Heavenly Father gave all men and women the sacred power to have children and has given precise commandments about how to use it. If men and women obey the commandments about procreation they can be very happy.
Mormons believe procreation on Earth began with Adam and Eve, who were commanded by the Lord to have children so that spirits in heaven could come to the earth. A physical body is one of the greatest gifts God gives His children. Mormons believe Heavenly Father has a body of flesh and bones, and since He wants His children to become like Him, it is necessary for all men and women to have a physical body.
The ability to procreate and give life is a power that comes from the Lord. Families are the most basic and essential unit of life on Earth, and the ability to create them is equally important. He blesses His children and wants them to use this power correctly. Mormons believe the power to procreate is sacred and should only be used in marriage. In other words, men and women should not have sexual relations before they are married, or with anyone other than their husband or wife after they are married. This is what is known as the law of chastity.
In Mormonism, children are taught from a young age that their bodies are sacred gifts from God. This is a belief that is held by all members, young and old, and helps in the understanding of why Mormons do not have any sexual relations outside of the special, blessed bonds of marriage. Inside marriage the power of procreation between a husband and wife who respect each other is pure; it is a beautiful gift and sacred privilege.
Obeying the law of chastity also means not doing anything to arouse the powerful emotions that are only to be expressed in marriage. When youth in the Mormon Church begin dating seriously they are counseled to avoid any actions that will arouse these emotions in themselves or in another person. Guidelines such as avoiding passionate kissing, lying on top of another person, and touching the private, sacred parts of another person’s body are given to young men and women to prevent them from doing anything to harm their purity.
Mormons believe Satan wants men and women to break the law of chastity to keep them from returning to Heavenly Father after this life. Since the power of procreation is so sacred, when it is broken, the consequences can be harmful to one’s salvation. Mormons believe Satan uses clever ways to persuade men and women to not think of their bodies as sacred and to break the law of chastity. To counteract these evil intentions of Satan, members of the Mormon Church do all they can to strive for purity in thought, word, action, and dress.
Breaking the law of chastity is a serious sin. Mormons believe sexual sins are “an abomination in the sight of the Lord; yea, most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost” (Alma 39:5). Breaking the law of chastity brings severe unhappiness and is difficult to repent of. Heavenly Father will forgive those who break the law of chastity, if they have faith in Jesus Christ, repent of their sins and, if they are not yet members of the Mormon Church, are baptized and become members of the His Church. This repentance process is difficult, though, and of course it is much better to avoid breaking the law of chastity in the first place.
Repentance comes through faith in Jesus Christ and the power of His atoning sacrifice. Mormons believe that one must feel truly sorry for a sin he or she has committed and ask the Lord for forgiveness in order to be cleansed by the process of repentance. In order to fully repent, Mormons must also confess serious sexual sins (such as fornication or adultery) to a priesthood authority. Confession of certain sins is part of the repentance process. Making restitution when possible is also part of the repentance process, and because one cannot restore lost virtue, restitution is impossible for sexual sin; this is one reason sexual sin is considered serious.
It is important to note that Mormons are firm in the belief that those who were raped or abused sexually are not guilty of breaking the law of chastity.
Mormons believe that the blessings which come from heeding the law of chastity are worth the strict and pure obedience it requires. First and foremost, the Lord blesses those who obey His commandments with whatever blessings He sees fit. Thus, Mormons feel they should obey the law of chastity merely because they are commanded to, and a child of God should humble himself before the Lord and be willing to obey all commandments. Practically, though, obedience to the law of chastity offers benefits to all men and women. Obeying the law of chastity safeguards against sexually-transmitted diseases, which are prevalent in the world today. When kept within the bonds of marriage, sexual relations are a pure and blessed demonstration of love between a husband and wife. The knowledge that both husband and wife are faithful to each other provides an emotional security and peace before marriage and in marriage. Truly the law of chastity is viewed by Mormons as a blessing that provides a peace and love that will last forever.