Spiritual Messages and Teachings for LDS Youth and Youth Leaders

The WHY Behind the Law of Chastity

By: John Bytheway

From the book: What I Wish I’d Known in High School: A Crash Course in Teenage Survival

Humanity will rise or fall through its attitude toward the law of chastity.
—Mark E. Petersen

Good evening, folks, I’m Steve Goodguy, and welcome to ‘Answer the Obvious!’ Are the contestants ready?” (Look left and smile for the camera.) “Alrighty, away we go! And here’s today’s first brain stumper! Question 1: Why can’t you shift from ‘D’ into ‘P’ while doing 65 miles per hour on the freeway?”


“Yes, Jack, your answer, please.”

“Two words: Transmission explosion. ‘P’ means ‘Park,’ not ‘Pass.’ Also, shifting into Park on the freeway causes Dad great physical and emotional discomfort.”

“Okay, next question: Why can’t you put caramel sauce on a hot dog?”


“Yes, Diane.”

“You can, but it really confuses your taste buds.”

“Very good, and now Question 3: Why don’t people use a large cactus as a Christmas tree?”


“Go ahead, Marlin.”

“Hanging ornaments would be an adventure in pain.”

“Wonderful, contestants! and now we’ll move ahead to the double-obvious round. . . . BZZZZZZT! CLUNK, CLUNK, click.

We interrupt this ridiculous introduction to continue with this chapter. (In case you’re wondering what happened in the game show, Jack won the double-obvious round and the bus trip to Flagstaff.)

Hi! . . . Am I on? Hi, it’s me. It’s your author again. Welcome back to the book. Let’s see, what class are we in? Oh yes. Chastity 101. Okay, here we go. The questions above were relatively easy to answer, and perfect for a game show. Some questions, however, require a little more thought (you’ll never see these on a TV quiz show):

Question: Why can’t I date until I’m sixteen?

Question: Why am I told to date only those with high standards?

Question: Why do we have to obey the law of chastity?

Question: Why can’t I see R-rated movies?

Question: Why can’t I drink?

Question: Why do we have all these rules!?

Good questions, huh? And as we observe the behavior of those on television, in movies, in magazines, and even among our friends at school, questions like those are bound to come up. The idea of getting up in the morning and asking, “Gee, how many restrictions should I place on myself today?” seems strange to most of the world. They may not realize (yet) that real freedom comes from living by the rules. Being “free” means being the master of our passions, not their slave.

Okay, our thirty seconds are up, and it’s time for our answer. BZZZZZZZZZZT! Mr. Goodguy, we can answer not only the six questions above, but every question about the standards we choose to live by; and we can answer in only four words: The Plan of Salvation.

Simple. The Plan of Salvation is the “big picture” that gives us all the answers. It’s the map for our journey through time. Studying the Plan of Salvation is the best way to understand the commandments! In the light of “The Plan,” the “whys” behind our standards—especially the law of chastity—are easy to see. Elder Boyd K. Packer explained:

Without a knowledge of the gospel plan, transgression seems natural, innocent, even justified. There is no greater protection from the adversary than for us to know the truth—to know the plan! 1

The Plan of Salvation has many names. Among them are the plan of redemption (see Alma 12:32) and the plan of happiness (see Alma 42:8, 16). Let’s use the last one, because we all want to be happy. And believe it or not, that’s exactly what life is for. The Prophet Joseph Smith said:

Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God. 2

And who can forget these four oft-quoted words (especially since we’ve already used them in the book—but that’s okay; scriptures never wear out): “Wickedness never was happiness” (Alma 41:10).

By now you may be thinking, “This all sounds really nice, John, but happiness was not what I felt when I had to tell this totally gorgeous guy that I couldn’t go out with him because I wasn’t old enough,” or, “Happiness is not what I experience when everyone at school makes fun of me because they know I’m saving myself for marriage.”

You’ve got a point. But are you talking about short-term happiness or long-term happiness? Are you talking about feeling good now, or feeling great later? The Plan of Salvation is definitely a long-term thing (it’s about as long-term as you can get), and there is a far greater happiness ahead if we can endure a few short-term trials on the way. Sometimes standards may seem like a pain—and maybe they are. It may cause a little bit of pain to stick to your standards, but doing so will mean much less pain, and therefore much more happiness, later on. As the old saying goes, “There are two kinds of pain in life: the pain of discipline, and the pain of regret. Discipline weighs ounces, while regret weighs tons.” Which kind of pain do you prefer: a little now, or a lot later? Obviously, what we want in the eternities is much more important than what we want short-term. In fact, as someone once said, “The chief cause of failure and unhappiness in life is in trading what we want most for what we want at the moment.”

Well, what do we want most? Happiness. And we’re in luck, because The Plan is designed to give us maximum happiness! There are blessings beyond imagination waiting for us if we love our Father in Heaven and stick to his Plan. You may have quite an imagination, but the best you can imagine doesn’t come close to what God has prepared for his faithful children.

Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. (1 Corinthians 2:9)

Wow, what a promise! Once again, what’s the ultimate objective for each of us? To dwell with God in a state of “never-ending happiness” (Mosiah 2:41; Alma 28:12). As you know, in order to get there, we must take certain steps:

Come to earth and receive a body. (Done that.)

Be baptized. (Done that. If you’re reading this and you haven’t done that, I have a couple of friends I’d like you to meet.)

Develop faith. (Working on that.)

Obey the commandments. (Working on that.)

Have a celestial marriage. (This means not only being married in the temple, but working with your partner to make the marriage “celestial.” Working on that.)

Endure to the end. (Working on that too.)

Now, if Heavenly Father’s objective is to get us to heaven, or, in other words, to “bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39), what would Satan’s objective be? BZZZZZZT! Right! To keep us from getting there! “For [Satan] seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself” (2 Nephi 2:27).

So let’s be like Mr. Spock and get really logical about this. What will Satan try to do? What is his agenda? Simple. Stop the Plan of Salvation. Can he do that? No. The Plan will happen—it is happening. But he can try to slow it down, or to cause difficulties along the way (remember the Garden of Eden?). A perceptive teen (like yourself) once asked, “If Satan knows he’s going to lose, why does he keep fighting against God?” Good question. Even if Satan does know he will eventually lose, some things are still up for grabs—the individual souls of you and me! He is trying to take captive as many souls as he can (see Moses 4:4). Earth life, then, is a battle for our souls. And how do we protect ourselves in this battle? We live our standards. (Hint: talking about our standards is nice too, but living them is what protects us.)

Let’s get specific. Knowing that Satan wants to frustrate The Plan, what do you suppose he will do first? Exactly. Prevent spirits from coming to earth. How will he do this? He’ll do all in his power to promote abortion. He’ll convince people to have no children. He will raise fears about overpopulation and encourage governments to make laws that limit the number of children couples can have. He’ll do whatever he can to keep those spirits from coming!

What if the spirits get here anyway? (I mean, you and I and everyone else on the planet did.) Well, one of the steps of The Plan listed above was to have a celestial marriage. In order to enter the temple and receive the ordinance that makes possible a celestial marriage, we must obey what? BZZZZZZT! Right! The law of chastity!

The law of chastity is the number-one commandment Satan will try to get us to break! The most powerful weapon in his arsenal of misery is immorality. Prophets have warned us about it throughout time. President Ezra Taft Benson said:

The plaguing sin of this generation is sexual immorality. This, the Prophet Joseph said, would be the source of more temptations, more buffetings, and more difficulties for the elders of Israel than any other. 3

The power to bring children into this world is the most sacred power God has given us, and he has told us that it is to be used only by those who are lawfully married. But Satan tries to make the sacred seem cheap, common, low, and only for selfish pleasure. He wants people to tell dirty stories and jokes, taking sacred things and making them sound vulgar and dirty. He promotes sex without responsibility, without the commitment of marriage (or any commitment at all). “Do what you want, live it up! It doesn’t matter—just protect yourself and use birth control.” (Sounds like a commercial for 90102, or 91202, or 911, or whatever that show is. If you don’t know what show I’m referring to, that’s good. Maybe it’s been cancelled.)

Satan also attacks marriage and families. He does everything he can to make marriage look old-fashioned, outdated, like too much of a commitment, too much responsibility. He persuades people to decide, “Why don’t we just live together?”

Is his strategy working? Well, take a look around. Anyone who is awake can see that traditional homes and families are under attack, and the attacks will continue. I read the most chilling quote the other day, and it comes from a leader in a movement that claims to be trying to help women:

Since marriage constitutes slavery for women, it is clear that the women’s movement must concentrate on attacking marriage. Freedom for women cannot be without the abolition of marriage. 4

How do you like that! A direct attack on one of the steps to heaven! Apparently, Satan will do everything he can to fuel the war between the sexes. Tune in on a daytime talk show, and watch the men yell at the women and the women yell at the men. Hatred, bitterness, and distrust are other weapons the adversary uses to discourage understanding and mutual respect and, of course, marriage.

Satan fights this battle on many fronts—he finds many ways to disrupt The Plan. For example, besides being addictive and destructive, pornography exploits and demeans people (mostly women and children). It sends the message that people are to be valued only as objects—not as spirit individuals, each with a mind and a heart. It also sends the false message that “looks” are more important than anything else, and that we don’t have to control our thoughts. (See For the Strength of Youth, p. 11.)

How does the Word of Wisdom fit into all this? The Word of Wisdom is about the health of our bodies, but it’s also about our spirits! What did we, as spirits, fight to keep in the premortal existence? BZZZZZZT! Right: our agency—an essential part of The Plan. What does drinking, or smoking, or drug abuse, or pornography, or any other addictive behavior do? Right again—little by little, such behaviors cause us to give away our agency, the very thing we fought to keep! See how it all fits? Isn’t the gospel great?

Observe the world! Use your brain and your perceptivity, and you’ll notice things every day that can be traced back to Satan’s basic goal of undermining The Plan of Happiness. Look closely, because Satan is in disguise. Elder James E. Faust shared this description of him, given by the First Presidency:

He is working under such perfect disguise that many do not recognize either him or his methods. There is no crime he would not commit, no debauchery he would not set up, no plague he would not send, no heart he would not break, no life he would not take, no soul he would not destroy. He comes as a thief in the night; he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. 5

We must remain alert and recognize what Satan is trying to do. What does Satan want teenagers and young adults to think? Simple. He wants them to think they are a bunch of misfit weirdos if they’re not out being immoral every weekend. Get them to think they’re pitiful nobodies if they’ve never been kissed! Get them to feel discouraged and lonely because they’re eighteen and they don’t date much! And get them to blame that discouragement not on Satan, where it belongs, but on their standards! Don’t you fall for it! Your tough standards are protections, not punishments! Their purpose is to save your life, not to make it hard. Yes, they make you different from the world, but who wants to be like the world? It’s gross!

If I were speaking to you from a lectern or a pulpit instead of a word processor, I would clench my fist and pound the pulpit to give emphasis to these words. My friend, you don’t need to compromise! You don’t need to descend to the standards of the world! Your spirit has so much to offer! You live a higher standard; you live on a higher plane; you set your sights on the stars, not in the gutter. High standards are made to match the high quality of your spirit. May I repeat? High standards match the high quality of your spirit!

It’s easy to get really hyper about this topic because too many teenagers think they’re in some kind of race: a race to date, a race to have a boyfriend or girlfriend, a race to kiss or be kissed. May I say to you in the spirit of friendship, if you’re eighteen and you’ve never been kissed, big deal! If you’re eighteen and you’ve never been on a date, big whoop! This is not a race! And even if it were a race, those who cross the finish line first are usually losing—losing virtue and self-respect, and seriously jeopardizing their chances of obtaining the “never-ending happiness” promised in the celestial kingdom.

Satan is the enemy of The Plan of Happiness. His plan is the plan of misery. His plan is to ruin our chances for exaltation. So, if we’re going to make it to heaven, we’d better come up with a battle plan of our own. Basically, it comes down to your right to choose how you’re going to live your life. You can either float along with the popular drift of the world, do what everyone else does, “go with the flow”—or you can set your sights on higher ground, and choose a higher course consistent with the quality of your spirit.

You don’t have to apologize to the world about your

standards! They’ll do what they choose to do, and you’ll do what you choose to do. They’ll be accountable for their choices, and you’ll be accountable for yours. Hmmm, sounds like Choice and Accountability . . . why does that sound so familiar?

One of the few things you can really control in life is your standards. You can’t change your eye color, your height, the shape of your nose—but you can absolutely choose your standards. You can stand up and say to the world, “This is who I am! This is what I believe! This is what I’ll do, and this is what I won’t do!”

At this point, you may be thinking, “This is kind of a stretch. Just because I go out with a guy when I’m fifteen, that doesn’t mean I’ll mess up the whole Plan of Salvation!” That’s true, but you have to understand how clever Satan is. He’ll encourage you to make little compromises at first. Just little things at the beginning. He just wants you to take some small steps along one of his paths: a path of saying, “Oh, it’s not that bad”; a path of minor compromises here and there. But little steps lead to medium steps, and then giant steps. Before you know it, you’ve traveled farther than you realize—and the farther you go, the harder it is to turn around. One of Satan’s more clever lies is this one: “You can do what you want now, and repent later.” He neglects to point out how hard that repenting might be.

So what’s the solution? Don’t start on the path; not even a step.

Besides, what about the simple question of obedience? Hmmm? What about following the Lord’s counsel whether you understand it or not, simply because you love him?

Anyway, Satan is patient, and he’s very experienced. If you start dating when you’re fourteen, or fifteen, then he’s got even more time to work on getting you to violate the law of chastity. In order to stay on the path of happiness, you need to choose right now how you’re going to behave regarding physical affection.

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