Chastity—it's a crucial topic in the Church, one which parents and Church leaders agonize over, pray about, and grapple with when teaching youth. But chastity and abstinence are only one small part of a much larger picture in Heavenly Father's eternal plan, one influenced by powerful principles such as virtue, modesty, and the sanctity of sexual intimacy. So the next time you sit down to discuss chastity with someone you love, keep these ideas and principles in mind as they will help provide context and the reasons behind sexual purity.
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Virtue and modesty mean so much more than we often give them credit for.
Modesty has never been about what you wear—it is a way of life, a meekness, and humility embodied in the life of the Savior of the world. Modesty is our willingness and desire to become true disciples of Jesus Christ, which is reflected in our words, actions, and yes, even our appearance. Modesty is a way for men and women to access the powers of heaven and demonstrate to our Heavenly Father we are ready and willing to receive the higher blessings He has in store for us.
To limit modesty to clothing choice cheapens this eternal principle, and to assume what women wear or how they act puts thoughts into another's mind objectifies women, demoralizes men, and ignores the gift of agency—the very gift all of us fought to defend in our premortal life.
Often we use the word virtue almost interchangeably with the word chastity. While virtue definitely encompasses purity and chastity, we cheapen virtue by saying it’s synonymous with those things. Being virtuous means we try to uphold all virtues, like honesty, morality, integrity, humility, charity, accountability, civility, patience, compassion, cleanliness, dignity, faith, generosity, forgiveness, gratitude, repentance, self-reliance, etc.
Frequently in the scriptures when Christ performs a miracle, the phrase “virtue went out of him” accompanies this event. It’s through the power of virtue Christ healed the woman with an “issue of blood” or the blind man. In Doctrine and Covenants, virtue appears frequently in connection with the priesthood (i.e. by virtue of the priesthood”).
A number of other words could have been used in these verses, but virtue is so fitting because it demonstrates that it is through virtue men and women exercise the priesthood and the full power of their covenants. Virtue itself is a power, the power of our Savior, Jesus Christ, whose own spotless life allowed Him to command the earth and the heavens.
Sexual intimacy is a sacrament.
When we understand the purpose and sanctity of sex, much of the questioning and wondering about chastity disappears. As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland declares:
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The Atonement covers everything. Period.
No matter what you have done, no matter what object lessons you've experienced, no matter what someone may have told you, and no matter what you are telling yourself, the Atonement is infinite and it is there for you. It covers every sin, heals every hurt, and atones for every mistake. Period. No buts or exceptions.
As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland proclaims: