"Become more chaste in thought and deed." It is taken from Matthew 5:27-28, which read thus:
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery. But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.I shortened my resolution and worded it as "becoming more chaste in thought AND deed" due to the framing in these verses of "adultery" as something that can be committed both physically AND mentally - and because of the underlying foundation of chastity inherent in avoiding adultery.
As I contemplate these verses, the first thing that jumps out at me is that Jesus appears to be doing two things in this statement. First, he is reinforcing the general prohibition against adultery included in the ancient Ten Commandments. Second, however, he is laying out the concept that we (as "living souls" - Moses 6:9) truly are a combination of body and spirit - that something that affects one has a corresponding effect on the other. For those who think of our spirit as something incorporeal and formless, this might be confusing, but for those who envision our spirits as possessing real form and substance (of being "material" in some way) it makes sense to speak of influences on our spirits in the same manner that we understand influences on our physical bodies. It makes sense to speak of addictions to our spirit in the same way we speak of addictions to our physical bodies. Likewise, it makes sense to think of there being a real effect of "visualizing sexual activity", just as there is a real effect of being involved "physically" with sexual activity.
In fact, I believe these verses go beyond a simple "analogy" or "comparison" between the two. I believe that Jesus is teaching in this passage the core concept that "spiritual activity" is actual "physical activity" - again, since our spirits are comprised of "real, actual" matter that simply is too "fine" to be discerned by our mortal eyes. (See D&C 131:7) I believe that Jesus is doing more than merely saying, "Don't even look with lust, because that might lead to adultery in the flesh." Rather, he is saying, "There is adultery of the flesh, and there is adultery of the spirit. BOTH are adultery in a truly "physical" way; both have real, physical effects; don't commit either."
There are three main ways in which I could "look upon a woman to lust after her" in this day and age. The first is in my own direct interactions with those I meet in person. The second is through representations outside my direct interactions, comprised through and presented by visual media of various sorts. The third is one that is not considered nearly as often, but one that is just as important - through the envisioning or replaying of lustful activities within my own mind, independent of exterior stimuli. Each is a challenge for many, but the second is much more easily available in our modern day and society - and the third is common throughout all eras, regardless of available technology. (I will deal more specifically with that aspect and its implications in an upcoming post.)
So, my initial focus with regard to this resolution will be to:
1)become more aware of any situation in my own direct interactions where I might be likely to be tempted to lust - and avoid that temptation in some constructive and intentional way;
2) avoid visual representations (like, at the extreme, pornography) that would do the same thing;
3) either focus all images like those in question in my mind on my wife (with whom "adultery" is impossible for me) or stop such images by substituting something else.
Again, I will post more on each of these focal points in subsequent posts, after dealing with the core concept of chastity.