Sunday, September 20, 2015

5 Things to Stop Doing When Teaching About The Law of Chastity

1. Stop Shaming

The design of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is to invite people to repentance. Shame is already so devastating and prevalent in the world of sexual sin that we don't need to pile anymore on. Shame is a powerful tool used by Satan to keep people from repenting. Lessons on the Law of Chastity should focus on hope and change through the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. 

Examples of shaming include focusing on how bad sexual sin is instead of teaching how to repent from it. Emphasizing the negative impacts of sexual sin creates an environment of shame. Teaching someone why they should do something with threats of consequences isn't a great teaching method. You can certainly mention the negative effects of sin, but the focus should always be on repentance and the Atonement. Hopeful lessons point others to Jesus Christ. Shaming lessons focused on threats and negativity point people the opposite way. 

2. Don't Make Assumptions

Assuming that no one in the room has a problem is a problem in and of itself. Guess what? The Law of Chastity applies to everyone equally to men and women, young and old. Everyone has room for improvement, and a significant majority percentage of church members have active struggle with pornography, masturbation, body shame, sexual temptations, lusting, inappropriate thoughts, adultery, and a whole host of other issues that fall under the category of the Law of Chastity. 

Often people avoid talking about difficult subjects by talking about teaching it to their children rather than talking about how to apply it for themselves. If we are not keeping the Law of Chastity ourselves how can we ever hope to deal with the extremely difficult challenges they face? You have to stop assuming that no one is struggling because statistics, Bishops, and Stake Presidents can all tell you that the problem is at plague-like levels. Repentance is for everyone in the room!

3. Stop Making Lists

I'm making a list right now so I see the irony here.  Making lists of dos and don'ts, blessings and curses is ridiculous. Yes, we need to explain what is appropriate and inappropriate, but if it becomes the focus of the lesson then we have a problem. You can have sex with your one and only and live a chaste and virtuous life and still end up on the "curse" list with an STD due to a struggling spouse. The lists hurt people. They see themselves on the wrong side and are filled with shame. Is that how you want people to feel during your lesson? We have all made mistakes. Bringing it up over and over isn't how God works. Repent and He will remember the sin no more. Lists make us look at ourselves in terms of black and white, good and bad. The Law of Chastity is black and white, yes, but we as human beings are mold-able, changeable, and are working towards bettering ourselves. We have to stop defining ourselves by lists and rather let us define ourselves by who we seek to become. The purpose of the Law of Chastity is to bring us joy. 

4. Stop Avoiding the Word Sex 

It's cute that you know a dozen words to describe sex that you think are more appropriate for church like "intimacy" and "relations." Call it exactly what it is and stop dancing around the issue. It is called sex and it is wonderful and beautiful. Learn the difference between sex and intimacy. It's not the same thing! We need to call things exactly what they are. Sex is sex. I give you permission to use the word masturbation too. If you have to stand in front of the mirror and say the words out loud a hundred times before you teach the lesson, then do it! Sex, masturbation, pornography, penis, vagina, breasts, naked, fallopian tube....okay, so maybe you won't use the last few in a lesson on the Law of Chastity, but let's get real here. Be brave. Use the big girl words. 

5. Stop Using Chastity as a Word for Sex

Sex should not be used synonymously with the word chastity. The Law of Chastity involves a whole lot more than just sex. You can live a chaste life and have sex every day. You can have sex every day and never experience intimacy. You can never have sex with someone in your life and still be breaking the Law of Chastity. If we keep mixing up the word chastity and sex then we are sending a horrible message. You need to keep the Law of Chastity which means don't have sex so then what happens when you do have sex? Guilt? Shame? Ahhhhh! The Law of Chastity is so much more than just not having sex. It is about learning to master the natural urges of our bodies. It is about keeping sacred covenants with another person. It is about the sacredness of the sexual experience. Sex is something that is good, pure, and holy. The Law of Chastity helps us find something special in the sexual experience and empowers us as creators and partners in an eternal journey. The Law of Chastity brings us joy. 


Hopefully at some point lessons on the Law of Chastity will be as open and freely discussed as any other lesson. I'm tired of women skipping church or leaving the room when there is a lesson on chastity because they fear what hurtful things people will say. Women should not feel pain in Relief Society. They should feel relief! We are a sisterhood, and a powerful one at that. We should stand united on the Law of Chastity, helping those that stand in need of help, comforting those that stand in need of comfort, and inviting all to experience the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Just imagine what a powerful force we could be!
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You may also like these articles:

How to Actually Repent: The 12 Steps of Repentance

4 Things You Can Do Right Now to Battle Pornography In Your Home

50 Shades of Shame: LDS Women and Their Pornography




17 comments:

  1. I wish the teacher in our Relief Society had seen this before she taught yesterday! Ours was awful!

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  2. I agree with most of what you said. However, I think you are a little confused about what "sex" is and are confusing it with "intercourse," which is only a part of having sex. I think using the word "intimacy" (or being intimate) interchangeably with "sex" is appropriate because both really do indicate the same thing. (Also, please note that general authorities nearly always use "being intimate" and not "sex" when they speak.) Most people clearly understand what we are talking about. If not, then individual clarification can be given - especially when speaking with your children. I find that using the term "intimate" covers not only the act(s) associated with the word"sex," but it also indicates what feeling should be associated with the act, thus making it a more complete and uplifting term.

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    1. I respectfully disagree. Sex is short for sexual intercourse which is a physical act. Sex encompasses more than just intercourse as there are other ways to have sex including but not limited to anal and oral sex. Intimacy is defined as private and personal, or closeness. Even the dictionary defines them differently. You can certainly have sexual intimacy, but sexual intercourse does not require intimacy. As a someone with a degree in the social sciences and vast experience in the field, including experience in sexual addiction, I find it to be highly important to separate the two. I can see how you misinterpreted my words. Sexual intimacy is an important part of the marital relationship. While some general authorities stick to the word intimacy to describe the act of sex, many are evolving to use the word sex. Elder Oaks is a great example of this as he has become well versed in matters where the distinction matters. Sex and intimacy are two completely different things. Sex can be an experience used to increase intimacy, but it certainly isn't intimacy in and of itself. Using touchy feely words to soften "the talk" is an old fashioned way of thinking that has caused incredible amounts of harm to people. Ask any therapist.

      Another things to consider is that if you use the word intimate to describe sex then you will be alienating all the women in the room who, perhaps due to no fault of their own, are not experiencing intimacy in their sex life. Sexual addiction is a huge part of the church right now. You may be one of the lucky few who are not part of that statistic, but for the vast majority who are these distinctions become very important.

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    2. I feel like you contradict yourself with your 4th and 5th points. We are supposed to use the word sex, but not to refer to chastity as sex. I feel like the way you have just defined intimacy in this comment makes it the more appropriate word to use when discussing chastity. If Chastity is not just having sex, but the feelings and emotions that accompany it, then intimacy is the right word to use.

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    3. Chastity isn't sex. Intimacy isn't sex. Both should be related to sex. You should definitely use the words intimacy and sex when discussing the law of chastity but they should not be used synonymously. For example, the law of chastity includes saving sexual experiences like sexual intercourse for marriage. The intimacy (closeness) experienced while dating are the feelings that draw us to want to culminate those feelings in a physical act of sex. These feelings of intimacy are good, but the physical act of sex has been designated by God to only be performed after the covenant of marriage. This is part of God's plan. It is the Law of Chastity. Following the Law of Chastity protects the sexual relationship and gives it deeper meaning. Even within marriage, sexual intercourse should be used to increase intimacy between a husband and a wife, and not simply serve as a means to satisfy individual sexual urges. When sex combines with intimacy it can strengthen the bond between husband and wife in a unique and God-given way. The Law of Chastity applies just as much before marriage as it does after. The Law of Chastity isn't "don't have sex." The Law of Chastity is to protect the sexual relationship and elevate it to a spiritual experience as well as a physical one. The Law of Chastity includes reserving all sexual experiences for marriage, avoiding pornography, not wearing sexually provocative clothing or acting in a sexually provocative way, nurturing the intimacy between husband and wife, not using or viewing a spouse (or any other human being) as a sexual object, making husband and wife partakers of the divine plan to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man, and so much more.

      The point is to separate those 3 words and not use them interchangeably. You should certainly be using all 3 words when teaching about the Law of Chastity, but they don't mean the same things. Breaking it down to define them as individual components of the greater Law of Chastity helps us to see the divine purpose.

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  3. You should follow the spirit when teaching about the law of chastity. Different groups will need different lessons/explanations. There may be times when the 'conventional' way of teaching is much better than the suggestions given here. I disagree, in some respect with each of the points given here. Most may be true at times, or should be used in certain cases, but this certainly should not be used as a model for teaching a lesson.

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  4. I liked the article. In fact I think it's brilliant. The name of the website had me worried, but I think you had valid points. It is good to be aware of the small mistakes that can alienate sisters going through struggles and heartache unseen.

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  5. I liked the article. In fact I think it's brilliant. The name of the website had me worried, but I think you had valid points. It is good to be aware of the small mistakes that can alienate sisters going through struggles and heartache unseen.

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  6. Opinions, opinions, opinions.
    I will follow this list just as soon as I see it on lds.org
    Everyone is an expert now that we have blogs.

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    1. Thank you for stopping by. While nothing on this blog should be taken for doctrine, the anonymous author of this particular article is a professional and has quite a bit of experience in the social sciences and working with individuals and families on this very topic. God gave us knowledge and the Church encourages us to seek education (outside of LDS.org) to enhance our understanding and our teaching of the Gospel.

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  7. Thank you for this article! I'm eighteen, just coming into Relief Society, and...yes. These points are matter-of-fact and reflect what I think these lessons should have. A sense of frankness, no shaming, and keeping the sacredness clear.

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  8. I stumbled across this post on Pinterest and found it interesting because my husband just got yelled at this Sunday for using the words "Sex" and "Sexual relations" when giving a Sacrament meeting talk on the Proclamation on the Family. True the person yelling at him was a 17 year old girl who has had some breakdowns in the past, but needless to say both my husband and I were rather shocked that she: 1. Interrupted him in the middle of his talk to tell him that it was inappropriate, and 2. Came up to him afterward and yelled at him about saying sex and told him that it was basically as if he had said the "F" word in his talk. We are rather blunt with our kids about everything and don't candy coat things. We make sure they know the correct names of their body parts and will talk to them about sex when they become old enough to understand using the correct terms for everything. I don't see the point in using silly names for things because it is awkward to say the actual name. It comes down to a problem with your own feelings about the words not the actual words themselves.

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    1. AnonymousMay 01, 2017

      The "sex talk" will naturally occur in tiny steps if you let it. When they ask questions, just answer them matter of factly & age appropriately, just like you are doing with them knowing all the right words for body parts. Cheers Mama!

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  9. My other favorite word often exchanged for sex is procreating.

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  10. I love this! ❤

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  11. So you mean to say that you NEVER have sex unless you are procreating?

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