Sexual Sins

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God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be used only between husband and wife within the bonds of matrimony. Any other use of the sacred procreative powers is a sexual sin—or a violation of God’s law of chastity. Sexual sins—which are sometimes referred to as sexual immorality—are “willful participation in adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, incest, or any other unholy, unnatural or impure sexual activity.”[1]

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—sometimes inadvertently called the Mormon Church— teaches:

All sexual relations outside of marriage violate the law of chastity. This includes intercourse; touching the private, sacred parts of another person’s body, with or without clothing; arousing sexual feelings in others or yourself for the purpose of gratification; viewing or sending pornography; reading pornographic literature; deliberately dwelling on sexual thoughts; and talking or texting about sex in an explicit manner with the intent of arousing sexual feelings.[2]

The standards of sexual morality in the world today are lax—especially compared to God’s strict law of no sexual relations before marriage and totally fidelity afterward.[3] As with all of God’s laws, obedience brings blessings and disobedience sorrow and pain. God’s standards of sexual purity are best understood within the context of His plan for His children.

The Importance of a Physical Body in God’s Plan

All humans are spirit children of a loving Father in Heaven. As such, each person lived with Heavenly Father before coming to earth in what is called the premortal, or pre-earth, life. The Family: A Proclamation to the World teaches:

Sexuality in Mormonism
All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.
In the premortal realm, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshipped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny as heirs of eternal life.

Elder David A. Bednar, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles—with the First Presidency, the governing body of The Church of Jesus Christ—further explained:

Our physical bodies make possible a breadth, a depth, and an intensity of experience that simply could not be obtained in our premortal existence. Thus, our relationships with other people, our capacity to recognize and act in accordance with truth, and our ability to obey the principles and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ are amplified through our physical bodies. In the school of mortality, we experience tenderness, love, kindness, happiness, sorrow, disappointment, pain, and even the challenges of physical limitations in ways that prepare us for eternity. Simply stated, there are lessons we must learn and experiences we must have, as the scriptures describe, “according to the flesh” (1 Nephi 19:6; Alma 7:12–13).[4]

Part of the test of mortality—or life on earth—is learning to control the desires of the flesh—also called the “natural man”—and obey the commandments of God in all things.[5]

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, an Apostle of Jesus Christ, said:

I have declared here the solemn word of revelation that the spirit and the body constitute the soul of man, and that through the Atonement of Christ the body shall rise from the grave to unite with the spirit in an eternal existence. That body is therefore something to be kept pure and holy. Do not be afraid of soiling its hands in honest labor. Do not be afraid of scars that may come in defending the truth or fighting for the right, but beware scars that spiritually disfigure, that come to you in activities you should not have undertaken, that befall you in places where you should not have gone. Beware the wounds of any battle in which you have been fighting on the wrong side.[6]

God’s Standard of Sexual Morality: ‘We Believe in Being Chaste’

God’s standard of sexual purity has remained the same throughout the history of mankind: complete abstinence from any sexual contact before marriage, and total fidelity afterward. Elder Bednar explains:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a single, undeviating standard of sexual morality: intimate relations are proper only between a man and a woman in the marriage relationship prescribed in God’s plan. Such relations are not merely a curiosity to be explored, an appetite to be satisfied, or a type of recreation or entertainment to be pursued selfishly. They are not a conquest to be achieved or simply an act to be performed. Rather, they are in mortality one of the ultimate expressions of our divine nature and potential and a way of strengthening emotional and spiritual bonds between husband and wife. We are agents blessed with moral agency and are defined by our divine heritage as children of God—and not by sexual behaviors, contemporary attitudes, or secular philosophies.[7]

Why is God’s Law of Sexual Purity So Strict?

Modern prophets and apostles have taught the reason that God’s law of sexual purity is so strict. Elder Dallin H. Oaks, an Apostle of Jesus Christ, said:

The power to create mortal life is the most exalted power God has given his children. Its use was mandated in the first commandment, but another important commandment was given to forbid its misuse. The emphasis we place on the law of chastity is explained by our understanding of the purpose of our procreative powers in the accomplishment of God’s plan.
The expression of our procreative powers is pleasing to God, but he has commanded that this be confined within the relationship of marriage…. Outside the bonds of marriage, all uses of the procreative power are to one degree or another a sinful degrading and perversion of the most divine attribute of men and women.[8]

Elder Bednar taught:

The means by which mortal life is created is divinely appointed. “The first commandment … God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife” (Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 129). The commandment to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force today. Thus, marriage between a man and a woman is the authorized channel through which premortal spirits enter mortality. Complete sexual abstinence before marriage and total fidelity within marriage protect the sanctity of this sacred channel.
The power of procreation is spiritually significant. Misuse of this power subverts the purposes of the Father’s plan and of our mortal existence. Our Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son are creators and have entrusted each of us with a portion of Their creative power. Specific guidelines for the proper use of the ability to create life are vital elements in the Father’s plan. [9]

Elder Holland taught:

…Human intimacy is reserved for a married couple because it is the ultimate symbol of total union, a totality and a union ordained and defined by God. From the Garden of Eden onward, marriage was intended to mean the complete merger of a man and a woman—their hearts, hopes, lives, love, family, future, everything.[10]

Reserving intimacy for the bonds of marriage creates a foundation of trust, permanence and stability—the bedrock for a stable and happy family. Elder Holland taught that sexual sins—including sexual relations outside of marriage as well as the viewing of pornography—are sins of lust. He taught:

Why is lust such a deadly sin? Well, in addition to the completely Spirit-destroying impact it has upon our souls, I think it is a sin because it defiles the highest and holiest relationship God gives us in mortality—the love that a man and a woman have for each other and the desire that couple has to bring children into a family intended to be forever. Someone said once that true love must include the idea of permanence. True love endures. But lust changes as quickly as it can turn a pornographic page or glance at yet another potential object for gratification walking by, male or female. …
Love makes us instinctively reach out to God and other people. Lust, on the other hand, is anything but godly and celebrates self-indulgence. Love comes with open hands and open heart; lust comes with only an open appetite.[11]

Why is Pornography So Bad?

pornography Mormonism

Pornography defiles and demeans that which is most sacred and pure—the sacred powers of procreation. It stimulates the flesh and arouses desires in a way contrary to the laws of God. The Church of Jesus Christ teaches:

Pornography is any material depicting or describing the human body or sexual conduct in a way that arouses sexual feelings. [1] It is distributed through many media, including magazines, books, television, movies, music, and the Internet. It is as harmful to the spirit as tobacco, alcohol, and drugs are to the body. Using pornographic material in any way is a violation of a commandment of God: “Thou shalt not … commit adultery … nor do anything like unto it” (Doctrine & Covenants 59:6). It can lead to other serious sins. Members of the Church should avoid pornography in any form and should oppose its production, distribution, and use.[12]

President Thomas S. Monson, the president of The Church of Jesus Christ, said:

Pornography is especially dangerous and addictive. Curious exploration of pornography can become a controlling habit, leading to coarser material and to sexual transgression. Avoid pornography at all costs.
Don’t be afraid to walk out of a movie, turn off a television set, or change a radio station if what’s being presented does not meet your Heavenly Father’s standards. In short, if you have any question about whether a particular movie, book, or other form of entertainment

Pornography is destructive and can have seriously adverse affects on marriage relationships.

Sexual sins are an abomination before God because, next to life itself, the ability to create life is one of the greatest gifts that God has entrusted to His children. It is a sacred power only to be used within the bounds that God has set—total abstinence before marriage and complete fidelity afterward.


  1. See "Sexual Immorality" in Gospel Topics at
  2. See For the Strength of Youth, [2011], 35–37.
  3. See "The Family: A Proclamation to the World."
  4. David A. Bednar, "We Believe in Being Chaste," General Conference, April 2013.
  5. See David A. Bednar’s "We Believe in Being Chaste," General Conference, April 2013.
  6. Jeffrey R. Holland, "Personal Purity," General Conference, October 1998.
  7. David A. Bednar, "We Believe in Being Chaste," General Conference, April 2013.
  8. Dallin H. Oaks, "The Great Plan of Happiness," General Conference, October 1993.
  9. David A. Bednar, "We Believe in Being Chaste," General Conference, April 2013.
  10. Jeffrey R. Holland, "Personal Purity," General Conference, October 1998.
  11. Jeffrey R. Holland, "Place No More for the Enemy of My Soul," General Conference, April 2010.
  12. See "Pornography," True to the Faith, (2004), 117-18.