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
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
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
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
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?