The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often inadvertently referred to as the Mormon Church) holds a worldwide conference every six months (called General Conference). In this conference the prophets and apostles called by God for our day speak to the members of The Church of Jesus Christ and to the world at large. They address topics that are important to the Lord’s people today, offer encouragement and perspective, and issue warnings. In the most recent conference (April of 2013) an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, Elder David A. Bednar, spoke about sexual morality, a value that our world continually devalues. Through Elder Bednar’s words we learn that sexual purity is essential for the protection of the relationship between our bodies and spirits and that great blessings come from living a chaste life.
A Peculiar Lifestyle
When my husband and I married, we did so as chaste individuals. While friends and acquaintances around me gloried in their fledgling sexuality, I guarded mine closely and chose a path that is now mocked more than it is commended. Everywhere I turn I see premarital sex accepted and embraced, so much so that youth growing up in today’s Westernized culture hardly know what it means to be chaste, much less know that chastity is vital to our spiritual well-being.
Elder Bednar acknowledges that “the doctrine I have described will seem to be archaic and outdated to many people. . . . But the Lord’s truth is not altered by fads, popularity, or public opinion polls” (“We Believe in Being Chaste,” April 2013 LDS General Conferece). Those who choose chastity are certainly in the minority. Today that choice is a peculiar one, but those who make it do so knowing that the blessings will far outweigh the difficulty.
Why is sexual purity important?
Another member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, spoke about the importance of sexual purity in a speech given at Brigham Young University in 1988 (back when he was the president of the school). In this talk he explored the relationship between the spirit and the body, asserting that the spirit and the body together constitute the soul.
Elder Holland explained the seriousness of prematurely exploring sexuality:
One toying with the God-given—and satanically coveted—body of another, toys with the very soul of that individual, toys with the central purpose and product of life” (“Of Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments,” January 1988). Our bodies, contrary to what some Christian theologies purport, are central to our very existence. They are perhaps the greatest gift given us by God, with the exception of our ability and right to choose. So to hand out our bodies so freely is to desecrate that most beautiful gift from Deity.
Elder Bednar states that “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.” Sexuality is a sacred conduit to heaven, and we cannot be cavalier about it.
Finding strength in sexual morality
Words so forcefully condemning the flippant sexuality rampant in our culture are not always easy to hear, especially if it’s a concept that is new for you. While sexual purity is not easy, it does provide remarkable strength. Elder Bednar teaches that “[sexual relations] are in mortality one of the ultimate expressions of our divine nature and potential and a way of strengthening emotion and spiritual bonds between husband and wife.” When we know that our spirits were born of God and that our bodies are divine gifts, adhering to an unpopular moral code becomes a little bit easier, because we have a more eternal perspective.
When we were engaged, my husband and I did not find sexual morality an easy route. In fact, it was a very difficult commandment to keep. (Lest you think that Mormons have an easy go of chastity, our bodies work the same way that yours do!) Now that I’m past that phase in our relationship, I’m immensely grateful that we both waited to be intimate. Our intimacy means more to me knowing that we cherish it and guarded it. I feel even more fidelity to my husband because we chose to be chaste before marriage. We also came into marriage with no worries about ill health that might have been caused by sexual intimacy before marriage.
Finding forgiveness from sexual sins
If you have committed sexual sins, there is a way back. Jesus Christ provided us the way back to Him. Elder Bednar addressed this subject:
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.
The Lord is always willing and eager to forgive. He wants us to be healed, and He has the power to do so. Repenting from sexual sins is not easy, because “serious spiritual wounds require sustained treatment and time to heal completely and fully” (Bednar).
Blessings come from sexual morality
I am a witness that sexual morality brings some of the greatest blessings—physically, emotionally, and spiritually. The path of sexual purity is not a popular or understood one; in fact, many of our peers don’t even care about understanding. Pressing forward with faith in Jesus Christ and a knowledge of the nature of our souls provides the strength necessary to be chaste and results in beautiful blessings obtained no other way.