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The law of chastity is a moral code defined by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. According to the church, chastity means abstinence from sexual relations before marriage, and complete fidelity to one's husband or wife during marriage.[1] As part of the law of chastity, the church teaches its members not only to abstain from adultery and fornication, but also to refrain from masturbation and to avoid sexually inappropriate thoughts. The law of chastity is taught to church members of all ages, being introduced simply to young children, and especially emphasized to adolescents. When a church member is interviewed by ecclesiastic leaders to determine their worthiness to receive a temple recommend, the fifth of fifteen questions asked during the temple recommend interview is phrased simply and directly: "Do you live the law of chastity?"[2]

Contents

General standards

Within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, chastity means more than abstinance from sex. It means to be morally clean in "thoughts, words, and actions.' It also means sexual relations are only permitted between a husband and wife.[1] The church teaches its members that "God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife."[3] Members are told to "never do anything outside of marriage to arouse the powerful emotions that must be expressed only in marriage".[4]

Importantly, Mormons believe that sexuality between man and woman lawfully married is divinely appointed and has two purposes: to "multiply and replenish the Earth" (Bible, Genesis 1:28) as commanded by God to Adam and Eve, and to strengthen the bond between man and woman that they might "become one flesh" (Bible, Mark 10:8), something many Christian sects believe to be a metaphor for a strong, healthy, happy physical, and mental union. This is also seen as meaning sexual relations are not only for procreation but also seen as an expression of love between husband and wife throughout their lives.

Youth teaching

The youth are taught that “Before marriage, do not do anything to arouse the powerful emotions that must be expressed only in marriage. Do not participate in passionate kissing, lie on top of another person, or touch the private, sacred parts of another person’s body, with or without clothing. Do not allow anyone to do that with you. Do not arouse those emotions in your own body.”[5] Youth are taught during Sunday School that sexual relations are sacred, and they should avoid “fondling of bodies, one’s own or that of others…”[6] Masturbation is not condoned but is not considered homosexual.[7]

Chastity is more important than anything else

The LDS Church believes that, “Physical intimacy between husband and wife is beautiful and sacred.“ Members are taught when they “keep the law of chastity, their love, trust, and commitment increase.”[1] The Law of Chastity warns members against pornography. Members are taught, “We must not view, read, or listen to anything that depicts or describes the human body or sexual conduct in a way that can arouse sexual feelings. Pornographic materials are addictive and destructive.”[1] The Church teaches that, “Like other violations of the law of chastity, homosexual activity is a serious sin.”

The LDS Church leadership place great importance on chastity. President Spencer W. Kimball, in his book Miracle of Forgiveness, quoted Prophet Heber J. Grant as saying,

...There is no true Latter-day Saint who would not rather bury a son or daughter than to have him or her lose his or her chastity--realizing that chastity is of more value than anything else in all the world.[8]

However, the Church states that not every statement by a LDS Church leader should be regarded as church doctrine. "A single statement made by a single leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, but is not meant to be officially binding for the whole Church." [9]

Former Church President and Prophet Ezra Taft Benson wrote:

From the beginning of time, the Lord has set a clear and unmistakable standard of sexual purity. It always has been, it is now, and it always will be the same. That standard is the law of chastity. It is the same for all—for men and women, for old and young, for rich and poor. In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Jacob tells us that the Lord delights in the chastity of His children (see Jacob 2:28). Do you hear that, my brothers and sisters? The Lord is not just pleased when we are chaste; He delights in chastity. Mormon taught the same thing to his son Moroni when he wrote that chastity and virtue are “most dear and precious above all things.” (Moroni 9:9)[10]

Law of chastity in the Endowment ceremony

The Law of Chastity is one of the covenants Temple-worthy endowed members of the LDS Church promise to keep during the Endowment ceremony. Participants are bound by oath to obey this law, which is "there must be no sexual intimacy, except between a man and a woman who have been legally and lawfully married."[11]

The Endowment ceremony specifies that sexual relations are only permitted with a legal spouse, and the church has made it clear in many publications and in recent news releases that "marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God..."[12]. It does not condone sexual relations within a legally-sanctioned same-sex marriage or sex within polygamous marriages.

Impact on marriage

The proscription against all kinds of sexual relations outside of marriage may have a positive impact on the divorce rate within the LDS Church.[13]

"A 1993 study published in Demography [magazine] showed that Mormons marrying within their church are least likely of all Americans to become divorced. Only 13 percent of LDS couples have divorced after five years of marriage, compared with 20 percent for religiously homogamist unions among Catholics and Protestants and 27 percent among Jews. However, when a Mormon marries outside his or her denomination, the divorce rate soars to 40 percent—second only to mixed-faith marriages involving a Jewish spouse (42 percent)."

Law includes broader transgressions

Activities considered a violation of the Law of Chastity include not only adultery and fornication. Victims of rape, incest and sexual abuse are not guilty of sin and are not considered to have broken the Law of Chastity.[14][15] Sexual touching and cybersex are also considered violations when done with someone other than a legally and lawfully wedded spouse.

Committing to obey the Law of Chastity is a requirement of membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In addition, members are taught to dress modestly and to control their thoughts and to stay away from pornography.[1]

According to the church, even though the violation of the Law of Chastity is considered a grievous sin before God, one who has violated the Law of Chastity, through proper repentance, can still be eligible to gain eternal salvation.

Attitudes towards homosexuality

The church makes clear that having same-gender attraction is not sinful and no one should blamed for it,[16] and that LGB members can have a good standing in the church.[17] LGB members are expected to obey the same laws as straight people, including controlling thoughts and not arousing sexual feelings outside of marriage. In 2007, they produced God Loveth His Children, a pamphlet whose stated purpose is to help LGB members.

Before the 1970s, medical experts classified homosexuality as a mental illness. D. Michael Quinn has stated that Spencer W. Kimball, the 12th President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints beginning in 1973, did not believe that an individual could be homosexual, asserting that only a person's actions were homosexual.[18] LDS scholars believe this a distortion of LDS History.[19]

More recently President of the Church Gordon B. Hinckley wrote that "Marriage should not be viewed as a therapeutic step to solve problems such as homosexual inclinations or practices." [20]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e "Gospel Principles: Ch.39 The Law of Chastity". http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?locale=0&sourceId=dbc97befabc20110VgnVCM100000176f620a____&vgnextoid=32c41b08f338c010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD. Retrieved 2009-06-26.  
  2. ^ "New Mormon temple recommend questions". July 13, 2000. http://www.lds-mormon.com/new_temple_questions.shtml. Retrieved 2009-06-19.  
  3. ^ "Strengthening the Family: The Sacred Powers of Procreation". Gospel Library: Magazines. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=1f044eac7a31c010VgnVCM1000004d82620a. Retrieved 2009-07-05.  
  4. ^ Chastity
  5. ^ "For the Strength of Youth: Fulfilling Our Duty to God Sexual Purity". http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=ba805f74db46c010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=d6877befabc20110VgnVCM100000176f620a____. Retrieved 2008-12-29.  
  6. ^ "Aaronic Priesthood Manual: Lesson 41 Sexual Purity". http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=ba805f74db46c010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=d6877befabc20110VgnVCM100000176f620a____&hideNav=1&contentLocale=0. Retrieved 2008-12-29.  
  7. ^ "Homosexuality". The Encyclopedia of Mormonism. BYU Studies Harold B. Lee Library. http://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Homosexuality. Retrieved 2009-06-28.  
  8. ^ LDS Mormon Sex Abuse
  9. ^ Newsroom (May 4, 2007). "Approaching Mormon Doctrine". The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. http://www.newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/commentary/approaching-mormon-doctrine. Retrieved 2009-06-19.  
  10. ^ BYU Devotional by President Ezra Taft Benson, October 13, 1987, as published in the ‘’New Era’’, Jan. 1988, pages 4
  11. ^ "Living the Law of Chastity". Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. http://www.mormon.org/mormonorg/eng/basic-beliefs/the-commandments/live-the-law-of-chastity. Retrieved 2009-06-24.  
  12. ^ "The Family: A Proclamation to the World". September 23, 1995. http://www.lds.org/library/display/0,4945,161-1-11-1,00.html. Retrieved 2008-12-29.  
  13. ^ Robinson, B.A. (2008-07-04). "Divorce and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons)". Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. http://www.religioustolerance.org/lds_divo.htm. Retrieved 2009-06-18.   Citing Bob Mims, "Mormons: high conservativism, low divorce, big growth," Salt Lake Tribune, 1999-MAR-6
  14. ^ Bruner, Rachel. "The Law of Chastity: Sexual Purity". http://lds.about.com/od/basicsgospelprinciples/p/chastity.htm. Retrieved 2009-09-26.  
  15. ^ "For the Strength of Youth: Fulfilling Our Duty to God: Sexual Purity". http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=e1fa5f74db46c010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=1907be335dc20110VgnVCM100000176f620a____&hideNav=true#1. Retrieved 2008-12-29.  
  16. ^ God Loveth His Children 2007
  17. ^ Musings of the Main Mormon
  18. ^ Quinn, D. Michael. Same-Sex Dynamics Among Nineteenth Century Americans: A Mormon Example. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0252069587.  
  19. ^ George L. Mitton, Rhett S. James A Response to D. Michael Quinn's Homosexual Distortion of Latter-day Saint History Review of Same-Sex Dynamics among Nineteenth-Century Americans: A Mormon Example by D. Michael Quinn Provo, Utah: Maxwell Institute, 1998. Pp. 141–263
  20. ^ Hinckley, Gordon B. (May 1991). "Reverence and Morality". The Ensign (17: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) (5): 45–47.  

The law of chastity is a moral code defined by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. According to the church, chastity means abstinence from sexual relations before marriage, and complete fidelity to one's husband or wife during marriage.[1] As part of the law of chastity, the church teaches its members not only to abstain from adultery and fornication, but also to refrain from masturbation and to avoid sexually inappropriate thoughts. The law of chastity is taught to church members of all ages, being introduced simply to young children, and especially emphasized to adolescents. When a church member is interviewed by ecclesiastic leaders to determine their worthiness to receive a temple recommend, the fifth of fifteen questions asked during the temple recommend interview is phrased simply and directly: "Do you live the law of chastity?"[2]

Contents

General standards

Within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, chastity means more than abstinence from sex. It means to be morally clean in "thoughts, words, and actions." It also means sexual relations are only permitted between a husband and wife.[1] The church teaches its members that "God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife."[3] Members are told to "never do anything outside of marriage to arouse the powerful emotions that must be expressed only in marriage".[4]

Importantly, Mormons believe that sexuality between man and woman lawfully married is divinely appointed and has two purposes: to "multiply, and replenish the Earth" (Genesis 1:28) as commanded by God to Adam and Eve, and to strengthen the bond between man and woman that they might "become one flesh" (Mark 10:8), something many Christian sects believe to be a metaphor for a strong, healthy, happy physical, and mental union. This is also seen as meaning sexual relations are not only for procreation but also seen as an expression of love between husband and wife throughout their lives.

Youth teaching

The youth are taught that “Before marriage, do not do anything to arouse the powerful emotions that must be expressed only in marriage. Do not participate in passionate kissing, lie on top of another person, or touch the private, sacred parts of another person’s body, with or without clothing. Do not allow anyone to do that with you. Do not arouse those emotions in your own body.”[5] Youth are taught during Sunday School that sexual relations are sacred, and they should avoid “fondling of bodies, one’s own or that of others…”[6] Masturbation is not condoned but is not considered homosexual.[7]

The importance of chastity

The LDS Church believes that, “Physical intimacy between husband and wife is beautiful and sacred.“ Members are taught when they “keep the law of chastity, their love, trust, and commitment increase.”[1] The Law of Chastity warns members against pornography. Members are taught, “We must not view, read, or listen to anything that depicts or describes the human body or sexual conduct in a way that can arouse sexual feelings. Pornographic materials are addictive and destructive.”[1] The Church teaches that, “Like other violations of the law of chastity, homosexual activity is a serious sin.”

The LDS Church leadership place great importance on chastity. President Spencer W. Kimball, in his book Miracle of Forgiveness, quoted Prophet Heber J. Grant as saying,

...There is no true Latter-day Saint who would not rather bury a son or daughter than to have him or her lose his or her chastity--realizing that chastity is of more value than anything else in all the world.[8]
However, the Church states that not every statement by a LDS Church leader should be regarded as church doctrine. "A single statement made by a single leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, but is not meant to be officially binding for the whole Church." [9]

Former Church President and Prophet Ezra Taft Benson wrote:

From the beginning of time, the Lord has set a clear and unmistakable standard of sexual purity. It always has been, it is now, and it always will be the same. That standard is the law of chastity. It is the same for all—for men and women, for old and young, for rich and poor. In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Jacob tells us that the Lord delights in the chastity of His children (see Jacob 2:28). Do you hear that, my brothers and sisters? The Lord is not just pleased when we are chaste; He delights in chastity. Mormon taught the same thing to his son Moroni when he wrote that chastity and virtue are “most dear and precious above all things.” (Moroni 9:9)[10]

Law of chastity in the Endowment ceremony

The Law of Chastity is one of the covenants Temple-worthy endowed members of the LDS Church promise to keep during the Endowment ceremony. Participants are bound by oath to obey this law, which is "there must be no sexual intimacy, except between a man and a woman who have been legally and lawfully married."[11]

The Endowment ceremony specifies that sexual relations are only permitted with a legal spouse, and the church has made it clear in many publications and in recent news releases that "marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God..."[12]. It does not condone sexual relations within a legally-sanctioned same-sex marriage or sex within polygamous marriages.

Impact on marriage

The proscription against all kinds of sexual relations outside of marriage may have a positive impact on the divorce rate within the LDS Church.[13]

"A 1993 study published in Demography [magazine] showed that Mormons marrying within their church are least likely of all Americans to become divorced. Only 13 percent of LDS couples have divorced after five years of marriage, compared with 20 percent for religiously homogamist unions among Catholics and Protestants and 27 percent among Jews. However, when a Mormon marries outside his or her denomination, the divorce rate soars to 40 percent—second only to mixed-faith marriages involving a Jewish spouse (42 percent)."

Law includes broader transgressions

Activities considered a violation of the Law of Chastity include not only adultery and fornication. Sexual touching and cybersex are also considered violations when done with someone other than a legally and lawfully wedded spouse[citation needed]. However, victims of rape, incest and sexual abuse are not guilty of sin and are not considered to have broken the Law of Chastity.[14][15]

Committing to obey the Law of Chastity is a requirement of membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In addition, members are taught to dress modestly and to control their thoughts and to stay away from pornography.[1]

According to the church, even though the violation of the Law of Chastity is considered a grievous sin before God, one who has violated the Law of Chastity, through proper repentance, can still be eligible to gain eternal salvation.

Attitudes towards homosexuality

The church makes clear that having same-gender attraction is not sinful and no one should blamed for it,[16] and that LBG members can have a good standing in the church.[17] LBG members are expected to obey the same laws as straight people, including controlling thoughts and not arousing sexual feelings outside of marriage. However, the church actively opposes the extension of marriage rights to same-sex couples.[18] In 2007, the Church produced God Loveth His Children, a pamphlet whose stated purpose is to help LBG members.

Before the 1970s, medical experts classified homosexuality as a mental illness. D. Michael Quinn has stated that Spencer W. Kimball, the 12th President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints beginning in 1973, did not believe that an individual could be homosexual, asserting that only a person's actions were homosexual.[19] George L. Mitton and Rhett S. James believe this a distortion of LDS history.[20]

More recently, President of the Church Gordon B. Hinckley wrote that "Marriage should not be viewed as a therapeutic step to solve problems such as homosexual inclinations or practices." [21]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e "Gospel Principles: Ch.39 The Law of Chastity". http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?locale=0&sourceId=dbc97befabc20110VgnVCM100000176f620a____&vgnextoid=32c41b08f338c010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD. Retrieved 2009-06-26. 
  2. ^ "New Mormon temple recommend questions". July 13, 2000. http://www.lds-mormon.com/new_temple_questions.shtml. Retrieved 2009-06-19. 
  3. ^ "Strengthening the Family: The Sacred Powers of Procreation". Gospel Library: Magazines. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=1f044eac7a31c010VgnVCM1000004d82620a. Retrieved 2009-07-05. 
  4. ^ Chastity
  5. ^ "For the Strength of Youth: Fulfilling Our Duty to God Sexual Purity". http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=ba805f74db46c010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=d6877befabc20110VgnVCM100000176f620a____. Retrieved 2008-12-29. 
  6. ^ "Aaronic Priesthood Manual: Lesson 41 Sexual Purity". http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=ba805f74db46c010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=d6877befabc20110VgnVCM100000176f620a____&hideNav=1&contentLocale=0. Retrieved 2008-12-29. 
  7. ^ "Homosexuality". The Encyclopedia of Mormonism. BYU Studies Harold B. Lee Library. http://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Homosexuality. Retrieved 2009-06-28. 
  8. ^ LDS Mormon Sex Abuse
  9. ^ Newsroom (May 4, 2007). "Approaching Mormon Doctrine". The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. http://www.newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/commentary/approaching-mormon-doctrine. Retrieved 2009-06-19. 
  10. ^ BYU Devotional by President Ezra Taft Benson, October 13, 1987, as published in the ‘’New Era’’, Jan. 1988, pages 4
  11. ^ "Living the Law of Chastity". Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. http://www.mormon.org/mormonorg/eng/basic-beliefs/the-commandments/live-the-law-of-chastity. Retrieved 2009-06-24. [dead link]
  12. ^ "The Family: A Proclamation to the World". September 23, 1995. http://www.lds.org/library/display/0,4945,161-1-11-1,00.html. Retrieved 2008-12-29. 
  13. ^ Robinson, B.A. (2008-07-04). "Divorce and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons)". Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. http://www.religioustolerance.org/lds_divo.htm. Retrieved 2009-06-18.  Citing Bob Mims, "Mormons: high conservativism, low divorce, big growth," Salt Lake Tribune, 1999-MAR-6
  14. ^ Bruner, Rachel. "The Law of Chastity: Sexual Purity". http://lds.about.com/od/basicsgospelprinciples/p/chastity.htm. Retrieved 2009-09-26. 
  15. ^ "For the Strength of Youth: Fulfilling Our Duty to God: Sexual Purity". http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=e1fa5f74db46c010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=1907be335dc20110VgnVCM100000176f620a____&hideNav=true#1. Retrieved 2008-12-29. 
  16. ^ God Loveth His Children 2007
  17. ^ Musings of the Main Mormon
  18. ^ McKinley, Jesse; Johnson, Kirk (2008-11-14). "Mormons Tipped Scale in Ban on Gay Marriage". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/15/us/politics/15marriage.html?_r=2&pagewanted=1&hp&oref=slogin. Retrieved 2008-12-24. 
  19. ^ Quinn, D. Michael. Same-Sex Dynamics Among Nineteenth Century Americans: A Mormon Example. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0252069587. 
  20. ^ George L. Mitton, Rhett S. James A Response to D. Michael Quinn's Homosexual Distortion of Latter-day Saint History Review of Same-Sex Dynamics among Nineteenth-Century Americans: A Mormon Example by D. Michael Quinn Provo, Utah: Maxwell Institute, 1998. Pp. 141–263
  21. ^ Hinckley, Gordon B. (May 1987). [Expression error: Unexpected < operator "Reverence and Morality"]. The Ensign (17: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) (5): 45–47. 








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