We all have our free agency and God holds us accountable for the way we use it in thought and deed. "Kindness, compassion, and love are powerful instruments in strengthening us to carry heavy burdens imposed without any fault of our own and to do what we know to be right." Elder Dallin H. Oaks
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In “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles proclaim that “marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.” When a man and woman are married in the temple, their family can be together forever. This is a common goal of Latter-day Saints.
Life’s greatest joys are found in the family. Strong family relationships require effort, but such effort brings great happiness in this life and throughout eternity. In our Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness, a man and a woman can be sealed to one another for time and all eternity. Those who are sealed in the temple have the assurance that their relationship will continue forever if they are true to their covenants. They know that nothing, not even death, can permanently separate them.
The covenant of eternal marriage is necessary for exaltation. The Lord revealed through Joseph Smith: “In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; and in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage]; and if he does not, he cannot obtain it. He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase” (D&C 131:1-4).
After receiving the sealing ordinance and making sacred covenants in the temple, a couple must continue in faithfulness in order to receive the blessings of eternal marriage and exaltation. The Lord said:
“If a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise, by him who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power and the keys of this priesthood; . . . and if [they] abide in my covenant, . . . it shall be done unto them in all things whatsoever my servant hath put upon them, in time, and through all eternity; and shall be of full force when they are out of the world” (D&C 132:19).
Those who are married should consider their union as their most cherished earthly relationship. A spouse is the only person other than the Lord whom we have been commanded to love with all our heart (see D&C 42:22).
Marriage, in its truest sense, is a partnership of equals, with neither person exercising dominion over the other, but with each encouraging, comforting, and helping the other.
Because marriage is such an important relationship in life, it needs and deserves time over less-important commitments. Couples can strengthen their marriage as they take time to talk together and to listen to one another, to be thoughtful and respectful, and to express tender feelings and affection often.
Marriage partners must be loyal to one another and faithful in their marriage covenants in thought, word, and deed. The Lord has said, “Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else” (D&C 42:22). The phrase “none else” teaches that no person, activity, or possession should ever take precedence over the marriage relationship.
Married couples should stay away from anything that could lead to unfaithfulness in any way. Pornography, unwholesome fantasies, and flirtations will erode character and strike at the foundation of marriage.
Couples should work together to manage their finances and cooperate in establishing and following a budget. Wise money management and freedom from debt contribute to peace in the home.
Finally, couples must center their lives in the gospel of Jesus Christ. As couples help one another keep the covenants they have made, attend church and the temple together, study the scriptures together, and kneel together in prayer, God will guide them. Their companionship will sweeten through the years; their love will strengthen. Their appreciation for one another will grow.
Your Heavenly Father loves you and wants you to be happy today and forever. He has given counsel and commandments through His prophets to help you. One commandment that is vital to your peace and happiness is His commandment regarding sexual purity, known as the law of chastity. The Lord instituted this law from the beginning, and He emphasized its importance to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Obedience to this commandment is a requirement for baptism in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
What Is the Law of Chastity?
Physical intimacy between husband and wife is a beautiful and sacred part of God’s plan for His children. It is an expression of love within marriage and allows husband and wife to participate in the creation of life. God has commanded that this sacred power be expressed only between a man and a woman who are legally married. The law of chastity applies to both men and women. It includes strict abstinence from sexual relations before marriage and complete fidelity and loyalty to one’s spouse after marriage.
In addition to reserving sexual intimacy for marriage, we obey the law of chastity by controlling our thoughts, words, and actions. Jesus Christ taught, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: but I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matt. 5: 27-28).
The law of chastity requires that sexual relations be reserved for marriage between a man and a woman.
Why Should I Keep the Law of Chastity?
Your Heavenly Father has given the law of chastity to protect and bless you. Like all sacred things, physical intimacy must be expressed according to God’s direction. As you keep the law of chastity, you will enjoy happiness, peace, and self-respect. You will enjoy trust and confidence in your family relation- ships, and you will be blessed with self-control. You will enjoy the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ through the influence of the Holy Ghost.
Satan leads people to believe that sexual intimacy outside of marriage is acceptable and even desirable. But it is a serious sin; God has always taught His chil- dren to be virtuous and chaste (see Ex. 20: 14and Alma 39: 3-5). This principle is eternal.
Violating the law of chastity is an abuse of the power God has given to create life; it shows a disregard for Him and for His children. It dulls spirituality and often leads to bitterness, heartache, divorce, disease, and abortion. Those who violate this law are exposed to greater influence from Satan. This sin also seriously affects family members and others.
How Do I Keep the Law of Chastity?
God requires a high moral standard of His children. To keep the law of chastity, you must replace undesirable thoughts, words, and actions with wholesome ones.
The following principles will help:
Thoughts. Positive and constructive thoughts will push negative or immoral ones from your life. As you fill your life with whole- some thoughts and activities, you will grow in your ability to replace and overcome negative thoughts. Reading the scriptures, serving your family, working diligently, and engaging in wholesome recreational activities will help you control your thoughts.
Avoid pornography in all forms. It is addictive and destructive. It will rob you of your self-respect and of an appreciation for the beauties of life. Do not allow your mind to dwell on obscene or immoral thoughts or images. Do not view, read, or listen to anything that depicts or describes the human body or sexual conduct in a disrespectful way. Avoid looking with lustful thoughts at others, and avoid suggestive or explicit movies, television shows, Internet sites, music, books, magazines, and activities.
Words. Let your words build up others and strengthen them. Eliminate degrading, vulgar, and sexually explicit words, jokes, and themes from your conversations.
Actions. Always treat others with respect. Be modest in how you dress. If you remember that each person is a child of God, and if you do all you can to help others follow His plan, then you will be strengthened in your desire to keep the law of chastity.
Determine now that you will not do anything outside of marriage to arouse the powerful emotions that must be expressed only in marriage. Do not arouse those emotions in another person or in yourself. Do not participate in homosexual or lesbian acts or other immoral activities. Replace activities where you may be tempted to violate the law of chastity with constructive activities and hobbies. In marriage, remain absolutely faithful to your spouse in thought and action.
Because living the law of chastity will bring you closer to God, Satan will entice you to break this commandment. He knows when you are lonely, confused, or depressed, and he will tempt you when you are weak. Pray to your Heavenly Father for help, and He will give you strength to resist temptation (see 1 Cor. 10: 13). As you rely on Him and follow these principles, you will be able to overcome temptation.
Blessings of Living the Law of Chastity
As you live the law of chastity, you will be more open to the influence of the Holy Ghost. With the guidance of the Holy Ghost, you will develop greater wisdom, face trials with greater courage, feel God’s support and direction in your life, and be an example to your family and others. The love you have for your spouse and loved ones will be deeper, richer, and more meaningful. You will experience greater peace of mind.
In the scriptures we learn that true happiness comes from obeying the commandments of God (see Mosiah 2: 41) and that “wickedness never was happi- ness” (Alma 41: 10).
If you have broken the law of chastity, God has made it possible for you to repent and become clean again. Repent now of any past transgressions, and commit to live this sacred law. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and true repentance, you can be forgiven and feel peace.