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The Law of Chastity: Sexual Purity

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Couple walk hand in hand, field of ripening grain
Philip and Karen Smith
Our 13th article of faith states that we believe in being chaste, but what does that mean? What is the law of chastity and how does one stay (or become) sexually pure? Learn about the law of chastity, what it means to be morally clean, how to repent from sexual sins, and sexuality within marriage.

Chastity = Moral Cleanliness:

Being chaste means to be morally clean in:
  • thoughts
  • words
  • deeds
Anything that leads to lustful thoughts, words, or actions are in violation of God's command to be morally clean. The Family: A Proclamation to the World states:
"God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife" (paragraph four).

No Sexual Relations Before Marriage:

Sexual purity means to not have any sexual relations before being legally married including any thoughts, words, or actions that generate desire and arousal. Keeping the law of chastity means not participating in the following:
  • kissing passionately
  • necking: kissing on the neck
  • petting: touching private body parts of another person (with or without clothing)
  • lying on top of another person
  • arousing sexual emotions (in your own body or that of another person)
  • masturbating
  • viewing pornography
  • reading/watching/listening to anything that arouses sexual feelings
  • fantasizing or dwelling on sexually arousing thoughts
  • homosexual activity
Satan tempts us to rationalize that when two people love each other it is acceptable to engage in sexual activity before marriage. This is not true but violates God's law to be clean and pure:
"Physical intimacy between husband and wife is beautiful and sacred. It is ordained of God for the creation of children and for the expression of love within marriage" ("Chastity," True to the Faith, 2004, 29–33).
Keeping the law of chastity is also one of the most important guidelines of LDS dating and continues to be important during the dating and courtship process.

Chastity = Complete Fidelity During Marriage:

A husband and wife should be completely faithful to each other. They should not think, say, or do anything inappropriate with another person. Flirting with another man/woman, in any way, is not harmless but violates the law of chastity. Jesus Christ taught:
"Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart," (Matt 5:28).
Faithfulness in marriage is necessary in developing and maintaining trust and respect.

Sexual Sins are Extremely Serious:

Committing sins of a sexual nature violates God's law of chastity and offends the spirit, causing one to be unworthy of the presence of the Holy Ghost. The only sins more serious than those of sexual sins are that of committing murder or denying the Holy Ghost (see Alma 39:5). Vigilantly avoid every temptation to participate in any inappropriate sexual act, including thoughts, no matter how "innocent" the behavior may appear- because it is not innocent. Small sexual indulgences lead to greater sins, including sexual addictions which are highly destructive and extremely difficult to overcome.

Repentance = Sexual Purity:

If you have broken the law of chastity by engaging in anything impure you can become sexually pure again through sincere repentance. Through following the steps of repentance you will feel the love of your Father in Heaven as your sins are forgiven. You will also feel the peace that comes from the Holy Ghost. Meet with your bishop (who will keep what you share confidential) to begin the repentance process.

If you are struggling with a sexual addiction there is hope and help in overcoming addiction and other destructive habits.

Victims are Innocent:

Those who have been the victims of sexual abuse, rape, incest, and other sexual acts are not guilty of sin but are innocent. Victims have not broken the law of chastity and do not need to feel guilty for the inappropriate and abusive sexual acts of others. For those victims God does love you and you can receiving healing through the Atonement of Christ. Start your healing by meeting with your bishop who will help and guide you the healing process.

Law of Chastity Required for Temple Attendance:

To be worthy to enter the Lord's sacred temple you must keep the law of chastity. Being sexually pure prepares you to receive a temple recommend, be married in the temple, and continue to keep the sacred covenants made there.

Sexuality Within Marriage is Good:

Sometimes people feel that sexuality within marriage is bad or inappropriate. This is a lie that Satan uses to tear apart a husband and wife to try and destroy their marriage. Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the quorum of the Twelve Apostles said:
"The power to create mortal life is the most exalted power God has given his children....

"The expression of our procreative powers is pleasing to God, but he has commanded that this be confined within the relationship of marriage. President Spencer W. Kimball taught that 'in the context of lawful marriage, the intimacy of sexual relations is right and divinely approved. There is nothing unholy or degrading about sexuality in itself, for by that means men and women join in a process of creation and in an expression of love' (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball [1982], 311).

"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).

Keeping the law of chastity brings joy and happiness as we are, and feel, clean and pure. Great peace comes from knowing we are keeping God's commandment and are worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost.
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