True to his responsibility as a priesthood leader, Jacob called his people to repentance, warning them of the sins of pride and sexual immorality. He taught about the dangers and consequences of these two prevalent sins.
Begin by asking the following questions (as students answer these questions, caution them to not argue with each other over their answers):
Who is the best athlete you know of?
Who is the richest person you are aware of?
Who is the most famous person you know of?
Point out that we may often compare one person’s talents, wealth, beauty, or other attributes and achievements against another’s, sometimes without thinking about it. Invite students to ponder a time when they compared themselves with another person in one of these ways.
As students study Jacob 2:12–21 today, invite them to look for what the prophet Jacob taught about comparing ourselves to others.
Remind students that Jacob had obtained his errand from the Lord to address his people about how they were “beginning to labor in sin” (Jacob 2:5; see also Jacob 1:17). Ask a student to read Jacob 2:12–13 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for what led some of the Nephites to compare themselves with others.
What led some of the Nephites to compare themselves with others?
What words or phrases in verse 13 indicate how some of the Nephites were comparing themselves with others?
How can comparison lead to pride?
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency. Ask the class to listen for insights about what it means to be lifted up in pride:
“At its core, pride is a sin of comparison, for though it usually begins with ‘Look how wonderful I am and what great things I have done,’ it always seems to end with ‘Therefore, I am better than you.’ …
“… This is the sin of ‘Thank God I am more special than you.’ At its core is the desire to be admired or envied. It is the sin of self-glorification” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Pride and the Priesthood,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 56).
How does President Uchtdorf’s statement help explain what it means to be lifted up in pride?
Invite a student to read Jacob 2:14–16 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for phrases that show the consequences of pride.
According to verse 16, what is a consequence of pride? (Help students identify the following truth: Pride can destroy our souls.)
Why do you think pride has the power to “destroy [our] souls” (Jacob 2:16)?
Invite students to read Jacob 2:17–19 silently. Ask them to look for phrases that teach how we can overcome pride and inappropriate attitudes about material wealth. You might suggest that they consider marking the phrases they find. After they have studied these verses, invite them to choose one phrase they have found. Give several students the opportunity to explain how the phrases they have chosen can help us overcome pride or inappropriate attitudes toward material wealth.
What do you think it means to seek the kingdom of God before riches?
How can seeking the kingdom of God before riches help a person overcome pride?
Invite a student to read Jacob 2:20–21 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for how God feels about each of His children.
According to verse 21, how does God feel about each of His children? (Help students identify the following truth: Each individual is precious in the sight of God. Write this truth on the board.)
How might understanding this truth help us avoid the sin of pride?
What experiences have you had that have helped you know that each individual is precious in the sight of God? (You may want to give students a moment to think about this question before asking them to respond. Consider sharing an experience from your own life as well.)
Give students time to write in their study journals or class notebooks about one thing they might do to better avoid or overcome the sin of pride.
Explain that after Jacob warned the Nephites about pride, he proceeded to warn them about something he called “a grosser crime” (Jacob 2:22). You may need to explain that in this case the word grosser means more serious.
Invite students to read Jacob 2:22–23 silently, looking for what Jacob said was a grosser crime than pride.
What did Jacob teach is a grosser, or more serious, crime than pride? (You may need to explain that the word whoredoms refers to sexual sins.)
Remind students that one way the Nephites were committing sexual sins was by entering into unauthorized plural marriages (see Jacob 1:15).
Ask a student to read Jacob 2:24–27 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord declared about marriage. You may need to explain that the word concubine refers to a woman in Old Testament times who was legally married to a man but had a lower social status than a wife. You may also want to explain that the Lord did not condemn David and Solomon for practicing plural marriage in general; rather, He condemned them for entering into specific plural marriages that He had not authorized (see D&C 132:37–39).
According to Jacob 2:27, what is the “word of the Lord” regarding having more than one wife? (Help students identify the following truth: Unless the Lord commands otherwise, He has ordained that marriage is to be between one man and one woman. Invite students to consider writing this truth in their scriptures.)
Make sure that it is clear that in Book of Mormon times and in our day, the Lord has commanded that a man should be married to one wife. (See also D&C 49:15–16.) At certain times in the history of the world, the Lord has commanded His people to practice plural marriage. For example, plural marriage was practiced in Old Testament times by Abraham and Sarah (see Genesis 16:1–3; D&C 132:34–35, 37) and by their grandson Jacob (see D&C 132:37), and it was practiced for a time during the early days of the restored Church, beginning with the Prophet Joseph Smith (see D&C 132:32–33, 53).
Ask a student to read Jacob 2:30 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for when the Lord’s people are authorized to practice plural marriage.
According to Jacob 2:30, when are the Lord’s people authorized to practice plural marriage? (Help students identify the following truth: Plural marriage is authorized only when the Lord commands it. Invite students to consider writing this truth in their scriptures.)
Explain that if the Lord commands individuals to practice plural marriage, He will issue that command through His prophet—the President of the Church—and through no one else (see D&C 132:45–48).
According to Jacob 2:30, what is one reason the Lord has commanded some of His children to practice plural marriage? (To “raise up seed unto [the Lord],” or increase the number of children born in the gospel covenant.)
Point out that Jacob was speaking to the Nephites about the most prominent way they were committing sexual sin. Invite a student to read Jacob 2:28 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the Lord feels about chastity and sexual sin.
According to Jacob 2:28, how does the Lord feel about chastity and sexual sin? (Help students identify the following truths: The Lord delights in chastity, and sexual sin is an abomination before the Lord. You might invite students to consider marking the words in verse 28 that teach these truths.)
Invite a student to read aloud the following definition of chastity:
“Chastity is sexual purity, a condition that is ‘pleasing unto God’ (Jacob 2:7). To be chaste, you must be morally clean in your thoughts, words, and actions. You must not have any sexual relations before you are legally married. When you are married, you must be completely faithful to your husband or wife.
“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” (True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference , 29).
Why do you think chastity and sexual sin are such important topics?
Why can it be challenging to live the law of chastity in our day?
What has helped you live the law of chastity in a world that frequently challenges it?
To help students learn what they can do to better keep the law of chastity, read aloud the following statement from the For the Strength of Youth booklet. Ask students to listen for anything that might help them guard against sexual sin.
“Never do anything that could lead to sexual transgression. Treat others with respect, not as objects used to satisfy lustful and selfish desires. Before 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 do anything else that arouses sexual feelings. Do not arouse those emotions in your own body. …
“Avoid situations that invite increased temptation. … Do not participate in discussions or any media that arouse sexual feelings. Do not participate in any type of pornography. The Spirit can help you know when you are at risk and give you the strength to remove yourself from the situation” (For the Strength of Youth [booklet, 2011], 36).
How can following the guidelines in For the Strength of Youth help us live the law of chastity?
Encourage students, if they have any questions about sexual sin, to talk to their parents or their bishop or branch president.
Invite a student to read Jacob 2:31–35 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the immoral choices of Nephite men had affected their families. Point out that although Jacob was speaking only to men, the law of chastity is equally important for women.
Some young people rationalize that they can break the law of chastity because their actions do not hurt anyone else. According to verses 31–35, how might a person’s immorality affect other people?
What could you say to someone who claims that the law of chastity is outdated and unnecessary? (As students respond to this question, prompt them to testify of the blessings of keeping the law of chastity, not just of the dangers of disobeying it.)
Testify of the blessings that have come to you as you have lived the Lord’s law of chastity. Emphasize that the power to have children is a wonderful gift from our Father in Heaven when it is used within the bounds He has set.
Encourage students to choose to be morally clean by living the law of chastity. Emphasize that if they have sinned against the law of chastity, they should seek help from their bishop or branch president, who can help them repent and become clean through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.