, to assist them with their problems and to help them with their difficulties.”

While Church leaders teach people to not engage in homosexual behavior, they have been careful in recent years to not condemn homosexuals (homosexually inclined people) themselves. They teach that homosexuals are welcome in the Church, beloved by God, and should be treated with absolute love and reverence by the members of their ward family. How can we show this love, respect, and support to those members around us who are homosexuals? Does anyone have any personal experience with this?

Consider reading from or mentioning the passages from the New Testament story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. (John 4:4-20). This is a woman who was engaging in sexual sin. How does Jesus model reaching out to those considered sinful? Notice how he initiates the conversation, he reaches across the divide of gender, ethnicity, and sexual lifestyle, he offers her the waters of life, he talks to her when probably no one else would.


The manual emphasizes the importance of modesty in this section. There are different layers to this concept of modesty, which is a larger scale principle that God wants us to embrace. When you hear the term, what do you think it generally refers to? What else does the concept mean? The class will easily come up with the first. Help guide them to the others.

a) covering up the body

b) how we interact with people

c) how we speak

d) how we conduct ourselves

Focusing on this larger concept of modesty, why would God want us to speak and behave in modest ways? What would God be trying to teach us when God emphasizes the importance of modesty? Why are modest qualities important to develop? Can you think of ways that Jesus modeled these concepts? Note: if people want to talk about why God wants us to dress modestly in terms of not inspiring lust in others, try to nuance this a bit by mentioning that while it’s best not to dress in ways that are inappropriate, it is important that each person take responsibility for his/her own thoughts. Even if a person does dress scantily, people need to learn to look at others as Jesus would — as children of God, no matter what they are wearing.

The manual also mentions the use of pornography as a way to violate the law of chastity.

“[Satan] also encourages us to think immoral or improper thoughts. He does this with pictures, movies, stories, jokes, music, and dances that suggest immoral acts. The law of chastity requires that our thoughts as well as our actions be pure.”

Because of emotional temptation, sexual sin can often become addictive and used as a coping mechanisms to deal with the stresses of life. If this is the case, you need proper help from an addiction specialist. The ward provides these services on ______________. And here is a number for LDS social services if you or anyone else would like to talk to a professional about a problem with this. _____________

Pornography is also a problem in our culture. The Church has dedicated countless funds and hired specialists in the field of addiction, education, computer software, and family counseling to work with these issues. If pornography is a problem in your family it is important to follow the steps above. Pray for guidance. Understand the natural workings of the body by being frank, open, and honest about the problem and discussing proper names and functions. Address it in a way that isn’t embarrassing, belittling, or dismissive, but rather, assertive and clear. If you are feeling abused in any form, take your concerns to various Church leaders until you find the support that you need.


Part of the physical response of sexual intimacy is the release of the chemical oxytocin. Oxytocin is a bonding chemical which secures deep attachment between partner and is called the “bonding” chemical. To release these powerful hormones outside of committed relationships through pornography, masturbation, or casual sex can be extremely painful and difficult. Sex is biologically engineered to make one vulnerable to and bonded with another person, thus, used improperly it can lead to much pain and heartache.

Why do you think breaking the law of chastity is considered such a serious sin? Why is it emphasized so much?

– natural consequences can be major. pregnancy, std’s

-this behavior has the possibility of deeply hurting other people. Spouses, partners, etc. It has the potential of treating others as means towards ones own sexual satisfaction, and not as ends in themselves, people who should be cherished.



Peace can come to those who have broken the law of chastity. The Lord tells us, “If the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, … all his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him” (Ezekiel 18:21–22). Peace comes only through forgiveness.

Emphasize this section. People are human. They make mistakes. Many, many people make mistakes when it comes to sexual sin. But forgiveness is possible. Transformation is possible. New life is possible. This can’t be emphasized enough.

Consider leading a discussion on some object lessons commonly used to teach the youth about the enormity of sexual sin. What object lessons were used when you were a youth to teach about sexual sin? The chewed stick of gum. The licked cupcake. The bruised peach. The fondled and wilted rose. The board with nails stuck in it. These are powerful object lessons because they show that sexual sin has a huge impact on a person’s life. However, they have a very major shortcoming. What is it? It’s that they don’t acknowledge the possibility of the atonement. God teaches us that we can be entirely restored, that our sins can be as white as snow through repentance. This is crucial to keep in mind. Absolute renewal is possible in the eyes of God.



“When we obey the law of chastity, we can live without guilt or shame. Our lives and our children’s lives are blessed when we keep ourselves pure and spotless before the Lord. Children can look to our example and follow in our footsteps.”

Close by speaking personally about how the law of chastity has impacted your life for the better, but also about how grateful you are for the atonement and the possibility for renewal that the gospel offers those who have made mistakes.

Please feel free to share your ideas about teaching this lesson in the comment box below. Thanks!

Note: This lesson was originally written for the Relief Society audience in 2010-2011, when the Gospel Principles manual was temporarily used as curriculum for Relief Society, Elders Quorum and High Priest classes. The lesson may require adaptation for Gospel Principles classes, which are mixed gender and primarily serve new members and investigators of the church.


Caroline has a PhD in religion and studies Mormon women.

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111 Responses

  1. Rachel says:

    Caroline, thank you so much for this. There is so much information, so many avenues one could take to develop a good 40 min lesson.
    I had been thinking about discussing chastity within marriage. How are middle-aged women to deal with our own chastity, or perhaps fidelity? Your modesty section gets at those questions. Less about physically covering but more about emotional revealing/covering. Who do we share our most intimate emotional self with? With our spouse? With old boyfriends on FB?
    If I can get that, the child development stuff, and the Atonement all covered in one lesson, that would be a miracle.
    Thanks again. You’ve given me some great things to think about.

    • Caroline says:

      Rachel, I think that’s a really good question: how are married women to practice chastity and fidelity? I think you could have a good discussion if you go in that direction.

  2. Diane says:

    I think the Law of Chasity is important to teach, but, I also think that teaching Abstinence only avenue robs our children of important information they need to have.(Think Bristol Palin) In Rick Perrys’ home state of Texas, they have Abstinence only programs at schools and they have some of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the nation. In these programs they teach the fear of God, as part of the curriculum of the Abstinence only and I don’t like God being used in this way.

    Yes, the Law of Chasity is important to live by, but, I think realistically in this day and I want my children particularly my daughters to given all the available information necessary to protect themselves against an unwanted pregnancy because like it or not, unplanned pregnancies affect our girls and young women both a effectively and effectively than they do our boys and young men.

    To be fair, as much as I dislike the use of God to put fear in our children as a way of remaining chaste, I also dislike the use blaming Satan because that makes it seem as if we, as well as our children don’t have enough conscience control over our own minds. I know this is a religious blog, but, blaming everything on Satan just grates me.

    • Caroline says:

      Yes, I didn’t care for the section about how Satan causes people to do things. I prefer not to project negative impulses on to Satan — I’m much more comfortable with the idea that we as humans are born with potential for good and evil inside of us, and our job is to try to make choices that are kind, cooperative, and help others.

      And I agree about good sex ed. I’ll certainly be talking to my kids about birth control. And I’ll tell them that while I hope they don’t have sex before they are in a very committed relationship, if they know they will, I will go get them condoms myself. My number one concern is for their health and safety.

      • Diane says:


        I am sorry if I came across as antagonistic or disrespectful, I just think that people blame God/Satan for way to many things that we as human beings with fully functioning brains should be able to figure out for ourselves,

  3. Diane is right. Blaming Satan is unhelpful. There are plenty of logical reasons to avoid promiscuity without bringing God and Satan into the picture.

    And while it’s nice to say that parents should be the ones to teach their children about sex and reproduction, very few parents do a good job with this sensitive, sometimes embarrassing topic. We need good sex ed in our schools.

    • Tabatha says:

      While I agree that we need good sex ed in our schools…I must add that our school officials version of “Good” sex ed, is not the same as mine. I will continue to teach my children at home and keep them “out” of the so called “Good” sex ed classes that our schools are teaching the children. Nothing and no-one can teach our children as well as we can ourselves. Just Do It! 🙂

  4. spunky says:

    Thanks for your thoughts on a very difficult lesson to teach, Caroline. I love the way you have laid out questions for the class to discuss. I also like the emphasis on both boys and girls, and not just teaching women that they have a one-sided responsibility in regard to chastity. I also really like the biological reminder of the chemistry that binds people in sex. I think that is important in discussing healthy relationships in general, and not just the law of chastity. Thank you for your hard work on this topic.

  5. April says:

    I like how you chopped up all the points about how to talk to children about sex. Each point seemed more powerful and interesting that way, instead of lost in a block of text. Most of those short statements could spark a lively conversation in R.S.

  6. Mike H. says:

    Well, I really don’t like object lessons with the Law of Chastity. Too much room for misunderstanding, or feeling all is lost if you did something wrong about it. I also have heard that Abstinence only school lessons often use object lessons.

    I heard about one public school Teacher in Utah, who bravely demonstrated a condom, but did not hand them out. A very good point she made was to unfold & place a condom up her hand and arm, and say:”Girls, if a guy says he’s too big for a condom, turn around and run!” That brought laughs, but it was a good point.

    fMh just had a big discussion about talking about masturbation with your children. That’s another topic that either gets ignored, or there’s overkill, like saying it’ll make you a murderer, or a homosexual, etc.


    I know date rape does happen among some LDS types, but I hear little about it. And, some youth feel oral sex is OK for the unmarried, since “I can’t find it in the scriptures, so it must be fine.”

    Sorry to mention these sensitive subjects to some, but there is a lot of nonsense going on.

    • BethSmash says:

      Mike H,
      I posted the story about the Utah teacher here on the planned parenthood carnival blogpost. It’s nice to know that it made an impact and that you remembered it.

  7. Jean says:

    The very LAST thing we need in our schools is sex ed. It is the duty of the parents to teach all things relating to the sacred power of procreation. It be upon the sins of the parents if their children have sex before marriage. President Kimball in the Miracle of Forgiveness calls premarital sex the “sin next to murder.”

    Let’s face it, if a child gets pregnant, most of the blame should go to the parents for inadequate teaching. It’s the problem with society today, so many girls going to evil places like Planned Parenthood because they did not get adequate teachings or lessons at home. I guess that’s the world we live in today.

    • Diane says:

      It’s always easy to blame the parents, but, some kids will do what they want to do regardless of how well they were taught. Yes, even good LDS kids

      Let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water. School might be the only place where some children do receive this kind of teaching.

      I can only hope that you are joking when you say that Planned Parenthood is an evil place, But, I have a sneaking suspicion you are really serious And that just makes me sad Have you’ve ever been to a center? I have, especially when I didn’t have any health insurance. I received my yearly physical exam and yes, “gasp” birth control, not to prevent any unwanted pregnancy, but. because I have a bleeding disorder which birth control helps end a period much quicker. I guess you would rather have me bleed to death though, rather than receive services from such an evil place like Planned Parenthood.

      In my opinion, it would be totally irresponsible for school districts to teach Abstinence only. In this day and I age I would even stretch it out further to say the school district should be brought up on criminal charges of neglect of minor, but, that’s just me.

    • Emmaline says:

      And even if “the sins be upon the heads of the parents,” it’s usually the unfortunate girl whose life is altered by an unwanted pregnancy. Even from your perspective of eternal consequences, don’t you think that those girls whose parents don’t teach them need other sources of information to avoid the practical and immediate consequences?

    • Mike H. says:

      There’s times you can teach a child, but the message will be rejected. So, blaming parents is convenient, but they are not always at fault. I remember several time my daughter insisting she will learn things about the Gospel herself, so don’t try to teach her.

  8. April says:

    I have noticed in these comments some discussion about masturbation and about the scripture calling sexual sin, “next to murder,” which has been quoted in such materials as Kimball’s book and others. There is an excellent post by LDS Marriage and Family Therapist Natasha Helfer Parker that covers both these topics: http://mormontherapist.blogspot.com/2011/05/do-i-have-hyper-active-libido.html Her entire blog is an excellent resource for someone preparing to teach the law of chastity at church.

    In the post, she lists some sexual sins which I would definitely agree are next to murder in seriousness, including rape, incest, exploitation, sexual slavery, and child pornography. While I believe in the principle of sexual abstinence before marriage and agree that fornication is a sin, I do not think premarital sex should be lumped into the same category as these more serious, next-to-murder kinds of sins.

  9. Jean says:

    I’m sorry, I don’t mean to dwell and I mean no disrespect, but there are numerous prophetic facts emphasizing premarital sex as the sin next to murder.

    From Spencer W. Kimball: “The enormity of this sin is underlined by numerous scriptures, and particularly by Alma’s words to his immoral son:
    Know ye not, my son, that these things are an abomination in the sight of the Lord; yea, most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost? (Al. 39:5.)”

    • Maureen says:

      That scripture does not specifically state what Corianton did. It could have been rape. It could have been prostitution or exploitation. It certainly didn’t sound like he got into a serious committed relationship with a Laminate girl, and in the heat of the moment gave into passion before they had their relationship formally recognized by the law of the land.

      • Diane says:

        It’s nice to have scriptures to help guide us, that being said lets’ not be facetious, or act like a Pharisee, if the litmus test for a righteous holy person is not having sex period there is going to be an awful lot of people in being sent to Hell.

        Somehow, I just don’t see my God as being that mean and spiteful.

        Its really foolish and plain dangerous in this day and age not to teach our children about proper precaution

  10. Jean says:

    When a prophet of the Lord calls premarital sex the sin next to murder, I’ll believe him over you.

  11. Jean says:

    When a prophet of the Lord calls it the sin next to murder, I’ll believe him over you.

  12. Jean says:

    When a prophet of the Lord calls it close to murder because you are playing with a potential life, I’ll believe him over you.

    • Maureen says:

      That is certainly your prerogative. And I can even understand and fully accept that some people NEED a “letter of the law” spelled out to them and hedges built up for their own safety. Though I find it can be sometimes troublesome because it is possible to interpret in different ways what even a modern prophet has said and therefore determine what the “law” is. You realize that in the quote you gave Spencer Kimball (was he president at the time he said that, you don’t actually give reference for that quote) ambiguously refers to “this sin” and does not specifically state what it is either. Personally, I will take heed to the Spirit of God before I simply follow what any infallible person has said who has been proven wrong in the past (shall I give prophetic quotes that support this decision).

  13. Jean says:

    Sorry about the duplicate posts.

  14. Notmyrealmoniker says:

    I think the Law of Chastity is a nice start for young teens and a good reminder for married people to cleave to each other, but what about young adults or older single folks–or older divorced people?
    How realistic is it to expect them to never have sex thoughts, never madturbate, never have any sexual contact at all with others until or unless they marry? And why?

    I’ve known very nice older unmarried couples who live together, sleep together, and lead very moral lives. I’m talking about people in their 50s to 80s–people with no risk of pregnancy whatsoever. What on earth is wrong with their having a little erotic companionship once in a while? Or for younger, responsible couples, or gay couples?

    I think it’s more of a travesty for people who are barely out of high school or college to commit for an eternity than for a couple to have harmless fun once in a while.

    The Law of Chastity is outdated and potentially harmful for those who adhere to it so closely that they become frigid, weird, or unresponsive to the opposite sex.

  15. Jean says:

    Did you know syphillis and AIDS and other stds are at an all-time high (and running quite rampant) in those who are promiscuous ages 50-90? There is more to think about besides pregnancy, plus there’s the whole “sin” thing.

    • amelia says:

      Jean, if you’re going to throw around pseudo-statistics, you need to either back them up with actual statistics or at the very least give a source. It’s one thing to state your opinion about and understanding of an issue; it’s quite another to lob sweeping generalizations with no support in an attempt to fear monger. If syphilis and other STDs really are at an all time high, you need to back that up to be taken seriously. And unless you can show me per capita data, rather than simple number of cases, I’m personally not likely to believe you.

      • Diane says:


        I was watching a recent news report CBS world new report that has stated that sexually transmitted diseases are higher amongst this demographic, however, the part that Jean is leaving out is this: That while Seniors are likely to engage in sexual activity older males are less likely to use a condom than a 21 year old because they don’t feel its’ necessary. They are completely unaware of the risk involved because they see the use of condoms, etc, as just preventing unwanted pregnancy, not as a means of preventing disease. It was a fairly recent report, I just don’t know how to provide a link to show the whole report.

        Which of course brings us back to the original topic of sex ed which I’m completely 100% for as oppose to Jean who has let us know is wrong

  16. Notmyrealmoniker says:

    Not everyone who has sex outside of marriage is “promiscuous.” brat, sadly, is just as typically Mormon hyperbolic as stating that everyone who has one or two drinks is “an alcoholic” or that everyone who takes a peek at p0rn is “addicted.”

    Moderation in all things–remember?

  17. Notmyrealmoniker says:

    That, sadly… (not “brat”)

  18. Notmyrealmoniker says:

    Also, there’s a wide spectrum between masturbation and penetrative sex/intercourse, but for singles of all ages, it’s supposedly all verboten. Somehow the LDS god is outraged and offended if two septugenarians have non-penetrative outercourse, or if a responsible 30-something pair engages in safe sex, or if a lonely 50-year divorcee masturbates occasionally.

    Mormonism infantilizes adults to the point of forcing them to “confess” every time they succumb to their body’s legitimate needs. This infantilization and overactive guilt leads to sexual dysfunction.

    • Monika says:

      The Church needs to admit that it has no clue how to shepherd single, divorced, and widowed members in matters of sexuality.

      I have friends, never married, who were excommunicated because of fornication. I even know if someone threatened with excommunication (she was disfellowshipped!) because she owned and used sex toys! Sex lives of single members should not be the church’s business WHATSOEVER.

  19. MJK says:

    Gosh I was excited to see there were a bunch more comments, too bad they’re all from Jean.
    People like you are why I no longer attend relief society.

    • Truth&Light says:

      Yes MJK, but people like Jean make me so happy that I was called to TEACH Relief Society… to help people like you continue to come & learn these important teachings in a more BROADER sense. I love this site and so grateful to be able to have all the excellent resources to use for my Gospel Principle classes. Even better are all the wonderful feedback & responses from fellow sisters who want to share the gospel in a very loving, compassionate, & Christ-like way. Many, many thanks to all those talented writers who contribute to this site !! <3

  20. Hillary says:

    Jean, do you ever think that prophets might say things, which then get superseded by later revelation? I do. And while I agree that premarital sex is a serious sin, I do not think it’s “next to murder”. You cannot possibly equate consensual premarital sex with rape, incest, or even adultery.

    Furthermore, your statement and opinions completely ignore the concept of the Atonement. I wish we would all focus on being proactive and doing what we can (like atoning for past wrongs, making efforts to avoid wrongs in the future), rather than priding ourselves on what we don’t do or what we don’t support (like calling Planned Parenthood “evil” for no apparent reason other than the fact that they offer free birth control).

    • Diane says:


      Can I give you a cyber HIGH FIVE?

      • Hillary says:

        Thanks! I’m teaching this lesson in August, and I want to make sure I do it in the most informative and sensitive way possible. I don’t think a heavy-handed or dismissive approach will bring the spirit, you know?

  21. Jean says:

    It’s a pretty straight forward subject. Being “sensitive” does not do it justice. The Lord cannot look upon sin in the least degree of allowance. It is an abomination in his sight.

    Nomyrealmoniker, whether or not you look upon premarital sex as a sin doesn’t matter, the Lord does, and as I “think” this is a LDS blog, I’ll go with that. Official church stance on chastity: “The prophet Alma taught that sexual sins are more serious than any other sins except murder and denying the Holy Ghost (see Alma 39:3-5).” http://lds.org/study/topics/chastity?lang=eng&query=sexual+sin

    Often times sexual sin, including premarital sex, leads to excommunication from the Church.

    Hillary why are you still bringing up Planned Parenthood? Why do I dislike Planned Parenthood and their liberal agenda? It’s quite simple, Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider and referral in the United States.

    • Diane says:


      I think everyone who has posted has been quite kind to you in their responses, You keep coming back with a bombastic self assured judgmental attitude that does not promote discussion. You have consistently tried to interject your ultra conservative views to make everyone else feel ashamed of themselves. Perhaps you did not read the OP entirely because there was a section on not making people feel ashamed of their bodies, or sexual activity and to treat them with love. I have seen none of that with your discourse.

      Hillary is right in her response to you she was trying to be sensitive to your attitude, even though you have not been sensitive to those who have contributed. as well as to those who she is potentially responsible to teach. You have dismissed everything that everyone has contributed which is quite rude.

      Do you know why sexually transmitted disease are in your words rampant among our seniors? Because they need sex education as well. They are not aware of the up rise in any of these diseases. They do not know how these disease are transmitted. They are not be punished by God as you would like us to believe. Planned Parenthood is not evil. they provide services to woman in need, without judgement. Period.

      You do not get to legislate your morality to rest of the world and think less of people because they don’t believe the same as you. This kind of thinking you have displayed in your discourse is why people turn away from religion, and rightly so because people who are agnostic, or atheist see the hypocrisy. They see the ugliness behind what you believe.

    • Often times sexual sin, including premarital sex, leads to excommunication from the Church.

      This is certainly not true. Excommunication is possible for adultery, but only when those involved are unrepentant. Below that is to be disfellowshipped, where you are still a member, but are asked to not partake of the sacrament or use the Priesthood (if applicable). These are cases where the sin is ongoing, like in an addiction, or in repentant adultery.

      Other than that, it just means not being worthy of a temple recommend.

      Granted, all of these cases are up to the Bishop(s) involved, but there is certainly no “often”. Also, any of these cases are not punishments. These are chances for the people involved to take a step back, repent, and do better in the future.

    • MJK says:

      That’s right, Christ was totally all “Well you’re out” and not at ALL about understanding people’s situations and trials in life and showing love and compassion.

      Thank goodness we have people like you around to correct our misapprehensions about what His life really stood for.

    • Sue says:

      Very well said, Jean! I totally agree with you. I found your straight forward comments very enlightening and will use some of them in my lesson this week. Thanks for being firm-not wavering!

  22. Hillary says:


    I think lessons on chastity and how to teach it should always be handled sensitively. Quite frankly, when you are dating or in love with someone to whom you’re not (perhaps yet) married, the law of chastity can be difficult. We all make mistakes, and for some, those mistakes might be related to chastity. Thank goodness we have the Atonement through which we can, through sincere repentance, be made clean again. I do not claim to be a doctrinal expert, but I believe the statement you quoted (referencing Alma) just said “sexual sins”. I believe “sexual sins” encompasses all sins involving sex, including but not limited to rape, incest, adultery, and premarital sex. But I do not believe the Lord views all those sins equally, and neither does the church. While I do know of people being excommunicated for adultery, I do not know anyone who was excommunicated simply for premarital sex. Perhaps the reasoning is that in cases of premarital sex, the only people hurt by the sin are the consensual actors themselves. In cases of rape and incest, there is no consent and therefore an innocent party is being harmed. In cases of adultery, the spouses of the adulterers are undoubtedly hurt.

    I don’t think this means the Lord has a permissive attitude toward premarital sex. But I believe in a loving and forgiving God. Why would he provide us a way to repentance, through the Atonement, if he just intended to foresake us as we are all sinners? I don’t think anyone would feel the spirit during my lesson if I got up and said “the Lord won’t look upon sin with even the least degree of allowance.” I don’t want to create a negative, fearful atmosphere as we talk about chastity and sexuality, which your hardline, heavy-handed statement does. I would prefer to discuss it in terms of both sacrifice/delayed gratification and appropriate timing.

    As for your position on Planned Parenthood, I suppose everyone is entitled to his/her own opinion, however misinformed it might be. While Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in the US, that is because unlike other clinics or single providers, Planned Parenthood is a multi-state provider, so its numbers are all lumped together and considered one provider. More troubling, however, is your implicit assumption that abortion is evil, and Planned Parenthood performs abortion, therefore Planned Parenthood is evil. Maybe it would be helpful to read the rest of the lesson, because it states: “Church leaders have said that some exceptional circumstances may justify an abortion, such as when pregnancy is the result of incest or rape, when the life or health of the mother is judged by competent medical authority to be in serious jeopardy, or when the fetus is known by competent medical authority to have severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth.”

    That to me seems to say that there are circumstances in which an abortion may be the correct choice, and counseling with the Lord is integral to making that determination. So then it’s possible Planned Parenthood, by offering abortions (especially in areas where it is the only provider of such a service), is offering a service the Lord wants available. Food for thought, no?

    • Maureen says:

      Eloquently said Hillary! I’m glad you hit all the points you did.

      • Hillary says:

        Thanks! Just trying to offer my viewpoint. I really value the opportunity to engage in dialogue with others. It forces me to think carefully about what I choose to believe.

  23. Rachel says:

    Jean, if you were teaching this lesson, I’m sincerely curious as to what you would focus on. What do you think the women in your ward need to hear? If your age demographic is mostly young single adults, I’d imagine that would be one type of lesson. If your demographic is mostly 40+, married, maybe grandmothers, what lesson do you think they need to hear, and how would you teach it?
    FWIW, when I was set apart this time to teach RS, the Bishop said something I’ve never heard in any other setting apart, for myself or anyone else. He said something basically like: Please seek the counsel of the RS President in determining how to best teach these lessons, based on the needs of the women in our ward.
    What I think ‘needs’ to be taught may not be the true need.

  24. Jean says:

    “such as when pregnancy is the result of incest or rape, when the life or health of the mother”

    These exceptions only account for less than 1% of all abortions. You cannot justify all abortions because of the extremely rare exceptions.

    And there have been MANY cases for return missionaries being excommunicated because of fornication.

    • Diane says:


      Once again you have refused to enter the discussion in any real constructive way. What are you afraid of? (sigh)

      • Hillary says:

        I would be interested to know where you got your 1% statistic, and where you got your information re: returned missionaries being excommunicated. I recall a recent conference address instructing us to refrain from judging others as we rarely, if ever, fully appreciate and understand another’s circumstances. As such, I doubt you actually know the specific circumstances of another’s abortion or excommunication.

        Either way, I think you missed my point. Abortions are not all categorically wrong. And not all people who engage in premarital sex are excommunicated. I would think there would be room for a great deal of loving, prayerful counsel with the Lord and your bishop in either case in order to determine the best course of action or consequence, if any.

        Unequivocal condemnations like yours are the antithesis of the loving, merciful, forgiving God I know. I’m sorry you feel differently.

    • amelia says:


      I’m speaking as a perma here: Back off the abortion question and of Planned Parenthood. They are at best tangentially related to the lesson. Further comments on the topic will be removed.

      Also, please moderate your tone a little. Other participants here have attempted to engage in a thoughtful conversation, while you have perpetually taken an attitude of didactic self-righteousness intended to question others’ righteousness. That borders on a comment policy violation. You’re welcome to continue participating, but you need to do so with a more accepting tone and without implicitly dismissing everyone else as sinners, especially when those other participants are trying to thoughtfully engage some of the issues you have raised.


    • Maureen says:

      “there have been MANY cases for return missionaries being excommunicated because of fornication.”

      Perhaps the sin next to murder and DENYING THE HOLY GHOST here is the disobedience against and violation of the temple covenants with God, especially in the instance of being a specifically called representative of Christ and the Church (aka missionary). Alma 39 really points to this as Corianton “forsook the ministry” to go after Isabel, and verse 6 specifically goes on to talk about denying the Holy Ghost, not sexual sin.

  25. Hillary says:

    I should have specified that this reply was addressing Jean’s last comment, not Diane’s.

  26. Jean says:

    “Abortions are not all categorically wrong. And not all people who engage in premarital sex are excommunicated.”

    I never said otherwise. I will agree that 1% of abortions are correct and I will agree that not all premarital sex people are excommunicated. I will not agree that allowing 1% of “allowable” abortions is justification for all abortions. As a Bishop’s wife, I can tell you that some are excommunicated, and Maureen is right about the temple covenants being a factor.

    I would love to discuss it more, but it seems you have the moderator on your side. If you can’t persuade the dissenter, silence her.

    • amelia says:

      Jean, I’m not silencing you. In fact, I specifically said you’re welcome to continue commenting. I simply asked for 2 things: 1. Stay on topic; and 2. Be respectful of others’ views and actually engage thoughtfully rather than simply repeating over & over the most negative iteration of the church’s teachings about sex.

      I’m letting this comment, which is mostly about abortion, stand because I think Hillary raises an important point about how discussions between an individual & her bishop and disciplinary actions should be private. the Fact that that privacy is ever violated indicates the extent to which Mormons often feel their own “purity” & abstinence and others’ sexual sins justify a kind of judgmental nastiness i simply cannot reconcile with Christ’s gospel. It’s that judgmental attitude that is problematic in your tone.

  27. Hillary says:

    Again, not sure where you’re getting your 1% statistic. Furthermore, the fact that you say you’re a bishop’s wife and therefore you know about excommunications disturbs me on many levels. I would think that the private dealings of an individual with the bishop and/or a disciplinary council would be privileged, so if your husband broke that confidence to gossip with you, that concerns me. And the fact that you assume that because a few excommunicated individuals you know also had premarital sex, that means the premarital sex was the sole or most important factor in the decision to excommunicate them troubles me as me as well.

    Look, we all know that the church advocates abstinence before marriage and complete fidelity during marriage. But we are human and make mistakes, and condemning someone as being nearly as big a transgressor as a murderer is judgmental, hurtful, merciless, and purposeless. There is so much more to chastity than a simply the avoidance of premarital sex. I believe chastity is about purifying our hearts and doing the best we can to rid ourselves of all sinful inclinations, whether lust/sex-related or not. And, again, your comments suggest an utter lack of compassion and disregard for the Atonement such that if you spoke like that during my lesson I’d ask you to leave the room. Smug self-righteousness paired with a rigid adherence to only portions of gospel teachings would kill the Spirit.

    • Truth&Light says:

      Wow Hillary ! I don’t even know you, but I wish you were around when I failed the transition between Laurels & RS. I could’ve used an angel in my corner like you. Unfortunately I judged the churched by the “Jeans” in my life. As a young adult, I couldn’t separate the differences between a fallible people & the truthfullness of the Gospel. The upside to that story is I returned to the Church (always knew it to be true in my heart), went through the temple & now had the great blessing of being a YW President for 4 years & now going on 2 years as a Gospel Principles teacher in RS. Now, if I can save 1 soul from going astray for those same reasons, my soul will smile forever.
      “Smug self-righteousness paired with a rigid adherence to only portions of gospel teachings would kill the Spirit.” Amen to that – I can’t agree with you more…
      This forum of women is beyond incredible !! <3

  28. Rachel says:

    Jean, as a non-perma but a RS teacher who truly values these discussions, I’d request that we get back on topic, namely, how do we teach the concepts? I don’t think anything you’ve said is a new way of looking at the issue, anything that helps people grow/learn/want to do better. That’s what RS is about–helping women come to Christ, develop a better relationship with the Holy Ghost, strengthen one another, etc.
    If you were a teacher would you truly spend your lesson discussing the points you’ve made? Would that truly be the best use of the class’s time? I think if you were teaching, that isn’t the lesson you’d teach.

  29. Jean says:

    Forgive me for bringing it up again, but Hillary asked me a specific question. I am merely responding to her and I’ll make this brief as to not derail the discussion further. I was slightly off in my statistics. From the The Guttmacher Institute, which runs studies on family planning:

    “1% of all abortions occur because of rape or incest; 6% of abortions occur because of potential health problems regarding either the mother or child, and 93% of all abortions occur for social reasons (i.e. the child is unwanted or inconvenient).”

  30. BethSmash says:

    Does anyone teach RS in a single’s ward? I am curious as to how you would modify the lesson in a single’s ward full of mostly never marrieds and no one has children – mostly they are in the lower to mid 20s. Would you skip the beginning, or would you mention it anyway to prepare for the future?

    • Hillary says:

      Maybe an idea would be to point out the responsibilities of parents to teach their children, both as a way to prepare for the future but also to examine their own lives and relationships with their parents. Did they come to their parents with questions? Did their parents discuss reproduction thoughtfully with them? If not, what did they do to educate themselves? What kind of obligation do they have to now, as adults, make sure they have the most correct, accurate, current information to both ensure their own education and the future education of their children about these issues?

    • Janna says:

      I suggest skipping the part about the obligation to teach your children “down the road” because most singles see this type of instruction as painful because so much of what we hear is already, “x, y, or z…when you get married.” It’s just a reminder of what we don’t have or may every have – marital love, children, and sex. Call me sensitive….

      • BethSmash says:

        No, no,… you’re not sensitive. I feel the same way – which is why I was asking for suggestions. Not that I’m teaching RS currently or anything. But I’ve had that calling before, and … pretty much almost every calling I’ve ever had has been a teaching calling. And I feel very strongly on sex education in general, which is why I thought the beginning of the OP was great, but… again, single, single’s ward. Hence the questions.

  31. Diane says:


    I’m not sure why as a Bishop’s wife you are even privy to this knowledge, if your husband is talking to you about members, he shouldn’t be, he should be discussing situations among members with his counselors only. This is a total breach of privacy in my opinion and I think your husband may need a reminder on this.

    To everyone else, I’m sorry if this is off topic, but, if Jean is getting her information from her husband who is a Bishop it should be addressed.

  32. Being in Primary, I miss out on these lessons in Priesthood. I’m glad for these insights on how to teach the lesson, without going all preachy. I hope the Preisthood lesson on this went as well, though I’m guessing there was a fair amount of awkward silence. 😉

  33. Hillary says:


    Although I was unable to find your quote anywhere on the Guttmacher Institute’s website or materials, and I would still question the studies themselves, it’s beside the point. More than the 1% of abortions you originally stated fall within the church’s exceptions, but more importantly, let’s stop focusing on abortion. There have been several efforts by myself and others to engage you in a dialogue about issues other than abortion, and so far you haven’t been terribly responsive.

    Let’s talk about how to teach chastity outside the very narrow confines of premarital sex and/or unintended pregnancies. After all, chastity can still be an issue whether actual sex or pregnancy are involved, and even after you’re married, where obviously premarital sex and pregnancy are not seen as chastity lapses. Let’s talk about how to tailor this lesson to young single sisters, older single sisters, married sisters without children, married sisters with children, and divorced sisters. I don’t think a one-size-fits-all approach would reach anyone, nor would a “you’re an abomination if you make a mistake” approach. How would you teach the lesson?

    • Diane says:


      I don’t know where you are posting from, but, in my area the local news (cbs 3)did submit a story and provided statistics. ( I don’t know how to do a link up, otherwise I would) Among 50 year old men and women the std rate has gone up 50% in five years. The reason they behind the rise is because Americans are getting older and they are no longer satisfied with sitting on the porch, watching TV and then going to bed. The people in this generation are active adults in every sense of the word. However, this age group are also less likely to use a condom, as well as less likely to get tested for STD’s. As an interesting side note, Medicare is going to start paying for STD testing. and many more Senior Centers are getting on board and having Sex Ed classes for their Seniors to help educate them on how these diseases are spread.

      So, while Jean’s numbers may be right, her analysis of the situation is wrong. Less Sex ed is not the key. Less Sex education in all age groups is necessary to keep everyone safe, even our grandparents.

      • Diane says:

        sorry last sentence should have read there is a need for more sex education in all age groups

      • Hillary says:

        I agree with you. I think there is ample evidence to show that STD infection rates are rising for all age groups. But from what I’ve seen in my (albeit limited) research, pregnancy rates and abortion rates are decreasing. What I was questioning was the “1% of abortions fall within the church’s exceptions” statement. I also tend to question supposed research performed by “institutes”, which are usually think tanks/thinly veiled PAC’s with a very specific viewpoint and little concern for genuine scientific accuracy. I have no way of know if the Guttmacher Institute is reputable or not.

        I like the broader idea that we don’t need to focus so exclusively on only one consequence (unintended pregnancy) of a lapse in chastity at a specific time in life in order to teach a lesson on chastity.

  34. KeepingItPrivateThisTime says:

    I think Jean’s perspective, and please correct me, Jean, if I am wrong, is that the law of chastity lesson is pretty simple – don’t have sex before marriage because of a) the physical risks and b) God says not to. I think for a lot of people in the church that is reason enough because they believe it’s true. So, there is really no “issue” to discuss, and I imagine it’s frustrating to hear others question what appears to be a simple, black and white issue.

    I value the concept of the law of chastity in many circumstances, but I no longer believe that having sex before marriage is a sin, let alone one close to committing murder. In full disclosure, I am a single, 40 year old virgin, and have no plans to have sex with my boyfriend. But even if I did, I don’t think God would punish me or that I would “lose the Spirit” – no matter what Spencer W. Kimball or anyone else says.

    So, in terms of teaching the law of chastity lesson, I think it’s important to consider that some people in the room don’t believe that keeping the law of chastity in all circumstances is important, but think in some circumstances it is important to keep it. Not that the teacher needs to acknowledge that reality to the class, but it’s something to have in the back of her mind.

    • Hillary says:

      I see your point about teaching abstinence before marriage. But the lesson would take all of 2 minutes if that’s all we discussed. The lesson is so much richer than a simple black and white question of abstinence. What happens when you make a mistake? What happens if you’re so ill-informed when you make that mistake that you have no idea how to prevent or deal with consequences like STD’s and pregnancy? Do you just preach to the class that they’d best not ever make a mistake or they’re condemned? What happens when you get married–is there no longer a need to be chaste? Is there a need to be chaste even if you are married and faithful to your spouse? How might chastity apply outside of merely the act of (premarital or extramarital) sex? Where is the line between what is chaste and what is not?

      See, the issue is not so black and white as it originally seemed. The whole point of the gospel, at least to me, is to develop a personal relationship with God and to find out what He wants for me as an individual. So a blanket “don’t have sex before marriage or you’re an abomination, but after marriage have at it with your spouse and never worry about chastity again” doesn’t work for me.

      • KeepingItPrivateThisTime says:

        I agree completely! I was just trying to understand Jean’s point of view.

  35. Diane says:


    I most definitely appreciate your approach and I wish you success when you teach your lesson.

    I got my statistics from the local news story who got their statistic from the CDC. So, I think they are fairly reputable, but, that’s besides the point, because I think you and I and so is everyone else so far as I can tell is all for more education, not less. Education to me is KEY. I think this is something that can be taught to all the Sisters in Every AGE group. It doesn’t matter how old you are we need to get the right information and share it and not be embarrassed.

    What I was trying to do is try to in providing the numbers is make Jean a little more human, and provide her with the numbers and support that she can’t seem to render for herself, or feels that for what ever reason does not want to.

    • Hillary says:

      Oh, I see what you’re doing. And I totally agree with you that more education is better. Just look at states with abstinence-only approaches to sex ed–unreal teen pregnancy and STD rates! I don’t have kids yet, but when I do, I feel it is my responsibility to teach them. I am responsible to educate them and to teach them values. And I will, because I want them to have the most education possible. So I guess I’m not threatened at all by sex ed in schools, because they won’t be hearing anything at school they didn’t already hear from me. And I figure if there are kids out there whose parents neglected that responsibility, knowing how to be safe is never a bad thing. I think we can all agree that fewer STD’s and fewer abortions would be good. But I surely won’t tell my kids that if they make a mistake that they’re an abomination or condemned.

  36. Diane says:

    Rachel and Janna

    You were both asking for suggestions about how to approach the subject for singles. I know this is a pipe dream on my part. What I’m about to suggest would probably have to have the permission of the RSP/ but, the Bishop and quite possibly the SP. I was thinking how about calling someone in from the Board of Health in your local area and give a talk and combine it with a talk on the law of Chasity. I doubt this would ever happen in an LDS ward, but, you never know unless you try.

  37. Michael P. says:

    I’m rather shocked and appalled at the unkindness shown towards Jean. I’ve been reading through her posts, and there hasn’t been one thing that she has said that hasn’t been according to the teachings of the Church.

    If you don’t teach your childen the gospel, the D&C says the sin be upon the parents. The Law of Chastity IS black and white. No sex before marriage, or you lose the Spirit, your temple recommend, and require repentance, and premarital sex is high on the “forgiveable” sins list. Every priesthood authority realizes this.

    When you teach this lesson in a singles ward, I think you really need to emphasize how sinful it really is. TV and society has made premarital sex seem like it’s perfectly normal, and it’s not. For young people, I don’t think you sugar coat it all, you need to have guts and just tell it like it is, and don’t forget to bring up the importance of the traditional family.

    Like the like general conference said about the vote to pass gay marriage, “as if a vote could somehow change the mind of God”.

    What is so awful about Jean defending the teachings of the Church? Do the abortion statistics really matter when the church states that 93% of all abortions are wrong? Who cares if it’s 93% or 60% when the majority is still wrong?

    • Diane says:


      It’s fine for you to stick up for Jean, obviously you and she share the same thought.

      However, we have not been disrespectful in our tone towards Jean, It ‘s not what she is saying that we, or rather I, am objecting to, its’ her total lack of respect that she has shown. All of us on this blog have bent over backwards to have Jean engage in thoughtful dialogue, as it stands she has been bombastic, self assured, self righteous,using in fact using the same tone that you are using which we have objected. The self righteous didactic approach does not lead to an open atmosphere in which everyone should feel safe to express their own opinion. That’s the point of this blog, to discuss, not to end discussion. Nothing is as black and white as you and Jean would like to make all of us believe

    • Amelia says:

      Michael, it is not unkind to ask someone to stay on topic. Nor is it unkind to ask them to participate in this forum in the spirit in which it was started–as a place where every viewpoint is welcome, but where dismissing others’ viewpoints is not. The only thing we have asked of Jean is that she stay on topic and participate in the conversation in a more open and compassionate manner, rather than so dismissively reject others’ ideas. If she honestly believes the church’s teachings about chastity (and I believe she does honestly believe them), then she should be well equipped to discuss the nuances of those teachings and how to help people understand and live by them. That is all that’s been asked of her. And it is not an unkind request.

  38. Monica says:

    Maybe I misunderstand the purpose of this forum (I am new to all of this), but I thought it was to give people ideas about how to present this lesson to our wards. The last 2/3 or so (forgive me if my approximation is not completely correct) of this forum have been so negative and focused on what I see as a tangent to the real topic. All of the arguing and blaming is not helpful at all . As I see it, the core of this lesson is teaching our children about procreation, what is the law of chastity and why is it important, how do we fortify ourselves so that we can live it, what do we do if we break it, and what great blessings are available for those who keep it. As teachers for the church, I believe it is our responsibility to teach the material that they have given us in the manual, not to infuse it with our own opinions. I also believe that allowing the lesson to go in the same direction that this forum has taken will leave people in the class upset or angry instead of uplifted and inspired. It would be great if we could get back to helping each other plan ways to have meaningful discussions about this topic in our ward. I would really like to focus my lesson on the blessings of living a chaste life and why living the law of chastity is important. If the purpose of this forum is to argue for or against the law of chastity or to criticize one another’s comments (I believe this has been done on both sides) then I will look for other sources because this is not helpful to me.

    • Diane says:

      You are not wrong in your assertion, however, in this day and age to teach our children about procreation and the Law of Chasity without supplying them with education of sexually transmitted disease is well in my opinion just wrong. The statistics coming from the CDC as well as from States who support abstinence only support this reasoning. There is room in this lesson and the Gospel to teach both without any side feeling badly about themselves.

      I believe this with all my heart that for every Law we are given that appears on the surface to be absolute there is always a higher law to be learned. I believe Hillary has clearly spoken about this in her responses when she states that the Atonement makes it possible for us to have forgiveness when we make mistakes with regard to the law of Chastity. I don’t believe that if we as humans make mistakes with this law that that is it, be are an abomination and will never be let back in. that just can’t be true. I’m not sure why you feel that this message would not be uplifting, I would think that for members who have made mistakes with regard to this and are listening it would make them feel better, not worse

    • Amelia says:

      Monica, you’re right that this conversation has gotten a little off topic. We’d love you to share your insights to help get us back to discussing the actual lesson. I think that several of the commenters were trying to flesh out important nuances in teaching about chastity–for instance, Hillary has tried to bring up the importance of helping class members understand that the Atonement works for sexual sin, too–that even though breaking the law of chastity is a serious thing, it is still something that we can repent of and feel clean again. I personally think this is a really important point to make because I have known too many people who have sinned sexually and have not been able to think of themselves as clean again. I think making sure we address this aspect of the lesson would be very important and uplifting given that we are all prone to make mistakes and that it’s a sure thing that some of your class members will have committed a sexual sin at some point in their lives.

      I think your emphasis on how living chastely can bless us is a great idea. I’d love to hear a bit more about how you think you’ll do that–what points you’ll make, which aspects of the lesson in the manual you’ll emphasize, etc. And I’m sure others who find this post will be interested in your insights, too. I’d love to have you help us refocus the discussion on the lesson by sharing your ideas. I’d be especially interested in how you might use this in teaching children/teenagers. I think we so often rely on fear to keep young people from having sex and I’m unconvinced that fear is a good motivator; I’d rather see us more often use positive motivators.

      • Hillary says:

        That would be interesting for me too. We have a huge mix in my ward of divorced/single moms, moms of younger children, younger single sisters, older single or widowed sisters, and married sisters without children. I don’t want the lesson to get too one dimensional by focusing, say, on avoiding premarital sex or teaching young children about chastity because those topics can exclude the other sisters.

        I didn’t think about dealing as much with teaching teenagers aside from offering them information and education. You’re right that fear is short-sighted and doesn’t work. It’s interesting that when I was a teenager 10 years ago, it was “don’t have sex because you’ll get pregnant and it will ruin your life.” Now it seems to be “don’t have sex because you’ll contract a disease and die!” Scary stuff for sure, but neither of those approaches address the very real emotions involved in the decisions leading up to sex, and the emotional consequences.

        So I guess I would like to know if anyone has had success with an approach that acknowledges that yes, feelings of attraction and love can be powerful, and can make chastity really difficult. But the feelings themselves aren’t wrong or dirty; the timing is just off, and better timing would mean waiting until they are married adults, and what emotional blessings would result.

      • Amelia says:

        Exactly, Hillary. I think Monica’s suggestion of focusing on the blessings that come with keeping the law of chastity could be one good way to create some positive motivation rather than the fearful kind. I very much believe we should be honest about possible negative consequences of unprotected sex outside of a long term monogamous relationship–some of the discussion here has shown that when people don’t think about those consequences they can be hurt (I’m thinking of the increased number of STDs in older people thing, which I had not been aware of). So I think that’s important. But it really bothers me when we turn that kind of honest information sharing into a scare tactic because it sets up a skewed notion of sexual activity that can be harmful (this is why I personally never use the “second only to murder” line; I just don’t find it useful in a constructive fashion).

        So I’d love ideas from Monica or anyone else about how to use the positives of keeping the law of chastity as a means of teaching about it and motivating people to abide by it.

    • Christine Davis says:

      My sentiments exactly…thank you Monica!

  39. Stocking Feet says:

    I have found this discussion to be interesting. I teach the gospel principles lesson in RS (both lessons) and frequently read this site in prepration for my lessons. Once in a while I come across a few gems (not so much this time, though). And while I’ve never cared to post any of my thoughts, I think I have some ideas that might be beneficial to those teaching a RS that isn’t full of young married moms. Those are what I have, but I’m not very good at teaching them. 🙂

    First, I find it interesting that it is called the Law of Chastity, not the Rule of Chastity. What is the connotation with the word law? We temple-endowed folks did, in fact, agree to the law and agree that the law has consequences. Are we more willing to abide by the laws than we are to obey the rules? I just think it could be an intereting discussion.

    Also, since I’ve been called to teach RS I’ve struggled with why we even have to have some of these lessons. Don’t we already know this stuff? As I’ve read the lessons, I’ve decided that we don’t. We need to have an opportunity to study our beliefs and (re)learn what we profess. It strengthens our testimonies and adds to our knowledge base. Once we have an understanding of our beliefs, we are better able to discuss them with those around us. If I were teaching in a single ward or teaching in an older ward, I would teach this lesson based on a missionary stand point. How will you answer when someone asks you? What law have you committed to living? How does it make you a better person? What will you tell other members of the church (assuming close friends or family members) who have broke the law?

    Being one who made plenty of mistakes (still), I think that teaching the Atonement with this lesson is a must. Our women (old and young) need to know that the feelings are normal and sometimes we get carried away, but we absolutely can repent and we can be forgiven.

    Hope that helps some of you prepare your lesson.

  40. Stephanie says:

    I am teaching this lesson on Sunday. When I first got my assigned lesson, I remembed a talk that Elder Holland…then President Holland gave when he was president of BYU. It is called “Of Souls, Symbols and Sacraments” Google it, and read it. It is full of great information.

  41. Rachel says:

    Stocking, I really liked your comments. I’m teaching this on Sunday, and was pretty committed to my 3 points (see comment #1), but now I am waffling a bit–that part about from a missionary standpoint is a really good one.
    I think like you–I read the lesson and wonder why, but by the time it’s lesson time, it’s clear we can all work on these basic principles.
    And will you comment again? 🙂

  42. Gayle says:

    Finally a useful tidbit! Thank you, Stephanie.

  43. Ila says:

    I have just read all the posts above and am amazed by it all. I often look at this site when preparing my lessons for ideas or insights that may add to my preparations for my own ward. I have 7 children – 6 girls one son. Raising my children in the gospel has been my life desire and challenge. I still have three unmarried children. My youngest daughter who is a beautiful young woman got into a situation where she made a choice with a very difficult and visual consequence. She is now barely 19 and an unwed mother of a 5 month old daughter. She was taught the Law of Chastity both at home and in Church. She wanted to marry in the temple like the rest of her sisters and follow in their footsteps, but because of the choice she made in a moment she now has a consequences of eternal significance. Ladies, If I was sitting in a RS room listening to the kind of talk that has just gone back and forth I would have walked out of the room. I have learned so many valuable things this past year. Believe me it has been my most difficult challenge in life thus far. When I was in my deepest despair watching my beautiful daughter go through this life changing experience I prayed and prayed and poured my heart out to my loving Father In Heaven asking for direction of what to do, how to forgive her, how to help her – etc etc etc…… My Father in Heaven answered me in a very clear voice and told me I was to Love Her. I had to forgive her and simply love her. I believe in the ATONEMENT. I believe that Christ knows each of us individually. He knows our hearts, our minds – he knows us. He loves us unconditionally. He hurts when we make mistakes and break His laws. BUT He also knows that we are human, we will make mistakes and we will break His laws from time to time. He carried all our sins – felt them all in the Garden. He died for us so that if and when we screw up we can repent and get through these kinds of times and find His forgiveness, His peace and His love.
    This lesson on Chastity was mine to teach. I am not teaching it because my emotions are still so raw and I wouldn’t be able to teach it without tears from beginning to end. But I pray for all of you who are called to teach this lesson. I pray that you will teach with the spirit and with the Love of Christ in your heart and that you won’t pass judgment on anyone – PLEASE leave that up to the Lord. We are all God’s children and He truly loves us all. We live in a world that is really difficult for the youth, the singles, the unmarried, and the married around us – which as I see it encompasses us all – it is tough for all of us. BUT – LOVE, in my opinion, goes a lot further in teaching others than does our JUDGMENTS of them. Good luck with teaching your lessons. Hopefully we can love and inspire our sisters to try each day to do their best, and to love each other – even the sinner – cause aren’t we all sinners? We are all here to become like Him – AND it is a process RIGHT?

    • Hillary says:

      Thank you so much for your comment. It brought me to tears! I think it can be so easy to judge when someone hasn’t had the issue touch her life the way it has yours. As I continue my preparations for Sunday, I am praying continually that I will be able to teach what and how the Lord would want. While I don’t personally have experience with the very visceral consequences of breaking the law of chastity, I have certainly made a lot of mistakes for which I was (and still am) completely dependent on the Atonement. Like you, if I heard a lesson focusing so much on harsh judgment like some of the comments above, I too would walk out. I wouldn’t want my mistakes condemned publicly like that, or to be told I was an abomination to the Lord. That kind of merciless, self-righteous superiority has no place in the house of the Lord.

      I have decided to approach the lesson like this: the Lord loves us so much, and wants us to love, respect, and appreciate ourselves the way He does. If we make mistakes, we shouldn’t be worried about how other people will think of us, but we should be worried about how those actions affect the way we feel about ourselves and our relationship with Heavenly Father. Mistakes will inevitably be made; they are part of our earthly experience. But we are so fortunate to be beloved children of a merciful God and siblings of a selfless older brother, who paid the price for us to be forgiven, to learn, to grow, and to move forward. It is my hope that no matter what mistakes we make, we can make something beautiful out of those mistakes–perhaps a closer and more meaningful relationship with God. And even if we aren’t currently making so-called “big” mistakes, we can all strive to be closer to the Lord and to make better choices.

    • Ladybug143 says:

      Thank you for sharing. This is the type of comment I like to see.

    • spunky says:

      Thank you so much for your comment, Ila. It is just brilliant! Chastity lessons are a horribly complicated topic for everyone. I think especially complicated for childless women, like myself to teach. If you think about it, as I do… if I were to adopt, then I have to admit that I am actually hopeful that someone WILL break the law of chastity, for my benefit. I have two younger sisters who were pregnant – one before she married, and the other in high school. Neither of them gave up their children for adoption, though my high school aged sister had a horrible amount of pressure on her to do so. Because I saw what she went through, quite frankly—I could NEVER pray for someone to go through that… much less pray for that just so I could adopt a child- though I am childless, praying for someone to go through that just feels wicked to me.

      I think very few people consider this when teaching the law of chastity… on the one hand, we are so quick to judge pregnant young women as unrighteous and that their only atonement is by giving their child up to adoption (not always, but I think this is a real belief for some of the more conservative members). And on the other hand, the idea is that if you are chaste, you will be blessed with a righteous family when you marry. But that doesn’t always happen. So childless women who want to adopt must on the one hand teach everyone to keep the law of chastity, yet on the other hand, we pray for someone to break the law of chastity (then go through absolute hell) and place their baby up for adoption so we can be mothers.

      I can’t do it. I can’t pray for anyone to go through that- no matter how much I would love to be a parent. I would not be able to live with myself if I prayer for someone to go through that. It is horribly complicated, insomuch that, for me, it is imperative to focus on the atonement, otherwise, it just doesn’t make sense. The atonement is everything; absolutely everything- from healing the sin of adultery to healing the pain of childlessness. The atonment is the only thing that is applicable to everyone in this lesson.

    • Truth&Light says:

      Ila – tha was BEAUTIFUL ! Like Hillary it moved me to tears. I know your testimony & felt it even more. Thank you, thank you. I would love to share your experience if that is okay. We need to FEEL this love & compassion for each other & this is a situation that almost EVERYONE can understand, even if it wasn’t a first-hand experience…. I’m so grateful for the gospel of the Atonement and what it means to bring our fellow brothers & sisters (including me) to Christ. Thank you for sharing this very intimate & personal story.

  44. SearchingGirl says:

    Planned Parenthood is not an evil place. Sometimes it is the only place girls can get the information they need. It is not fair to portray the brave folks that work and volunteer there as evil. They are there trying to help some very desperate women find the right answer.

  45. Cheryl says:

    Thank you for your comments. It brought it right back to base for me. I too was less than impressed by all the banter back and forth. There is no endpoint to that type of discussion until someone like yourself brings the point home with no debate but a real life lesson. Ladies, follow the spirit in your lesson and it will tell you what to teach and you should be following the spirit regardless of how you feel. If you have a testimony of the truthfulness of this gospel then you be in line with the teachings of the church and the will of the Lord.

  46. Ladybug143 says:

    I usually love to read the comments on a lesson, especially a lesson from Spunky, but the spirit was chased away so much in reading some of them that I quit. We all have strong oppinions about what we believe. Can we just respect that we all can believe different things without attacking others beliefs and feelings? It is sad that I feel no spirit from these discussions. Usually they are so helpful.

  47. concerned says:

    I have posted my comment and then deleted it several times, trying to decide if I really wanted to share my thoughts with the world. I also have been reading this posts. I come from a traditional LDS family. I was raised in the church, graduated from BYU, married a wonderful returned missionary in the temple, had four amazing kids who brought so much joy into our home. We have been a very close family and involved with all aspects of church. Both boys, old enough, served missions and have been married in the temple. We were always the family at church where all the kids hung out. Three years ago our lives fell apart. My youngest came home and informed us he was gay. He had gone to church his entire life, attended Seminary, EFY, youth meetings, temple trips….never a sign or concern that this was his future. Six months ago our oldest son was excommunicated for adultery. He let his guard down and made some very dumb decisions. I have never shared this with anyone in my ward or even with family members. I am supposed to be teaching this lesson tomorrow and have been going back and forth if I should get someone else to do it for me and just stay home and cry. If you are teaching this lesson, please be sensitive to others like me. We don’t know what is going on in others families and homes. We can’t assume that life is as it appears. On a good note, we have been working hard to keep our family together. We are making progress and learning to work through our struggles. Love does wonders for acceptance and forgiveness. I have learned a lot about family in the process and about myself. Right now I am planning on teaching. Although I will not share personal stories, I will do my best to help others realize that we can’t ever take Satan’s power for granted. My kids have made their choices and have dealt with the outcomes. I also want to focus on the aspect of forgiveness. There is so much out there trying to destroy families. My goal is to help another who also may be feeling what I have felt.

  48. Rachel says:

    Concerned, I’ll be thinking about you tomorrow–prayers your way. I was the first commenter who said we ought to maybe focus on fidelity for this very reason. I’m a psychotherapist and it seems like weekly I am hearing about people cheating. Nobody wakes up in the AM thinking, “today I’m going to start an affair”. We have to have compassion for everyone-we all make mistakes.
    (And, for what it’s worth, there have been a few lessons throughout my life I haven’t taught b/c it is just too close to home. Usually I’ve just asked another teacher to switch weeks with me due to scheduling issues. )

  49. concerned says:

    Thank you. I appreciate your comments. I appreciate your prayers. I did like your thought process of focusing on fidelity and the emotional revealing that can happen as we share with others. I wanted to add that to my lesson. I think it is very relevant to ways people or women can become vulnerable. We can write things on the internet we would never say to others in person. Satan looks for small ways to make an entry into our lives. Each age has different issues to deal with and different needs that need to be met. I don’t think we can ever say that chastity is a youth issue. I, too, have been hearing too much lately of those who have been married 30 + years having problems in their marriages. It is a scary world out there.

    • EmilyCC says:

      concerned, thank you for sharing your experiences here. I couldn’t help but think of my family and others who share your experiences while I listened to this lesson in Church. It feels easier to teach a lesson on chastity that says if you don’t teach your children chastity well, this is what will happen. Yet, we all have free agency so such reasoning is false.

      How did your lesson go?

  50. Marla says:

    I too use this website to help me with my lessons. I feel the same way as Ila. In fact, I relate to her pain as a mother who has had daughters who have found themselves in a situation that changes their life forever. I am struggling emensely to give this lesson because of the same situation. In the past three years I have had two teeanage daughters have babies. I taught my children right from wrong. We have had a very open relationship about sex, drugs, alcohol, and all the other vices of the world. However, when it came down to it, my girls still had their own choices and they didn’t make the right ones. Even though time has gone on and this mother is beginning to heal from the hardest time of her life, she is still feeling very inadequate to give this lesson. How do you give a lesson of such an important essential topic when you still feel like a failure in teaching your own children? My focus is going to be on the importance of education of such a topic being taught by parents, but first and foremost the aspectof the atonement. It is amazing how hard it is to truly forgive even your own children of such a severe sin. It has helped me to truly understand how loving our Heavenly Father is when we are completely repentant. Even though the scriptures say that sexual sin is next to murder, I absolutely know in my heart that the slate may be wiped clean if someone truly goes through the repentance process. He loves every child, you, me, and everyone else and how great the joy is when his children choose the right or come back to him.

  51. Rachel says:

    Concerned, Marla–how did it go today?
    I ended up changing things a bit, and focused on the section which talked about how Satan tempts us when we’re lonely, confused, or depressed.
    I talked about Potiphar’s wife, and the harlot Isabel, and made them real women. That Potiphar never listened to her, didn’t like to talk about feelings, and was always busy playing spy games with the other palace guards. I also talked about Corianton and how we know nothing about Isabel. Those are two different but very real situations for women.
    Trying to balance enough of the “seriousness of the sin” but also having true compassion for our sisters is what I was getting at. Two of the most devout and conservative sisters in my ward expressed appreciation for seeing women in the scriptures from a different, and possibly accurate perspective.
    Anyway, ladies, I hope it went well for you. 🙂

  52. Marla says:

    Thank you for your encouragement and concerns on my behalf. It was a challenging lesson for me to prepare and to overcome my own insecurities. However, the lesson itself was conveyed through the spirit. I know I had some extra help with this one. Amazing how it all comes together and even if I can’t remember exactly what words came from my mouth, I know the feeling that was in the room.

  53. Ruth says:

    I would really like the source of the quote at the end of the Note to Parents section which says, “new research shows that a girl’s age at first sexual experience is directly correlated with her relationship to her father…..” Does anyone have that information? I feel it essential to cite my sources in these lessons.

  54. Rachel says:

    This isn’t the original source, but the article lists 3 studies.

  55. Megan says:

    I am a semi-recent convert to the church and was just asked to give this lesson in a few weeks. I’m in a YSA so I REALLY appreciate everyone’s thoughts regarding this topic – it’s a touchy subject and I know it will be very difficult in a singles ward with 20-30 year old single people, none of whom have children but may or may not have been sexually active in the past. I just wanted to say I appreciate everyone who took time to comment – your comments have really helped me!

    Sorry I got long-winded…

  56. Arthur says:

    I will be teaching this lesson this coming Sunday in our Elder’s Quorum. The preparation of it has been poignant for me because I was molested when I was a boy and still find ways, over 50 years later, that my experience impacts my ways of perceiving life and the people in my life. Thank you for what you wrote and thank you for sharing it online.
    I have 2 questions about oxytocin: Can a child, such as I was, experience a release of oxytocin if the molester behaves gently (seductively) with an extremely emotionally needy child? Can that experience of oxytocin release, especially if the molesting was repeated several times, contribute to feelings of same sex attraction in a person as he grows up?

  57. Durante says:

    It seems I get this lesson every couple of weeks. This last week it was in Gospel Principles, and it seems not that long ago it was in Elders quorum (probably September to be honest) my first thought was “c’mon, this lesson again?” although I am getting better at it, I think that it’s almost become my favorite lesson. It does seem to be one of the one greatest single factors in separating who we are from the rest of the world.

  1. January 26, 2016

    […] The Law Of Chastity AND Ways NOT to Teach about Chastity A post about implementing the Church’s progressive stance on sex education within chastity lessons and another post with less effective examples… […]

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