marriage bed symbol

marriage bed symbol

Friday, December 30, 2011

To My Unmarried LDS Readers

When you’re writing a blog, the last thing you should do is tell people to stay away. Whatever you do, don’t read what I’ve written. Very counter-productive to success in the blogosphere.

But I do. I tell members who are currently single (yes, even if they’ve been married or sexually active before) to stay away from this, or any other blog like this, that deals in matters of a sexual nature.

Why? What’s wrong with single members of the Church learning about sex and how to create a great marriage, you say? That’s what you teach, isn’t it?

Yes, I teach about sex. I teach married members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints about sex. That is who I am writing to, and the only people who should be reading this blog.

What you’re about to read in this article is what I teach to single people, who I believe should not spend their time learning or watching or reading about sex, and are breaking the law of chastity by doing so.

The world says exactly the opposite. You need the experience now, so you don’t look like a fool on your wedding night. You need to “try out” your partner, otherwise how can you possibly know if you’re compatible?

You can’t know. Furthermore, sexual knowledge before you marry may actually work against you on both a physical and spiritual level. Breaking the law of chastity can hurt you in ways you may not feel until many years later, whether you’ve repented or not. Repentance doesn’t remove all consequences.

The Temple

It’s no secret that people try to break into the temples all the time, sometimes simply because the door is guarded. I had a conversation once with a security guard at my local temple, and was told about fake recommends, imperious demands, and backdoor attempts to videotape or otherwise record the ceremonies.

Obviously some of these have been successful, as the many books from former members, websites describing the ceremonies, and even national TV shows have shown these very sacred ordinances to many people who would otherwise never have seen them.

They have succeeded…and they have also failed as well.

They have succeeded in showing the outward ordinances, but it’s not the outward ordinances I’m after when I go to the temple. It’s the inward growth, the revelations from heaven, the strength and enrichment that comes from worthy participation in those ordinances, that worthy members receive…members who have paid the price for entry.

Those who try to take what they have not earned get only the superficial outward appearance, which is dross and dust compared with what they could have had. Knowledge, growth, and the peace that comes from the Spirit cannot be stolen from the Lord. It’s impossible to do so. If you are not sealed to each other and earned the right to be sealed for eternity, you will never know what it is to reach that level of joy. There simply are no fake IDs in the eternities.

Learning About Sex

Likewise with marriage and sex. Granted, it’s a very compelling topic. We are sexual beings, and sex sells, and we are inundated with sex in our culture, which is one reason why so many indulge before marriage, even in a church that teaches and encourages chastity.

Those of you who are single and reading this blog are trying to storm the temple doors, and it will not work. You will learn a lot of theory, you may learn some technique. A successful marriage takes a lot more than theory, and technique alone will not bring you joy, or even a great sex life.

Only Way to Learn It is to Do It

The only way you’re going to experience sex the way it was meant to be is within the laboratory of marriage.

The lessons of marriage cannot be learned by living together, hooking up, friends with benefits, or in any other way other than the way He has sanctioned. It may seem on the outside that you are “married’, but in reality your results are very different.

When you try to learn about sex outside of marriage, sex loses its special nature. It stops being something holy or sacred and becomes an ordinary bodily function. We stop being children of God and become animals in need of relief, or bags of chemicals. Even something as simple as reading my articles when you’re single can begin this downward slide.

If You’re Single…

If you’re single and reading this, obviously you’re very concerned about creating a successful marriage and having a satisfying sex life. This is a righteous desire, but this desire has to be fulfilled in a righteous way in order to receive the full benefit. You may get part of what sex in marriage has to offer if you try to do it another way, but you won’t get the fullness. It is the gift that goes unwrapped.

Nor is that gift without risk. There is no way to predict whether or not the person you marry will be compatible with you. Not I, nor any other person on earth, can give you a list of steps that will guarantee marital happiness.

The person you marry will change after you marry them. They will revert to the person they always were after the intoxication of infatuation chemicals clears out of your system. It can take anywhere from nine months to four years for this to happen.[i] Hopefully at that point, that person is still a good person who will work with you to create a successful marriage. This is not always the case.

There will come a point in every marriage where we turn and look at our spouse, and think, “There’s been a terrible mistake. I should never have married this person.”

This is when marriage truly begins, and there is no better preparation for that moment than the daily ins and outs of living the gospel…the unglamorous work of prayer, the scripture study, the mundane daily service to others, gaining confidence in your relationship with God and with yourself…the small daily work of becoming a Christ-like person.

This should be the focus of those who are single.

Once you’re married, your focus will then properly expand to include the sexual and emotional care and pleasing of that particular person you’re married to, and your fun and pleasant practice (as well as the harder development stuff) will take all eternity to perfect.

If it turns out that you married badly and must end it, the daily ins and outs of living the gospel will provide you with protection in sorrow, and help you find another whom you can be married to happily. Mere sexual knowledge will not protect you in the same way.

So relax. Sex will always be there. Don’t try to experience or plan it before you’re married…you can’t anyway. Each marriage’s sex life is as unique as the individuals who commit to it. All that sex outside of marriage prepares you for is…enjoying sex outside of marriage and being an unfit marriage partner.

Repentance is always available for everyone to get them back on the path. Enter marriage with as few predetermined notions as you can, and learn together.  If you think misinformation is right (most of what I learned about sex on television and the Internet was totally wrong) and can’t break away from previous learning, great suffering can follow.

So farewell, dear single readers. I look forward to hearing from you again when you’re married, and ready to apply these sacred principles to the rites and privileges you’ve earned and are ready to exercise.

[i] Webber, Rebecca. “Are You With the Right Mate?”. Psychology Today. Feb 2012. pg. 56


Jennie said...

I disagree that it is breaking the law of chastity to read things of a sexual nature, such as this blog, while unmarried. For instance, I am not married. I follow your blog privately. Given, I don't read your blog very often because I mostly followed it for future reference when I AM married, but I had to click on this post from my news feed.

This is personal opinion, but I think that there is a fine line between breaking the law of chastity and not. You can definitely break it by reading this blog, but also you can easily not. For instance, if I were to get some sort of sexual excitement or fulfillment from reading what you have to say, and that excitement is what motivated me to read your blog in the first place, then that would be breaking that law. However, if I was reading it for the sole purpose of education for the future, no arousal involved....that is entirely different.

That's really all I have to say. I just think that labeling someone as "breaking the law of chastity" for something they do, rather than questioning the motivations or intentions behind that action, is a rather broad generalization for something so sensitive and so serious. Just a thought. Take care.

Chris said...

I personally believe your way of thinking about singles and sex, is appropriate. However, those singles should learn and know before the wedding (a month or two)how it works and if there are some sexual hang ups with their future spouse (connected with their past).
Knowing that sex is one of the first issues for divorce, it is just fair that they learn and talk about it sometimes before the "big day".

Anonymous said...

That's the thing, though, isn't it? If you have no sexual experience, how on earth are you going to discuss what sexual hangups you might have? You just wouldn't know if you had any or not.

Chris said...

Dear anonymous,
You know pretty well your own sexual inhibitions and you need not to "try to find out" with a someone else what they are. If you get proper information about sex before getting married, there is always a way to share your feelings about such and such practice that you will or would feel unconfortable with, with your loved one. Again, it is part of a great communication one should have with his or her future spouse

Anonymous said...

Dear Chris,
I need to explain my situation better, I think. I've actually been married for a long time now, but before I married, I was worried about whether or not I would be "good" in bed. So I experimented with sex, and had to repent for that before I could get married in the temple.
The thing was, before I married my husband, I was a little cocky. I thought I knew my sexual preferences pretty well. I thought sex would be a certain way with my husband...but it wasn't. It surprised me how much I didn't know myself, even when I tried.
Once we were married, my preferences changed based on our situation. The way it was with my other boyfriends was totally different with my husband. Fortunately we talked a lot about it, and worked out our problems. I also found other preferences for things with my husband after we were married that I didn't even know I had before we married. I thought I would hate them, but I ended up loving them when we tried them out. Other things that sounded good initially I ended up hating.
The thing is, no amount of learning or talking about sex before I got married prepared me for marriage. You might have an idea of what you like, but that could COMPLETELY change. Your spouse could seem one way, and then COMPLETELY change. I guess that's what I was trying to ask about. Is there any way to find these things out before marriage, or should we not bother?
How do you handle things when life completely changes on you once you're married? Has anybody else felt like this?

Chris said...

Hello Anonymoue,
The answers to your question "Is there any way to find these things out before marriage, or should we not bother?" ara found in Coach Sam 's comment under the paragraph "If You're Single" and in your own comments when you said "Fortunately we talked a lot about it, and worked out our problems".

We are not doing ourselves a service by having sex before marriage to find out if “everything works fine and if I would be compatible with my spouse regarding that matter”.

People in the world fail to realize that sex is a gift of God given to married couples with a long term commitment and covenant between them and Him.

On "How to handle things when life completely changes on you once you're married?", we must understand that:
1- Sex is the fruit of love of two long term committed people. We must go through the apprentiship of the love we should have for our spouse before we give and share the fruit. This fruit is the result of many ingredients, carefully mixed within the joys and struggles of our daily life with our (hopefully) eternal lover. It can only be appreciated with delight and unhindered, if it is fed with the roots of love like: tenderness, understanding, patience, self-forgetfulness, and the well-being, sensibility, trust and respect of the spouse.

2 - Each one might not be on the same level of desire, but there is always a a way of compromise when you love each other. That's why communication is SO important: you cannot read the mind of your husband but he sure can tell you what he feels about it...

LovelyLauren said...

CoachSam, I'm a little concerned that this post might be advocating sexual ignorance, which can be incredibly damaging. I have an aunt who had to have mechanics explained to her on her wedding night because her parents weren't willing to talk to her about sex and what it means.

I don't think your blog is all that inappropriate and honestly, I would have found it boring and irrelevant before I was married, but I don't think that it should be off-limits for single members. I think it's useful to know about sexual problems before you have them and are bewildered. I read a lot about differences in libido before I was married and when I encountered them in my own marriage, it was really helpful to have some information to fall back on. There is a pretty enormous difference between reading this blog before you're married, and reading Cosmo before you're married.

Furthermore, I don't really see what telling people to go away accomplishes. If you really don't want single people reading, don't publish their comments or respond to them, but people will read what they want to read. Out of curiosity, what prompted this post anyway?

Anonymous said...

Yikes, I think its fair to say that if you want the extreme conservative orthodox opinion this is the blog to read-unless of course you're not married then you're breaking the law of chastity (really?!).

"When you try to learn about sex outside of marriage, sex loses its special nature."

Most of your statements are opinions stated as fact with no supporting evidence, and little if any contemporary support from the current psychological community. I agree with anon above, you are perpetuating potentially damaging stereotypes. For the record I am an active TR holding member and seriously worried that if our culture continues down the path of repression it is on, the membership will continue to suffer sexual dysfunction, pornography addiction, and other social ills at an unnecessarily high rate. sigh!

Shocked and Amazed said...

Absolutely virgins should be educated about sex. Ignorance is not bliss, it can be damaging when sex finally occurs (hopefully after marriage, but whatever). My parents were open with me about sex my entire life and never made me feel ashamed to ask a question. This is what the Gospel Principles manual suggests under the chapter about Chastity. To suggest that learning about sex is breaking the law of chastity is about the most bat crap crazy thing I have ever heard. And you're a licensed therapist? Wow, dude. Wow.

D. said...

You keep saying "breaking the law of chastity" ... I don't think that means what you think it means.

CoachSam said...

Dear Jennie –

I read your comment, and you do have a good point in a certain sense. Your purpose for coming to read my blog is a higher one than that of titillation.

Gaining knowledge is important, and I hope that my blog will be a place where members of the Church can find education in matters of sexuality in a way that will be accurate and clear.

However, things that are good can be misused, and turned to unrighteous purposes, just as you suggested. The very act of focusing on matters of a sexual nature can have a cumulative impact on the mind – arousal, after all, can begin at a subconscious level before we are fully aware of what is happening.

When we’re in a single situation, trying to live the law of chastity with no sort of physical sexual outlet of any kind, it can become very difficult to keep the law of chastity when we are exposed repeatedly and regularly to such stimuli…even when the stimuli may seem small or inconsequential at first.

You have your agency certainly, and each individual has to use their best judgment in what they choose to view and read.

The reason I wrote this article was as a disclaimer of sorts, to make it clear that I do not encourage youth or single adult members of the Church to preoccupy their minds with things of a sexual nature.

I want to make it very clear that this blog is written only to those who are married members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and no other demographic.

It would be against our religious principles and a violation of my temple covenants for me to encourage those who are not married to seek detailed knowledge of sexual practices, which I do teach about and will continue to teach about here.

I’m honored you bookmarked me and hope that when you are married you will find this information helpful in helping you and your future husband build a successful eternal marriage.

LDS Lee said...

I would just like to say that I am single and I have read many of your blogs before reading this one.

When I started reading this I started feeling a little guilty, but at the same time, I only ever read your blogs for educational reasons, not for personal excitement. It's such a grey area among single people, I think they need to be educated about this subject, but I also think that a certain maturity and respect is required for it.

If anything though, on a personal level, these blog posts have only strengthened my grasp on the sanctity and sacredness of intimacy within marriage. This in turn has strengthened my will to 'bridal my passions' so to speak. So I'll just say that this disclaimer is great, but at the same time doesn't apply to ALL single people. Only to those not mature or respectful enough to appreciate the knowledge and information.

Honestly I only read these blogs once and then never read them again. I do bookmark them however as I may want to reference them in the future, especially when I DO get married.

Any thoughts?

CoachSam said...

Hi Lee.

There can be a danger in considering ourselves sophisticated and intelligent enough to go against what the Lord advises.

I would caution against falling into behaviors and rationalizations that have occurred throughout history, that appear to free us from restrictions, but end up creating challenges instead.

Consider what Dr. Clifford J. Scheiner, a medical doctor and a Ph.D. in human sexuality had to say about what happened as pornography started to become widely available to the general public. Be mindful that this attitude he refers to was expressed as early as the 1500s and possibly even earlier:

"The matter of censorship of erotica developed as erotica became available to the masses.

When you've had rich, powerful people who were able to have erotica produced specifically for them, it wasn't a problem - they were the government. They didn't see themselves being corrupted by it.

If anything, they saw themselves immune from it, yet they were very afraid of the effect it would have on OTHER people."

- from the documentary 'Pornography: The Secret History of Civilization', emphasis added

Is this hypocrisy any different than what I often hear today?

"I can handle it. I'm mature enough, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone else."

Just because you don't see the effects of lust and lasciviousness in the body immediately doesn't mean they aren't there, affecting the mind and spirit. Some consequences happen much later down the road.

The government is no longer in the business of 'protecting the public' - any censorship that happens today concerns children, not adults. It has always been impossible to create and enforce legislation of spiritual things.

Adults have to make their own decisions and draw their own boundaries of safety. What guidelines should we use, that will most benefit us over time?

The Lord and His standards (those of His Church) are the only guidelines left that protect us long-term from the consequences of immorality, and going beyond those boundaries can lead to future problems. That's all I'm saying.

Everyone has their agency to choose. My disclaimer is that my purpose is not to lead singles into areas that may compromise their morality in the name of 'education'. Please live the gospel and wait til you're married to work on the sex.

Anonymous said...

I'm very thankful for this post. And I agree. I have been separated and divorce now for 4 years. I have started dating again and have quite the wall up when it comes to sexual things. I stay away from words like sexy or hot. I try to keep physical contact well within the single standards the Church teaches. I have tried to take things slow but things are getting more and more serious with the man I am dating. He seems to feel a little concerned about this wall and maybe that it is something that I don't enjoy. I put the wall down a little. It really is playing with fire. I don't think I can put the wall down at all because now I'm certainly frustrated! Just talking a little about the perspective of sex has me all razaled. It certainly is a trial after years of marriage when it was always there. I'm not sure how to balance things.

CoachSam said...

Dear Anon Dec. 5th,

It’s not possible to run away from your sexuality; it would be like running away from yourself. We are sexual being from the tips of our hair, to the tips of our toes. Learning to accept those feelings and learning to work with them is the challenge of a lifetime.

When we’re single, what we need to do is refocus our energy instead of indulging in those things the Lord has forbidden.

If you’re single and dating, there are ways to refocus yourself that won’t bring you to the brink of fornication or adultery.

Sexual conversations sometimes need to begin once we’re dating seriously. I would suggest that your first step is to be open and honest about your feelings, and what you want. Marriage often needs to have very frank and honest conversations if it’s going to stay healthy and robust.

Find a safe place (out in an open area, during the daytime) where you can have a private conversation in plain sight of others, with no danger of sexual feelings taking over. Tell your suitor that you enjoy sex, but you’re trying to keep the law of chastity until you’re married, and you need some help from him in that department.

If he understands and truly cares about you, he’ll do his duty to protect you and help you set up some boundaries where you can enjoy each other’s company without creating spiritual danger for either of you. Righteous priesthood holders are very motivated by “duty.” Feel free to use that term a lot.

“It’s your duty to not touch me and excite those feelings in me.” “It’s your duty to hold the door for me.” Get the idea? It worked wonders for me when I was dating my wife.

If he’s subtly pressuring you to break your standards and you confront him, he’ll have to admit his intentions.

He may do that by mocking your values if he doesn’t understand them, and then you’ll know that he doesn’t share your standards and won’t respect you after marriage.

Even if it doesn’t feel like it now, it’s truly easier to be alone than to be with a person who isn't committed to making the relationship work.

It's okay to set conditions and requirements on your relationship - the Lord does that with us all the time.

"If ye love me, keep my commandments." That's a condition for entering into the Lord's presence.

It's okay to tell him, "If you love me, you will help me stay chaste until marriage, because that's what I want. That's what makes me feel loved."

As I mentioned in the article, refocusing yourself on filling your life with good, instead of trying to empty yourself of and avoid all evil, will bring a greater strength, a greater satisfaction with your life, and a greater measure of the Spirit as well.

Are you praying regularly? Are you immersing yourself in the scriptures? Are you serving those around you and praying and working for the gift of charity? These will be a greater preparation for marriage, and help to refocus your sexual energies until the time when you can freely express them again with God’s full approval and approbation.

Make the “For the Strength of Youth” pamphlet your personal companion. These guidelines apply once again in your situation, and will be a blessing and protection for you.

Good sex can be there again for you in your life, as long as you lay a strong foundation for it now, when you’re single.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. I completely agree. The law of chastity is a spiritual law before a physical one and consequently dictates our impulses and our thoughts. After reading all these comments, I must say I'm impressed and so thankful that you have a clearheaded, unemotional, and kind response to each person. So rare these days. Thank you again.

Anonymous said...

I think that reading your blogs if you are single could be breaking the law of chastity in certain circumstances, but I think some of your posts could be very helpful. For instance, many of those that clear up the difference between LDS doctrine and cultural myth, including the current most recent one for April 27, 2013 could even help people who are single because they are afraid of marriage for sexual reasons understand this wonderful gift of God WITHIN the bounds of marriage and enforce chastity. For instance, I know many people with the common misconceptionthat once they are married, they MUST have as many children as possible, cannot use forms of contraception, and are afraid of the sexual pressures of intimacy, such as having an imperfect body. However, once they have these misconceptions cleared, they are eager to marry. Also, the knowledge that one CAN have sexual relationships WITHIN marriage can help them abstain UNTIL such a time despite feeling lust, just as someone who feels hungry is willing to wait for food rather than steal it so long as he knows he can have it lawfully in good time.

That being said, anyone who is single and reading things meant for those married must evaluate their intentions and mindset. Reading about anything sexual can strengthen the desire to act upon these things and lessen patience (even if in some cases it can do the strengthen the will to wait, it is more likely to do the opposite) So be wary while on this site, certainly.

Anonymous said...

You lost a lot of my respect with this post. You obviously don't understand the law of chastity. It is simply impossible that reading your arrogant post violates the LOC!

CoachSam said...

Thank you for reading Anon April 11,

I'm willing to discuss. What exactly is your concern. What do you understand the "Law of Chastity" to be?

Anonymous said...

My pet peeve is that many in the church, even prominent leaders, often use the term LOC to apply to any sexual related behavior they don't like. This is seriously wrong. The LOC is defined in only one place in LDS doctrinal sources - in the temple ceremony. There, the LOC is clearly and explicitly defined as having no sexual relations except with ones spouse. BIG PERIOD! It doesn't cover anything else. People may still talk about the concept of chastity, but THE LAW OF CHASTITY is as defined there. There is no other source. You can't add behavior to this specifically defined law. Doing so is writing your own law.

Anonymous said...

There’s some useful content, and a message of discouraging a preoccupation with sex, especially when single, is a valid one.

Nevertheless, you are ‘looking beyond the mark’ and trying to set some higher law than God himself has established. The law of chastity is quite clearly defined, to try and extend or embellish it’s meaning is extremely harmful.

Guilt for sin is good, is necessary, and leads us to repent.

Creating feelings of guilt, and causing people to believe that they have broken the law of chastity when they haven’t, is a tool of Satan. It causes discouragement, creates confusion, and undermines spiritual confidence. It is irresponsible of you to publish this statement.