We had a talk with our kids about the importance of abstaining from sex except with their future spouse. With a wide range of children, young adult to toddler, this was not the easiest topic to discuss. There were some bored expressions at the very first which didn’t last long. As it turns out, any discussion is more fun when you add chocolate.
Setting the stage
When I went shopping last Monday, I knew it was my turn to lead our Family Home Evening discussion that night but hadn’t selected a topic. As I walked down the aisle with the Valentine’s treats (I love holidays!) two heart-shapes boxes of chocolate attracted my attention. I felt impressed to buy these. That was unusual as I try not to overdo the sugar in our house though we do splurge occasionally. Then my son saw a flavor of Lindor Truffles we had never tried before so we had to buy these as well. Just to try. I almost forgot, an oreo pie crust (actually MI-DEL brand gluten free) also made it home with us.
At home, I hurriedly hid the Valentine’s treats then prayed about the topic for our lesson. Chastity was the topic that stuck out as I looked through the True to the Faith book (digital edition is free online) for ideas. I highlighted the sections I wanted to discuss.
I wondered if there was some way of making an object lesson for more interest and better teaching. I remembered the three different Lindor chocolates I bought. One was already opened though!
I’m going to say, God is so good. I love how he can set us up for success in many things and especially in teaching our families even before we know what we need!
So here I had three different types of chocolates. The kids were going to love this! I put the two unopened heart-shaped boxes in a pretty gift bag and the already torn open bag (you don’t wait to try new chocolate until you get home from the store do you?) in another valentine-ish gift bag. The kids saw the gift bags and were becoming very curious!
I partially filled three sundae glasses with pretty colored glass marbles. One glass had one color and two glasses held a different color. I also got a cup of dirt to aid in the discussion. And last but not least, I requested my husband’s assistance in the discussion. Usually just one of us teaches the family home evening lesson. This seemed like the type of lesson that would be improved with input from both mom and dad with different perspectives.
Discussing chastity with our kids
We always start Family Home Evening with singing a hymn, praying, and reading a scripture. We take turns on who gets which assignment. The kids favorite assignments are choosing the treat or fun activity following the lesson. We end our lesson with another prayer.
Song: Love at Home
Opening Prayer: (choose someone)
Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 4:3–4
Basic Lesson: Chastity in True to the Faith
Closing Prayer: (other someone)
Treat: chocolate pudding (here’s a yummy Chocolate Chia Pudding recipe) with oreo “dirt” crumbs and fresh or frozen berries
Activity: Studio C clean comedy skits are a favorite at our home
We started out our discussion defining chastity. I wanted to be clear so they would understand this is a commandment from God that applies to everyone married or not. We abstain from sex until we are married and then only have sex with the person we are married to.
I like the advice in the old Family Home Evening Resource Book to keep an explanation about procreation simple for younger children. We had already discussed sex previously with most of our children several times so did not go into that much now. I will admit that at this point we had already lost my toddler who ran off to play somewhere. I did not hunt him down this time. He showed up in time for the chocolate!
As I showed my children the gift bags, they listened more intently. I explained the ability to procreate is a gift from God. It helps us participate in the act of creation and draws us closer emotionally, spiritually, and physically to our spouse. Abstaining from sex until marriage (and then only with our spouse) shows love and obedience to God. It also is a special gift we only can give our forever companion.
I let one of the children open the gift bag with the torn package of chocolates my son and I had pre-sampled. Lots of oohs issued from my kids’ hungry lips. I pointed out the bag‘s condition and that some chocolates were gone. I asked them “Would you give a gift already open, ripped, and missing items?”
Next I selected someone to open the gift bag with the two beautiful heart-shaped packages. After the commotion settled, we set the chocolates aside while we continued to talk about chastity. This was the hardest part for them. Waiting to eat the chocolates was not easy!
The fifth and sixth paragraphs of Chastity in True to the Faith highlights the good emotions we receive from a committed, chaste, and loving marriage. The unfortunate sorrow, guilt, shame, and bitterness of sexual immorality are also shown.
To help my children understand this concept, I showed them a sundae glass partially filled with one color (color A) of glass marbles and a second glass with a different color (color B). Remember there is a third glass that is a duplicate of the second glass (also color B). I set the two cups (A and B) next to each other to represent a relationship. I told my kids these two cups represented a married couple and the pretty glass marbles represent the feelings from a committed married relationship. These feelings include love, trust, peace, joy, and contentment.
The blessings of sexual purity and the effects of sin
I slowly poured dirt over the marbles in the cup with a duplicate (color B). The dirt symbolized the consequences of immortality as guilt, bitterness, shame, and hatred replace respect and joy.
I explained we are blessed with a way to be clean again. Repentance is possible for all through the grace of Jesus. (Dieter F. Uchtdorf employs a beloved airplane analogy to give hope to all of us who need repentance.)
I replaced the sundae cup now filled with dirt and marbles with the clean duplicate containing glass marbles to show the effects of repentance making us new and clean again. Paul taught that we become a “new creature” through Jesus Christ’s Atonement (2 Corinthians 5:17). Elder David A.Bednar explained what this means. “The essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ entails a fundamental and permanent change in our very nature made possible through the Savior’s Atonement. True conversion brings a change in one’s beliefs, heart, and life to accept and conform to the will of God…”
*Epically long sidenote
There is a vast difference between being a victim of abuse and choosing to be immoral or giving into temptation! Here are a few resources I feel are healing I hope will benefit anyone suffering trauma from abuse of any kind.
This is one of my favorite scriptures. It reminds me Jesus is all powerful to heal anything!
And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities. Alma 7:11–12
Talk: Dispelling the Darkness of Abuse
Hope filled thoughtful experience for anyone else who has dealt with abuse or bullying of any kind. One aspect she mentions is the healing power of scriptures. They healed my soul. As I listen, occasionally a warm feeling of love comes that assures me the scripture I am reading is true and I am loved. God loves you too, my friend!
Talk: Healing the Tragic Scars of Abuse
Enlightenment on the nature of our relationship with God after suffering from abuse and how to seek His help in recovery.
Talk: The Tongue of Angels (Read, watch, or listen!)
Most importantly, this is a reminder from an apostle of God that your worth has not been diminished in God’s eyes by the evil or unwitting actions of others. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love you infinitely. I pray you feel that as you watch or listen to this healing talk.
Gospel Perspective: Abuse
These talks are also linked on this page with even more words of encouragement.
Fiction Book: Journey to Joy
I find great fiction can heal our hearts as characters gain insight into similar issues we face. This book helped me heal my concept of self-worth as Joy rediscovered her own. The story is well-written too! Trigger warning: Joy has a couple flashbacks to abuse scenes. Emotions are vivid but abuse details are not explicit.
* Alibris * Amazon * Books-A-Million
Self-help: The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse
I just discovered this book last week so haven’t read it all yet. I like what I’ve read so far. It talks about the different stages of healing and the change process for taking back control of your life.
* Alibris * Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Books-A-Million
Self-help: Soul Mend by Luann Dunnuck (Book of Ruth Ann book review)
This is one of my top recommendations to read for healing any form of emotional trauma. Luann specifically speaks about healing from abuse.
Homosexuality and marriage
I asked my children for permission (can liken to showing respect in a relationship) to open the boxes of chocolates. Using two chocolates of the same color, I explained that the world now tells us it is okay for a man to marry a man or a woman to marry a woman. This is against God’s teachings though. He designed a man (one color of chocolate) and a woman (set a different color of chocolate next to the first) to complement and complete each other. We each have different inherent strengths and weaknesses which are completed by the opposite sex. Marriage helps us become like God and create children. This can only happen naturally between a man and a woman.
Your children may say the same thing some of mine did, “But I like both of ‘such-and-such flavor’ best!” The point is, we as women and men were designed by God to complement and complete each other with our different strengths and help each other balance our weaknesses.
At this point my children asked what the third color of chocolates represented (from the torn bag). My answer: it’s the baby.
Nearly finished with the lesson we committed to being chaste by following these guidelines.
- Know the Lord will help you withstand temptation. Pray when tempted.
- Decide now to be chaste.
- Control your thoughts.
- Stay away from pornography.
- If you are single and dating, always treat your date with respect.
- If you are married, be faithful to your spouse in your thoughts, words, and actions.
After sharing my testimony about how being chaste had blessed my life and marriage, we had a closing prayer and then got to eat our treats. I became aware waiting to eat the chocolate was like abstinence and overcoming temptation. While it wasn’t easy it was possible.
The extra pudding dessert with cookie crumbs was unnecessary but fun. It could be seen as an extra blessing for resisting temptation and waiting to eat the chocolates. I feel it helps cement the lesson in our memories creating a connection with the dirt in the sundae goblet earlier. We don’t want to eat dirt unless it’s the oreo cookie variety!
Links to studies and books
Use these if needed for older children who have more questions or for a future family home evening discussion.
Book: Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids by Kristen A. Jenseon, MA and Gail Poyner, PhD
* Website * Alibris * Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Books-A-Million * Deseret Book * Seagull Book
Study: Florida Declares Pornography a ‘Public Health Risk’
Mentions many studies documenting specific harmful effects of viewing pornography. Links to a TED talk on the topic
Book: True to the Faith covers related topics including Addiction, Atonement of Jesus Christ, Birth Control, Family, Homosexuality, Marriage, Pornography, Repentance, Sexual Immorality, and Temptation