Alma said that we must bridle all our passions so that we can be “filled with love” (Alma 38:12).
If such passions were actually true love, they would not need to be replaced with love. The Lord (in an 1839 revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith) linked “charity towards all men” with letting virtue garnish our thoughts unceasingly. Only with such congruence, we are assured, can our confidence wax strong in the presence of God. Here again is the declaration that if our mind is filled with wrong things, there will be no place in it for true love of God and our fellowmen. Thus, a failure to check or rein-in sensuality carries with it both personal penalties and, more than we realize, deprivations for our peers and associates. No wonder Paul said that to feed these lusts is to “drown men in destruction” (1 Tim. 6:9). Unchastity and sensuality are so preemptive in the demands placed upon sensually minded individuals, and if the dominance is not one of frequency, it is one of intensity or priority.
In the parable of the sower, Jesus spoke of how some of those who might change for the better fail to do so because the lusts of former things actually “choke the word” (Mark 4:19). This choking occurs because carnality is a profound contraction of the soul.
In pondering the seventh commandment, we come to see that we are also dealing with considerations of a transcendental or eternal character. In Proverbs we read, “Whoso committeth adultery … lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul” (Prov. 6:32; italics added). There are some consequences of sexual immorality which we are simply not able to measure fully; but they are very real—though not seen. Paul wrote about the things that are not seen which are eternal (see 2 Cor. 4:18).
Quite frankly, brothers and sisters, we should be preparing now to live in a better world. This life is so vital, but it is such a small moment. And if we are too quick to adapt to the ways of this fleeting and flawed world, that very adjustment will maladjust us for our life in the next—a life that will last forever! No wonder those who break this commandment “lacketh understanding.”
Read the full text of Neal A. Maxwell’s 1979 thought provoking and inspiring defense of chastity here.
Neal Ash Maxwell (July 6, 1926 – July 21, 2004) was an apostle and a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) from 1981 until his death.