Why is chastity important?

Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 5.57.06 PMWhat is the difference between LOVE and LUST?

Invite the youth to make lists of the differences. I helped them by sharing stories of girls I have known in my life on both sides.

LOVE

Self-Control

Obedience

Respect

Unselfish

Patient

Pure

Faithful

Trusted

Increased Love

Positive

LUST

Disobedient

Disrespectful

Self-Gratification

Lack of Discipline

Abuses Soul

Fearful

Guilty

Shameful

Bitterness

Jealous

Hatred

imagesConsider sharing the story of Sis. Elaine S. Dalton and her hike to Ensign Peak with her counselors. She tells of looking down at the temple and seeing the Angel Moroni shining brilliantly in the sun. The vision in her mind was clear, each young woman needed to prepare NOW to be worthy to enter into the temple. Read more on her experience here. Print off word strips similar to the following. Ask the youth to share ways they pertain to living a virtuous life:

Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly

Cleave unto your covenants

Stand … in holy places

Lay aside the things of the world

Believe that ye must repent

Always remember him and keep his commandments

If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, … seek after these things

Awake and arise

Lay hold upon every good gift, and touch not the evil gift, nor the unclean thing.

Return to virtue

It is better to prepare and prevent than repair and repent

Confidence Wax Strong

The following is one of my favorite messages teaching personal purity. Read it and you will be inspired by specific things to share with those you teach:

jeffrey-r-holland-largeJeffrey R. Holland

Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

One who uses the God-given body of another without divine sanction abuses the very soul of that individual, abuses the central purpose and processes of life.

As modern winds of immorality swirl luridly around them, I am concerned for any of our youth or young adults who may be confused about principles of personal purity, about obligations of total chastity before marriage and complete fidelity after it. Against what is happening in the world they see and hear, and hoping to fortify parents as they teach their children a higher standard, I wish to speak today about moral cleanliness. Because this subject is as sacred as any I know, I earnestly pray for the Holy Spirit to guide me in remarks that are more candid than I would wish to make. Today I know how Jacob in the Book of Mormon felt when he said on the same topic, “It grieveth me that I must use so much boldness of speech.” 1

In approaching this subject I do not document a host of social ills for which the statistics are as grim as the examples are offensive. Nor will I present here a checklist of do’s and don’ts about dating and boy-girl relationships. What I wish to do is more personal—I wish to try to answer questions some of you may have been asking: Why should we be morally clean? Why is it such an important issue to God? Does the Church have to be so strict about it when others don’t seem to be? How could anything society exploits and glamorizes so openly be very sacred or serious?

May I begin with a lesson from civilization’s long, instructive story. Will and Ariel Durant have written: “No man [or woman], however brilliant or well-informed, can … safely … dismiss … the wisdom of [lessons learned] in the laboratory of history. A youth boiling with hormones will wonder why he should not give full freedom to his sexual desires; [but] if he is unchecked by custom, morals, or laws, he may ruin his life before he … understand[s] that sex is a river of fire that must be banked and cooled by a hundred restraints if it is not to consume in chaos both the individual and the group.” 2

A more important scriptural observation is offered by the writer of Proverbs: “Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned? … Whoso committeth adultery … destroyeth his own soul. A wound and dishonour shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away.” 3

Why is this matter of sexual relationships so severe that fire is almost always the metaphor, with passion pictured vividly in flames? What is there in the potentially hurtful heat of this that leaves one’s soul—or the whole world, for that matter—destroyed if that flame is left unchecked and those passions unrestrained? What is there in all of this that prompts Alma to warn his son Corianton that sexual transgression is “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?” 4

By assigning such seriousness to a physical appetite so universally bestowed, what is God trying to tell us about its place in His plan for all men and women? I submit to you He is doing precisely that—commenting about the very plan of life itself. Clearly among His greatest concerns regarding mortality are how one gets into this world and how one gets out of it. He has set very strict limits in these matters.

Fortunately, in the case of how life is terminated, most seem to be quite responsible. But in the significance of giving life, we sometimes find near-criminal irresponsibility. May I offer three reasons why this is an issue of such magnitude and consequence in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

First is the revealed, restored doctrine of the human soul.

One of the “plain and precious” truths restored in this dispensation is that “the spirit and the body are the soul of man” 5 and that when the spirit and body are separated, men and women “cannot receive a fulness of joy.” 6 That is the reason why obtaining a body is so fundamentally important in the first place,why sin of any kind is such a serious matter (namely because it is sin that ultimately brings both physical and spiritual death), and why the resurrection of the body is so central to the great triumph of Christ’s Atonement.

The body is an essential part of the soul. This distinctive and very important Latter-day Saint doctrine underscores why sexual sin is so serious. We declare that one who uses the God-given body of another without divine sanction abuses the very soul of that individual, abuses the central purpose and processes of life, “the very key” 7 to life, as President Boyd K. Packer once called it. In exploiting the body of another—which means exploiting his or her soul—one desecrates the Atonement of Christ, which saved that soul and which makes possible the gift of eternal life. And when one mocks the Son of Righteousness, one steps into a realm of heat hotter and holier than the noonday sun. You cannot do so and not be burned.

Please, never say: “Who does it hurt? Why not a little freedom? I can transgress now and repent later.” Please don’t be so foolish and so cruel. You cannot with impunity “crucify Christ afresh.” 8 “Flee fornication,” 9 Paul cries, and flee “anything like unto it,” 10 the Doctrine and Covenants adds. Why? Well, for one reason because of the incalculable suffering in both body and spirit endured by the Savior of the world so that we could flee. 11 We owe Him something for that. Indeed, we owe Him everything for that. “Ye are not your own,” Paul says. “Ye [have been] bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. 12 In sexual transgression the soul is at stake—the body and the spirit.

Secondly, may I stress that human intimacy is reserved for a married couple because it is the ultimate symbol of total union, a totality and a union ordained and defined by God. From the Garden of Eden onward, marriage was intended to mean the complete merger of a man and a woman—their hearts, hopes, lives, love, family, future, everything. Adam said of Eve that she was bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh, and that they were to be “one flesh” in their life together. 13 This is a union of such completeness that we use the word seal to convey its eternal promise. The Prophet Joseph Smith once said we perhaps could render such a sacred bond as being “welded” 14 one to another.

But such a total union, such an unyielding commitment between a man and a woman, can only come with the proximity and permanence afforded in a marriage covenant, with solemn promises and the pledge of all they possess—their very hearts and minds, all their days and all their dreams.

Can you see the moral schizophrenia that comes from pretending you are one, pretending you have made solemn promises before God, sharing the physical symbols and the physical intimacy of your counterfeit union but then fleeing, retreating, severing all such other aspects of what was meant to be a total obligation?

In matters of human intimacy, you must wait! You must wait until you can give everything, and you cannot give everything until you are legally and lawfully married. To give illicitly that which is not yours to give (remember, “you are not your own”) and to give only part of that which cannot be followed with the gift of your whole self is emotional Russian roulette. If you persist in pursuing physical satisfaction without the sanction of heaven, you run the terrible risk of such spiritual, psychic damage that you may undermine both your longing for physical intimacy and your ability to give wholehearted devotion to a later, truer love. You may come to that truer moment of ordained love, of real union, only to discover to your horror that what you should have saved you have spent, and that only God’s grace can recover the piecemeal dissipation of the virtue you so casually gave away. On your wedding day the very best gift you can give your eternal companion is your very best self—clean and pure and worthy of such purity in return.

Thirdly, may I say that physical intimacy is not only a symbolic union between a husband and a wife—the very uniting of their souls—but it is also symbolic of a shared relationship between them and their Father in Heaven. He is immortal and perfect. We are mortal and imperfect. Nevertheless we seek ways even in mortality whereby we can unite with Him spiritually. In so doing we gain some access to both the grace and the majesty of His power. Those special moments include kneeling at a marriage altar in the house of the Lord, blessing a newborn baby, baptizing and confirming a new member of the Church, partaking of the emblems of the Lord’s Supper, and so forth.

These are moments when we quite literally unite our will with God’s will, our spirit with His spirit, where communion through the veil becomes very real. At such moments we not only acknowledge His divinity but we quite literally take something of that divinity to ourselves. One aspect of that divinity given to virtually all men and women is the use of His power to create a human body, that wonder of all wonders, a genetically and spiritually unique being never before seen in the history of the world and never to be duplicated again in all the ages of eternity. A child, your child—with eyes and ears and fingers and toes and a future of unspeakable grandeur.

Probably only a parent who has held that newborn infant in his or her arms understands the wonder of which I speak. Suffice it to say that of all the titles God has chosen for Himself, Father is the one He favors most, and creation is His watchword—especially human creation, creation in His image. You and I have been given something of that godliness, but under the most serious and sacred of restrictions. The only control placed on us is self-control—self-control born of respect for the divine sacramental power this gift represents.

My beloved friends, especially my young friends, can you see why personal purity is such a serious matter? Can you understand why the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles would issue a proclamation declaring that “the means by which mortal life is created [is] divinely appointed” and that “the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife”? 15 Don’t be deceived and don’t be destroyed. Unless such powers are controlled and commandments kept, your future may be burned; your world could go up in flames. Penalty may not come on the precise day of transgression, but it comes surely and certainly enough. And unless there is true repentance and obedience to a merciful God, then someday, somewhere, the morally cavalier and unclean will pray like the rich man who wished Lazarus to “dip … his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.” 16

I have declared here the solemn word of revelation that the spirit and the body constitute the soul of man, and that through the Atonement of Christ the body shall rise from the grave to unite with the spirit in an eternal existence. That body is therefore something to be kept pure and holy. Do not be afraid of soiling its hands in honest labor. Do not be afraid of scars that may come in defending the truth or fighting for the right, but beware scars that spiritually disfigure, that come to you in activities you should not have undertaken, that befall you in places where you should not have gone. Beware the wounds of any battle in which you have been fighting on the wrong side. 17

If some few of you are carrying such wounds—and I know that you are—to you is extended the peace and renewal of repentance available through the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. In such serious matters the path of repentance is not easily begun nor painlessly traveled. But the Savior of the world will walk that essential journey with you. He will strengthen you when you waver. He will be your light when it seems most dark. He will take your hand and be your hope when hope seems all you have left. His compassion and mercy, with all their cleansing and healing power, are freely given to all who truly wish complete forgiveness and will take the steps that lead to it.

I bear witness of the great plan of life, of the powers of godliness, of mercy and forgiveness and the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ—all of which have profound meaning in matters of moral cleanliness. I testify that we are to glorify God in our body and in our spirit. I thank heaven for legions of the young who are doing just that and helping others do the same. I thank heaven for homes where this is taught. That lives of personal purity may be reverenced by all, I pray in the name of purity Himself, even the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.

*      *      *

The Atonement endows us with every power necessary to convert our weaknesses into our strengths.IMG_1393

Set your course

Focus on the finish

Focus on the forever

In the strength of the Lord you can do all things

C H A N G E   T H E   W O R L D

Encourage the youth to make a declaration of living a virtuous life (on paper or fabric as seen here).

Share on a social media site (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest) with the hashtags:

#sharegoodness #returntovirtue #lds

Thanks to Amy, one of my sweet Mia Maids, who followed through with the challenge and shared her picture on Instagram.

Additional Scriptures:

D&C 58:42

D&C 121: 45-46

Alma 39:5 (Alma’s son, Corianton)

How do the roles of men and women complement each other in families?

What an inspired group of topics we have to choose from this month from Come Follow Me.  Today I’ve been studying a bit to help my hubby with his Priest Quorum lesson for tomorrow, and felt compelled to post a few thoughts. Maybe it will help one of you with your lesson preparation also.  I’ll be honest, after I read through all of the suggested resources I took a nap (I’m still in recovery mode from a little surgery I had last week) but the nap served me well, because as I was drifting to sleep a memory from the past played out in my mind.  As a young mother I loved telling my children stories, including favorites I had treasured growing up from the Grimm Brothers and Hans Christian Anderson. However, where I would merely tell the story to my children my husband would take it a step further.  He was famous for acting out full renditions of stories such as, “The Three Little Pigs” and “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” On his own, he played every character in the biggest and best way possible.  Night after night the kids sat and laughed and laughed on the opposite side of the bedroom (it required a lot of space for the one man show).  This soon became part of the bedtime ritual, requested after teeth were brushed and beds undone. But today, before I waited for sleep to come, the classic “The Shoemaker and the Elves” returned to me.  Are you familiar with this timeless tale?

A shoemaker, through no fault of his own, had become so poor that he had only leather enough for a single pair of shoes. He cut them out one evening, then went to bed, intending to finish them the next morning. Having a clear conscience, he went to bed peacefully, commended himself to God, and fell asleep. The next morning, after saying his prayers, he was about to return to his work when he found the shoes on his workbench, completely finished. Amazed, he did not know what to say. He picked up the shoes in order to examine them more closely. They were so well made that not a single stitch was out of place, just as if they were intended as a masterpiece. A customer soon came by, and he liked the shoes so much that he paid more than the usual price for them.

The shoemaker now had enough money to buy leather for two pairs of shoes. That evening he cut them out, intending to continue his work the next morning with good cheer. But he did not need to do so, because when he got up they were already finished. Customers soon bought them, paying him enough that he now could buy leather for four pairs of shoes. Early the next morning he found the four pairs finished. And so it continued; whatever he cut out in the evening was always finished the following morning. He now had a respectable income and with time became a wealthy man.

One evening shortly before Christmas, just before going to bed, and having already cut out a number of shoes, he said to his wife, “Why don’t we stay up tonight and see who is giving us this helping hand.”

His wife agreed to this and lit a candle. Then they hid themselves behind some clothes that were hanging in a corner of the room. At midnight two cute little men appeared. Sitting down at the workbench, they picked up the cut-out pieces and worked so unbelievable quickly and nimbly that the amazed shoemaker could not take his eyes from them. They did not stop until they had finished everything. They placed the completed shoes on the workbench, then quickly ran away.

The next morning the wife said, “The little men have made us wealthy. We must show them our thanks. They are running around with [next to nothing] on, freezing. Do you know what? I want to sew some shirts, jackets, undershirts, and trousers for them, and knit a pair of stockings for each of them, and you should make a pair of shoes for each of them.”

The husband said, “I agree,” and that evening, when everything was finished, they set the presents out instead of the unfinished work. Then they hid themselves in order to see what the little men would do. At midnight they came skipping up, intending to start work immediately. When they saw the little clothes instead of the cut-out leather, they at first seemed puzzled, but then delighted. They quickly put them on and sang as they hopped and danced about, jumping over chairs and benches. Finally they danced out of the house. They never returned, but the shoemaker prospered, succeeding in everything that he did.  (Source: Authorama)

I thought about each character’s significance in the story.  What role did the father have?  The mother?  The elves?, How are the elves like a father?  A mother?  Our Heavenly Father?, and How did they help one another?

These questions hit me.  I began seeing symbolism everywhere in the story, even down to the perfect workmanship of the shoes; the divine potential of each child of God, nurtured and raised in a successful, loving, hardworking home.  What more did you discover?

Consider using the following activity in the learning experience you provide for your class or quorum.  Read additional ideas here from Come Follow Me:

Proclamation 1 It would work well to split the class in half and have one side study the “Fathers” section and the other side the “Mothers” section.  Have them report back what they learned, encouraging them to answer the question, “How do the roles of men and women complement each other in families?”  If time allows, you could show one of the following videos to reinforce the doctrine:  “The Women in Our Lives” or “Let Us Be Men.”Proclamation 2 PDF versions: Proclamation 1, Proclamation 2 (Print on both sides of the paper or cardstock)

Encourage your students to apply what they have learned (suggestions taken from Come Follow Me):

 

  • Thank their mothers and fathers for specific ways they have been blessed because their parents fulfilled their divine roles.
  • Select a phrase from “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” that would remind them of their divine roles as mothers or fathers.

 

Now go and do.