6 Harmful Myths Latter-Day Saint Women Often Hear About Their Bodies

Once it’s crumpled, a dollar bill cannot be crisp again.

In response to some of the object lessons that compare women and their virtue to dollar bills, cake, or gum, I would like to share this short story from President Thomas S. Monson:

“Another principle of truth which will guide us in our determination is that boys and men [and girls and women] can change. I’m reminded of the words of a prison warden who taught this fact. A critic who knew of Warden Duffy’s efforts to rehabilitate men said, ‘Don’t you know that leopards can’t change their spots?’
“Warden Duffy responded, ‘You should know I don’t work with leopards. I work with men, and men change every day.’”

These examples or object lessons hurt women in many ways. When we tie a person’s sense of worth and wholeness to one thing—sexual purity—we limit their potential and create many unintentionally harmful scenarios.

For instance, what message do these lessons send to those who are sexually molested, raped, or abused? Elizabeth Smart, who was kidnapped and raped as a 13-year-old, shared at a forum on human trafficking at Johns Hopkins University:

“I was raised in a religious household where I was taught that sex only happened between a married man and a woman. After that rape, I felt so dirty . . . can you imagine going back into a society where you are no longer of value? Where you are no longer as good as anybody else?”

►You’ll also like: Elizabeth Smart Shares How Teaching Chastity the Wrong Way at Church Has Harmful, Lasting Effects

And even if a woman makes a conscious choice to disobey the law of chastity, we limit her inherent worth and limit Christ’s Atonement by saying she can never be whole again. Of course, we all live with consequences—both from our own choices and others—but the Atonement is real. It’s powerful. It can heal and cleanse anyone who has the faith and desire to change.

Women are not dollar bills. They are not cake. They are not gum. Women are daughters of Heavenly Parents. And when we make mistakes, we can change. We can access the Atonement, which is real and powerful.

Stay clear of the line.

Here’s a secret the prophets and apostles and every couple who has ever dated already knows: when it comes to dating, there is no one, solid line. In fact, thinking of dating as a list of do nots can take the romance out of it and tempt some to see how much they can flirt with that imaginary line they’ve created.

But the myth of the line persists because it’s easier to follow a list of rules than it is to gauge your feelings and those of the person you are dating. But here’s the problem with thinking of dating in terms of lines: it is again missing the point. We are trying to turn sexual purity into a whole book of rules just like the Pharisees and Sadducees did with the Law of Moses.

Dating is not a challenge for us to get through, a test to see how long we can hold out until we are married. Intimacy—physical, emotional, and spiritual—is a delicate balance we continually work on throughout our life. Dating is our chance to build that balance in a new relationship. And when we focus so much on the physical side of things, everything else gets out of whack.

In dating, we should be conscious of what emotions and desires are being aroused within us, try to stay clear of those that arouse strong sexual desires, and try to keep a healthy balance in our relationships. We should also think less of our own immediate gratification and think more of the person we are with and how our actions might be affecting them. In short, it all comes down to respect: respect for yourself, respect for the person you are dating, and respect for the relationship the two of you are building. Instead of looking for "the line," focus on being the best you can be and helping your significant other reach their potential as well.

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