The law of chastity is one of two moral codes established by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is one of the most important and stressed codes of a member's life, introduced at an early age (8-10) and focused on in 'young men' and 'young women' sunday school classes for 12-18 year olds. As part of the church's Endowment ceremony, the law of chastity is defined as the avoidance of sexual relations except with a legal spouse, and participants in the ceremony are bound by oath to obey this law. The law of chastity also refers to a much broader code banning masturbation, heavy petting and the viewing of pornography. The importance of chastity is considered by many Mormon teachers, prophets and members to be more important than a person's life. This is blamed for statistics in heavy Mormon areas where 90% of all rape cases are not reported to police. Chastity and virtue are stressed throughout a member's church life especially children grown up in the church. As an example of the church's portrayal of this law, former president and prophet of the church Ezra Taft Benson has stated: The stress of avoiding sexuality, pornography and unchaste thoughts has resulted in several Mormon youths getting married after very brief courtships and sometimes no courtships at all. Mention of these problems have been raised by church members themselves on several occasions. Ever since a General Conference in 1956 there has been a particular importance played on the avoidance of 'self abuse'. There are several online guides for members of the church on how to overcome the practice of masturbation, although pornography tends to be the modern focus of the church. The 1976 talk by Boyd K. Packer (A member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles) which was later presented as pamphlets for 12 years and older members of the church insisted that masturbation was a 'tampering' of a young man's biology, although the secular medical community tends to disagree.
In the Endowment ceremony, participants make an oath to obey the "law of chastity" as it has been defined in the ceremony, which defines it as that men and women should have no sexual relations except with the person to whom they are legally and lawfully wedded. "Sexual relations" - which is commonly defined as "sexual activity between individuals" - is also referred to as "sexual relationships" in recent Mormon literature.
Although the Endowment ceremony only specifically prohibits sexual relations except with a legal spouse, the church has made it clear that it considers sexual relations within a legal same-sex marriage to be a violation of this law, as well as sex within legal polygamous marriages.
Some activities that leaders of the church have taught are a violation of the law of chastity are rape, incest, adultery, fornication, homosexual behaviour, and sexual abuse. Sexual touching and cybersex are also considered violations when done with someone other than a legally and lawfully wedded spouse.
Obedience to the Law of Chastity is a requirement of membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In addition, they are encouraged by the Church to avoid even the thought of the activities described above, including dressing modestly and avoiding pornography as well as controlling their sexual passions such as refraining from self masturbation and sexual perversion .
Importantly, Mormons believe that sexuality between man and woman lawfully married is divinely appointed and has two purposes: to "multiply and replenish the Earth" (Bible, Genesis 1:28) as commanded by God to Adam and Eve, and to strengthen the bond between man and woman that they might "become one flesh" (Bible, Mark 10:8), something many Christian sects believe to be a metaphor for a strong, healthy, happy physical, and mental union. Also seen as meaning, sexual relations are not to be used just for creating offspring but also for the expression of love between husband and wife throughout their lives.
Even though the violation of the Law of Chastity is considered a grievous sin before God, one who has violated the Law of Chastity, through proper repentance, can still be eligible to gain eternal salvation. School programs of sex education are discouraged by the church with the response that it "belongs in the home."
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