I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I know who I am. I know God's plan. I'll follow him in faith. I believe in the Savior, Jesus Christ. I'll honor his name. I'll do what is right; I'll follow his light. His truth I will proclaim.

I Know that My Redeemer Lives!

I Know that My Redeemer Lives!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Gospel Message Day 173

Law of Chastity, Part 4

Migraine came on a bit suddenly tonight. So I'm going to be a bit of a cop out and share two Conference talks I found on this topic.

First, by Elder Backman in a Priesthood session:
One day I sat with a handsome, young, prospective missionary as he poured out his sad story through sobs of sorrow, anguish, and remorse. I wanted to cry with him. Pressured by his so-called friends, he found himself at a mixed party where liquor was served. Against everything he knew to be right, he succumbed to the taunts and jeers of all those present, became drunk, and before the evening was over, lost his virtue.
Unable to resist the peer pressure he faced, his resolution to stay chaste being dissipated by the circumstances he found himself in, he had seen his lifelong dream of a mission and a temple marriage change to a nightmare—and now he felt ashamed, unclean—unworthy.
“Have I forfeited my opportunity for a mission, for marriage in the temple?” he asked. “How can my Father in Heaven forgive me for what I have done? I wish the earth would open up and swallow me!” My heart ached for him.
Almost overriding my sympathy for him was the anger I felt toward those who had led him down that “primrose path,” seemingly oblivious to the pain they had caused, listening to Satan’s siren song that chastity is outdated.
“Thou shalt not commit adultery,” Jehovah commanded, “and he that committeth adultery, and repenteth not, shall be cast out.” (D&C 42:24.)
My beloved young brethren, despite what the world would have us believe, God has never changed that law.
The First Presidency of the Church, in another time of moral crisis, declared:
“To the youth of the Church we … plead with you to live clean, for the unclean life leads only to suffering, misery, and woe physically,—and spiritually it is the path to destruction. How glorious and near to the angels is youth that is clean. … Sexual purity is youth’s most precious possession; it is the foundation of all righteousness. …
“Times approach when we shall need all the health, strength, and spiritual power we can get to bear the afflictions that will come upon us.” (James R. Clark, ed., Messages of the First Presidency, 6 vols., Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1975, 6:150.)
“You youths of Zion, you cannot associate in non-marital, illicit sex relationships, which is fornication, and escape the punishments and the judgments which the Lord has declared against this sin. The day of reckoning will come just as certainly as night follows day.” (Messages, 6:176.)
The full force of his actions was obvious to my tearful friend, who understood, at last, the reality of Alma’s words: “Wickedness never was happiness.” (Alma 41:10.)
As I shared those sad moments with that sorrowing young man, I could not help contrasting his feelings with those of another whose sealing I had performed in the house of the Lord.
There, in the presence of their families, the happy couple expressed their joy at the solemn covenants they had made with God and with each other as they knelt at that sacred altar, looking into each other’s souls with complete trust and confidence, approaching their marriage clean and worthy of the celestial blessings pronounced on their heads.
Their happiness was unrestrained.
My beloved Aaronic Priesthood brethren, with all you are learning as you progress toward virile manhood, I pray that you will get understanding of the vital truth that chastity is the ultimate and perfect standard underlying all spiritual progression.
Righteousness is happiness.
The Lord has declared: “And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end.” (3 Ne. 27:19.)
I challenge you to be clean, be worthy, be strong, be happy! How? What can you do to withstand “the fiery darts of the wicked [one]” (D&C 27:17), to resist temptation and walk uprightly before the Lord?
First—Be patient. Don’t be too anxious to grow up. Bask in the pleasure of anticipating what it will be like to be an adult. Remember, you are only young once, and you are going to be old for a long time.
Our impatience often causes us to flirt with the forbidden, forgetting the consequences of our foolish experimenting. President Harold B. Lee painted a vivid picture of the pain suffered through flirting, then succumbing to temptation:
“I’ve seen beautiful young human butterflies playing with the tempting fires of sin. …
“Many of these beautiful human butterflies winged for heavenly flight have fallen with wings singed and badly seared because of their curiosity about the forbidden. The more I see of life, the more I am convinced that we must impress you young people with the awfulness of sin rather than to content ourselves with merely teaching the way of repentance. I wish that someone could warn you of the night of hell that follows the committing of a moral sin … , as one who has sinned has described it in these words: ‘No one knew anything about it. You told no one, and no one found out, no one condemned. But your face flushed, your heart beat against your ribs. Perspiration broke out upon your brow. You went to bed that night, you tied a bandage around the eyes of your soul, you built a little shelter in which to hide, you tried to sleep, but no sleep came. You said to yourself, “Other people do it,” or “I had to do it,” or “No one else can ever find it out.” But there were hands from the unseen world that came through the darkness and tore the bandage from the eyes of the soul, and smashed down the little shelter you had made for your cowering spirit.’” (Youth and the Church, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1970, pp. 87–88.)
My young friends, please be patient.
Second—Focus on Your Eternal Destiny. The Lord has promised the faithful, “All that my Father hath shall be given unto him.” (D&C 84:38.) Think what that means to you as a son of God.
Brethren, set limits to your actions—bounds you will not pass—far from the line which separates good from evil. Be prepared for the experiences that lie ahead. Plan in advance how you will face temptations—weigh the consequences, now and forever. Be sure you understand the situation confronting you. If someone, perhaps a friend, asks you to do something you are not sure about, restate what he has said, “You want me to do what?”
Next, ask yourself, “Will doing what my friend says break my rules, or the law, or hurt someone I respect or love, or make someone distrust me?” Then look at both sides of the question. What good things will happen if you do this, and what bad things will happen? Now that you have assessed all the results, you are prepared to make a decision. If everything is positive, you will probably want to go along with your friend; if not, you have the responsibility to say No. (Adapted from John W. Larsen, Youth’s Frontier, Making Ethical Decisions, Irving, Texas: Boy Scouts of America, 1985, p. 14.)
Get tough with yourself. President Spencer W. Kimball gave us a powerful example in a talk to the youth of Stockholm, Sweden. Describing his own boyhood, he said:
“As I was out alone, milking the cows, or putting up the hay, I had time to think. I mulled it over in my mind and made this decision: ‘I, Spencer Kimball, will never taste any form of liquor. I, Spencer Kimball, will never touch tobacco. I will never drink coffee, nor will I ever touch tea—not because I can explain why I shouldn’t, except that the Lord said not to.’ He said those things were an abomination. There are many other things that are, too, that are not in the Word of Wisdom. But I made up my mind.
“That’s the point I am trying to make. I made up my mind then, as a little boy: ‘I will never touch those things.’ And so, having made up my mind, it was easy to follow it, and I did not yield. There were many temptations that came along, but I did not even analyze it; I did not stop and measure it and say, ‘Well, shall I or shall I not?’ I always said to myself: ‘But I made up my mind I would not. Therefore, I do not.’
“I’m a little older than any of you here tonight, and I want to just say that I will soon go into another year and that I have never tasted tea, nor coffee, nor tobacco, nor liquor of any kind, nor drugs. Now that may sound very presumptuous and boasting to you, but I am only trying to make this point: that if every boy and girl—as he or she begins to grow a little more mature and becomes a little more independent of his friends and his family and all—if every boy and girl would make up his or her mind, ‘I will not yield,’ then no matter what the temptation is: ‘I made up my mind. That’s settled.’” (In Conference Report, Stockholm Sweden Area Conference, 1975, pp. 86–87.)
Third—Stand by Your Convictions. Take control of your life. It is your body—the clothing of your spirit—you are dealing with. Don’t become a slave to your appetites or passions. Be mature enough to have the spirit control your body. Self-control is vital when you are resisting what you know is wrong, especially when a friend insists. This self-control comes with practice, so it’s important to build your inner strength. Constantly remind yourself that you are a son of God with great things to do.
Winston Churchill, that courageous World War II statesman, gave sound advice to all of us. He thundered his conviction: “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.” (Address to Harrow School, 29 Oct. 1941, in John Bartlett, Familiar Quotations, 15th ed., Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1980, p. 745.)
Fourth—Repent. Some of us are held back in our development by mistakes we have made, sins we have committed, regrets that we let weigh on our consciences until they burden us down to the breaking point.
In the comic strip Peanuts, Charlie Brown told Lucy about his New Year’s resolutions. He said, “You’re going to be proud of me, Lucy. … I’ve decided that this next year is going to be my year of decision! This is a list of things in my life that I’m going to correct. … I’m going to be a better person!”
Lucy’s reply was, “Not me. … I’m going to spend this whole year regretting the past. … It’s the only way, Charlie Brown. … I’m going to cry over spilt milk, and sigh over lost loves. … It’s a lot easier. … It’s too hard to improve. … I tried it once. … It drove me crazy. … ‘Forget the future’ is my motto. … Regret the past! Oh, how I regret the past! Why did I do this? Why did I do that? Why? I regret it all! Oh, what regrets! What remorse! What anguish! What …” Charlie Brown sighs and throws away his resolutions. (Ellipses in the original.)
Our loving Father in Heaven is only interested in what you are going to do with your future, conditioned on your repentance from your past sins. Coming back to the questions posed by my distraught young friend and to those of you who may have transgressed as he did, I assure you that you are still dearly loved by your Father in Heaven and by the Lord’s church. The second principle of the gospel is repentance, that beautiful saving principle without which all of us imperfect people would be lost. The Lord has made the promise: “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” (Isa. 1:18.)
Isn’t that a glorious promise? And it is conditioned only on your repentance. Though the roadway may be long and difficult, though the pain and sorrow may be acute, though the Church may have to take loving action to balance justice and mercy, the repentance process can cleanse your soul, and you can walk in the light of the Holy Spirit again—the transgression forgiven, the soul purified and sanctified.
You know the steps! Don’t delay. Forget the past—except to use it to build a better life. Begin now to be worthy of the eternal blessings God has promised the faithful and the true.
My precious young brothers, may you understand that chastity is the source of virile manhood, the crown of beautiful womanhood, the foundation of a happy home, and the ultimate and perfect standard underlying all spiritual progression. May we who have been called be worthy to be chosen, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior, amen.

Most precious possession and foundation of righteousness--I think that is something certainly worth striving for.

And second, Elder Bednar two years ago:

My message addresses a fundamental question of great spiritual consequence: Why is the law of chastity so important? I pray the Holy Ghostwill confirm the truthfulness of the principles I emphasize.

The Father’s Plan of Happiness

The eternal importance of chastity can only be understood within the overarching context of our Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness for His children. “All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and … has a divine nature and destiny” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,”Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 129). All men and women lived with God as His spirit children before coming to the earth as mortal beings. The Father’s plan enables His spirit sons and daughters to obtain physical bodies, to gain mortal experience, and to progress toward exaltation.

The Importance of a Physical Body

Our physical bodies make possible a breadth, a depth, and an intensity of experience that simply could not be obtained in our premortal existence. Thus, our relationships with other people, our capacity to recognize and act in accordance with truth, and our ability to obey the principles and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ are amplified through our physical bodies. In the school of mortality, we experience tenderness, love, kindness, happiness, sorrow, disappointment, pain, and even the challenges of physical limitations in ways that prepare us for eternity. Simply stated, there are lessons we must learn and experiences we must have, as the scriptures describe, “according to the flesh” (1 Nephi 19:6Alma 7:12–13).

The Power of Procreation

After the earth was created, Adam was placed in the Garden of Eden. Importantly, however, God said “it was not good that the man should be alone” (Moses 3:18; see also Genesis 2:18), and Eve became Adam’s wife and helpmeet. The unique combination of spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional capacities of both males and females was needed to enact the plan of happiness. “Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 11:11). The man and the woman are intended to learn from, strengthen, bless, and complete each other.
The means by which mortal life is created is divinely appointed. “The first commandment … God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife” (Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 129). The commandment to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force today. Thus, marriage between a man and a woman is the authorized channel through which premortal spirits enter mortality. Complete sexual abstinence before marriage and total fidelity within marriage protect the sanctity of this sacred channel.
The power of procreation is spiritually significant. Misuse of this power subverts the purposes of the Father’s plan and of our mortal existence. Our Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son are creators and have entrusted each of us with a portion of Their creative power. Specific guidelines for the proper use of the ability to create life are vital elements in the Father’s plan. How we feel about and use that supernal power will determine in large measure our happiness in mortality and our destiny in eternity.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks explained:
“The power to create mortal life is the most exalted power God has given his children. Its use was mandated in the first commandment, but another important commandment was given to forbid its misuse. The emphasis we place on the law of chastity is explained by our understanding of the purpose of our procreative powers in the accomplishment of God’s plan. …
“Outside the bonds of marriage, all uses of the procreative power are to one degree or another a sinful degrading and perversion of the most divine attribute of men and women” (“The Great Plan of Happiness,” Ensign, Nov. 1993, 74).

The Standard of Sexual Morality

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a single, undeviating standard of sexual morality: intimate relations are proper only between a man and a woman in the marriage relationship prescribed in God’s plan. Such relations are not merely a curiosity to be explored, an appetite to be satisfied, or a type of recreation or entertainment to be pursued selfishly. They are not a conquest to be achieved or simply an act to be performed. Rather, they are in mortality one of the ultimate expressions of our divine nature and potential and a way of strengthening emotional and spiritual bonds between husband and wife. We are agents blessed with moral agency and are defined by our divine heritage as children of God—and not by sexual behaviors, contemporary attitudes, or secular philosophies.

The Natural Man

To some degree, the natural man described by King Benjamin is alive and well in each of us (see Mosiah 3:19). The natural man or woman is unrepentant, is carnal and sensual (see Mosiah 16:5Alma 42:10Moses 5:13), is indulgent and excessive, and is prideful and selfish. As President Spencer W. Kimball taught, “The ‘natural man’ is the ‘earthy man’ who has allowed rude animal passions to overshadow his spiritual inclinations” (“Ocean Currents and Family Influences,” Ensign, Nov. 1974, 112).
In contrast, the “man [or woman] of Christ” (Helaman 3:29) is spiritual and bridles all passions (see Alma 38:12), is temperate and restrained, and is benevolent and selfless. Men and women of Christ lay hold upon the word of God, deny themselves and take up His cross (see Matthew 16:24Mark 8:34;Luke 9:23D&C 56:2), and press forward along a strait and narrow course of faithfulness, obedience, and devotion to the Savior and His gospel.
As sons and daughters of God, we have inherited divine capacities from Him. But we presently live in a fallen world. The very elements out of which our bodies were created are by nature fallen and ever subject to the pull of sin, corruption, and death. Consequently, the Fall of Adam and its spiritual and temporal consequences affect us most directly through our physical bodies. And yet we are dual beings, for our spirit that is the eternal part of us is tabernacled in a physical body that is subject to the Fall. As Jesus emphasized to the Apostle Peter, “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41).
The precise nature of the test of mortality, then, can be summarized in the following question: Will I respond to the inclinations of the natural man, or will I yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit and put off the natural man and become a saint through the Atonement of Christ the Lord (see Mosiah 3:19)? That is the test. Every appetite, desire, propensity, and impulse of the natural man may be overcome by and through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We are here on the earth to develop godlike qualities and to bridle all of the passions of the flesh.

The Intent of the Adversary

The Father’s plan is designed to provide direction for His children, to help them become happy, and to bring them safely home to Him with resurrected, exalted bodies. Heavenly Father desires us to be together in the light and filled with hope. In contrast, Lucifer labors to make the sons and daughters of God confused and unhappy and to hinder their eternal progression. The overarching intent of the father of lies is that all of us would become “miserable like unto himself” (2 Nephi 2:27). Lucifer wants us ultimately to be alone in the dark and without hope.
Satan relentlessly works to distort the most important elements of the Father’s plan. He does not have a body, and his eternal progress has been halted. Just as water flowing in a riverbed is stopped by a dam, so the adversary’s eternal progress is thwarted because he does not have a physical body. Because of his rebellion, Lucifer has denied himself all of the mortal blessings and experiences made possible through a body of flesh and bones. He cannot learn the lessons that only an embodied spirit can learn. He resents the reality of a literal and universal resurrection of all mankind. One of the potent scriptural meanings of the word damned is illustrated in his inability to continue developing and becoming like our Heavenly Father.
Because a physical body is so central to the Father’s plan of happiness and our spiritual development, Lucifer seeks to frustrate our progression by tempting us to use our bodies improperly. One of the ultimate ironies of eternity is that the adversary, who is miserable precisely because he has no physical body, entices us to share in his misery through the improper use of our bodies. The very tool he does not have is thus the primary target of his attempts to lure us to spiritual destruction.
Violating the law of chastity is a grievous sin and a misuse of our physical tabernacles. To those who know and understand the plan of salvation, defiling the body is an act of rebellion (see Mosiah 2:36–37D&C 64:34–35) and a denial of our true identity as sons and daughters of God. As we look beyond mortality and into eternity, it is easy to discern that the counterfeit companionship advocated by the adversary is temporary and empty.

The Blessings of Being Chaste

Alma counseled his son Shiblon to “bridle all [of his] passions, that [he] may be filled with love” (Alma 38:12). Significantly, disciplining the natural man in each of us makes possible a richer, a deeper, and a more enduring love of God and of His children. Love increases through righteous restraint and decreases through impulsive indulgence.
President Marion G. Romney declared:
“I can think of no blessings to be more fervently desired than those promised to the pure and the virtuous. Jesus spoke of specific rewards for different virtues but reserved the greatest, so it seems to me, for the pure in heart, ‘for they,’ said he, ‘shall see God’ (Matt. 5:8). And not only shall they see the Lord, but they shall feel at home in his presence.
“Here is … the Savior’s promise: ‘Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God’ (D&C 121:45)” (“Trust in the Lord,” Ensign, May 1979, 42).
We also are promised that, as we pursue the pathway of virtue, “the Holy Ghost shall be [our] constant companion” (D&C 121:46). Thus, living the law of chastity invites some of the greatest blessings men and women can receive in mortality: appropriate spiritual confidence in the presence of family, friends, Church associates, and, ultimately, the Savior. Our innate longing to belong is fulfilled in righteousness as we walk in the light with hope.

The Principle of Repentance

Some of you who receive this message need to repent of sexual or other sins. The Savior is often referred to as the Great Physician, and this title has both symbolic and literal significance. All of us have experienced the pain associated with a physical injury or wound. When we are in pain, we typically seek relief and are grateful for the medication and treatments that help to alleviate our suffering. Consider sin as a spiritual wound that causes guilt or, as described by Alma to his son Corianton, “remorse of conscience” (Alma 42:18). Guilt is to our spirit what pain is to our body—a warning of danger and a protection from additional damage. From the Atonement of the Savior flows the soothing salve that can heal our spiritual wounds and remove guilt. However, this salve can only be applied through the principles of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, and consistent obedience. The results of sincere repentance are peace of conscience, comfort, and spiritual healing and renewal.
Your bishop or branch president is the spiritual physician’s assistant who is authorized to help you repent and heal. Please remember, however, that the extent and intensity of your repentance must match the nature and severity of your sins—especially for Latter-day Saints who are under sacred covenant. Serious spiritual wounds require sustained treatment and time to heal completely and fully.

A Promise and a Testimony

The doctrine I have described will seem to be archaic and outdated to many people in a world that increasingly mocks the sanctity of procreation and minimizes the worth of human life. But the Lord’s truth is not altered by fads, popularity, or public opinion polls. I promise that obedience to the law of chastity will increase our happiness in mortality and make possible our progress in eternity. Chastity and virtue are now, always have been, and always will be “most dear and precious above all things” (Moroni 9:9). I so testify in the sacred name of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.

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