Lesson 44: Jacob 2:12–35

Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual, 2017


Introduction

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.

Suggestions for Teaching

Jacob 2:12–21

Jacob chastises his people for their pride

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:

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

“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.

Jacob 2:22–35

Jacob rebukes people who have violated the law of chastity

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 [2004], 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.

Commentary and Background Information

Jacob 2:17. “Free with your substance”

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we give fast offerings to assist those in need. Church leaders encourage us to be generous with our offerings. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin (1917–2008) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles provided counsel about how much to contribute:

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin

“How much should we pay in fast offerings? My brothers and sisters, the measure of our offering to bless the poor is a measure of our gratitude to our Heavenly Father. Will we, who have been blessed so abundantly, turn our backs on those who need our help? Paying a generous fast offering is a measure of our willingness to consecrate ourselves to relieve the suffering of others.

“Brother Marion G. Romney, who was the bishop of our ward when I was called on a mission and who later served as a member of the First Presidency of the Church, admonished: ‘Be liberal in your giving, that you yourselves may grow. Don’t give just for the benefit of the poor, but give for your own welfare. Give enough so that you can give yourself into the kingdom of God through consecrating of your means and your time’ [“The Blessings of the Fast,” Ensign, July 1982, 4]” (Joseph B. Wirthlin, “The Law of the Fast,” Ensign, May 2001, 75).

Jacob 2:22–35. The law of chastity

President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) taught:

President Ezra Taft Benson

“The plaguing sin of this generation is sexual immorality. This, the Prophet Joseph said, would be the source of more temptations, more buffetings, and more difficulties for the elders of Israel than any other” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson [2014], 220).

Jacob 2:23–30. Plural marriage

In Jacob’s day, some Nephites had begun to participate in plural marriage, saying that they were following the examples of David and Solomon. Jacob condemned this practice for at least two reasons:

  1. 1.

    The Lord, through the prophet Lehi, had commanded this people not to participate in plural marriage (see Jacob 2:27, 34).

  2. 2.

    David and Solomon were not worthy examples. Although they had married some plural wives in compliance with the Lord’s commandments in their day, they had also committed serious sexual sins (see Jacob 2:24; D&C 132:38–39).

Regarding plural marriage, the Lord said, “If I will … raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things” (Jacob 2:30). In other words, the Lord’s general command is to not participate in plural marriage. However, He may command His people to participate in plural marriage for a time when He deems it necessary to “raise up seed” unto Him—that is, when He wants His people to bring more children into the world who will be born in the covenant and raised in gospel-centered homes. In obedience to direction from God through a revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith, some Latter-day Saints followed this practice for years during the 1800s (see D&C 132). In 1890, when conditions had changed in the Church and in the laws of the United States, Church President Wilford Woodruff was inspired to issue a manifesto in which he declared that the Latter-day Saints were to refrain from contracting plural marriages (see Official Declaration 1). A small number of plural marriages were performed under the sanction of some Church leaders until a second manifesto, authored by Church President Joseph F. Smith, ended the practice worldwide in 1904. Since that time, any Latter-day Saint who adopts this practice is subject to losing his or her membership in the Church. President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) taught:

President Gordon B. Hinckley

“I wish to state categorically that this Church has nothing whatever to do with those practicing polygamy. They are not members of this Church. Most of them have never been members. They are in violation of the civil law. They know they are in violation of the law. They are subject to its penalties. …

“If any of our members are found to be practicing plural marriage, they are excommunicated, the most serious penalty the Church can impose. Not only are those so involved in direct violation of the civil law, they are in violation of the law of this Church. An article of our faith is binding upon us. It states, ‘We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law’ (A of F 1:12). …

“More than a century ago God clearly revealed unto His prophet Wilford Woodruff that the practice of plural marriage should be discontinued, which means that it is now against the law of God. Even in countries where civil or religious law allows polygamy, the Church teaches that marriage must be monogamous and does not accept into its membership those practicing plural marriage” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “What Are People Asking about Us?” Ensign, Nov. 1998, 71–72).

For more information on the history of the practice of plural marriage in the Church, see “Plural Marriage in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” Gospel Topics, topics.lds.org.

Supplemental Teaching Ideas

video iconJacob 2:22–35. Video presentation—“Chastity: What Are the Limits?”

Rather than reading aloud the excerpt from For the Strength of Youth, you might consider showing the video “Chastity: What Are the Limits?” (3:59). This video is available on LDS.org.

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video iconJacob 2:22–35. Video presentation—“We Believe in Being Chaste”

As part of your discussion on the law of chastity, you could show the video “We Believe in Being Chaste” (1:17), which is an excerpt from a conference talk given by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. This video is available on LDS.org. Before showing the video, invite students to listen for how Elder Bednar defines the law of chastity and what he teaches about sexual intimacy.

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