5: The Law of Chastity

“5: The Law of Chastity,” Preparing for an Eternal Marriage Teacher Manual (2003), 18–21

“5,” Preparing for an Eternal Marriage, 18–21


The Law of Chastity

Doctrinal Overview

President Ezra Taft Benson taught, “The law of chastity is virtue and sexual purity” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [1988], 278).

In a letter to members of the Church dated 14 November 1991, the First Presidency stated:

“Sexual relations are proper only between husband and wife appropriately expressed within the bonds of marriage. Any other sexual contact, including fornication, adultery, and homosexual and lesbian behavior, is sinful” (in student manual, 230).

Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles added:

“Both men and women are required to observe the law of chastity. The commandment ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery’ applies to all” (“Combatting Spiritual Drift—Our Global Pandemic,” Ensign, Nov. 1993, 107).

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:

“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” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1993, 99; or Ensign, Nov. 1993, 74; see also student manual, 261).

Bruce C. Hafen, who was later called to the Seventy, wrote:

“Properly understood, the scriptures and the prophets counsel us to be virtuous not because romantic love is bad, but precisely because romantic love is so good. It is not only good, it is pure, precious, even sacred and holy” (“The Gospel and Romantic Love,” Ensign, Oct. 1982, 66).


Through all our dating and courtship experiences, the law of chastity points the way to peace of mind, lasting security, and happiness.

Student Manual Readings

“Personal Purity,” Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (233)

“Our Moral Environment,” Elder Boyd K. Packer (230)

“Sexual Purity” (in “For the Strength of Youth,” 56)

Statement in “Satan Tries to Destroy Happiness,” President Gordon B. Hinckley (in “Happiness in Marriage,” 134)

Statement in “Satan Tries to Destroy Happiness,” Elder Boyd K. Packer (in “Happiness in Marriage,” 134)

First statement in “Effects of Pornography on Dating, Marriages, and Families,” President Gordon B. Hinckley (in “Pornography,” 265)

“Same-Gender Attraction,” Elder Dallin H. Oaks (294)

Statement in “Same-Gender Attraction” section, President Gordon B. Hinckley (294)

Statement in “Morality and Modesty,” President Spencer W. Kimball (219)

“The Law of Chastity,” President Ezra Taft Benson (227)

Suggestions for How to Teach

  • Group work. Divide the class into groups of three or four. Have students turn to “Personal Purity,” by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (student manual, 233). Assign each group one of the following sections from the address: “The Doctrine of the Human Soul,” “The Ultimate Symbol of Total Union,” and “A Symbol of the Relationship with God.” Ask the groups to study their assigned section and answer the following questions:

    • Why should we be morally clean?

    • Why is this such an important issue from an eternal point of view?

    When they have finished, discuss their answers. Ask: Why is repentance essential in correcting a course that is not in harmony with the Lord’s standards?

Suggestions for How to Teach

  • Discussion. Invite students to read “Our Moral Environment,” by Elder Boyd K. Packer, who was then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (student manual, 230). Have them look for:

    • Ways society has devalued chastity and virtue.

    • Satan’s deceptions regarding chastity.

    • Changing sexual attitudes and behavior.

    • Worldly influences and effects on society and individuals.

  • Discussion. Invite students to read the “Sexual Purity” section of “For the Strength of Youth” (student manual, 56). Also read the statements by President Gordon B. Hinckley and Elder Boyd K. Packer in the subsection “Satan Tries to Destroy Happiness” (in “Happiness in Marriage,” student manual, 134) and the first paragraph in the collection of statements by President Hinckley under “Pornography” (student manual, 265). In addition, you may want to include some or all of the following statements in the discussion:

    • “[There are] dangers that threaten the Church within. … [One is] sexual impurity.

    “… If purity of life is neglected, all other dangers set in upon us like the rivers of waters when the flood gates are opened” (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. [1939], 312–13).

    • “We all should be concerned about the society in which we live, a society which is like a moral Armageddon. … There are so many in the world who do not seem to know or care about right or wrong” (James E. Faust, in Conference Report, Oct. 1996, 57; or Ensign, Nov. 1996, 41).

    • “Never before, at least not in our generation, have the forces of evil been so blatant, so brazen, so aggressive as they are today. …

    “The home is under siege. So many families are being destroyed. …

    “Stand above the sleaze and the filth and the temptation which is all about you” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Walking in the Light of the Lord,” Ensign, Nov. 1998, 98–99).

    • “We have watched the standards of morality sink ever lower until now they are in a free-fall” (Boyd K. Packer, in Conference Report, Oct. 1998, 27; or Ensign, Nov. 1998, 22; see also student manual, 278).

    • “In today’s society the difference between right and wrong is being obscured by loud, seductive voices calling for no restraints in human conduct. They advocate absolute freedom without regard to consequences. I state unequivocally that such behavior is the high road to personal destruction” (James E. Faust, in Conference Report, Apr. 1999, 59–60; or Ensign, May 1999, 45).

    Ask students: Why do you think there is such a disregard in the world for the Lord’s standards? Testify that it is essential to live by the Lord’s standards.

  • Discussion. Note: In preparing to teach this lesson activity, be sure to carefully study “Same-Gender Attraction,” by Elder Dallin H. Oaks (student manual, 294) so you will be prepared to answer doctrinal questions about this topic. Answer student questions by showing them that answers can be found in the address. Encourage students who want more information to study the address carefully.

Suggestions for How to Teach

  • Student manual. Refer students to the statement by President Spencer W. Kimball under “Morality and Modesty” (student manual, 219), and discuss the following questions:

    • When is the best time to set your standards of dating behavior? Why?

    • What did President Kimball say about conscience? How can you tell when your conscience is warning you against a certain behavior?

    • How can you control your thoughts so they will be in harmony with your conscience?

    • What if you and your date disagree about what is and is not appropriate behavior on a date? How can you resolve the issue and maintain Church standards?

  • Student manual. Have students read “The Law of Chastity” by President Ezra Taft Benson (student manual, 227). Have them answer the following questions:

    • What does President Benson say are the results of sin and transgression?

    • What does he say are the blessings of staying morally clean?

    • What has the Lord taught us about sexual sin, regardless of what society would have us believe?

    • What does the Lord expect of you?

    Give examples of the great happiness and security that come to those who obey the law of chastity.


Write the following scripture on the board: “See that ye bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love” (Alma 38:12). Ask:

  • What does the word bridle mean? (“To restrain, guide or govern; to check, curb or control; as, to bridle the passions” [Noah Webster, An American Dictionary of the English Language (1828)].)

  • What do you think the phrase “bridle all your passions” means?

  • In what ways can controlling our passions lead to an increase of love?

  • How can living the law of chastity lead to a more loving and caring marriage?

  • How does obeying the commandments lead to happiness and joy? Why?