Don’t Be Swept Away

“Don’t Be Swept Away,” Liahona, Feb. 2012, 56–57

Don’t Be Swept Away

A Tongan teenager talks about good reasons for guardrails.

The beauty and power of the Mapu ‘a Vaea blowholes in Tonga is amazing. As the surf crashes into this three-mile (4.8 km) stretch of coastline on the island of Tongatapu, it enters hundreds of openings in the volcanic rock that shoot the water up as high as 60 feet (18 m) into the air.

Saane F., age 16, loves the beauty of the place—the way the sun and the spray dance together with every wave.

But nature’s power can be dangerous as well as beautiful. Visitors who wander too close, whether out of curiosity or because of the thrill, have been caught off guard by the power of the waves and, unable to escape the current, pulled out to sea.

The dangerous side of Mapu ‘a Vaea offers a spiritual warning about the power of temptation—particularly with regard to sexual purity. The power to create life is beautiful when the proper boundaries are observed, but if we allow temptation to lure us from safe ground, we can be swept away.

Understanding Why Chastity Matters

On the day her sister was married in the Nuku‘alofa Tonga Temple, Saane could see her happiness. “It made me want to be worthy to be married there someday,” Saane says.

However, Satan will try to keep that from happening for any of us. He has already convinced many that sexual intimacy outside of marriage is acceptable and without consequences. But misusing the power God has provided to create life is a serious sin that can cause spiritual, emotional, and physical harm.1

“Satan is trying so hard to stop us from returning home to our Heavenly Father,” Saane says. “If I’m not careful to keep the law of chastity, I may lose the opportunity to be married in the temple.”

Honoring God’s Guardrails

To help visitors enjoy the beauty of Mapu ‘a Vaea safely, the Tongan government has placed guardrails in certain areas.

Saane believes Heavenly Father has provided guardrails—or standards—to keep us from falling to temptation. Church leaders, the scriptures, and For the Strength of Youth all set clear boundaries that, if observed, will help keep us safe. Above all, following the promptings of the Holy Ghost will keep us on safe ground.

“Some people ignore the Lord’s guardrails,” she says. “They don’t understand the consequences, or they think they can avoid them. Leaping from the cliff may feel like flying, but the ground is always there.”

Setting Our Own Guardrails

In matters of sexual purity, seeing how far we can lean over the guardrail is a sure way to fall. The closer we allow ourselves to get to inappropriate sexual intimacy, the more difficult it becomes to resist its enticement.

Because the Church can’t spell out how to act in every situation, Saane has created her own guardrails by deciding ahead of time how to apply gospel standards to the circumstances she is likely to face.

She has created a poster that lists nine promises to herself and to her Heavenly Father that act as her personal guardrails, including the kind of people she will date, clothing she will wear, and language she will use. Other personal guardrails could include deciding how to avoid viewing, reading, or listening to anything that can arouse sexual feelings.2

“Setting my standards high will help keep me safe,” Saane says.

Returning to Safe Ground

Like those who get caught in the rushing waters at Mapu ‘a Vaea, those who give in to temptation are in a dangerous place. The powerful grasp of sexual sin can be difficult to escape—but it is possible with the help of the Savior and His servants.

In the end, whether one has never left safe ground or has made the difficult way back to it, staying there is the goal. Honoring the Lord’s guardrails and understanding how to apply them to our personal circumstances will prepare us to enjoy the beautiful power God has granted us—at the appropriate time and in the appropriate way.

“Above all else, I am looking forward to being married in the temple,” Saane says. “I know that if I keep the commandments, including the law of chastity, I will be worthy to receive the blessings I’m dreaming of.”


  1. See True to the Faith (2004), 29.

  2. See True to the Faith, 32.

Saane (right) and Amelia (center) celebrate with their sister Manatu on the day of her temple marriage.

Photographs by Adam C. Olson