Friday, January 29, 2010


So we have a lot to cover, what with giving birth and a new (lovely) addition to the fam and such, but before we get to that, I need your guidance on an unrelated matter. You guys are smart. Don't let me down.

This weekend, as part of a "standards night" I'm doing this workshop for the stake youth (and their parents) on the courage to remain chaste and virtuous.


Of course, I've prayerfully considered passing out already been chewed gum, or letting everyone handle a rose and when it's dirty, comparing it to one's virginity, or discussing weird old quotes that imply it's better to die than make out in a parked car, yada yada. Turns out that my 27 years of life have left me with about forty awesome ideas of what NOT to do, but significantly fewer ideas about what TO do. I think any object lesson is destined to be blatantly offensive, so that's out, but, any thoughts on what you would have found helpful or meaningful on the topic back in your day? Or what you wish people were telling YOUR 12-year-old at one of these?


Susan Petersen said...

maybe obvious, but that saving yourself isn't about saving yourself for your husband, but for you - and your spiritual progression and your relationship with the Lord. That tiny slip ups don't mean that all is lost, repentance is real.

good luck...seriously

The Boob Nazi said...

I honestly have no idea. All I can say is GOOD LUCK. And please blog about the final result.

~j. said...

Perhaps as a reaction from what I learned as a teenager (cookie with a few bites taken out of it), when I was laurel advisor I told the girls that sex is awesome, but they have to wait (too bad, that's just how it is). I wouldn't, however, have said that to the 12 & 13 year old girls.

I really don't like the manipulation factor, but one thing that sticks out in my mind is when someone compared the feelings of telling your bishop, after you've been married, that you're expecting a baby with the feelings you'd have while telling your bishop before you're married that you're having a baby.

As for what I'd want someone telling my 12 year old: what I don't want them saying is that sex is bad. Because it isn't.

So there you have it. (You're welcome?) Good luck. Let us know what you do.

Amy said...

Okay. So. Yeah I really have no ideas. Well, I have ideas but I don't know what you are really looking for. Here is what I remember thinking was pretty effective for me:

1. Focus on the temple. Bring lots of pictures of the temple - they are super white and pure looking on the outside and they remind me of the covenants we make on the inside.

2. Talk about making the choice now because down the road they may face situations where they are being pressured. Knowing in advance what your decision is doesn't necessarily make things easier in a pressure situation, but it can make you stronger.

3. I was trying to think of a scriptural example and all I've got is Joseph fleeing from Potiphar's wife (which I just read - I love that story). It's too bad pretty much every scripture story is about a guy.

But really I like the temple one. It gives girls a goal, and although I was NOT one of these girls, a lot of girls are focused on the idea of getting married someday and that idea can resonate with their imaginations.

That's all I've got chica. I bet you get hordes of other way better ideas, but when you said not to let you down I knew I had to at least say something.

Kamie said...

I'd stick with the oldies but goodies. "Your penis will fall off." Or if you are a girl, "Nobody will want you and you will die alone..with lots of cats."

Seriously, I have no idea. Good luck.

Emily said...

Actually I like that ABC gum idea. Ha! I'm trying to think of things but I will say one thought which is to not demonize sex. I think we had a conversation about that once. Sometimes girls (and boys?) in the church end up thinking sex is bad, which it's not, it's just needs to be within bounds. You know, chastity does not mean celibacy. That said, you don't want to offend the parents by telling the kids that it's all great, you just have to wait. Maybe compare it to a savings account. You end up with more if you wait to spend. Haha. Encourage parents to talk to their kids and don't leave the teaching up to anyone else--church leaders, school, peers. Remind the kids it's a commandment and like all commandments there are blessings for obedience. That's really the root. ('Because God said so. The end.') This is kinda cheesy but I remember someone at church saying it and liking it at the time: think about what you are going to give to your spouse (in many things, not just your virginity) and how you're going to become the person that they'd want to marry too. And pray for them for the strength to make right decisions and be the kind of person you'd want to marry etc. I don't know how you'd do it, but there must be a way to inspire, not scare. Too much is done to scare on the topic I think.

Better idea: tell them you just don't think you can come with a newborn at home. Who expects a woman with a few weeks old baby to do anything??

Kim said...

Once my YW leader put out a huge bowl of candy on the table during the lesson and didn't say anything about it. At the end of the lesson, she put the candy away without passing any out. When some of the girls asked what it was for, she said she had no intention of passing it out and didn't know why anyone would think she would. She then made the point "if you show it, people think you're going to share it". It's really about modesty rather than chastity so I guess I get the award for least helpful comment ever. Good luck!

Dorothy said...

How funny that this is what you're blogging about right after you give birth. You're more dedicated than I.

How about the quote that says it's better to fight to the death than get raped? That one really creeped me out.

Once, I was in a family development class at BYU and the professor said that passion is what really binds marriages, and chastity before marriage is the best way to have passion in marriage. Then I said that in a student ward and got a long awkward pause.

I think that young people who have sex before marriage are ultimately very insecure. The world makes it seem like if you have sex, it'll give you its stamp of approval. The thinking goes, "Hey, if I'm having sex with someone, that means that I'm desirable/attractive/wanted/approved of, etc." Of course, it's a lie, because the guy was either just as insecure and wanted sex for his own reasons having nothing to do with really loving a girl. True confidence only comes from keeping the commandments and accomplishing things that make you feel good (that's why girls who do sports don't have sex as much).

That's what I wish someone had told my friends in high school.

Elle said...

Ok, so we are both in the same boat. I teach bible study to 9-12 year old girls in an 'at risk' community where they are not being raised in the Lord AND we have just recently found out one of the girls is sexually active!!! I need help too!!! If you have any ideas please let me know?!?!??!? I don't even know where to begin!!!

Lena said...

"You have a gift Rory. A wonderful gift that you can give to anyone you choose. But once you give it away, you can't give it to anyone else. Does that makes sense?"

"Oh, the virginity ship has sailed."

I say go with Gilmore Girls. Make Trojan Man jokes.

Ru said...

Oh jeez, this sounds like an awful assignment. I'm so glad my most intensive calling has involved calling girls to find out if they did their visiting teaching. (Spoiler alert: They never did.)

I'm not sure parents will like you telling the girls this, but just based on how I remember my friends and myself at that age, I wish someone had said, "Look, we've been telling you forever that this is about the worst thing you can do, but those of you who have done it or are friends with people who have know that's just not true. It doesn't make you dirty, if you're smart you won't get pregnant, and the boy isn't always using you -- sometimes he really does love you. But the point is, when you have sex outside of marriage, which is where God has ordained it to take place, you separate yourself from God and stop your spiritual progression. You start to view the world in a more cynical way because you've cheapened something special. And you can't let that happen because you need to use this life to become the person you're meant to be. Of course, you can always repent, and you should, andy you'll be just as good as everyone else. But time in this life is limited. You want to use it moving forward, not fixing mistakes you could have avoided."

Wow, that was kind of a rant, right? But that's my suggestion. Also, for the record, I like Amy's temple idea.

Laurel said...

Hey Kathleen - I just started stalking your blog, but if you accept law school classmates as facebook friends and list your blog there, it's bound to happen.

By the way, we also stole your first daughter's name for one of the twins, but I didn't think about it until your second daughter was born. Good choice. Aren't little girls fun?

I, too, hate the ABC gum and sex is evil talks and I liked the comment about them saving themselves because of them,not because of some nebulous future husband. I also like what my father in law (who isn't LDS) says about it being possible to repent for premarital sex but repentance doesn't help much if you get an STD.
What came to mind when I read your post was how heartsick I feel when I see a pregnancy scare on a TV show and how it shouldn't be that way. I hate to think that any baby wouldn't be wanted (I know that's a little naive, but that's how I feel right now), and just the difference between finding out that you're pregnant when you're a teenager or young adult and single, where it would probably be a catastrophe and finding out you're pregnant while married to a supportive husband who is just as excited about that little bundle of joy as you are.
Anyway, those are my thoughts on the subject. Congrats on the new baby and good luck with everything!

ebv said...

To be honest, I wish people had been more frank about those discussions in my youth. Too many disturbing metaphors and scary scenarios to really understand the dos and don'ts.

I think the best lesson I ever received on it was when I was in my twenties and attending institute with Michael Wilcox. He was teaching a Book of Mormon lesson on Alma's somewhat less-than-sterling son, Corianton, and pointed out that in the previous chapter, Alma 38, Alma says to his youngest son Shiblon "see that ye bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love."

If you've heard the lesson before, you can stop now.

If not, his point was this: "A bridle serves one great purpose in horse riding: control. A bridle does not slow a horse down; it does not impede a horse in any way; but without it, we cannot go in the direction we want."

Anyway, my two cents. Positive lessons are always better than negative. Usually. :D

Erin said...

aren't you on maternity leave from church? sheesh.

Brooke said...

I think I never wanted to wait until marriage more than when a young women's leader was going along through her lesson and then stopped and told us how she still remembers how great the first night with her husband was and how special she felt and what an incredible gift it was to still have him there the next morning instead of turning and finding him gone. She said she realized in that moment why it was worth waiting: knowing the thing they had just started was permanent and how wonderful it was to wake up and not feel used or like a one-night stand. That little insight into the emotional and relationship BENEFITS of waiting did way more for me than the threats and all the recitations of PUNISHMENTS for not ever did. I'm also all about reminding them they've already promised they would stay chaste when they got baptized but instead of using that as a guilt trip, focusing on the blessings they get from keeping covenants they've already made including getting to make even cooler covenants in the temple with awesome rewards, i.e. eternal life, protection, strength, etc.

Elle -- That's such a hard age to start approaching this subject! Some of them are still just little kids so you don't want to say too much but others need the more teenage version. I feel for you and you've got prayers coming your way. =) GOOD LUCK!

Brooke said...

Oh! And I'm totally with Susan. Don't forget repentance. =) The courage to change and return to virtue is just as admirable as the courage to stay virtuous and any kids who are struggling likely need the self-esteem boost and the reminder they can totally meet the standard if they just ask for the help they need.

OK, I've said way too much. And I'm sure you don't need my help to do an awesome job. I just get excited to share my thoughts in hopes of avoiding some of the really awful lessons I got when I was this age on the subject.
End sermon.

The LaskHerd said...

I think you should bring a 2x4, a hammer, and some nails. Hammer some nails in (try to talk over it while you do) and then pull out the nails, ... Pahahahahah... so, of course I'm kidding. Enough about being nailed! (sorry)

I think we often associate the law of chastity with teenagers, but it applies to all of us, married or single. I was a virginal 29 year old when I married. It wasn't a punishment (though it certainly wasn't always easy). God knows how great sex is and He protects it with commandments. I think gently pointing at the positives is so much better than scare tactics. You are the object lesson, in a way. How great that they have the example of a smart, righteous (albeit slightly irreverent :) woman enjoying sweet (sleepy) family life. Virtue breeds confidence. Being confident in God's presence (D&C121) due to virtue is the big pay off. We point at the temple with starry-eyed matrimony as the undercurrent (and it hopefully will be) but we enter the temple as individuals, sometimes without a wedding ceremony immediately following. We should strive to stand clean before God. Confidence! There is little that is more attractive than that.

Oh, and one more... "The three words 'just this once' cancel out ever being able to say the three words 'I never did.'" So, I know it's cheesy, but it's memorable and true. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Check out Beginnings New Blog.

This was from a post called things not to teach in Young Womens:

"Chastity lessons that include shame or exclude the Savior:
As D'Arcy has written about, this can be tricky. It's hard to impress upon the girls the importance of respecting themselves and their bodies without slipping into the standard pattern of instruction that includes comparing an unchaste woman to a chewed piece of gum or a dirty broken cookie. These object lessons may be compelling, but are so damaging to someone who has already messed up, not to mention someone who has been victimized. Plus it discounts the effects of the Atonement to create a "new piece of wood."

In the last conference, Elder Cook included an analogy that was probably the best I've heard. A "life-giving" stream that got polluted after not enough protections were taken, restored to purity after corrections were made. If you must use an analogy, use that one. Just make sure to explain that this doesn't apply if someone else broke down your fence."

Mrs. B. Roth said...

My parents were way too open about sexuality. I think that was what kept me from really having much interest in sexual experimentation. Knowledge is power. Ru's comment up there - I loved it! Really good, honest stuff there.

I think there is always a heavy hand with the sin and a glossing over of the atonement in the chastity talks ...

Katie Laird said...

By far the best advice I ever received on that topic was found in Wendy Shalit's book, A Return to Modesty. After 21 years of getting lectured on my obligation and duty to be modest in order to avoid becoming walking pornography that would cause all males in sight of me to face insurmountable temptation, this book gave me the first logical reason I'd ever heard to remain chaste. It's fabulous.

Katie Laird said...

By far the best advice I ever received on that topic was found in Wendy Shalit's book, A Return to Modesty. After 21 years of getting lectured on my obligation and duty to be modest in order to avoid becoming walking pornography that would cause all males in sight of me to face insurmountable temptation, this book gave me the first logical reason I'd ever heard to remain chaste. It's fabulous.

Sara said...

As your resident non-mormon advisor, I remember learning:

1- No one wants a used car when they can get a shiny new one.

2- You have to live with your choices amd your actions. Can you look yourself in the mirror in the morning and be proud of the decisions you made the night before? We all make mistakes, but we also have to remember that the values we have define us, and will help act as our compass as we navigate this crazy life. This about what you will do (respect your body, build positive relationships, have fun, kissing!) and not what you won't do!

Colt said...

I realize this may be too late, but the biggest thing I think teenage girls need to know is that its going to feel good when things are hot and heavy and that they are not going to want to say "no".

I think that in the church we make sex sound like a bad thing, and its easy to say "no" to bad things and we're just not prepared for how good the feelings are...just my 2 cents.

Mrs. Clark said...

Oh, I don't envy you. But I think keeping the nitty-gritty for the older girls (15 and up) and a less frank version for the younger ones is a good idea. Can't you separate them?

My daughter was on the stake youth committee several years ago and they chose a movie, "Sex Has a Price Tag," which I thought was so good I bought a copy. I wouldn't want my kid under 14 to see it, but it's very frank and done by a Catholic woman who points out that both boys and girls pay a price for premarital sex--not just pregnancy, but STDs, etc. We parents had the opportunith to watch it before the kids--this was for the entire stake Standards Night, mind you--and only 4 parents showed up. My friend thought it was too frank and irreverent, but all my other friends with teens liked it.

Forgiving oneself is always so much harder than being forgiven by the Lord--it's so much better not to have committed the sin in the first place! Also, treading too close to the line associates guilt feelings with sex, which doesn't automatically go away once it's ok. I think it's important for them to know that they should stay far, far away from the line, not see how close they can get.

Good luck. I'm glad my kids are no longer teenagers! And it goes without saying that the Spirit will tell you what to do.

wajd said...

What is wrong with your YW prez? you just had a baby!!!! So here is my idea.... you make each girl hold your sweet baby girl, in the middle of the night, while she screams or blows out a diaper all over everything. That outta work. Or you could talk about self-care and self-respect and getting needs met in healthy way, so that there is no need to run to a guy to get needs met that he can't ever meet. Good luck friend.

Mhana said...

I love what Ru had to say. I don't know how well this would work with 12 year olds, but what I keep reflecting on is how thankful I am that I didn't give that to any of the various boys I dated before I found Captain Awesome. After all, this isn't just about losing your virginity, as some girls may have done that. I think about how my feelings changed -- I was thrilled with every first kiss with a boy I had, and for awhile I was sure he walked on water. Then I came to realize each boy in succession wasn't right for me. One didn't respect women or me. One didn't support women pursuing a mission or higher education. Two couldn't take me to the temple. Eventually I broke up with them (or they dumped me) and I am not friends with any of them, nor do I even have a whole lot of respect for them (biased, I realize). My point is, I'm glad I never gave them more than kisses because now I'd hardly give them the time of day. To me it was worth waiting because I don't have to fret that he'll break up with me or I'll break up with him, or that he'll turn out to be a weasel I can't respect.

Also I had a horrifying gyno situation that it turned out if I'd tried to have sex it wouldn't have worked and would have felt like I was being stabbed. If I'd known that I probably would have been less tempted all those years. Tell them they all probably have vulvodynia and will need surgery and seven months of physical therapy before they can have sex so they'd better consider carefully if that boy is worth it. Feel free to describe how I screamed and almost kicked my gynecologist at my "get birth control" appointment, its evocative and illustrates an important point about how their naughty bits are shameful, bad, and a source of deep pain and profound regret.

Kidding, but you knew that. Good luck (thank heaven I'm in Sunday School and am not responsible for reining their sexual impulses)