Law of Chastity
The Mormon faith is stricter about chastity than many other faiths. Members of the Mormon Church believe that the ability and power to have children is sacred and should never be used outside of marriage, or abused. Because they believe that birth brings new spirits into the world, they want these spirits to loved and wanted, and grow up in homes that are not broken or indifferent ones. And Mormons also believe that abortion, save in incest or to preserve the life of the mother, is a grave sin indeed.
So Mormons take the Lord’s commandment about sex and marriage very seriously. Mormon marriages take place in intensely sacred buildings called temples. A marriage performed in a Mormon temple is considered eternal and Mormons see marriage and having a family as one of the highest, if not the highest, things we can accomplish in this life. Having sex outside of marriage can break a family – or put terrible strains on your future family.
A Mormon who commits adultery or fornication (sex before marriage) can lose their Church membership. Again, these are seen as very serious sins, only lower than murder and denying the Holy Ghost. The law of chastity is thus: be faithful to your spouse and never look for sexual experiences outside of marriage, even before it.
From a young age, children in the Mormon religion learn that their bodies are gifts from God and sacred. They learn that they must respect the sacredness of their bodies and treat them well. Mormons promote good health as well as chastity and members are to be careful about what they do with their bodies. But while Mormons respect and protect the body, they don’t let bodily pleasures come before spiritual happiness. A bodily pleasure might feel good at first, but the consequences of a pleasure taken in sin can last far longer than the pleasure. Not everything that feels good is either spiritually or physically healthy.
To obey the law of chastity is to avoid doing things that might excite the powerful emotions related to sex. These emotions, like the act itself, are supposed to be expressed in marriage only. Youth who profess Mormonism are often reminded that careless action in dating can be spiritually dangerous. They learn not to kiss passionately, not to lie on top of someone else’s body, or touch someone else’s private parts. These actions can break the law of chastity even in themselves and can certainly lead very quickly to sex. Beyond this, in Mormon belief, for two people to focus on their bodies, instead of on the possibility of becoming friends and partners, poisons a relationship from the beginning.
In the beliefs of Mormonism, Satan encourages breaking the law of chastity. Not only does breaking this law make it more difficult to return to God, breaking it makes us miserable. The media shows us image after image of beautiful people who seem to treat their body as their main asset, to exploit and be exploited. To be obsessed with the body is to reduce ourselves to bodies, when we are much more, minds and spirits. A life only of the body is an empty life. Mormons don’t dress modestly because they hate their bodies, but because they love and respect them – and also want to be seen as more than them.
We can bring severe unhappiness on ourselves by breaking the law of chastity. But repentance, even when it’s difficult, is possible through the Atonement of Christ and forgiveness and healing will come. A Mormon who wants to repent of a sexual sin must also confess to a priesthood authority like a bishop.