Lesson 37: Maintaining Chastity through Righteous Living

Young Women Manual 2, (1993), 141–44


Each young woman will decide to be chaste.


  1. 1.

    Bring paper and pencil for each class member.

  2. 2.

    Assign young women to present any scriptures, stories, or quotations you wish.

Suggested Lesson Development



Tell the following fable:

“[A] camel and his owner … were traveling across the desert sand dunes when a wind storm came up. The traveler quickly set up his tent and moved in, closing the flaps to protect himself from the cutting, grinding sands of the raging storm. The camel was of course left outside, and as the violent wind hurled the sand against his body and into his eyes and nostrils he found it unbearable and finally begged for entrance into the tent.

“‘There is room only for myself,’ said the traveler.

“‘But may I just get my nose in so I can breathe air not filled with sand?’ asked the camel.

“‘Well, perhaps you could do that,’ replied the traveler, and he opened the flap ever so little and the long nose of the camel entered. How comfortable the camel was now! But soon the camel became weary of the smarting sand on his eyes and ears, and he was tempted to ask again:

“‘The wind-driven sand is like a rasp on my head. Could I put just my head in?’

“Again, the traveler rationalized that to acquiesce would do him no damage, for the camel’s head could occupy the space at the top of the tent which he himself was not using. So the camel put his head inside and the beast was satisfied again—but for a short while only.

“‘Just the front quarters,’ he begged, and again the traveler relented and soon the camel’s front shoulders and legs were in the tent. Finally, by the same processes of pleading and of yielding, the camel’s torso, his hind quarters and all were in the tent. But now it was too crowded for the two, and the camel kicked the traveler out into the wind and storm” (Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969], pp. 215–16).

Obedience to Gospel Principles Is the Key to Being Chaste

Teacher presentation

Explain that gospel principles can be likened to the tent of the traveler. When we surround ourselves with gospel principles and abide by their protection, we are safe from the destructive forces of Satan. If we choose to share part of our lives with evil influences, we will eventually lose our personal purity. This process of giving in gradually to Satan’s temptations is one of the most common ways in which young people lose their chastity.


  • What lesson from the camel story can be applied to maintaining chastity?


The following story illustrates how a young woman lost her chastity because she was not obedient to gospel principles.

Alice was thrilled to be invited to a party with all of her new friends. She knew several would be drinking, but she decided she would just say “No, thank you” if anyone offered her a drink.

At the party, several people offered her drinks. She refused the first few times, but she finally had one drink. This one drink multiplied into several. As the evening progressed, Alice lost her ability to control both her mind and her body. This loss was indeed heartbreaking because she later had to live with the reality that she had also lost her chastity.

Chalkboard discussion

Ask the young women to identify some gospel principles that help young people protect their chastity, and discuss how these principles help. (List these suggestions on the chalkboard.)

The following are some principles that should be discussed:

  • Word of Wisdom

  • Obedience to the Lord and to parents

  • Modesty in word, dress, and action

  • Service

  • Prayer

  • Fasting

  • Love of God, self, others

  • Study of the scriptures

Teacher presentation

Explain that we must always be obedient to gospel principles. Straying from the protection of gospel principles, little by little, eventually results in unhappiness.

A young couple told President Spencer W. Kimball how they ignored gospel principles and became unchaste.


“‘That junior prom date was a turning point. It started out a very special one. But as I see it now, it turned out to be a tragic one, the beginning of our troubles. When I saw her coming downstairs that night, I thought no girl was ever so beautiful and so sweet. We danced through the evening; and then when we sat in the car, long and silently afterward, my thoughts became unruly as we became more and more intimate.

“‘Neither of us dreamed what was happening to us,’ he continued, ‘but all the elements were there to break down resistance. We did not notice time—the hours passed. The simple kisses we had often exchanged gradually developed into petting. We stopped at that. But there were other nights—the bars were down. We loved each other so much that we convinced ourselves that it was not so wrong merely to pet since we sort of belonged to one another anyway. Where we ended one night became the starting point for the next night, and we continued on and on, until finally it happened—almost as though we could not control ourselves—we had intercourse. We had even talked about it and agreed that whatever else we did we would not go that far. And then when it was late—so late—so everlastingly late—we woke up to the meaning of what we had done.’”


President Kimball then counseled the young couple: “Immorality does not begin in adultery or perversion. It begins with little indiscretions like sex thoughts, sex discussions, passionate kissing, petting and such, growing with every exercise. The small indiscretion seems powerless compared to the sturdy body, the strong mind, the sweet spirit of youth who give way to the first temptation. But soon the strong has become weak, the master the slave, spiritual growth curtailed. But if the first unrighteous act is never given root, the tree will grow to beautiful maturity and the youthful life will grow toward God, our Father” (“President Kimball Speaks Out on Morality,” Ensign, Nov. 1980, pp. 94–95).


Referring to the chalkboard, ask the young women to name several gospel principles that this young couple ignored.

Scripture activity

Write the following scriptures on the chalkboard. Do not write the words in parentheses.

Doctrine and Covenants 121:45–46 (virtuous thoughts)

Doctrine and Covenants 58:2 (obedience)

Doctrine and Covenants 93:49 (prayer)

Doctrine and Covenants 59:9 (sacrament and Sabbath day)

Have the class members read these scriptures together and discuss how the principles taught in the scriptures will help them maintain their chastity.

Chastity Is Maintained through Righteous Daily Activities and Habits

Explain that we must develop habits of obeying gospel principles every day. Inconsistent efforts will not help to keep us pure and clean.


Tell the following story to illustrate the importance of daily obedience to the commandments.

Carolyn leaned against the wall outside of her school counselor’s office and let the tears flow. She silently offered a prayer of thanks to her Father in Heaven.

The counselor had just informed her that she had been chosen to receive one of the school’s most valuable scholarships. Her academic and leadership qualifications were identical to those of several other applicants, so the scholarship committee had looked beyond these qualities for their choice. The counselor had told her about their evaluation of her personal habits and activities.

One teacher had commented that in his science labs, he had never heard Carolyn use filthy language or tell or even laugh at a vulgar story. The senior class adviser said he had attended several school dances and observed Carolyn properly dressed and showing respect and attention to young men. He had never observed her expressing affection to a young man beyond appropriate limits. Another teacher praised Carolyn because she was always prepared, alert, and attentive in class. Some of the other students were using drugs, tobacco, and liquor. They had come to class unable to participate or even to comprehend what was being presented.

As Carolyn knelt to pray that evening, she reflected on what the counselor had said. She recognized that it was her daily striving to live by gospel standards that had brought her this valuable award. She thanked her Heavenly Father for the gospel standards and for helping her live by them.

After her prayer, the scripture found in 3 Nephi 13:33 came very forcefully to her mind and heart.


Ask the young women to find and read 3 Nephi 13:33.

Have them select from the chalkboard some of the principles that influenced Carolyn’s habits and activities.


Read the following quotation: “Good habits are not acquired simply by making good resolves, though the thought must precede the action. Good habits are developed in the workshop of our daily lives. It is not in the great moments of test and trial that character is built. That is only when it is displayed. The habits that direct our lives and form our character are fashioned in the often uneventful, commonplace routine of life. They are acquired by practice” (Delbert L. Stapley, in Conference Report, Oct. 1974, p. 25; or Ensign, Nov. 1974, p. 20).

Elder Boyd K. Packer gave some suggestions for removing bad habits and establishing good ones in our lives.

“Do not try merely to discard a bad habit or a bad thought. Replace it. When you try to eliminate a bad habit, if the spot where it used to be is left open it will sneak back and crawl again into that empty space. It grew there; it will struggle to stay there. When you discard it, fill up the spot where it was. Replace it with something good. Replace it with unselfish thoughts, with unselfish acts. Then, if an evil habit or addiction tries to return, it will have to fight for attention. Sometimes it may win. Bad thoughts often have to be evicted a hundred times, or a thousand. But if they are to be evicted ten thousand times, never surrender to them. You are in charge of you. I repeat, it is very, very difficult to eliminate a bad habit just by trying to discard it. Replace it” (“To the One,” in Speeches of the Year, 1978 [Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 1979], p. 39).

  • Have you ever had trouble overcoming a bad habit?

  • How do you think Elder Packer’s advice could help you?


One young woman evaluated her daily activities and habits and set goals for maintaining her standards. She knew that her happiness now and in the future depended on her maintaining her chastity. Tell the following story:

Tamara accepted the prophet’s challenge to keep a journal. Before she began dating, she decided to write in her journal the personal commitments she had made about dating. She resolved to date only boys who had standards similar to hers. There would be no parking, no necking, no petting, and she would always have a prayer by herself before going out, to ask for strength to keep her commitments.

As she dated, she recorded her experiences and maintained her standards even though she was pressured not to. She remained true to the commitments that she had recorded in her journal.

While attending a university, Tamara became acquainted with an outstanding Latter-day Saint young man. They often talked together and developed a close friendship.

One day, in a casual conversation, the subject of Tamara’s journal and the commitments she had made years earlier came up. It was then that this young man determined that their friendship must develop into an eternal partnership. He had been searching for a companion who had established high standards and maintained them.


Teacher presentation

Remind the young women that they can maintain their chastity and personal purity by obeying gospel principles and by developing righteous daily habits and activities. As they do, they will find the joy that the Lord promises to all the faithful.


Read the following statement:

“Some of us may feel from time to time that some of [the Lord’s] commandments are an impediment to happiness in this life, but this isn’t so; and deep down in our hearts we all know that so long as we adhere to these commandments, just as surely as night follows day, we will reap the blessings that are promised to the faithful. Remember, the Lord said:

“‘I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise’ (D&C 82:10)” (O. Leslie Stone, in Conference Report, Oct. 1979, p. 105; or Ensign, Nov. 1979, p. 73).

Lesson Application


Distribute paper and pencils to the young women.

Encourage them to write their own commitments for dating standards as Tamara did. Suggest that they include these commitments in their journals and put them where they will serve as a frequent reminder to maintain personal purity through righteous living.