Saturday, July 2, 2011

RS lesson "Modesty and chastity"

I have two packages here. Both are wrapped beautifully and identically. (One is a box, the other is obviously a football.) Now, if you were desperately wanting a football, and I told you you could pick one, this one (indicate football) would probably catch your eye, right? Before you choose, I just want to tell you, this one (indicate box) is a football too. Now which one do you want? Knowing that they are exactly the same inside, doesn’t the one that is not as obvious look better? It just seems classier, more dressed up doesn’t it? Knowing that it is the same inside does not make it less desirous, does it? In fact, I would prefer to have the joy and anticipation of opening the package, even though I know what will be inside.

This brings us to our lesson. Our lesson today is on modesty and chastity. This lesson was really difficult for me, because I thought that there was not really anything I could tell you ladies about these topics that would offer you any insight or give you any new information. The more I thought about it, the less enthused I was about it. I thought about changing the topic of the lesson several times, but I just kept coming back to this lesson. Then I realized, I don’t need to teach you all about modesty and chastity, I’m pretty sure you’ve grasped the concepts. What I need to teach you about is how we can influence our children and grandchildren on these topics.

What does it mean to dress modestly? A two piece bikini covers the parts that need covering right? Why should I have to wear a one piece in the water and shorts and a t-shirt when I get out? The Basic Manual for Women Part A Lesson 9, pg. 60 says;
Since the time of Adam and Eve, the Lord has asked His children to cover their bodies. Until Eve was tempted by Satan in the Garden of Eden, she and Adam did not know they were naked. After eating of the forbidden fruit, they became aware of their nakedness. They tried to cover their most sacred parts with aprons of fig leaves. However, the Lord’s standards for modesty are greater, and He gave them coats of skins to cover themselves—even though at that time they were alone in the world.(See Moses 4:13, 27.)
And President Brigham Young described the kind of fashion that is a model for us. He said: “Suppose that a female angel were to come into your house and you had the privilege of seeing her, how would she be dressed? … She would be neat and nice, her countenance full of glory, brilliant, bright, and perfectly beautiful, and in every act her gracefulness would charm the heart of every beholder. There is nothing needless about her. None of my sisters believe that these useless, foolish fashions are followed in heaven. Well, then, pattern [your lives] after good and heavenly things, …” (in Deseret News [Weekly], 30 Apr. 1873, 196).
The Prophet Joseph Smith said in the thirteen Article of Faith “...if there is anything virtuous, lovely, of good report, or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.” He did NOT say “if there is anything fashionable, skimpy, cutting edge, or provoking, we want to wear these things!”
By dressing modestly, we set an example for the next and further generations on what is appropriate for them. I find that more and more the young men are pushing the limits of modest dress just as much as the young women. If their pants aren’t hanging down 6 inches below their waist, they are skintight leaving nothing to the imagination. If we are telling our teens to dress modestly, without showing them what that means by our own example, they can’t be expected to fully understand the reasons for the limits.

Modesty can help us keep our chastity. Living the law of chastity is a commandment of God. 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 says “Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

Living the law of chastity will bring us great blessings from the Lord. It will help us have self-respect and free us from a guilty conscience. It will help us avoid sexually transmitted diseases and the related suffering. In addition, living the law of chastity will help us be worthy both of others’ trust and of guidance from the Holy Ghost. Most important, we must be chaste to enter the temple and be married for time and eternity. Chastity will help us enjoy a happy family life on this earth. It will help us be worthy to continue our family life eternally. Breaking the law of chastity is a serious sin. It can bring us sorrow and destroy our self-respect. It can burden us with guilt. Being unchaste can cause distrust of family members and eventually disrupt the family. Unchastity makes a person unworthy of the guidance of the Holy Ghost. It can bring children into the world outside of a family unit. Church members who break the law of chastity break sacred covenants with God. Misusing the sacred power of creation in any way may cause us to lose the privilege of eternal progress.
Outside of marriage, sexual relations are serious sins that stain the lives of those involved. Such stains can be removed only through repentance (see lesson 2 in this manual, “Repentance”). Sometimes we make mistakes before we understand the Lord’s commandments about chastity. If so, it is very important to talk to our branch president, bishop, or mission president about them. He will advise us and help us complete our repentance. The Lord is anxious to forgive us when we repent of our sins. He tells us, “Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more” (D&C 58:42).(The Basic Manual for Women Part A Lesson 9, pg. 60)
The manual suggests five ways to teach chastity to children. (Put up each onto chalkboard individually, as discussed.)
Help children understand the nature and sacredness of bodily functions.
Give children love.
Encourage proper dating standards.
Encourage modest dress.
Set the proper parental example.

What are some situations in which parents might need to teach their children about respecting their bodies?
Children are naturally curious about their bodies. (By children I also mean teens.) Parents should speak reverently but frankly and without embarrassment about the body. We must clearly explain at an appropriate time how babies begin and how they come into this life. We must also teach that the Lord has commanded that sexual relations be reserved for marriage, and that there are serious consequences for breaking this sacred commandment. Children’s attitudes will reflect the attitudes of their parents. If parents laugh at improper suggestions, view questionable movies or television programs, or permit suggestive books or magazines into their homes, children will learn improper attitudes. By showing genuine affection towards each other, parents can teach that procreation is sacred. We can also help children understand gender roles. Why do you think our attitudes as parents teach more than words alone?

When children are young, parents teach proper ways to express affection. It is important to fill children’s needs for affection so that they do not seek to fill them in an improper way. When parents are frank and loving, they build their children’s confidence in them. If a child has questions, or finds themselves in need of repentance, they will be comfortable going to their parents when they know they that their parents love them and will help them without becoming embarrassed or uncomfortable.

3. President Spencer W. Kimball said that “any dating or pairing off in social contacts should be postponed until at least the age of 16 or older.” When people begin dating more seriously, we can encourage them to develop positive characteristics and then look for those same characteristics in potential companions. Elder Richard G. Scott offered this counsel: “As you seek an eternal companion, look for someone who is developing the essential attributes that bring happiness: a deep love of the Lord and of His commandments, a determination to live them, one that is kindly understanding, forgiving of others, and willing to give of self, with the desire to have a family crowned with beautiful children and a commitment to teach them the principles of truth in the home”.
Elder Scott also emphasized the importance of chastity in courtship: “To commit in courtship intimate acts intended to unfold only within the bonds of marriage is transgression. Such activity offends the Holy Ghost, lays the foundation for heartache and disappointment, and could mask traits or characteristics that could prove conflictive or incompatible within the covenant of marriage. Seeds of distrust that mature into divorce and loss of temple blessings are often sown through violation of the laws of personal purity. Don’t make that mistake” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1999, 31; or Ensign, May 1999, 26).
What are some of the proper dating standards for LDS youth? How can we as parents, grandparents, and leaders teach our youth about the importance of maintaining high standards during dating and courtship?
We talked a bit about modesty in the beginning of the lesson. We can measure our standards of modesty by asking ourselves: How would I feel about my clothing if I knew the prophet were to visit in my home? Is my clothing a good example of what a Latter-day Saint girl or woman should wear? We should practice modesty within our own homes. Even small children should be modestly dressed and taught about modesty.We are responsible for the effect our dress standards have on others. Anything that causes improper thoughts or sets a bad example before others is not modest. It is especially important that we teach young girls not to wear clothes that would encourage young men to have improper thoughts. As with the football. Every boy wants a football. Just knowing that there is a football inside the package is enough for now. Someday, opening the package will lead to delight and surprise, EVEN THOUGH he knew there was a football in there all along. He doesn’t need to be reminded every time he looks at it that he can’t have the football yet. For now, it is sufficient to be able to look at a beautiful package and not have to see the exact shape and curve of it’s contents. What styles are common today that we ought to teach children and youth to avoid?
In keeping the law of chastity and being modest, parents must set the proper example. If you are endowed, the boundaries for modest dress are pretty easy to follow. If your garments don’t show, then you are probably dressed pretty modestly. But what if you or your children are not? What are some guidelines you can follow to make sure that you are dressed modestly?
I’d like to close with a poem written by Boyd K. Packer (as quoted in "Marriage," Ensign, May 1981 by Elder Boyd K. Packer)

We have within a burning flame,
A light to kindle lights,
The sacred fire of life itself,
Which if misused ignites
A smoldering, suffocating cloud
Of sorrow and distress.
When used by law this power brings forth
A life, a family, happiness.

Temptors from the darkest realm
Seek to pervert this power
In acts of wickedness and waste
Until there comes the hour
Of judgment and of recompense,
When bitter tears are shed
O’er power once held to foster life
That now is gone and dead.

I know this power to be a key,
A very key to Gods own plan
Which brings to pass eternal life
And immortality for man.
And marriage is the crucible
Where elements of life combine,
Where mortal temples are conceived
Within that plan divine.

Then spirit offspring of our God
Can come through mortal birth
To have a choice, to face the test
The purpose of our stay on earth.
Here good and evil stand alike
Before decisions sovereign nod.
Those who elect the righteous path
Will part the veil, return to God.

A gift from God, the plan provides
That mortal beings in humble strait
Be given power, supernal power,
To share their love and help create
A living child, a living soul,
Image of man, and of Deity.
How we regard this sacred gift
Will fix our course, our destiny!
I bear you my testimony that the church is true. We have the power to be an effect for good in this world. People might think that we are strange, or old fashioned, or out of touch, but I know that these principals will help bring us real happiness. I know that we have a prophet today who speaks to us for the Lord, and truly loves and cares for each of us. I know that the Lord gives us commandments to help us to succeed and be happy. I know that families can be forever if we make and keep sacred covenants, follow the counsel of our leaders, and teach those younger than ourselves. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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