Latter-Day Saints sincerely desire to be like our Father in Heaven and we believe that there is much that He wants us to do and learn while we are here on earth. God has promised us that the families we establish here on earth can last forever. Our belief in the purpose of life and the eternal nature of families greatly influences our understanding of sexuality.
Latter-Day Saints believe in absolute sexual purity, both before marriage and after. "Physical intimacy between husband and wife is beautiful and sacred. It is ordained of God for the creation of children and for the expression of love between husband and wife." For the Strength of Youth Sexual intimacy is a powerful force for good when it is expressed the way God intended it to be-- in a loving marriage relationship. This great power that we have been given by God is to be used with reverence and respect, and is only appropriately expressed within marriage. Sexual sins are very serious because they defile that power.
Appropriate sexual intimacy can be an expression of love, but it is not love. I feel like there is a lot of confusion in our society today on that point. True love in it's highest form is the pure love of Christ. True love is not selfish, but looks to the well-being of the other. "Eros teaches us wrong things...about the great attribute of love... To misunderstand the true nature of love is to misunderstand life. To be unchaste, in the name of love, is to destroy something precious in order to celebrate its existence." Maxwell "See that ye bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love." Alma 38:12
Sexual expression outside of marriage is inappropriate and destructive to both body and spirit, damaging to society, and offensive to God. "In God’s sight, sexual sins are extremely serious because they defile the power God has given us to create life."1 Sexual sin is next to murder in the severity in which the Lord regards it. Alma 39:5 (Just a note that victims of sexual crimes are innocent of wrongdoing.) Latter-Day Saints avoid all sexual contact outside of marriage, including necking, petting, and intimate contact, as well as pornography, pre-marital and extra-marital sexual relations, degrading or disrespectful sexual relationships (even in marriage), masturbation, sexual perversion, homosexual activities, and any other behavior which perverts the divine purpose of the sexual powers that we have been given. Sexual intimacy is intended to unite a married couple and to provide bodies so that others of God's children may come to earth and have the experiences necessary for their exaltation. The sexual standards that God has set for his people are clear; Latter-Day Saints have no question what God expects of them.
Latter-Day Saint youth follow these teachings, not out of fear of pregnancy or disease, and not only out of obedience to God's commandments, but because they love God and understand who they are and what life is about. They know that they are literally children of God. They know that their bodies are sacred and will be theirs through eternity. They value the companionship of the Holy Ghost, and strive to behave themselves in ways that will allow him to remain with them. They know that marriage has a high and holy purpose and want their own marriage and family to last forever. They want to be completely faithful to their eternal companion (spouse). They have learned to trust God and know that the things that he asks of them are for their own good and will bring them lasting joy and peace. They know that God's work and glory is "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." Moses 1:39 and they want honor God by fulfilling His purposes for them.
Sexual purity is not just an ideal accomplished by a select few. It is the way of life among Latter-Day Saints-- youth and adults alike. No one winks at immoral behavior. One of the things I loved about dating at BYU was that I was surrounded by roughly 20,000 other young single students (plus several thousand others who were already married) who all truly believed in chastity. We were free to have fun. When I went out with someone new, I might have wondered whether he would be so bold as to attempt a good-night kiss after a first date, but that was all. Many times I wished for a wonderful young man to kiss me good-night and was somewhat disappointed, but felt all the more honored to be around him. We had a lot of fun in group dates: going to dances, watching silly movies, playing games, going on picnics. It was all good, clean fun. The real pressure was knowing that we were all hoping to find that "special someone!" Things get a little harder once you are engaged, but even then, the rules don't change, sexual contact is reserved exclusively for marriage. Of course, there are some who make mistakes, and repentance is available to all who sincerely desire to follow Christ; but when you are both committed to living righteously and accustomed to giving higher priority to eternal desires than to immediate desires, sexual purity is a natural standard. That is the lifestyle at BYU and wherever the saints of God dwell. We live this way because we love God and we respect ourselves. We know we are God's children.
I am grateful for the trust and love that exist between my husband and I because of our commitment to the teachings that God has given us. It gives me such peace to know that when the time comes for my children to marry, there will be other young people who are also pure and clean with whom they can join to form a family that will last forever. I wish everyone could know the joy and peace that comes from living the standards that the Lord has set for his children.
"The sweetest feelings of life, the most generous and satisfying impulses of the human heart, find expression in a marriage that stands pure and unsullied above the evil of the world." Gordon B. Hinkley