We Believe in Being Chaste
September 1981

“We Believe in Being Chaste,” Ensign, Sept. 1981, 3

First Presidency Message

We Believe in Being Chaste

You will recall Alma’s teaching his son Corianton that unchastity is the most serious offense there is in the sight of God, save murder or denying the Holy Ghost. (See Alma 39:5.) You will remember, too, these words from Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians:

“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

“If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy.” (1 Cor. 3:16–17.)

Some years ago the First Presidency said to the youth of the Church that a person would be better dead clean than alive unclean.

I remember how my father impressed the seriousness of unchastity upon my mind. He and I were standing in the railroad station at Rexburg, Idaho, in the early morning of 12 November 1920. We heard the train whistle. In three minutes I would be on my way to Australia to fill a mission. In that short interval my father said to me, among other things, “My son, you are going a long way from home. Your mother and I, and your brothers and sisters, will be with you constantly in our thoughts and prayers; we shall rejoice with you in your successes, and we shall sorrow with you in your disappointments. When you are released and return, we shall be glad to greet you and welcome you back into the family circle. But remember this, my son: we would rather come to this station and take your body off the train in a casket than to have you come home unclean, having lost your virtue.”

I pondered his statement at the time. I did not then have the full understanding of it that my father had, but I remembered it every time I approached temptation. I understand it better now, and I feel the same way about my sons and grandsons as he felt about me.

I can think of no blessings to be more fervently desired than those promised to the pure and virtuous. Jesus spoke of specific rewards for different virtues. But he reserved the greatest, 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 his promise:

“Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God.” (D&C 121:45.)

The rewards for virtue and the consequences of unchastity are dramatically portrayed in the lives of Joseph and David. Joseph, though a slave in Egypt, stood true under pressure of great temptation. As a reward he received the choicest blessings of all the sons of Jacob, and he became the progenitor of the two favored tribes of Israel. Many take pride in being numbered among his posterity.

David, on the other hand, though highly favored of the Lord—indeed, he was referred to as a man after God’s own heart—yielded. His unchastity led to murder. And the consequences? Like Lucifer, he fell; he lost his families and his exaltation. (See D&C 132:39.)

So it has always been and always will be: the laws of retribution are so devised that one cannot with impunity disregard the seventh commandment, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” (Ex. 20:14.) The penalty for so doing under the Mosaic law was death. Notwithstanding the fact that in this generation’s corrupt permissiveness the violation of the law of chastity is tolerated with impunity, under God’s divine law it is as it has always been, a soul-destroying sin. Its self-executing penalty is spiritual death. No unforgiven adulterer is magnifying his calling in the priesthood; and, as President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., used to say, the Lord had made “no fine distinctions … between adultery and fornication.” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1949, p. 194.) Nor, may I add, has he made such distinctions between adultery and sex perversion.

I am advised that in some circles the teaching of personal purity is outmoded and that promiscuity and other degenerate sex practices are condoned and at times encouraged. Do not be misled by such satanic sophistry, for in truth it is of the evil one.

President Clark, in a conference address in October 1938, said: “Chastity is fundamental to our life and to our civilization. If the race becomes unchaste, it will perish. Immorality has been basic to the destruction of mighty nations of the past; it will bring to dust the mighty nations of the present. …

“You young people—May I directly entreat you to be chaste. Please believe me when I say that chastity is worth more than life itself. This is the doctrine my parents taught me; it is truth. Better die chaste than live unchaste. The salvation of your very souls is concerned in this.” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1938, pp. 137–38.)

Now, my dear friends, I know there is nothing new in what I have said. These things are time-tested; they are true. To this I testify.

Ideas for Home Teachers

1. Relate your feelings about the blessings of obeying the law of chastity.

2. Are there some scriptural verses or other quotations in this article that the family might read aloud, or some supplemental scripture you desire to read together?

3. President Romney says, “Under God’s divine law [unchastity] is as it has always been, a soul-destroying sin. Its self-executing penalty is spiritual death.” Discuss some of the reasons unchastity brings spiritual death (separation from God). And why, on the other hand, do chastity and virtue bring “confidence … in the presence of God”?

4. Discuss how we can prepare ourselves to always obey the law of chastity.

5. Would this discussion be better after a pre-visit chat with the head of the house?

Illustrated by Larry Winborg