Can I be forgiven for breaking the law of chastity?
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“Can I be forgiven for breaking the law of chastity?” New Era, Mar. 1984, 11–12

“Can I be forgiven for breaking the law of chastity? If so, what must I do to obtain forgiveness?”

Answer/Verl F. Scott

One beautiful summer evening as I sat on the porch of a lovely cabin in the mountains, I observed a little moth approach and fly ’round and ’round the porch light. It touched the hot bulb, veered away, and then, as if unable to resist, approached the bulb again and again. Finally, badly singed by repeated contacts with the hot glass, it fell to the floor, burned and helpless.

Like the moth, young people are sometimes drawn by the bright glitter of sexual attraction. And though they know better, they tamper with the heat of unholy passion until they too are badly scarred and eventually lose their God-given chastity.

If chastity is fully lost by unlawful sexual intercourse, it is a sin of great seriousness. Nevertheless, yes, it can be forgiven! There is every reason to hope and have courage, though the way is not easy and is based upon total repentance.

The word chaste is defined in the dictionary as “innocent of unlawful sexual intercourse; pure in thought and act” (Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, 8th ed., 1973).

President Spencer W. Kimball has written: “The early apostles and prophets mention numerous sins. … Many of them were sexual sins—adultery, being without natural affection, lustfulness, infidelity, incontinence, filthy communications, impurity, inordinate affection, fornication. They included all sexual relations outside marriage—petting, sex perversion, masturbation, and preoccupation with sex in one’s thoughts and talking. Included are every hidden and secret sin and all unholy and impure thoughts and practices. …

“… The world may countenance premarital sex experiences, but the Lord and his Church condemn in no uncertain terms any and every sex relationship outside of marriage” (New Era, Nov. 1980, p. 41).

Chastity is seldom lost all at once, but usually a little at a time, until “unlawful sexual intercourse” completes the series of sins leading to it. Nevertheless, it can be forgiven!

To obtain forgiveness one must do a complete turnabout and get on the road back through total repentance that leads step by step to divine forgiveness. It is most important not to wait, but to get started. William Nevins has said: “He that waits for repentance waits for that which cannot be had as long as it is waited for. It is absurd for a man to wait for that which he himself has to do” (in Richard L. Evans Quote Book, Salt Lake City: Publishers Press, 1971, p. 200).

Amulek in the Book of Mormon gave this inspired counsel: “For behold this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.

“… Therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.

“… For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his” (Alma 34:32–33, 35).

One can, indeed, wait too long to repent as did many of the Nephites in the Book of Mormon. Samuel the Lamanite said of them: “But behold, your days of probation are past; ye have procrastinated the day of your salvation until it is everlastingly too late, and your destruction is made sure” (Hel. 13:38).

Get started? Of course, and now! But doing what? How does one go about obtaining forgiveness? Elder Spencer W. Kimball, in his great book The Miracle of Forgiveness, outlines the steps and gives the counsel which, if followed, can lead the transgressor back into full fellowship with the Lord and in the Church.

“To every forgiveness there is a condition. The plaster must be as wide as the sore. The fasting, the prayers, the humility must be equal to or greater than the sin. There must be a broken heart and a contrite spirit. There must be ‘sackcloth and ashes.’ There must be tears and genuine change of heart. There must be conviction of the sin, abandonment of the evil, confession of the error to properly constituted authorities of the Lord. There must be restitution and a confirmed, determined change of pace, direction and destination. Conditions must be controlled and companionship corrected or changed. There must be a washing of robes to get them white and there must be a new consecration and devotion to the living of all the laws of God. In short there must be an overcoming of self, of sin, and of the world” (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969, p. 353).

Difficult, yes—but fully attainable, if one can see beyond the difficulties ahead to the ultimate eternal blessings to be obtained with full, sincere repentance. As we are told by the Lord: “Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;

“Learn to do well …

“… though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isa. 1:16–18).

  • Former Bishop, Stake President, and Mission President