President Benson Speaks on Importance of Chastity

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“President Benson Speaks on Importance of Chastity,” Ensign, Dec. 1987, 67–68

President Benson Speaks on Importance of Chastity

Speaking at a Brigham Young University devotional assembly on October 13, President Ezra Taft Benson decried immorality and urged members to obey the law of chastity.

“The Lord is not just pleased when we are chaste,” President Benson told the more than nineteen thousand students and faculty members present at the assembly. “He delights in chastity. …

“We must not be swayed by the many voices of the world. We must listen to the voice of the Lord and then determine that we will set our feet irrevocably upon the path he has marked.”

Advising members not to be misled by Satan’s lies, President Benson said, “There is no lasting happiness in immorality. There is no joy to be found in breaking the law of chastity. … There may be momentary pleasure. … But quickly the relationship will sour. Guilt and shame [will] set in.”

He pointed out that the Lord views unchastity as the “most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost.” (Alma 39:5.)

“Very few of us will ever be guilty of murder or of the sin against the Holy Ghost,” President Benson added. “But the law of chastity is frequently broken, and yet it stands next to these other sins in seriousness in the eyes of the Lord.”

Noting that “it is better to prepare and prevent than it is to repair and repent,” President Benson gave six steps to preserve chastity:

  1. Decide now to be chaste. “The decision to be chaste and virtuous need only be made once,” he said. “Make that decision now, and let it be so firm and with such deep commitment that it can never be shaken.”

  2. Control your thoughts. “The first seeds of immorality are always sown in the mind,” President Benson said. “When we allow our thoughts to linger on lewd or immoral things, the first step on the road to immorality has been taken.” He warned especially against pornography and against looking on a woman “to lust after her.”

  3. Always pray for the power to resist temptation. Pointing to prayer as the key to resisting temptation, President Benson quoted the Lord as he spoke to the Prophet Joseph Smith: “Pray always, that you may come off conqueror; yea, that you may conquer Satan, and that you may escape the hands of the servants of Satan that do uphold his work.” (D&C 10:5.)

  4. If you are married, avoid flirtations of any kind. Present Benson warned against flirting with members of the opposite sex and counseled married members to avoid “harmless meetings” in which “inordinate amounts of time are spent together.”

    If husbands or wives are tempted to flirt or go to lunch with members of the opposite sex to whom they are not married, President Benson advised them to ask themselves, “Would my spouse be pleased if he or she knew I was doing this?” He repeated Paul’s advice: “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” (1 Thes. 5:22.)

  5. If you are married, avoid being alone with members of the opposite sex wherever possible. “Many of the tragedies of immorality begin when a man and woman are alone in the office or at church or are driving alone together in a car,” he said, adding that “circumstances provide a fertile seed bed for temptation. … It is so much easier to avoid such circumstances from the start so that temptation gets no chance for nourishment.”

  6. For those who are single and dating members of the opposite sex, carefully plan positive and constructive activities so that you are not left to yourselves with nothing to do but share physical affection. He emphasized “the principle of filling one’s life with the positive so that the negative has no chance to thrive.”

President Benson noted that there are those for whom the counsel of prevention is too late. “You may already be deeply entangled in serious sin,” he said. “If this is the case, there is no choice now but to repair your lives and repent of your sins.”

He suggested five steps to help those who have been unchaste return to a state of moral purity:

  1. Flee immediately from any situation you are in that is either causing you to sin or that may cause you to sin. President Benson cited the example of Joseph, who, after he was entrapped alone by Potiphar’s wife, “left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out.” (Gen. 39:12.)

    He advised members who may find themselves in a situation in which their moral purity could be compromised to “follow Joseph’s example. Flee from it and get yourself out. You cannot linger in sin and expect to have success in repentance.”

  2. Plead with the Lord for the power to overcome. “No one is more anxious to help you flee from sin than your Heavenly Father,” President Benson said. “Go to him. Acknowledge your sin, confess your shame and your guilt, and then plead with him for help. He has the power to help you triumph.”

  3. Let your priesthood leaders help you resolve the transgression and come back into full fellowship with the Lord. “Full repentance of [sexual] sins requires that we not only confess our sins and resolve them with the Lord, but that we also do so with the Church,” he said. “Even if we are disfellowshipped or excommunicated, it is a beginning step in the process of repentance, and the sooner we begin, the sooner we can find the sweet peace and joy that comes with the miracle of forgiveness.”

  4. Drink from the divine fountain and fill your lives with positive sources of power. “It is not enough simply to try to resist evil or empty our lives of sin,” President Benson said. “We must also fill our lives with righteousness.”

    To help them do so, he advised members to read and study the scriptures daily, pray daily, attend church regularly, fast for specific strength or blessings, and give service in the kingdom.

  5. Remember that through proper repentance, you can become clean again. “For those who pay the price required by true repentance, the promise is sure,” President Benson said. “You can be clean again. The despair can be lifted. The sweet peace of forgiveness will flow into your lives.”

President Benson closed with the assurance that “our Heavenly Father desires nothing for us but to be happy. He tells us only those things that will bring us joy. And one of the surest principles given by God to help us find that joy is the law of chastity.”

[photo] President Ezra Taft Benson, accompanied by Sister Flora Benson, waves to members at Brigham Young University. (Photo by BYU Public Communications.)