Law of chastity
The law of chastity is a moral code defined by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). According to the church, chastity means that "sexual relations are proper only between a man and a woman who are legally and lawfully wedded as husband and wife." Therefore, abstinence from sexual relations before marriage, and complete fidelity to one's spouse during marriage, are required. As part of the law of chastity, the church teaches its members to abstain from adultery and fornication.
Within the LDS Church, chastity means more than abstinence from sex. It means to be morally clean in "thoughts, words, and actions." It also means sexual relations are only permitted between a husband and wife. The church teaches its members that "no one, male or female, is to have sexual relations before marriage. After marriage, sexual relations are permitted only with our spouse."
Members of the LDS Church believe that sexuality between man and woman lawfully married is divinely appointed and has two purposes: to "multiply, and replenish the Earth" (Genesis 1:28) as commanded by God to Adam and Eve, and to strengthen the bond between man and woman that they might "become one flesh" (Mark 10:8). A church handbook states that "[p]hysical intimacy between husband and wife is intended to be beautiful and sacred. It is ordained of God for the creation of children and for the expression of love between husband and wife. Tenderness and respect—not selfishness—should guide their intimate relationship."
The church has made its views clear in many publications and in recent news releases that "marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God". While opposing homosexual behavior, the church advises its leaders and members to reach out with understanding and respect to individuals who are attracted to those of the same gender.
Sexual relations are deemed proper only between a man and a woman who are legally and lawfully wedded as husband and wife. Any other sexual relations, including those between persons of the same gender, are considered sinful and undermining of the divinely created institution of the family. The church accordingly affirms defining marriage as the legal and lawful union between a man and a woman.
An LDS Church publication published particularly for young men and women states: "Before marriage, do not participate in passionate kissing, lie on top of another person, or touch the private, sacred parts of another person's body, with or without clothing. Do not do anything else that arouses sexual feelings. Do not arouse those emotions in your own body.”  Youth are taught in church classes that sexual relations are sacred, and they should avoid "fondling of bodies, one's own or that of others". Masturbation is "not condoned but is not considered homosexual".
The Book of Mormon teaches that sexual sins are "most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost" (Alma 39:5). Church leaders have similarly emphasized its importance.
From the beginning of time, the Lord has set a clear and unmistakable standard of sexual purity. It always has been, it is now, and it always will be the same. That standard is the law of chastity. It is the same for all—for men and women, for old and young, for rich and poor. In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Jacob tells us that the Lord delights in the chastity of His children (see Jacob 2:28). Do you hear that, my brothers and sisters? The Lord is not just pleased when we are chaste; He delights in chastity. Mormon taught the same thing to his son Moroni when he wrote that chastity and virtue are 'most dear and precious above all things.' (Moroni 9:9)
Violation of the law of chastity may result in a church membership council, including formal membership restrictions or withdrawal of membership.
In endowment ceremonyEdit
Includes broader transgressionsEdit
Activities considered a violation of the law of chastity include both adultery and fornication as well as broader behavior. While serving as church president, Kimball taught that the law of chastity encompasses "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."
Victims of rape, incest, or sexual abuse are not guilty of sin and are not considered to have broken the law of chastity. However, they often feel that they have lost their virtue, which intensifies the feelings of shame and guilt experienced by many victims of rape. In the Book of Mormon, it states, "For behold, many of the daughters of the Lamanites have they taken prisoners; and [they] depriv[ed] them of that which was most dear and precious above all things, which is chastity and virtue". In a general conference address, Richard G. Scott explained, "The victim must do all in his or her power to stop the abuse. Most often, the victim is innocent because of being disabled by fear or the power or authority of the offender. At some point in time, however, the Lord may prompt a victim to recognize a degree of responsibility for abuse. Your priesthood leader will help assess your responsibility so that, if needed, it can be addressed."
In addition, members are taught to dress modestly, to control their thoughts, and to avoid pornography. Dressing immodestly is not a violation of the law of chastity, but "modesty promotes chastity". Members who are married are instructed to "be faithful to your spouse in thought, word, and action. Stay away from situations where temptation may develop."
The LDS Church teaches that same-sex sexual and romantic feelings are not a choice or sin and that members should be supported in identifying with terms like gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Members whose sexual orientation is not strictly heterosexual can participate in temple ordinances and remain in good standing, although, for this they are not allowed to express their sexuality through dating people of the same sex. These teachings leave strictly-homosexually-oriented members with the option of entering a mixed-orientation opposite-sex marriage, or living a celibate lifestyle without any sexual expression (including masturbation).: 11
On many occasions church leaders have taught that members should not masturbate as part of obedience to the law of chastity. Salient examples of this include a church guide to stop masturbating produced in the 1970s. Another is the 1990 edition of the church's youth guidelines pamphlet which stated that the "Lord specifically forbids ... masturbation" with the next two editions (including the most current one) alluding to it with statements forbidding anything that "arouses" any sexual feelings or emotions in one's "own body". Apostle Spencer W. Kimball, who later served as church president, warned of the "possible damages" and "dangers" of this "common indescretion" on various occasions calling it a "reprehensible sin" that grows "with every exercise".
The apostle Boyd K. Packer gave a 1976 general conference address "To Young Men Only" warning young men not to tamper with their little factory (a euphemism for their reproductive system) lest it speed up and become a guilt-and depression-inducing habit that is not easy to resist. He gave vigorous exercise as a method to help control thoughts and break the habit of masturbation since it is a "transgression" that is "not pleasing to the Lord". The talk was printed as a pamphlet and widely distributed by the church from 1980 to 2016. Since 1985 the church has provided a manual for parents to use in discussing sexuality with their children. The manual includes statements that "prophets have condemned [masturbation] as a sin" and "perversion of the body's passions" that causes one to "become carnal". The most recent explicit mention of masturbation by top leaders in public discourse was by Tad R. Callister who stated in a 2013 speech at BYU-Idaho that God "condemns self-abuse" (a euphemism for masturbation).
- "Same-Sex Marriage", churchofjesuschrist.org, accessed June 17, 2016.
- "Chapter 39: The Law of Chastity", Gospel Principles, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2009, p. 247, archived from the original on May 24, 2013
- "Husband and Wife", General Handbook: Serving in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, § 2.1.2.
- First Presidency, Council of the Twelve Apostles (September 23, 1995), The Family: A Proclamation to the World, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, archived from the original on December 8, 2013, retrieved 2013-12-11. See also: The Family: A Proclamation to the World
- "Same-Sex Attraction and Same-Sex Behavior", General Handbook: Serving in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, § 38.6.12.
- "Same-Sex Marriage", General Handbook: Serving in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, § 38.6.13.
- "Sexual Purity", For the Strength of Youth, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2011
- "Lesson 41: Sexual Purity", Aaronic Priesthood Manual 1, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2002, p. 147, archived from the original on 2012-07-17, retrieved 2010-11-24
- Brown, Victor L. Jr. (1992), "Homosexuality", in Ludlow, Daniel H (ed.), Encyclopedia of Mormonism, New York: Macmillan Publishing, pp. 655–656, ISBN 978-0-02-879602-4, OCLC 24502140, archived from the original on October 3, 2013
- "Chapter 12: How Do I Prepare People for Baptism and Confirmation?", Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service (Salt Lake City, Utah: LDS Church, 2004) pp. 203–12.
- "Being Worthy to Enter the Temple", Liahona, August 2010, archived from the original on 2015-10-21.
- Benson, Ezra Taft (January 1988), "The Law of Chastity", New Era: 4, archived from the original on 2013-05-29
- Christensen, Bryce J. (1992), "Chastity, Law of", in Ludlow, Daniel H (ed.), Encyclopedia of Mormonism, New York: Macmillan Publishing, pp. 265–266, ISBN 978-0-02-879602-4, OCLC 24502140, archived from the original on October 3, 2013
- Talmage, James E. (1912), The House of the Lord, Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, p. 100
- Kimball, Spencer W. (November 1980), "President Kimball Speaks Out on Morality", Ensign, archived from the original on 2014-05-12
- "Sexual Purity Blesses Our Lives", Liahona, July 2010, archived from the original on 2015-10-21
- Moroni 9:9
- Scott, Richard (May 1992). "Healing the Tragic Scars of Abuse". Ensign. Archived from the original on 2013-11-15.
- "Same-Sex Attraction". ChurchofJesusChrist.org. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 October 2016. Retrieved 3 June 2017.
Identifying as gay, lesbian, or bisexual or experiencing same-sex attraction is not a sin and does not prohibit one from ... attending the temple. ... Sexual relations between ... people of the same sex, violate one of our Father in Heaven’s most important laws....
- God Loveth His Children, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2007, archived from the original on 2013-05-29, retrieved 2013-09-30
- "Frequently Asked Questions". Mormon and Gay. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Retrieved 29 October 2016. "If you experience same-sex attraction, you may choose to use a sexual orientation label to describe yourself. ... If you decide to ... openly identify as gay, you should be supported."
- Lattin, Don (13 April 1997). "Musings of the Main Mormon". San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on 17 May 2012. Retrieved 2010-11-24.
- Phillips, Rick (2005). Conservative Christian Identity & Same-Sex Orientation: The Case of Gay Mormons (PDF). Frankfurt, Germany: Peter Lang Publishing. ISBN 978-0820474809. Archived from the original on April 18, 2017. Retrieved May 31, 2017.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
- Understanding and Helping Those Who Have Homosexual Problems: Suggestions for Ecclesiastical Leaders, Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1992. Reprint Archived 2016-09-29 at the Wayback Machine without permission at qrd.org
- Packer, Boyd (1976), To Young Men Only (PDF), The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-11
- Brenner-Idan, Athalya (1 Nov 2003). Are We Amused?: Humour About Women In the Biblical World. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 111. ISBN 9780826426277. Archived from the original on 16 February 2017. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
- Brown Jr., Victor L.; Bergin, Allen E. (1973). Homosexuality: Welfare Services Packet 1. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. pp. 16–17.
- Tannenbaum, Rob (May 1995). "Keep Your Hands to Yourself". Details: 71. Retrieved 1 February 2017.
- For the Strength of Youth (7 ed.). Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1990. Archived from the original on 2016-11-12.
- For the Strength of Youth (8 ed.). Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. p. 26. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
- For the Strength of Youth (PDF) (9 ed.). Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Fall 2011. p. 36. Archived (PDF) from the original on 13 September 2016. Retrieved 15 November 2016.
- Kimball, Spencer (1982), The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, Deseret Book Company, p. 269, ISBN 978-1-57008-938-1
- Kimball, Spencer (January 5, 1965), "Love vs. Lust", BYU Speeches of the Year, pp. 22–24, archived from the original on November 10, 2016.Transcript reprint with permission at mentalhealthlibrary.info
- Kimball, Spencer (1980), President Kimball Speaks Out on Morality, archived from the original on 2017-02-04
- Kimball, Spencer (1972), Faith Precedes the Miracle: Based on Discourses of Spencer W. Kimball, Deseret Book Company, p. 174, ISBN 978-0-87747-490-6
- Kimball, Spencer (April 1967). "The Mistletoe". The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. LDS General Conference. Archived from the original on 3 February 2017. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
- Kimball, Spencer (1972), Faith Precedes the Miracle: Based on Discourses of Spencer W. Kimball, Deseret Book Company, p. 230, ISBN 978-0-87747-490-6
- Samantha Allen, "Tim Ferriss Is Bro Culture's Anti-Masturbation Crusader" Archived 2017-05-04 at the Wayback Machine, The Daily Beast, August 1, 2014.
- Peggy Fletcher Stack, "LDS Church 'retires' Mormon apostle's 'little factory' pamphlet" Archived 2016-11-14 at the Wayback Machine, The Salt Lake Tribune, November 14, 2016.
- "A Parent's Guide Chapter 5: Teaching Adolescents: from Twelve to Eighteen Years". ChurchofJesusChrist.org. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Archived from the original on 15 January 2017. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
- Callister, Tad. "The Lord's Standard". ChurchofJesusChrist.org. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Retrieved 4 February 2017.
- Stolberg, Michael (April 2000). "An Unmanly Vice: Self-Pollution, Anxiety, and the Body in the Eighteenth Century". Social History of Medicine. 13 (1): 8. doi:10.1093/shm/13.1.1. PMID 11624419.
- Reeves, Linda. "Worthy of Our Promised Blessings". ChurchofJesusChrist.org. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Archived from the original on 4 February 2017. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
- Young, S. Dilworth (October 1958). Teach Your Children. Salt Lake City: BYU. pp. 72–73. Archived from the original on 4 February 2017. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
- Benson, Ezra (October 1959). "Call to Repentance". BYU. Conference Report. Archived from the original on 4 February 2017. Retrieved 3 February 2017.