Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?(1 Corinthians 3:16)
Our bodies are a special gift from God. They provide our spirits with a way to experience the physical world. They are key to our potential exaltation. Learning to master our bodies is an important part of becoming like our Heavenly Parents. Mastery takes time, practice, and patience, but it has eternal consequences.
God has commanded us to “bridle all [our] passions, that [we] may be filled with love” (Alma 38:12). Living the law of chastity is a source of great blessings. As President Marion G. Romney declared:
“I can think of no blessings to be more fervently desired than those promised to the pure and the virtuous. Jesus spoke of specific rewards for different virtues but reserved the greatest, so it seems to me, for the pure in heart, ‘for they,’ said he, ‘shall see God’ (Matt. 5:8). And not only shall they see the Lord, but they shall feel at home in his presence.
“Here is … the Savior’s promise: ‘Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God’ (D&C 121:45)” (“Trust in the Lord,” Apr. 1979 general conference).
Sexuality is an important part of being human and is also a source of passions that need to be bridled. Despite these intense feelings, there are Latter-day Saints who faithfully adhere to the Lord’s moral law over many years.
These individuals have made a determined commitment to live a chaste life and avoid anything that will reduce inhibitions. Additionally, they have provided exceptional service to others, especially in a Church setting. In so doing, they have found joy, contentment, and peace.
Children and youth need the help of parents and trustworthy adults to learn about and understand sexuality in its divine context:
“Parents have primary responsibility for the sex education of their children. Teaching this subject honestly and plainly in the home will help young people avoid serious moral transgressions. …
“Where schools have undertaken sex education, parents should seek to ensure that the instructions given to their children are consistent with sound moral and ethical values” (Handbook 2: Administering the Church, 21.4.11).
Experimentation with sexual expression outside marriage is a serious sin.
“The Lord’s law of chastity is abstinence from sexual relations outside of lawful marriage and fidelity within marriage. Sexual relations are proper only between a man and a woman who are legally and lawfully wedded as husband and wife. Adultery, fornication, homosexual or lesbian relations, and every other unholy, unnatural, or impure practice are sinful. Members who violate the Lord’s law of chastity or who influence others to do so are subject to Church discipline” (Handbook 2: Administering the Church, 21.4.5).
Viewing explicit sexual images, even out of curiosity, also violates God’s commandments.
For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.(Proverbs 23:7)
Sexual stimulation has a powerful effect on us. Even looking at images or thinking about sexual expression causes us to feel pleasure and desire more. In promoting this stimulation, pornography deadens one’s sensitivity to God’s moral law. Most importantly, it offends the Spirit, leaving one without the guidance and protection of the Holy Ghost.
“The Church opposes pornography in any form. Indulgence in pornography damages individual lives, families, and society. Such indulgence drives away the Spirit of the Lord. Church members should avoid all forms of pornographic material and oppose its production, dissemination, and use.
Within the context of marriage between a man and a woman, sexual expression is an important aspect of bonding between spouses. However, if we express ourselves sexually outside the bounds the Lord has set, we not only jeopardize our ability to choose well; we also reject the pattern the Lord set for our eternal happiness. In his October 1993 general conference address, “The Great Plan of Happiness,” Elder Dallin H. Oaks explained:
“The power to create mortal life is the most exalted power God has given his children. Its use was mandated in the first commandment, but another important commandment was given to forbid its misuse. The emphasis we place on the law of chastity is explained by our understanding of the purpose of our procreative powers in the accomplishment of God’s plan. …
“Outside the bonds of marriage, all uses of the procreative power are to one degree or another a sinful degrading and perversion of the most divine attribute of men and women” (“The Great Plan of Happiness,” Oct. 1993 general conference).
As we use our agency to make choices to follow God’s laws, our spirits grow stronger.
If we find ourselves spiritually weakened—and we all do from time to time—our Savior Jesus Christ is there for us.
Through repentance, we can return to a life characterized by self-mastery.
As Elder David A. Bednar explained in an April 2013 general conference address:
“Some of you who receive this message need to repent of sexual or other sins. The Savior is often referred to as the Great Physician, and this title has both symbolic and literal significance. All of us have experienced the pain associated with a physical injury or wound. When we are in pain, we typically seek relief and are grateful for the medication and treatments that help to alleviate our suffering. Consider sin as a spiritual wound that causes guilt or, as described by Alma to his son Corianton, ‘remorse of conscience’ (Alma 42:18). Guilt is to our spirit what pain is to our body—a warning of danger and a protection from additional damage.
From the Atonement of the Savior flows the soothing salve that can heal our spiritual wounds and remove guilt.
However, this salve can only be applied through the principles of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, and consistent obedience. The results of sincere repentance are peace of conscience, comfort, and spiritual healing and renewal” (“We Believe in Being Chaste,” Apr. 2013 general conference).
Repentance requires a change of heart. The precious gifts of repentance and forgiveness are made possible by the Atonement of Jesus Christ. They can wipe the slate clean and strengthen our ability to use our agency for good.