As President Joseph Fielding Smith stated, “No more loathsome cancer disfigures the body and soul of society today than the frightful affliction of sexual sin. It vitiates the very fountains of life, and bequeaths its foul effects to the yet unborn as a legacy of death. It lurks in hamlet and city, in the mansion and in the hovel as a ravening beast in wait for prey; and it skulks through the land in blasphemous defiance of the laws of God and of man” (As quoted in Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L. Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, 4 vols., vol 3: 5–6, originally in the Improvement Era, vol. 20, p. 739).
Further: “Like many bodily diseases, sexual crime drags with itself a train of other ills. As the physical effects of drunkenness entail the deterioration of tissue, and disturbance of vital functions, and so render the body receptive of any distemper to which it may be exposed, and at the same time lower the powers of resistance even to fatal deficiency, so does unchastity expose the soul to divers spiritual maladies, and rob it of both resistance and recuperative ability. The adulterous generation of Christ’s day were deaf to the voice of truth, and through their diseased state of mind and heart, sought after signs and preferred empty fable to the message of salvation” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2d ed., p.709).
In a world that surrounds us with the visuals, sounds and exploitation of sex, it’s hard to live by the standards of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and not feel out of step with society and its norms. There are many movies out there, which make fun of people for being virgins. Because of this, teenagers are made to believe that being a virgin and abiding by the law of chastity is un-cool and makes those who abide by it, feel stupid for their choices. This is what the world wants us to feel. Society argues the point “sex is a natural and healthy thing.” While that statement is true, it’s meant for those who have been sealed in the holy bonds of marriage. Sex is an act that is a sacred means of procreation, bringing children into this world, and for the expression of intimacy between a husband and wife.
The Law of Chastity includes prohibition from sexual acts that are used only for pleasure, such as oral and physical gratification. It also is against self gratification. While the Law of Chastity is one of the most sacred laws to keep, it’s also one of the hardest. Our bodies are programmed to respond to touch, sounds, and feelings. And things of sexual nature are the most intense in feeling. It’s difficult in a world that bases almost everything on sex, to keep those feelings at bay, but it is something that is possible.
Mormon youth who are trying to live the Law of Chastity, either as individuals or as a couple, know there are things that they can do to make the temptations less. The best thing that they can do is to never be alone. When you’re alone, the temptation is greatest, so they try to do things as a group or have at least one person in the house when they are together. Another thing is to keep sexual images and implications away from the relationship. Listen to music that is not sexually explicit, stay away from R movies, or PG-13 movies that are full of “sexual comedy.” The main thing is that you keep themselves busy. The saying “an idle hand is the devil’s playground” is very true. The less active one is, the more that boredom starts to kick in, and things that are easily accessible and pleasurable are sought after first. When dating, Mormon youth plan activities that are not only good for their relationship, but for others.
Staying sexually pure is a difficult thing to do, but it’s not impossible. If Mormon youth feel like it’s something that cannot be done, they pray for strength and guidance. They ask for the Lord’s help to keep the sexual images of the world out of mind, so that one day they can marry an eternal companion in the temple and unite in mind, body and spirit.
The goal of temple marriage works in the lives of Mormon youth. 87% of babies born in Utah are born in wedlock, with the national average being 70%. (Utah is 62% Mormon.) Utah is ranked 6th in the nation for being “religiously conservative.” The top five religiously conservative states in the US also have the highest rates of births out of wedlock, but Utah ranks 34th.