4 Better Chastity Object Lessons for Youth

I asked the Deacon’s Quorum I teach if they knew what the law of chastity was. One intrepid young man raised his hand, “Don’t have sex until you’re 18.” I gulped. Not Quite, I explained.

A second young man raised his hand to swoop in with the right answer. “It’s don’t have sex until you’re 16!”

Needless to say, the youth in our wards and branches do need to be taught the law of chastity. And while we’ve heard countless tales of mangled object lessons with wooden boards, glazed donuts, and sticks of gum, these lessons keep returning because object lessons work.

So what object lessons can we use instead to teach the principle of chastity responsibly and accurately.

1. The Driver’s License and the Dream Car

the-dream-car

This object lesson comes from Riley Lewis, who taught it for a teacher’s quorum lesson.

As a way of setting the stage, place your car keys on the table in front of you.

Ask the students to describe their dream car. Get as many details and variations as they like. Then tell the students that their father owns this car.

Their father has told them that they can have the car, but only after they’ve earned their driver’s license.

Then describe the following situation to the class. Late at night, some friends come over and they want to go on a joy ride. Ask the class what could go wrong. Ask the class how those things are worse than if they had waited to receive their driver’s license first.

Then ask the class why the joy ride was wrong, regardless, of the consequences.

The car represents our God-given power as a creator. If we use that power outside the bounds he has set, there can be many consequences made worse by using it at the wrong time.

The car, and driving the car are not wrong in themselves, only using it at the appropriate time.

Cautions: Make sure that the class understands that the car does not represent their eventual spouse. That they will drive the car in unison with their spouse.

2. Growing a Tree

caring-for-a-tree

Horticulture is a rich source for object lessons in the scriptures, and there can be many valuable lessons we can continue to draw from them.

Show the class a potted plant. Ask them to list some ways you would care for the plant if you wanted it to grow and flower.

Explain that the plant can be compared to our own sexuality. Ask the class some of the things we do to help our individual sexuality grow and develop. Answers could include dating, attending dances, or preparing for the temple among others.

If available, bring an unripe fruit. Ask the class if you should have harvested the fruit already. Explain that the fruit is delicious but only if we wait until the appropriate time to harvest the fruit. But explain that even if you do take the fruit off too early, the tree will continue to produce fruit, and we can wait for the next fruits.

Cautions: You may want to explain that sometimes people can steal the fruit from our trees. But that this isn’t our fault.

3. Waiting for Christmas Day

waiting-for-christmas-day

You can wrap an individual gift for each student as a token of the lesson if you wish.

Ask the class if there is anything wrong with Christmas presents.

Ask the class if there is anything wrong with opening Christmas presents early.

Get answers from the class about why opening up a Christmas present early is wrong. Explain that many of these same answers help us understand why breaking the law of Chastity is wrong.

Explain that sex is a gift from our Heavenly Father.

What if someone took your present and opened it up before Christmas. Would the person who gave you that present be mad at you, or would they be mad at the person who opened the present?

Explain to the class that Heavenly Father is the same, and he will judge us for our actions, not for the actions of others.

Cautions: In some family and traditions they do open up presents early. The problem is opening up the present outside the bounds the giver has set.

Be aware that you don’t establish opening up the present as ruining the present forever. If you want to extend the metaphor you can explain that other Christmases will come.

4. Red Dye and Bleach

red-dye-and-bleach

This familiar object lesson you can read more about on eHow. This object lesson is usually used to describe sin and forgiveness.

Take a glass of water and place in a drop of red coloring dye. This is like a sin that stains us. In the context of the law of chastity, this happens when we break the law of chastity.

Placing red drops in the water can be a way of describing different elements of the law of chastity. In conjunction with the Christmas present lesson, you could ask if having someone else open the present constitutes a sin.

Then add bleach to the water, mix it around. Explain that the bleach is the atonement, and clears away all the red dye. The color is entirely gone. This represents repentance and the atonement.

Explain that to keep the water clear, we can’t continually add red dye. We must stop the old behavior.

Cautions: Beware that we don’t misrepresent standards to help us keep the law of chastity from the law of chastity itself.

Also, the addition of the bleach to the water may seem too easy. Emphasize to students the power of the atonement, but also the requirement to change necessary for it to take effect.

As a community of Latter-day Saints, we are always looking for better, more accurate, and healthier ways of explaining difficult concepts to our children. Hopefully, these ideas help. But we want to hear from you. What lessons have you used that have worked? What other cautions would you give about using the object lessons above?

 

Christopher D. Cunningham, the LDS.net content director, loves emphatically celebrating his son Albus’ normal healthy development, writing about the Church of Jesus Christ, finding the middle ground on most controversies, and using Western Family generic brand lip balm. Christopher is a proud graduate of Brigham Young University-Idaho, and a resident of Lockhart, Texas. He is a longtime supporter of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

  • DeeB

    I have talked to my children about what intimacy is and why giving in to pre-marital sexual relations will destroy that. The experiences had before marriage will stay with you and contaminate your marriage experience. I wish though that we would talk more about what the single should do with all those feelings of attraction and desire swirling around in them. We tell them that sexual relations are as wonderful as a great sports car or as beautiful as rose but we never discuss what really is. Pornography destroys dignity in both partners and intimacy but we don’t say why. We talk about chastity and sex in an abstract way as though its an entity in and of itself not related to another human being or our own sense of self.

  • LB

    Once to teach the power of the real thing (not just chastity vs. porn, but seeking for real, deep relationships and life experiences-this goes far beyond chastity) I went over bednars talk (things as they really are) and gave every YW a high quality printed picture of a rose (hi-fidelity model of the real thing- it’s nice. it serves a purpose but it’s not the real thing). Then at the end of the lesson I surprised them with a real rose and told them to compare the two. Encouraged them to not just wait for but work for the “real thing” in all areas of life (including the law of chastit). Really emphasized that there are a wide variety of experiences and just because some are different, or maybe even mistakes or bad experiences caused by others there can still be great things we learn and overcome.

  • Trish Mercer

    Years ago I taught the YW that sex is like chocolate–an apt metaphor they all were eager to be a part of. I handed around a tray of unsweetened baking chocolate, and told them that sex before marriage is like this: It looks like something we want, and is appealing, but it’s not quite what they expect. It’s bitter and you’ll wish you hadn’t succumbed. Sex after marriage is much more like a Symphony bar–refined and sweet (and something I was going to pass around at the end).
    Interestingly, as I passed around the unsweetened baking chocolate, several girls told others to not eat it–that they really didn’t want it. But it was too tempting, and a few girls did snatch pieces to eat. Within minutes they were running to the drinking fountain, ready to wretch.
    That experience–of their peers telling them no, and them still eating it and discovering it was horrible–was more powerful, I think, than anything I could have told them.

  • Uneva

    For girls, you may want to compare it to Baking Bread.
    You can put in all the necessary ingredients for the bread – the flour, sugar, salt, etc. – and even remember the important role of kneading it – but if you don’t put in the yeast, the bread will be flat, hard and tasteless. Yech!
    *Ingredients = Natural physical and emotional growth tendencies, from girlhood to womanhood
    *Kneading = Reaching physical sexual maturity, enabling one to pro-create – God’s most important reason for the act
    *Yeast = The marriage ceremony. Without that, it doesn’t matter how physically prepared your body is, or how emotionally ready you feel. The relationship will be marred if you don’t wait, just as the bread will be unpleasant to eat without the yeast.
    Just as the yeast must be added early in the baking process, so the determination to save sex for marriage needs to be initiated into one’s heart early in their youthful years.

    (Sorry. I don’t see how this analogy can cover the instance of rape.)