Most of the lessons posted on Keepa, when not meant for a mixed Sunday School class, have been lessons directed at women – I haven’t yet figured out why it is so difficult to find lessons aimed at men, whether it’s because they just weren’t written and published as often as women’s lessons, or whether it’s some peculiarity in what has been put on the library shelf instead of in the less accessible depths of the library.
In any case, I’ve run across a 1940 quorum manual for what used to be called Adult Aaronic, the group of men who fell into inactivity in their youth but who, as adults, had resumed contact with the church and were being prepared for the Melchizedek Priesthood and for full participation in the church. (Do they still have such a group under some other name, or do such men associate with the Elders’ Quorum and get their catch-up lessons in Sunday School’s Gospel Essentials class?)
Here’s a lesson from that manual, directed to adults who presumably are in the class not because of coercion from parents or the habit of the regular churchgoer, but because they are actively and anxiously seeking to become fully Mormon men.
“No unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of God.” (Alma 40:26.)
A. – How Grossness is Manifested.
Grossness has its foundation in thoughts and desires, and is made manifest in actions. A gross person is vulgar, coarse, low, unrefined, rude, mean, even obscene and vile. All these evils have their origin in mental conceptions which for our purposes may be called thoughts. When the mind once conceives vulgar thoughts, the next step is a natural longing to enjoy the thing conceived, which is desire. Desire once created, the next step is action to obtain. These steps are natural; and teach the great lesson of the supreme importance of forming right thoughts or conceptions in the mind. Thoughts or concepts come from impressions, or perceptions, made upon the mind, or spirit, through the senses: hearing, seeing, tasting, smelling and feeling. From this again we learn how very important it is on the one hand to hear chaste, polite language, see only choicest actions, writings, and associations; and to be kept, on the other hand, from tasting, or coming in contact with any object that is calculated to stain and pollute the impressionable mind, with the manifestations of grossness. The mind in youth may be likened to a phonograph plate. Placed in a position to receive impressions, these are ineradicably stamped upon its surface to be reiterated at the pleasure of the operator. So with the youthful mind. That which is impressed upon it by the five senses remains forever. And if interest and attention accompany the impression, nothing heard, seen, tasted, smelled or handled will be forgotten. Under such conditions there is no forgetting, or ridding the mind of impressions once so made upon it. They will forever come to the surface, in thought, desire and action, either to curse, if they are gross and evil, or to bless the possessor, if they are chaste, choice, refined and pure.
B. – How Chastity is Manifested.
Chastity is revealed through the processes of thought, desire and action. A chaste person is pure in morals, manner and conduct; virtuous in his relations with the opposite sex, free from vulgarisms, polite, select, refined in language. He delights in good books, clean company, pure foods, and useful work. Chastity manifests itself in hatred of all vulgarism and all that is coarse and low; it is innocent, modest, refined and undefiled.
Chastity prevents impure thoughts from arising in the mind to create desire; it controls desire and governs the actions.
C. – Chastity is Natural, Unchastity Unnatural.
Chastity is natural. By this is meant that it is the condition fixed and determined by nature. It belongs to a person’s native character. Chastity is just as natural to a person as any of his normal characteristics. It is not a foreign condition, assumed and artificially put on, but it is regular, it is inherent in man as much as any law of nature – growth, motion, heat, strength. On the other hand, unchastity is acquired, it is put on by one’s own effort, it is unnatural.
When, therefore, a man uses foul language, we are justified in saying he has learned it of his own free will; he has acquired it. If his conduct is evil in other directions – in thought, word, or deed, if he has fallen into many foolish lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition, it is so by his own choice. he has permitted himself to adopt the example and teachings of the impure. But observe this: Man has power in himself to withstand unchastity. The Lord has given us a very valuable key, in this connection: (James 4:7.) “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” So, evil resisted, is evil overcome. “O man of God, flee thee things; and follow after righteousness; fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life.” (1 Tim. 6:11, 12.) “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings; for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a cancer.” “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” (2 Tim. 2:15, 16 and 22.) By this course, we shall keep in harmony with the laws of spiritual growth.
D. – Historical View of Chastity.
We shall find by referring to history that the greatest and most respected characters of all time were chaste; that chastity brought the blessings, and unchastity the curses of God.
The Lord was with Joseph and he was a prosperous man, who found not only grace in the sight of Potiphar, his master, but favor with God. He was a chaste and pure man, as is proved by his resistance of temptation. (Read Gen. 39.) Though falsely cast into prison, “the Lord was still with Joseph, and gave him favor, and that which he did the Lord made it to prosper.”Because of his purity, he was made more than the peer of kings – the ruler of the Egyptian nation – the father of nations through Ephraim and Manasseh who, according to the promise, have grown into multitudes in the midst of the earth. Because of his virtue, Joseph became the “fruitful bought whose bow abode in strength; and the arms of his hands were made strong by the Mighty God of Jacob.” (Gen. 41:41-56; 48:12-20; 49:22-26.)
Turning to old Pagan civilizations, Confucius, born 550 B.C., a Chinese sage and moralist, who impressed his character and principles on more than three hundred millions of people, was a man who taught his followers the value of virtue, in the broad sense which covers chastity in all its ramifications. There is perhaps no heathen teacher whose influence and work has been more widely extended and permanent than his. His teachings, of course, are immeasurably inferior to those of Christ in loftiness and spirituality, but there is not a sentiment in them which may be called demoralizing. “He married,” says Dr. Lord, “when he was nineteen years of age; and in the following year was born his son Le, his only child, of whose descendants eleven thousand males were living one hundred years ago, constituting the only hereditary nobility of China – a class who for seventy generations were the recipients of the highest honors and privileges.” (Beacon Lights, p. 148.) This is as great a blessing as could come to any man, and it was doubtless a reward for his purity and virtue. He was finally made ruler under a duke over a province or state, and made many splendid reforms. His fame spread so that strangers came from neighboring states to see him. Neighboring princes were annoyed, and jealous, and to undermine the influence of Confucius with the duke, “these princes sent the duke a present of eighty beautiful girls, possessing musical and dancing accomplishments, and also 120 splendid horses. As the duke soon came to think more of his girls and horses than of his reforms, Confucius became disgusted, resigned his office, and retired to private life.” The unbridled licentiousness and debauchery of courts filled him with indignation, and he is said to have exclaimed, “I have not seen one who loves virtue as he loves vice.” Dr. Lord says further of Confucius that he was moderate, temperate, simple, sincere, straight-forward, humble, striving after virtue and perfection. His mission appears to have been to transmit to his time the wisdom which had made remote generations wise and virtuous, and in doing so, he made them so clear, and was so blessed of God, because of his chaste life, and efforts, that his work lives on.
E. – the Direct Commands of God.
Direct commandments from God in ancient and modern times enjoin chastity, cleanliness, and purity of life as cardinal virtues, and pronounce blessings upon those who possess and practice them. Because they are commandments is a leading reason why they should be obeyed. Here are some commandments cited:
The ten commandments. (Ex. 20.) “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord, or who shall stand in his holy place, He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.” (Ps. 24:3, 4.) “Every word of God is pure: He is a shield unto them that put their trust in him.” (Prov. 30:5.) “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” (Matt. 5:8.)
1. Show the value of having the mind rightly impressed. 2. Name a few things to be avoided by the pure. 3. What specially delights a person of chaste habits? 4. What is a valuable key to enable one to withstand all evil? 5. What is the greatest blessing that came to Confucius apparently because of his chastity? 6. Show that chastity is a direct command of God.