Guest Post ~ Cynthia Webecke Steadman
When I was a YW, my teacher presented us with a beautifully made cake. She talked a little about making the cake and while she was talking she sniffed her hand. She said she’d forgotten to wash her hands after changing the baby, but went on talking, then cheerfully asked who wanted a piece of cake. Of course, she had several volunteers. She then dug her hand into the cake, scooped out a piece and smeared it onto a plate. This was my introduction to the law of chastity: If you don’t keep yourself clean and pure, no one will ever want you. You are dirty and undesirable; you’ve lost your worth.
When I was 9, a boy in my neighborhood was curious about girls. He wanted to know what they looked like under their clothes, how their bodies looked. I became the object of his curiosity and he found opportunity to satisfy his curiosity. After this lesson in YW, I realized I was dirty, that I was already so far damaged that no one would want me, so when I was 16 and my high school boyfriend wanted to go further than is recommended, I didn’t see a problem with it. After all, I was already damaged. What was the problem with more damage? Elizabeth Smart relates that this same type of lesson was the reason she didn’t immediately identify herself when she was recognized and rescued. She’d had the same type of lesson in YW, hers was illustrated by a piece of chewed up gum.
Since when did Daughters of God become consumable items? No matter what we do in our lives, our worth remains constant. D&C 18:10, “Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God.” In the book of Moses, God shows Moses all his works. He says to Moses “Worlds without number have I created, but, thou are my [child] and this is my work and my glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of [my children].” We are more important to our Heavenly Parents than any of their creations. We are the reason they created all these worlds.
We are bars of gold! What can you do to a bar of gold to diminish its worth? Does it become worth less if you lick it? Smear it on a plate? Bite it? What if you kick it down the stairs or run it over with a car? You can handle it with dirty hand. The value of the gold remains the same even if you chop it into tiny little pieces.
Sure, all of this mistreatment can make the gold LOOK bad. It can dent it, maybe discolor it. But what happens when you take this dented, discolored gold and put it through the refiner’s fire? It is melted down, remolded and reformed “with the touch of the Master’s hand” and becomes just as beautiful as before.
But how would you treat a bar of gold? If I handed one to you right now, would you take it home and use it for a door stop? Would you let strangers handle it? Would you give it to a person you’d been on three dates with?
If our worth is not based on our chastity, then why does God command that we remain chaste? Why does God say that he “delight[s] in the chastity of women” (Jacob 2:28). Why have we been given such strict instructions? As a child, and even now, I want to know the WHY of a rule. Here is something to consider: women have come to this world endowed with certain powers and gifts to help us do our job as women. Part of that is built into our hormonal system. When women engage in intimate gestures such as hugging, holding hands or having sex, they release a hormone called Oxytocin, or the bonding hormone. Men also release this hormone, but in a much smaller quantity. Oxytocin lowers our defenses, bonds us to our partners and makes us feel in love. “The problem is that the body can’t distinguish whether the person we’re with is a casual fling or marriage material—oxytocin is released either way. So while it might help you bond with the love of your life, it’s also the reason you may feel so miserable when a short-term relationship ends. Men, on the other hand, instead of getting a surge of bonding hormone receive a surge of simple pleasure.” (Daily Mail.com, “Sex: why it makes women fall in love-but just makes men want more!” Anna Hodgekiss, 19 August 2011.) In the majority of relationships that involve physical expressions of love, the woman will feel more emotional trauma when the relationship ends.
When the Lord “delight[s] in the chastity of women,” it is because “I, the Lord, have seen the sorrow, and heard the mourning of the daughters of my people [and] I will not suffer…that the cries of the fair daughters of this people…shall come up unto me against the men of my people…for they shall not lead away captive the daughters of my people because of their tenderness, save I visit them with a sore curse even unto destruction for they shall not commit whoredoms” (Jacob 2:28-33). I don’t know about you, but to me that sounds like my dad standing on the front porch warning my date that he better treat me right or answer to my dad. God loves his daughters. He loves us. He doesn’t want to see us hurt. He knows that because of our hormones and our other gifts as women, that pre-marital intimacy will hurt us. He knows that if we engage in pre-marital intimacy and are left pregnant that there are no easy choices after that. Whether we raise the baby or place the baby for adoption, it is not easy.
This is the WHY of chastity. You should stay chaste because you are a bar of gold. You would not hand your bar of gold to someone who does not understand its worth. You would give it to someone who would defend it, treasure it, value it, and love it. A person that understands your worth as a daughter of God would not want you to be faced with the possibility of being hurt by the relationship. President Monson said “men should take care not to make women weep, for God counts their tears.” We should strive to remain chaste because it is better to not get hurt than to go through the healing process.
In this culture, Satan is engaging in a very successful marketing campaign that tells us that our worth as women is based solely on our looks, our body size, our clothing, our grooming, even the whiteness of our teeth. How often do we weigh ourselves and then feel depressed? How often do we catch glimpse of ourselves in the mirror and think we look horrible and therefore are worthless? President Uctdorf said, “Do you suppose it matters to our Heavenly Father whether your makeup, clothes, hair and nails are perfect? Do you think your value to Him changes based on how many followers you have on Instagram or Pintrest? Do you think He wants you to worry of get depressed if some unfriend or unfollow you on Facebook or Twitter? Do you think outward attractiveness, your dress size, or popularity make the slightest difference in your worth to the One who created the universe? He loves you not only for who you are this very day, but also for the person of glory and light you have the potential and desire to become.” Sister Elaine Dalton said, “If all humanity really understood the importance of the statement ‘We are daughters of our Heavenly Father,’ how would women be regarded and treated?”
Yes, we are women of beauty, but our beauty is not based on our external looks, just as gold is not valuable because it is shiny. There are few marketing campaigns for bars of gold. How many ads on TV or in print have you seen for a bar of gold? Very few, I would guess. I think it is because the worth of a bar of gold is high and anyone who can afford one feels lucky. Gold is highly sought after, so it doesn’t need to be advertised. Just like gold, a daughter of God does not need to advertise herself. Flashy and revealing clothing, coarse, vulgar actions and speech are a marketing campaign for someone who does not understand her true worth. Just as you would not take your bar of gold out in public and wave it in people’s faces, you should reflect the knowledge of your worth in your dress, actions and speech. President Benson said, “Be modest. Modesty in dress and language and deportment is a true mark of refinement and a hallmark of a virtuous latter-day saint. Shun the low and the vulgar and the suggestive.” I think it interesting to note that modest dress, actions and speech are a mark of “refinement,” once again returning to the idea that gold can pass through the refiner’s fire and become renewed.
Once again, I stress that mishandling gold does not decrease the value. You can send it through the refiner’s fire, repent, and become purified. President Benson said, “You can be clean again. The despair can be lifted. The sweet peace of forgiveness will flow into your lives…The Lord said, ‘Behold, [she] who has repented of [her] sins, the same is forgiven and I, the Lord, remember them no more.’”
Sisters, I testify to you that our worth as Daughters of God far outweighs a bar of gold. I’ve used it as an analogy because it’s something which has a worth that we can relate to. I don’t think that in this life we will ever fully understand our worth. Protect yourself the same way you would protect a bar of gold. Stay chaste, stay modest and, most importantly, recognize your worth. Do not treat yourself as anything less than you are.
Featured Image by Jeremy Schultz