Monday, September 28, 2009

How Important is the Law of Chastity?

Sexual sins have been labeled as "next to murder" by some who interpret Alma's words to his wayward son as applying to all such actions. There is a long conversation that should occur about the actual nature of Alma's criticism of his son's actions (focusing on exactly which action he labeled as next to murder in seriousness), but I want to tackle the general idea of the importance of the Law of Chastity without the baggage of looking at all sexual transgressions as next to murder. I want to address why we stress it so heavily, when many situations are seen as (and actually might be) quite benign.

It’s important to note that perfectly acceptable definitions of “abominable” include “corrupt” and “abhorrent” and “disgusting”, etc. If we hold certain things to be central to our liberties and responsibilities and theological foundations, then anything that abridges or alters or violates those standards will be within the bounds of “high level abomination”.

Also, if the result of sin should be considered in allocating a level of abomination, the potential wreckage of family life (that can be seen throughout our modern society) also argues for placing sexual sin high on the list of abominations.

One more thing: A command should not be judged by the most benign breaking of it. Two teenagers making out in the backseat of a car without the girl getting pregnant can’t be the basis for the discussion. The objectification of women through pornography and the dehumanizing effects of prostitution are a much better judgment standard - which is more in line with rape and child molestation (and the actual scriptural account in question). Just as the Word of Wisdom should be judged more by the drunk who beats his wife and children and keeps them in poverty than the occasional social drinker, the Law of Chastity should not be judged primarily by teenagers in a car.


Christy said...

Ray, you have such a wonderful perspective, thank you for sharing your insights. As a mother of teenagers, I appreciate receiving this understanding now.

From my limited experience, what I see as an important difference between the two scenarios you mention is the lack of the Spirit or the Light of Christ. Certainly if you indulge in the most depraved sexual sins, you will lose those gifts, but also, if you abandon those gifts, it can lead to the most abominable behavior, and I find that frightening.

SilverRain said...

I'd like to take this a step farther, and submit that the core horror of sexual sin is not the breaking apart of families, but that it involves objectifying people.

With an infinitely loving Father, when we work against love the way He loves, when we see people as objects and not as people, we reject Him and turn away from Him.

Sex without commitment turns the other person into a sexual object, it strips eternal love from the relationship. Even marriage in its least divine form carries with it some extra level of true commitment, as the participants commit to become one in purpose. Eternal marriage makes God part of the marriage, and not only fails to turn the marriage partners away from Him, it serves to bring them closer to Him. It means that not only are the people willing to be unified in each other, but also in Him.

Unknown said...

Ray, I understand and agree with this completely, but only with major caveats. Picking up your analogy, if the topic is guns, we have to distinguish between a kid playing around with a gun accidentally shooting his friend and a cold-blooded murder. But in either case, someone still died.

Parts of my extended family still suffer from some subtle but powerful after-effects of a 19- and 20-year-old fooling around in the back seat of a car in about 1930 -- a couple that raised the child and stayed married for more than 70 years.

An out-of-control teen may have little in common with a rapist or pornographer in terms of intent or level of guilt, but can still inflict damage to himself and others that lasts for generations. That's why all varieties are so serious.