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.
NOTE TO PARENTS
“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 OF PROCREATION
The power to procreate is a gift, a blessing, and a commandment. It is part of the plan of happiness.
THE LAW OF CHASTITY
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.
SATAN WANTS US TO BREAK THE LAW OF CHASTITY
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.
BREAKING THE LAW OF CHASTITY IS EXTREMELY SERIOUS
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.
THOSE WHO BREAK THE LAW OF CHASTITY CAN BE FORGIVEN
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.
THOSE WHO KEEP THE LAW OF CHASTITY ARE GREATLY BLESSED
“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.