Your Heavenly Father loves you and wants you to be happy today and forever. He has given counsel and commandments through His prophets to help you. One commandment that is vital to your peace and happiness is His commandment regarding sexual purity, known as the law of chastity. The Lord instituted this law from the beginning, and He emphasized its importance to the Prophet Joseph Smith as part of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Obedience to this commandment is a requirement for baptism in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
What Is the Law of Chastity?
Physical intimacy between husband and wife is a beautiful and sacred part of God’s plan for His children. It is an expression of love within marriage and allows husband and wife to participate in the creation of life. God has commanded that this sacred power be expressed only between a man and a woman who are legally married. The law of chastity applies to both men and women. It includes strict abstinence from sexual relations before marriage and complete fidelity and loyalty to one’s spouse after marriage.
In addition to reserving sexual intimacy for marriage, we obey the law of chastity by controlling our thoughts, words, and actions. Jesus Christ taught,“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: but I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:27–28).
Why Should I Keep the Law of Chastity?
Your Heavenly Father has given the law of chastity to protect and bless you. Like all sacred things, physical intimacy must be expressed according to God’s direction. As you keep the law of chastity, you will enjoy happiness, peace, and self-respect. You will enjoy trust and confidence in your family relationships, and you will be blessed with self-control. You will enjoy the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ through the influence of the Holy Ghost.
Satan leads people to believe that sexual intimacy outside of marriage is acceptable and even desirable. But it is a serious sin; God has always taught His children to be virtuous and chaste (see Exodus 20:14 and Alma 39:3–5). This principle is eternal.
Violating the law of chastity is an abuse of the power God has given to create life; it shows a disregard for Him and for His children. It dulls spirituality and often leads to bitterness, heartache, divorce, disease, and abortion. Those who violate this law are exposed to greater influence from Satan. This sin also seriously affects family members and others.
How Do I Keep the Law of Chastity?
God requires a high moral standard of His children. To keep the law of chastity, you must replace undesirable thoughts, words, and actions with wholesome ones. The following principles will help:
Thoughts. Positive and constructive thoughts will push negative or immoral ones from your life. As you fill your life with wholesome thoughts and activities, you will grow in your ability to replace and overcome negative thoughts. Reading the scriptures, serving your family, working diligently, and engaging in wholesome recreational activities will help you control your thoughts.
Avoid pornography in all forms. It is addictive and destructive. It will rob you of your self-respect and of an appreciation for the beauties of life. Do not allow your mind to dwell on obscene or immoral thoughts or images. Do not view, read, or listen to anything that depicts or describes the human body or sexual conduct in a disrespectful way. Avoid looking with lustful thoughts at others, and avoid suggestive or explicit movies, television shows, Internet sites, music, books, magazines, and activities.
Words. Let your words build up others and strengthen them. Eliminate degrading, vulgar, and sexually explicit words, jokes, and themes from your conversations.
Actions. Always treat others with respect. Be modest in how you dress. If you remember that each person is a child of God, and if you do all you can to help others follow His plan, then you will be strengthened in your desire to keep the law of chastity.
Determine now that you will not do anything outside of marriage to arouse the powerful emotions that must be expressed only in marriage. Do not arouse those emotions in another person or in yourself. Do not participate in homosexual or lesbian acts or other immoral activities. Replace activities where you may be tempted to violate the law of chastity with constructive activities and hobbies. In marriage, remain absolutely faithful to your spouse in thought and action.
Because living the law of chastity will bring you closer to God, Satan will entice you to break this commandment. He knows when you are lonely, confused, or depressed, and he will tempt you when you are weak. Pray to your Heavenly Father for help, and He will give you strength to resist temptation (see 1 Corinthians 10:13). As you rely on Him and follow these principles, you will be able to overcome temptation.
Blessings of Living the Law of Chastity
As you live the law of chastity, you will be more open to the influence of the Holy Ghost. With the guidance of the Holy Ghost, you will develop greater wisdom, face trials with greater courage, feel God’s support and direction in your life, and be an example to your family and others. The love you have for your spouse and loved ones will be deeper, richer, and more meaningful. You will experience greater peace of mind.
If you have broken the law of chastity, God has made it possible for you to repent and become clean again. Repent now of any past transgressions, and commit to live this sacred law. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and true repentance, you can be forgiven and feel peace.