The Commandments

Hey guys, so the Law of Chastity for Latter-day Saints is God’s law of sexual purity. At baptism, Latter-day Saints agree to strive to obey this law throughout their lives. We also covenant in our temples to keep this commandment. In this video, we’ll talk about what the Law of Chastity means, what it doesn’t mean, and why it’s important. We’ve got a lot to get to. Let’s jump in.

Alright, before we get into the what of the law of chastity, we need to talk about the why. First, we are all spirit children of a Heavenly Father and Mother who love us. Because God wants what is best for us, he has laid out a plan that will help us to become more like him. Because God has a physical body, part of his plan involves God’s spirit children being born on earth and also obtaining a physical body which will one day after this life become perfected and immortalized like God’s body. 

As per this quote from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland which you can pause and read, God has given us power and permission to participate in this plan by creating physical mortal bodies for his spirit children. God shares with us a portion of his creative powers in the form of procreation. Because this power comes from God, it is sacred and should only be used as God intends. And that concept shouldn’t be surprising. Power and permission and authority to do almost anything in life comes with limitations. 

Police officers, school teachers, and airline pilots are all given the power and authority to do certain things under certain conditions. It is not a free-for-all. When he or she abuses the power given to them, it’s a problem. Flying a plane full of passengers to Miami is totally appropriate for a pilot to do when it’s on the approved itinerary. When it’s not, it’s hijacking. God has given us procreative powers. They are to be used and not abused. “The law of chastity states that God approves of sexual activity only between a man and a woman who are married.” This law also requires total fidelity and loyalty to one’s spouse after marriage. 

Sexual activity within marriage has two purposes: The primary purpose is obviously to have children, but we’re also taught that sexual activity is appropriate simply as an expression of love between spouses. Sexual activity is good and ordained of God when engaged in within the bounds of the law of chastity. 

Sexual feelings are an important part of God’s plan to create happy marriages and eternal families. These feelings are not sinful—they are sacred. Because sexual feelings are so sacred and so powerful, God has given you His law of chastity to prepare you to use these feelings as He intends.” — namely, in a committed, legal marriage relationship. By keeping the law of chastity, we show our respect for God, for His power, for His plan, for our own bodies, for the bodies of others, and for God’s children that we bring into this world. 

Now, inevitably we run into the question—beyond the act of sex with someone we’re not married to, what exactly “counts” as inappropriate extra-marital sexual activity? When have we gone too far with someone? Just as there are countless ways and scenarios in which a police officer might abuse his power, there are countless ways someone might violate the law of chastity. It would be impossible for the Church to enumerate all of those ways, but leaders have given us some guidelines to help us make good decisions.

Keep sex and sexual feelings sacred. They should not be the subject of jokes or entertainment. Outside of marriage between a man and a woman, it is wrong to touch the private, sacred parts of another person’s body, even if clothed. In your choices about what you do, look at, read, listen to, think about, post, or text, avoid anything that purposely arouses lustful emotions in others or yourself. This includes pornography in any form. If you find that situations or activities make temptations stronger, avoid them. You know what those situations and activities are. And if you aren’t sure, the Spirit, your parents, and your leaders can help you know.”

Now, in past decades, some leaders have referred to sexual sin as being almost as serious as shedding innocent blood. This largely comes from Alma 39, when Alma chastises his son for having abandoned his mission in pursuit of a harlot. There are other valid ways of interpreting this chapter, as per this article from BYU, but when it comes to some particularly grievous sexual sins… I don’t disagree with that assessment. That said, not all sexual sin is the same or of the same magnitude. And we see that reflected in the Church’s handbook—particularly heinous violations of the law of chastity absolutely require a membership council, which may very well result in your church membership being revoked. For other kinds of sexual sins, a membership council may be optional. And for other violations, a membership council is not needed at all. 

I’m not suggesting that less grievous sexual sins are in any way OK. They’re not. All sin is still sin. But the nuance is important. And interestingly, that traditional Alma 39 interpretation has been removed from the newest version of the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet.

I also want to emphasize that the law of chastity is not just about doing or not doing certain things—it’s about being and becoming a chaste person. It’s about changing our hearts until, as Alma 13 describes, the very thought of sin becomes abhorrent to us. You can change your behaviors without changing your heart. But true repentance involves a change of heart. That’s where we treat the underlying cause instead of just symptoms. To make those changes, we need to turn to our divine physician, Jesus Christ. Through Him, repentance is possible. In the words of King Benjamin, relief is available to he or she who “yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord….”

I briefly mentioned at the beginning of this video that Latter-day Saints believe God has a body. That’s going to sound like blasphemy to mainstream Christians, but to learn why we believe the way we do about this, go watch this video, and have a great day.



Learning More:

— “Your Body is Sacred,” via the “For the Strength of Youth: A Guide for Making Choices” booklet: https://tinyurl.com/msun3ydv 

— “What Is the Law of Chastity?” via the Church’s website: https://tinyurl.com/yk9wjtwx 

— “We Believe in Being Chaste,” by Elder David A. Bednar (April 2013 general conference): https://tinyurl.com/4zu5npsw 

— “Intimacy in Marriage,” via the “Eternal Marriage Student Manual”: https://tinyurl.com/3pfry9eu 

— “Chastity: What Are the Limits?” video via the Church’s website: https://tinyurl.com/4ujutuhx 

— “Why Was Corianton’s Sin So Serious?” via Book of Mormon Central: https://tinyurl.com/34pn2mf7 

— “Repentance and Church Membership Councils,” via the Church’s handbook: https://tinyurl.com/2tyh8bx9 


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