marriage bed symbol

marriage bed symbol

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Secret Sexual Sins in Marriage - Conclusion



WARNING: This post contains a topic of a sacred sexual nature and is intended for married couples only. Reader discretion is advised.
 
If you missed part [1] , [2] [3], [4],  [5] , or [6] you can go back to any of them here.

 So how can we know if what our parents or church leaders are telling us about sexuality is gospel doctrine, and not a cultural myth?

Revisiting the Law of Chastity for Marriage 

The key is to seek out gospel knowledge for ourselves.[i] This knowledge comes directly from the scriptures, official church documents and the words of the living prophets over any other source - including well-meaning members, priesthood leaders, and even close family members. If what they say doesn't concur with the scriptures or the words spoken over the pulpit at General Conference, you are right to be suspicious.

Seek confirmation of anything you hear, or read, or see, if you're not sure. If you've been baptized and you're a worthy member, you have access to the Holy Ghost. He is the perfect conduit of truth.[ii] Do your homework and come to what you feel is a reasonable decision based on what you've found, and seek heavenly affirmation.[iii] 

Then take action. Live what you've learned, and watch for the fruits of the Spirit. 

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” – Galatians 5:22-23

If you find more of those fruits in your life as a result of your actions, that's further verification that you're on the right track.

The law of chastity doesn’t disappear once we are married and sexually active with our spouses. We are still under covenant to control and channel those feelings in the direction of our spouse and no one else.
The guidelines we find in the For The Strength of Youth still apply. Having an authorized sexual channel open to those of us who are married is part of the guidelines, whereas those who are single do not. The only real difference is that, now we are married, we must learn how to properly use our sexuality in our marriages and the way the Lord wants us to. 

I talk about this in many of my articles, and will restate it here. When it comes to what a husband and wife do sexually with each other and in private sanctity, no one in the church can tell a husband and/or wife what they can or cannot do. The church’s leadership handbooks are very clear about this. 

There is a reason why it’s not spelled out in the scriptures, or in general conference talks, or in the leadership handbooks. It’s because the Lord knows that each marriage is unique. Because of this, there must be a spirit-of-the-law allowance made for sexuality in marriage. 

Like Adam and Eve’s crucible with the tree of knowledge, each married couple has the right to investigate and decide as a couple what works sexually and what doesn’t.

A good overall rule-of-thumb to use is this - if what you’re doing together sexually strengthens your friendship and edifies your marriage, it is holy to the Lord. If it doesn’t, stop what you’re doing, at least temporarily, and ‘get understanding’[iv]as to why this is.

So in a nutshell, to avoid “secret sexual sins”:
  • The ‘For The Strength of Youth’ guidelines still apply when we're married – no sexual relations outside of our marriage.
  • Get instruction or help when necessary.
  • Respect the mind, heart and feelings of our spouse
  • The Word of Wisdom applies to what we do sexually in marriage. Protect the spouse’s body as well as our own.
  • Don’t keep secrets (especially sexual secrets) from our spouses.
  • Learn and understand what sacred things are and how to have reverence for them. If we’re don’t have a correct sense of what’s sacred, we might as well be atheists. See Elder D. Todd Christofferson’s talk on “A Sense of the Sacred”[v]
  • It’s not too late to repent. Don’t let unrepented sexual transgressions stand in the way of keeping your eternal companion and your ability to have great sex into the eternities.


[i] Oaks, Dallin H., Testimony, General Conference, April 2008., https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2008/04/testimony?lang=eng

[ii] Moroni 10:5 “…and by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.”
[iii] D&C 9:7-9
[iv]  Proverbs 4    “Keep the commandments and live—With all your getting, get understanding—Go not in the way of evil men.”

[v] Christofferson, D. Todd, A Sense of the Sacred, BYU Speeches, Nov. 2004., https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/d-todd-christofferson_sense-sacred/

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Secret Sexual Sins in Marriage - Part 6

WARNING: This post contains a topic of a sacred sexual nature and is intended for married couples only. Reader discretion is advised.
 
If you missed part [1] , [2] [3], [4], or [5] you can go back to any of them here.


This is our continuing discussion concerning President Kimball's thoughts on 'secret sexual sins in marriage', as he wrote about in The Miracle of Forgiveness

So far, we've discussed what some of those 'secret sexual sins' might be - what could be a sexual sin inside of marriage? It's an intriguing question, and some of my thoughts on what these might be have been addressed in the previous articles linked above.

Some further thoughts I have are regarding...

Secrets and Selfishness
 
The last scripture used in this section of The Miracle of Forgiveness directly referenced with the phrase ‘secret sexual sins’ was a scripture directed to Emma Smith, as the Lord was introducing the practice of plural marriage to Joseph and Emma: 
  
"And let mine handmaid, Emma Smith, receive all those that have been given unto my servant Joseph, and who are virtuous and pure before me; and those who are not pure, and have said they were pure, shall be destroyed, saith the Lord God." (D&C 132:52.)
To give some context to what is happening here in this scripture, the Lord was encouraging Emma to accept those who were being given to Joseph as plural wives. The Lord was giving an added protection to her (since she was in the more vulnerable position of the two) that if any of the new wives lied about their worthiness to enter into this marriage, the Lord would destroy them. In case any are still confused, by ‘virtuous and pure’, the Lord meant sexual purity. 

If any of the women who had agreed to be sealed to Joseph had been involved in immoral sexual activity, and then told Joseph they were clean and worthy, they would be in hot water with God. The protection for Emma was that promiscuity ran the risk of spreading sexually transmitted diseases as well as creating other psychological and relationship issues. 

Syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases were around during Joseph Smith’s time and often incapacitating or deadly.[i] The church was small, but it was growing.  The people coming into the church were from all walks of life, and their background and family history was not always known to the local members. Where the women were concerned, previous involvement in prostitution was a very real possibility. So this was a clear protection provided for Emma and the sacrifice she was making to be obedient to the Lord.

So what does that have to do with us today, in our marriages?

Lying about or failing to disclose information about previous sexual transgressions to a potential spouse could be considered one of the “secret sexual sins” President Kimball was referring to, based on the context of this scripture. Engaging in immoral behavior after marriage and trying to hide it from a spouse could also count as a secret sexual sin.

As the scripture suggests, this is especially serious if a couple are entering into a sealing covenant in the temple and one or both enter into the covenant and have unrepented sexual sins.

Not only could this lead to an invalid sealing covenant, but it’s also selfish by not disclosing sexual transgressions that could potentially harm the new husband or wife, or not give them the opportunity to make an informed decision on their marriage based on knowing the whole situation. 

If we carry unrepentant sin into the temple, and into our marriages, it can destroy us.[ii] If we try to keep sexual secrets from our spouses after marriage, the wedge it drives between you is not worth the effort to keep the secret.[iii]

Being unworthy ourselves denies promised eternal blessings to both spouses. We should repent quickly to free ourselves from such burdens.

There are no acceptable secrets in a marriage – at least, there shouldn’t be. The health of any given marriage relationship often correlates with how open a couple can be with each other (with kindness and respect) in every area of life, including sex.[iv]


[i] For some historical background on this issues, see Jackson, April L. The History of Prostitution Reform in the United States. Thesis. University of Tennessee Knoxville. May 2004: http://trace.tennessee.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1754&context=utk_chanhonoproj

[ii]1 Corinthians 3:17; also see Packer, Boyd K. ”Ye Are the Temple of God”, October 2000 General Conference, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2000/10/ye-are-the-temple-of-god?lang=eng
[iii] Monson, Thomas, “Hidden Wedges”, April 2002 Conference: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2002/04/hidden-wedges?lang=eng

[iv] See my article on secrets in a marriage, and how it can be a killer to a relationship: http://ldsmarriagebed.blogspot.com/2011/06/four-marriage-killers-secrets.html

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Board-Approved Elementary-School Textbook = Pornography?



"...also trust no one to be your teacher...except he be a man of God, walking in his ways and keeping his commandments..." - Mosiah 23:14

There was another news article that came out April 15th , 2016 that (I felt) illustrated –once again- the problem with the term “pornography”.  

How do we draw the line between “art” and “pornography”? Where is the line between ‘educational material” and “pornography”?

Who should make those decisions for us…and our children? Can I make that decision for yourself, and explain my reasons in a way that makes sense? Do I feel spiritually comfortable acting on such a decision?

I was only going to post the video clip of this new report and a link to my article “Mormons Take Pleasure In Sacred Erotica”, but my wife also felt I needed to also say a few words to help show how this illustrates the problem with the word “pornography”, and how I approach such moment. I posted the videos pertaining to this new report below. Hopefully, such a personal indulgence will be helpful to someone.

When I see an article like this, I can hear the arguments on both sides. One side saying, “If prisoners are not allowed to read this book, why are children allowed to read it? Society is going crazy with pornography, and we need to protect our children.”

Another side might say, “Mark Twain’s book, Huckleberry Finn, was once a banned book in public school libraries for being too obscene. This book has beautiful and tasteful illustrations and good information, and ‘church’ or ‘spirituality’ shouldn’t be a factor in children’s decisions about their bodies. Using cartoons to teach sexuality is not using real people, so therefore how can you count it as pornography?Our society hasn’t advanced enough to realize that sex is normal, and children need to learn about it without shame.”

When I then read the full article or listen to the full newscast (which we must – reading just the headline doesn’t count as reading the full article), I see elements within that help me make my decision one way or the other.

In this case, from my perspective, and based upon my past research and my understanding of and belief in LDS doctrine, I would say that this particular book is not appropriate for children to learn about sexuality – I would not recommend it for prisoners or children. 

The information within the book presents what I feel to be an inaccurate and partial picture of sexuality in general - especially the highlighted statement on masturbation.

Many people who come from a worldly viewpoint focus strictly on the physical, and argue that masturbation ‘cannot hurt you’. That may be true when it comes to the physical body, but we are more than our physical bodies. We have minds and spirits as well.

Masturbation is not the greatest sexual sin that can possibly be committed, but that doesn’t mean it has no consequences. It makes it much harder for those who are trying to live the law of chastity to be successful at it. It has ramifications in relationships, both in and out of marriage. It stunts spiritual growth and progression. For example, I’ve read and heard too many examples of wives crying to their therapists and Church leaders, complaining that their husband prefers masturbation to having sex with them. Why create a future problem to satiate a present desire? Marriage counselor and sex educator Mark Gungor may agree with me: 
 

Additionally, the instructions within the book are inappropriate for people who are not married, whether they be adults or children. Others may feel differently, but that is where I stand.

How can I make such a firm decision at all, and so quickly, based on what I’ve seen in this article?

Because I reject the word ‘pornography’ entirely, and I use instead the Lord’s terms of ‘sacred’ and ‘profane’. I would encourage all my readers to consider doing the same, and teaching their children to do likewise.

If I tried to do what the world does, and what many in Christian churches (including ours) do, and tried to make a decision on whether or not this book is ‘pornography’, the debate would go on and on within myself, and with others, ad nauseum. I can come to no definitive answer, with no firm explanation, if I rely on ‘pornography’ as an acceptable term. Pornography avoids consideration of ‘sacred’ or ‘profane’ in order to support secular agendas.


"And now I say unto you, all you that are desirous to follow the voice of the good shepherd, come ye out from the wicked, and be ye separate, and touch not their unclean things..." - Alma 5:57
 Please consider my article on the sacred and the profane, if you haven't already done so. The link to the news article previously mentioned is here:

Explicit sex ed book causes controversy at Oregon elementary school

And the additional video pertaining to this article: 

 






Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Secret Sexual Sins in Marriage - Part 5



WARNING: This post contains a topic of a sacred sexual nature and is intended for married couples only. Reader discretion is advised.
If you missed part [1] , [2] [3] or [4], the links are here for you to review.


We're still talking about what President Kimball may have meant, when he referred to 'secret sexual sins' in marriage, and what can be done to avoid them.  Another aspect of this refers to...


Protecting the Body of Your Spouse

Physically abusing a spouse during sex is a sin. Keeping it a secret between the husband and wife only makes it worse.[i]

Another scripture that Elder Kimball referenced in this section[ii] was Paul’s counsel to married couples:

“So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself…(Ephesians 5:28)

Just as we protect our own bodies from physical harm, we should protect our spouse’s body as well. If doing a particular sexual practice causes physical harm or discomfort to our spouse, that practice should be discontinued until we know enough to not harm them in that way.

Any sexual practice can be uncomfortable, depending on the circumstances. Even missionary position can hurt if spouses aren’t properly communicating with each other. Other practices, such as oral or anal sex, can be done comfortably and safely with proper knowledge, preparation, and communication. Effective communication overall is the key to keeping each other safe physically

Some kinds of extreme sexual practices, whose very nature involves harming the body or that can even threaten life itself (burning, bloodletting, erotic-asphyxiation, S&M, etc.) have absolutely no place in an LDS marriage. The body is sacred, and should always be treated as such by both spouses.[iii]



[i] “Our behavior in public must be above reproach. Our behavior in private is even more important.” – Gordon B. Hinckley, April 2002 Conference
[ii] Kimball, Spencer W., The Miracle of Forgiveness, Bookcraft, UT, 1969, 73-74
[iii] 1 Corinthians 6: 19-20; also 1 Corinthians 3:16-17. The talk on the Word of Wisdom given by Boyd K. Packer in April 1996 talks about blessings that come from protecting the body, which can also apply to our sexual practices, even though sex practices are not specifically spelled out in the Word of Wisdom. The spirit of this law is there: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1996/04/the-word-of-wisdom-the-principle-and-the-promises?lang=eng


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Secret Sexual Sins In Marriage - Part 4



 Here's the links in case you missed part [1] , [2]  and [3]

Protect the Emotional Life of Our Spouse

The answer to sexual incompatibility is not to end the sexual relationship entirely (see my article on Sexless Marriage and the Sacrament). Intimacy has a needed and eternal function in marriage beyond procreation.

President Joseph F. Smith said “The lawful association of the sexes is ordained of God, not only as the sole means of race perpetuation, but for the development of the higher faculties and nobler traits of human nature, which the love inspired companionship of man and woman alone can insure.” (1917,739)[i]

Forcing celibacy on our spouses or avoiding sex in order to avoid the challenges that go with it is not only detrimental to the health of the marriage but it is also a ‘secret sexual sin’ of omission by being silent about it and hoping it will go away or your spouse will eventually give up.

And on the other hand, coercion[ii] is a ‘secret sexual sin’ as well – ie. emotionally manipulating one’s spouse into sexual acts they don’t want to do through guilt or anger. How would this be a “secret sexual sin”. Coercion is abuse. It’s emotional abuse, but still abuse. If your spouse feels coerced into a sexual act that is repulsive to them, that’s sexual abuse.

However, most men communicate love through their sexuality. They also obtain much needed emotional intimacy through sex. This can also be true for many women. Denying a spouse this intimate form of connection and bonding is also a form of sexual abuse and can be a form of unrighteous dominion. [iii] Both are not bonding and marital edifying attributes that will ensure an eternally happy marriage.

Not repenting for it and then lying about it in a temple recommend interview makes it a “secret sexual sin.” We’re all human. We make mistakes as we learn in the laboratory of marriage. This is a sin easily remedied by repenting and striving to be more Christlike in our interaction with our spouse – on both sides.

If our spouse is reluctant to engage sexually with us, what are the reasons? There can be a multitude of reasons. Reasons anywhere from physical problems to just needing to feel like what they say or think matters. Can we talk about them openly, or would some professional assistance be helpful? 

Both spouses will sometimes go out of their comfort zones in order to expand intimacy – it’s a growth process, which is sometimes painful even in the best of relationships, but that is what marriage is for. It’s to get us our of our comfort zones. It’s purpose is to stretch us and help us to grow.

 Men and women connect differently, and in ways they are not familiar with. It’s an awkward and deliberate process that takes a lot of loving negotiation and communication in order to be successful in a long-term relationship.

Michele Weiner Davis, marriage and family therapist and author of “The Sex Starved Marriage” said:

“A good sexual relationship is a two-person job. If your spouse has put effort into being more sexual, you’ve been doing something to promote and inspire him or her. You’ve got to keep doing it.

Relationship problem solving requires a trial-and-error mind-set. You try something and then you watch your spouse’s reaction carefully. If you get a positive reaction, you know you’re on the right track and you keep going.

If you get nothing, you might try once more. But if your spouse reacts negatively, quit it. It’s as simple as that: you do more of what works and less of what doesn’t work. If more people understood this philosophy, I’d be out of business.”[iv]



[i] Smith, Joseph Fielding, Unchastity the Dominant Evil of the Age, Improvement Era, June 1917, 739
[ii] Kimball, Spencer W., The Miracle of Forgiveness, Bookcraft, UT, 1969, 73-74
[iii] Doctrine and Covenants 121:36-44
[iv] Weiner-David, Michele, The Sex Starved Marriage, Simon and Schuster Paperbacks, NY, 2003,136-137

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Secret Sexual Sins In Marriage - Part 3



Here's the links in case you missed part [1] and [2]  

Another view of ‘secret sexual sins’ would be the opposite of sins of commission. Instead of involving outside parties for sexual stimulation, it’s also a sin (of omission) to not seek the help of professionals or ecclesiastical leaders when we are having difficulties in our marriage that affect sexuality. 
 
Do Get Help or Instruction When Needed 

A mutually satisfying sexual relationship in marriage is part of the vital mortar that holds it together. Mark Gungor, author of “Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage, posted in a recent meme
“ Many people consider turning to others for help in marriage as a sign of weakness. But this is not weakness – this is life.”
A secret sexual sin of omission occurs if we’re having trouble connecting sexually with our spouse, but we don’t talk to them about it or seek to get help to correct the problem, even if that help comes from a book, such as Laura M Brotherson’s book “And They Were Not Ashamed,”  or Michele Weiner-Davis’ book “The Sex-Starved Marriage,” or reading the articles found here.

It doesn’t help a problem to ignore it, and it doesn’t improve your relationship to just avoid discussing sex and hoping your spouse’s intimacy needs will just go away. In many cases, avoidance can lead to the destruction of the relationship.[i] 

This may require swallowing our pride or humbling ourselves enough to admit there is a problem no matter how threatening it may be to our ego, our pride, or our ability to save face. In order for intimacy to exist, there must be conflict. When the couple lovingly and patiently work together to overcome the conflict, the intensity of the intimacy can be nuclear!

But know that most times where there is conflict (in regard to sexual intimacy in marriage) there is a smart, but usually not an easy or gentle way through it.

Dr. David Schnarch said

“Many authors and therapists believe that couples gradually achieve the degree of intimacy they want through accumulated experiences of mutual trust, acceptance, empathy, validation, and reciprocal disclosure.

In all my years of therapy, I’ve never seen intimacy unfold in this idyllic way. Certainly I’ve seen couples who tried this idealized perspective, but it just doesn’t work in the real world of marriage. Ironically, intimacy seems to develop through conflict, self-validation, and unilateral disclosure.”[ii]

The first person that should be confided in is the spouse themselves. This is part of what complete fidelity means. Fidelity means showing faithfulness through continuous loyalty and support.  Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught
 “Our concept of marriage is motivated by revealed truth, not by worldly sociology. The Apostle Paul taught ‘neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.’ (1 Cor. 11:11)”[iii]
Lack of trust in a marriage is not an edifying or bonding attribute. Complete honesty and disclosure is required, as these attributes hit very close to people’s hearts. If you find you need help in this area, when choosing someone outside the marriage to confide in, make sure it’s a person who will keep your confidences sacred, and work for your marriage, instead of someone who will side with one spouse against the other. Whenever possible, seek advice from someone who has an adequate understanding of gospel principles.

Tune in next week to read about how our spouse’s emotional life can be an element of secret sexual sins.


[i] Zaragoza, Samuel, The LDS Marriage Bed, The Four Marriage Killers – Silence, http://ldsmarriagebed.blogspot.com/2011/04/four-marriage-killers-silence.html

[ii] Schnarch, Dr. David, Passionate Marriage, Henry Holt and Company LLC, 1997,103
[iii] Oaks, Dallin H., The Great Plan Of Happiness, Oct. 1993, Conference Report 96-102

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Secret Sexual Sins In Marriage - Part 2



Don’t Go Outside the Marriage

It’s important to remember that books written by General Authorities are not part of our doctrinal canon, but simply helpful life advice for their time. “The Miracle of Forgiveness” is a classic book that’s often quoted in our LDS culture as if it were scripture, mostly because there are so few books that refer to sexuality that are written by such an authoritative figure and in such detail.

However, while I would whole heartedly recommend The Miracle of Forgiveness, the Saints today must examine it carefully and recognize that not all perspectives are timeless. Such as parables and metaphors used in teaching that were relevant to a culture heavily dependent on horses for transportation or prevention practices important to a culture without modern day immunizations - such as polio. So to understand requires digging a little deeper into the individuals personal background.

We see that this quote that involves the phrase ‘secret sexual sins’ is located in his chapter about sins against the law of chastity. The section before this one references the sin of adultery.

In this particular section called ‘Love in Marriage’, he addresses those who are already married, beginning with a scripture that is an important key to understanding his meaning. He says that married couples who strictly keep this law will avoid adultery:

“Thou shalt love thy wife [husband] with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her [him] and none else. (D&C 42:22, italics added)

The italics added were Elder Kimball’s doing – and why was that?

A ‘secret sexual sin’ in marriage begins with the thought of adultery, not the action. It begins with a spicy new TV show or movie, or an erotic  romance novel, or the co-worker who likes a little ‘harmless’ flirting, or the free profane erotic site that pops up one day in an Internet search that we view out of curiosity.

When we begin to mentally and visually wander outside our marriage sexually, we are engaging in ‘secret sexual sins’. The emotional online affair with someone who’s ‘just a friend’ is a secret sexual sin. The occasional lunch alone with a co-worker, a car ride, or the sharing of a hotel room with a member of the opposite sex at a convention to save money, can be a ‘secret sexual sin’, if for no other reason than for what it looks like to others. (Avoid the appearance of evil – 1 Thessalonians 5:22)

An addiction to profane erotica is a sin, and hiding this addiction from our spouse definitely qualifies as ‘secret sexual sins’[i]. This is one example where, just because you’re married doesn’t mean we can do just anything we want sexually.

Watching profane erotica together to get turned on to make love is bringing a third party into our relationship. A party not part of our marriage covenant. In addition, it financially supports the profane erotica industry. The General Authorities have told us to avoid it as we would a plague, married or not. Using profane erotica to jump start our libido within marriage and not repenting for it not only programs us to be bad lovers over time, it also makes us unworthy to attend the temple.[ii]

Elder Ted E. Brewerton said “…profane (things that defile the sacred) words never edify.”(1983,1)[iii] It stands to reason then that anything profane does not edify and that those things that are sacred/holy are those things that do edify.

Such circumstances should be recognized for the spiritual dangers they present. Fortunately, they can be repented of quickly once we recognize their presence in our relationship. Our sexual activities should be strengthening our eternal marriage, not making it sick.

Stay tuned for part three and if you missed part 1, click HERE


[ii] Oakes, Dallin H.,Recovering from the Trap of Pornograhy, (2015), https://www.lds.org/liahona/2015/10/youth/recovering-from-the-trap-of-pornography?lang=eng

[iii] Brewerton, Ted E., Profanity and Swearing, Apr. 1983 General Conference, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1983/04/profanity-and-swearing?lang=eng





Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Secret Sexual Sins In Marriage - What did President Kimball mean?



President Spencer W. Kimball said years ago, in the Miracle of Forgiveness:

“Even though sex can be an important and satisfactory part of married life, we must remember that life is not designed just for sex. Even marriage does not make proper certain extremes in sexual indulgence. (1969, 73)

This part I addressed in a previous blog entitled “sexual extremes in marriage”.

However, Spencer Kimball goes on to say:

“To the Ephesian saints Paul begged for propriety in marriage: ‘So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.’ (Eph. 5:28.) And perhaps the Lord’s condemnation included secret sexual sins in marriage, when he said: ‘… And those who are not pure, and have said they were pure, shall be destroyed, saith the Lord God.” (D&C 132:52.)” (Miracle of Forgiveness, 73, emphasis added).

I wanted to address this quote today because of the concerns I’ve been hearing that have plagued members’ marriages since 1969, when this book was published.

Separating Cultural Myth from Gospel Truth

Recently, I’ve received questions from married couples whose parents are now using the phrase “secret sexual sins” to justify telling their married children what sexual practices are and are not okay to do in marriage – even when many of those sexual acts are perfectly acceptable to the Lord for a husband and wife to do in the sanctity of their marriage bed.

One reader in particular was still troubled, even after her bishop had told her what they are doing was fine and that the local leaders have been counseled not to tell a married couple what they can or cannot do sexually in marriage, which was correct counsel.

Her mother’s advice contradicted the bishop’s, saying that any Saints that couldn’t live up to the doctrine indicated by Spencer Kimball’s quote and her interpretation of it were not strong enough to be Saints, leaving this reader not knowing who to believe.

What comes to mind with the phrase ‘secret sexual sins’?

I’ve seen the phrase ‘secret sexual sins’ slyly referred to as oral sex, anal sex, using a vibrator, sex in positions other than missionary style, having sex naked, and even having sex in places other than the bedroom.

In all my research, I have found nothing canonized in our gospel that says any of these are forbidden in the loving, consensual bounds of marriage.

So what did President Kimball actually mean by “secret sexual sins”? And how do we know whether or not we have committed them in our own marriages?

For that answer we have to read the statement in the full context it was given, look closely at the scriptures referenced in this section of the Miracle of Forgiveness, revisit what exactly the law of chastity is for those of us who are married, and ask ourselves “Is this a cultural myth or a doctrinal fact?”

Come back next week to discover more.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Virginity and Virtue - Which Is Greater?



My wife is part of a Facebook group of teenage mothers who commiserate and advise each other through the joys and challenges of raising teenagers. Most of these women are not members of the Church.

One day my wife was discussing with me a medical question one of these women had concerning her 17-year-old daughter, who has had frequent sexual encounters already.
While discussing some difficulties her daughter was having with a gynecological exam, the mother made a statement I found to be curious.

Her exact words were these:


“I think the main problem was the fact that she is technically a "virgin" (no penile intercourse) and she completely tensed up.”


This woman, who is not LDS, believes that (despite her daughter having had multiple sexual encounters) as long as she has not had penile intercourse, is still a “virgin”.

Perhaps in a sense, and even if only according to cultural norms, she is correct. But in a wider sense, an eternal sense, she is very much misinformed. Physical virginity and virtue is not the same thing.

My hope is that we in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints know the difference.

The World is Losing the Concept of the Sacred

The world in general (including the greater Christian world and even some in our own church) are losing the ability to detect the difference between what is sacred and what is profane. This concept is missing from the secular (non-religious) culture almost entirely.

This is why statements such as this – someone being ‘technically a virgin’ – can even be allowed to enter our language as a cultural norm.

Sex educators, such as Pan Stenzel, would stress that this is even a dangerous idea because it leads to the belief that as long as they are still “technically a virgin”, they are not really having sex. This is an idiom that has led to the rampant spread of  sexually transmitted infections (STIs).[i]

The placing of a greater worth of the physical over the spiritual is what leads to this. Sometimes, there is a complete rejection of the existence of the spiritual or the equalization of complete carnal fulfillment as being the “spiritual”. Those who chose this path are then lost in a fog of situational morality that continually clouds their judgment.

The link below this paragraph connects to an interview by Matt Lauer for ABC Television. It is with a female middle school teacher who was convicted of having a sexual relationship with her teenage male student.

Although there are mental issues involved on her side, there’s also an extreme lack of understanding about morals and virtue in almost everyone involved – including her lawyer and Mr. Lauer. Although the interview is entitled, “Crossing the Line”, it seems that where that line is, has become blurry for most people in the world.

A word of warning for those who may be sensitive as this interview is disturbing and gives some graphic sexual descriptions.


These sorts of misunderstandings and disagreements have their roots in a lack of understanding of what sort of behavior is sacred, and what is profane.

Misunderstandings in the Church Culture

Contrast the interview above with this TED talk, given by Elizabeth Smart, who was kidnapped and raped:


At her young age of 14, when she was abducted, she had been taught the gospel and was doing her best to live it, but when thrown into an extreme circumstance, she showed a lack of understanding as well, one that she has hopefully corrected.

It was the feeling that, once she had been raped, that was it. She was worthless, and not worth saving, because her virginity was gone.

This emphasis of where the value was placed is not correct from a doctrinal perspective.

What’s the Difference?

Virginity is a precious gift from our Father in Heaven. Saving our virginity for marriage can help a couple connect more strongly with each other than without it[ii]. Those who do not save it must work harder to focus on each other as exclusive sexual partners.

Virginity, just as other temporal things we put value on, can easily be stolen or end up thrown away and treated as being of no worth, such as in the example of Jacob and Esau.[iii]

But virtue, the greater gift, cannot be stolen, as physical virginity can.

It’s ludicrous to say that a person on a stolen recommend who sneaks into the temple of God can steal blessings from the Lord, or steal revelation. Likewise, virtue (no matter how many times you rape a man or woman’s body) cannot be stolen.

Sister Elaine S. Dalton said


“Virtue is a prerequisite to entering the Lord’s holy temples and to receiving the Spirit’s guidance. Virtue “is a pattern of thought and behavior based on high moral standards.” It encompasses chastity and moral purity.

Virtue begins in the heart and in the mind. It is nurtured in the home. It is the accumulation of thousands of small decisions and actions. Virtue is a word we don’t hear often in today’s society, but the Latin root word virtus means strength. Virtuous women and men possess a quiet dignity and inner strength.

They are confident because they are worthy to receive and be guided by the Holy Ghost. President Monson has counseled: “You be the one to make a stand for right, even if you stand alone. Have the moral courage to be a light for others to follow.

 There is no friendship more valuable than your own clear conscience, your own moral cleanliness—and what a glorious feeling it is to know that you stand in your appointed place clean and with the confidence that you are worthy to do so.”[iv]


Virtue is the strength and the power behind virginity and no physical means can take that power from us. Virtue and faith together can lead to great rewards from heaven.[v]

Only we can choose to value it, or let it go, through our understanding of gospel principles or the lack thereof.

Allow me to say that again. Virtue cannot be stolen, it must be given away to be lost or shared with someone who is worthy to receive it – such as a spouse.

Virtue Easier to Lose, But Brings Greater Blessings

If someone is raped, something precious has been taken that will never be returned – biologically it’s just not possible, and there will be physical and mental consequences to be endured and managed it is true. But if their virtue is intact, they’re still eternally in good shape – much better shape, in fact, than that of the offender.

However, if we’ve engaged in consensual sexual encounters of any kind outside of marriage as God has warned us not to do, at any level small or great, ‘technical virginity’ is irrelevant. In this case, it’s our virtue that is gone, which is far more precious and valuable than physical virginity.

We will have to fight hard to get virtue back, and the Atonement will allow us to get it back, but not without much pain and work on our part. When it comes to things spiritual, prevention is always easier and less painful than the cure. The Lord knows how to help us value what is most important, and He will not be mocked.[vi]

I hope each of us will teach our children the value of virtue over virginity through word AND example. Virtue and virginity are both of great value, but the former is far greater for our marriages and our children’s future marriages and families.


                                


[ii] Mark Gungor, Christian pastor and counselor, explains what happens physically to those who have sex outside of marriage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jL1l9ZtGC2w

[iii] Gen 25:29-34
[iv] Dalton, Elaine S., A Return To Virtue, (2008,1), https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2008/10/a-return-to-virtue?lang=eng
[v] Luke 8:46; Proverbs 31:10-31

[vi] Boyd K. Packer, The Plan of Happiness, April 2015 Conference, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2015/04/the-plan-of-happiness?lang=eng