Because I grew up outside of the Church, the law of chastity was not always something I lived by—it wasn’t something I even knew about. My mom never taught my twin brother or me about keeping any moral standards. We, as well as our younger brother, had been born out of wedlock. Our dad would often move in with a woman the moment they started dating.
As I got older, my conversations with friends were filled with derogatory language. In high school I started dating a guy who also did not live by the standards of the Church, and doing things outside of the law of chastity just felt like a normal “rite of passage” into adulthood.
But when I started taking lessons with the missionaries when I was 18, they taught me about how I should have clean thoughts, good language, and actions that reflected Christ’s teachings. At first, I was crushed. I had been living a life without the law of chastity, and I felt like I was broken—too far gone. It felt like even if I truly repented, I would never be fully forgiven of my sins. I told myself that Christ would continue to hold my mistakes over my head. I was constantly thinking about how I had let Him down—without even knowing it. Not only that, but I also felt as though following the law of chastity wasn’t attainable.
Questions from the adversary flooded my mind, making me second-guess what I was learning about chastity. While taking lessons with the missionaries, I was in a relationship that did not prioritize staying morally clean, and I thought that joining the Church would change the relationship. Maybe The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints wasn’t a good fit for me. I remember thinking, “I have already given up so much. And now this?” It made me question if joining the Church was even worth it.
But I couldn’t deny the truth I had found within the Church. If I knew that Joseph Smith was a prophet, then that meant that the law of chastity must be a true commandment from the Lord. It was a nonnegotiable. I knew that my next challenge would be applying the law to my life and striving each day to be better.
It was not going to be something I could change overnight. There were times when I fell short. I felt like it was a never-ending cycle; I would try my hardest to do better and then I would revert to my old ways. When I had finally reached the point where I was obeying the law of chastity and felt like I could look my Maker in the eyes and say, “I’m trying; I’m doing my best with a willing heart,” I still kept remembering all the times I had “messed up.” I had to remind myself that I knew in my heart that the Lord forgives when we truly repent, which I had. But that didn’t really stop me from still feeling like a disappointment.
Since then I have realized that the Lord will forgive us, but we must learn to forgive ourselves as well. Heavenly Father wants us to recognize our mistakes, repent, strive to do better, and move on. Satan, however, wants us to be chained to our sins. Those feelings of failure were Satan telling me, “You can’t do this. You’re crazy for even thinking you can.” But I know the Lord loves me and wants to see me grow in my faith. He wants that for all of His children.
Now, being a member of the Church for just over a year, I have seen the blessings that come from following the law of chastity. I don’t feel broken and confused anymore. Yes, I still sometimes have moments when Satan tempts me with the temporary satisfaction that comes from immorality, but I’ve learned that true satisfaction can come only through Christ. I know that He blesses us when we follow His commandments.
I’ve also learned that you can never be too far gone to receive the blessings of the gospel. Heavenly Father welcomes us back with open arms. Those doubts I had didn’t come from Christ or Heavenly Father. He gave us the law of chastity to protect us and guide us along on the covenant path. Learning about this law has strengthened my testimony of the Savior’s Atonement immensely. The Lord loves each of us. We may mess up, but we also have the opportunity to learn and grow from our mistakes—to repent. He has not given us this commandment to make life tough; He did it because He loves us.1
I am so grateful for the law of chastity and everything it has taught me. I’ve seen how it has blessed my life, and I know it will bless others too.