Episode 216 – CFM: Why is Chastity Important in God’s Plan?

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There is a Come, Follow Me lesson coming up in the youth program about the Law of Chastity. I feel that we need to be careful when we’re teaching our kids about sex to not use the fear or shame-based language that was used when we were taught about the Law of Chastity, because I see the results of that every day when I work with my clients. I know that we as parents and leaders are doing the best we can so I created a lesson plan for the youth leaders to know what to say and what to teach and how to say it in order to break that cycle of shame. I’ve also created a parent’s guide to help you talk about this upcoming lesson beforehand. Sex is great! It’s fun! And we want our kids to have that great sexual relationship when they’re married. But we also want to give them the information they need to make an empowered choice.

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Show Notes:

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Show Summary:

Hello friends. Welcome back to the podcast. I’m so happy to have you here. I was called into the Young Women’s program in our ward a few months ago, and I immediately looked at the upcoming lessons because I knew if there were a lot of chastity lessons that I wanted to be the one to teach it and also make it available to my audience.

So there is a Come Follow Me lesson on the Law of Chastity coming up on June 26th, and I have created a lesson plan and, even more importantly, a parent’s guide to help you as leaders teach this lesson in a way that is not fear-based and not shame-based, but really is a great way to approach it. But the most important thing is that Come Follow Me and our church programs are to support the parents and what they’re teaching at home. There is a great parents’ guide about how to talk to your kids about the Law of Chastity to define it, what it is, what it isn’t, and really to have some great conversations with your youth. I was going to do a whole podcast about this and talk about it.

But I was recently on a podcast on the LDS Life Coaches podcast to talk about this lesson as well  and to make it available as a resource to more people. And so we just decided to use the interview that Heather Rackham from the LDS Life Coaches podcast did of me and put it on this podcast as well. So you get her interviewing me about this lesson.

Feel free to pass on the link to other youth leaders in your wards and in your stakes. Use the parent guide to have for yourself and pass on to anyone else that you feel like it would benefit. And let’s get to the interview.

Heather: Hey everybody. Welcome to the podcast today. I am joined by coach Amanda Louder, and we are set to have a fantastic discussion. We’re kind of doing a special edition here today because there is a Come, Follow Me lesson in June that we wanted to talk about in preparation for that lesson. So I’m going to have Amanda introduce herself to you. And then we’re going to just get started on this conversation. 

Amanda: I am Amanda Louder. I’m a sex coach for Latter-day Saint women. And I absolutely love my job. It is the best job in the whole world to be able to talk to women about their sexuality and how it’s inherent to who they are and that it is important to integrate our sexuality into our life and to be whole. So a lot of times I feel like women kind of get this idea that they can’t be a sexual being and be a spirited one. And so I love being able to help them integrate that into their life and help them  just make their life so much better and their marriage better. 

Heather: Such a valuable new way of thinking. It’s a lifestyle change. It’s everything that you help your clients see and become. And it can be a hard one for so many people. 

Amanda: It can! We’ve received a lot of messages from our families, from our religion, from culture in general, about our sexuality. And it just feels very scary and dangerous because the way that it’s been talked about has been very fear-based. And we know that when things are fear-based, the results are never good.

And so really helping women understand that this is who they are, that we were created in the image of our Heavenly Parents. And we are inherently sexual beings. We need to figure out how to integrate that into our lives so that we can experience spirituality in its fullness and sexuality within our marriage in its fullness.

Heather: Because like you said, we separate them. We think it’s either/or, we can either be spiritual or sexual and really it’s when we can combine those two, that we get the fullness of our being. Of our humanness. 

Amanda: Yes, we are whole. When we start denying parts of ourselves, like our sexuality, then essentially denying a part of us that we’re denying a part of our Heavenly Parents.

And so really being able to integrate that and incorporate that into our lives is so, so important. So that’s one of the things that I wanted to talk about with this lesson for our youth. They need to learn how to integrate this part of themselves in a way that is healthy and in alignment with their value system, because that’s what we all have to do no matter where we are in our life.

Heather: Okay. So this lesson is June 26, 2022 and I think something that’s important to note is that this is a lesson that our youth will learn in church, but as parents, we have the opportunity to also have these conversations with our kids. And I think if we can combine the two, because certainly what they’re going to get in church is not the same as what we can give them at home. And the lesson that you have created actually has tools for both the church lesson and for parents. And I think it’s so important for parents to be involved in this lesson. 

Amanda: Yes, we, as parents, should be the primary teachers of our children in their sexuality. And because so many of us are uncomfortable with our own sexuality, having those conversations with our kids is very awkward and uncomfortable. And when we aren’t comfortable or we’re reluctant to have those conversations, then we become kind of role models to our kids that it’s something to be uncomfortable about. I always just say, call out the elephant in the room.

Like this is something I have a hard time with. I recognize that this conversation is awkward and uncomfortable, but I love you and it’s important that we have this conversation. So we’re just going to push through that awkward and uncomfortableness and have it anyway. 

But if you are wanting to have these kinds of conversations with your kids, I highly recommend that you do, the easiest way to have those conversations is to get comfortable with your own sexuality first.

But since we have a lesson coming up, you may not be there yet, so I’m hoping to provide some resources for you to help you have those conversations.  

Heather: Let’s hit the ground running here. 

Amanda: Well, so I have outlined a lesson plan that can be used in the youth lessons. I know that the people who are creating the curriculum for the Come, Follow Me, they have really great intentions and they are doing a fabulous job for the most part, but there are some things that they’re just kind of missing the mark a little bit and regurgitating a lot of the really bad things that we’ve learned in that fear-based teaching, the shame-based teaching that we learned growing up. 

And so I wanted to make sure that we’re not continuing to pass that on to future generations. We’re having these lessons from a place of integrity and a place of values and a place of, you know, integrating it rather than being fearful of our sexuality. 

I think these conversations need to happen at home first so I created a parent outline that’s fairly explicit of how we need to talk to our kids and be very clear about what the law of chastity is, what sex is and how to define it, and also what it isn’t. And I think that’s kind of where it’s mixed up is there’s no clear definition a lot of times the Law of Chastity is and what it isn’t. A lot of times we interpret things that could lead to breaking the Law of Chastity as the Law of Chastity, which isn’t helpful. 

I also think what’s often missing from these lessons is the Atonement. That, you know, chances are, our youth are going to struggle with this in some way. And when we fail to put the power of the Atonement behind these lessons, then we’re missing a really crucial point. 

When we start saying, you know, sex is the sin next to murder and it’s a slippery slope to hell, that’s really scary for our kids. And so what I usually find is what happens with our kids is, and it has happened in our own generation too, that we tend to go from one end of a spectrum or another. We either tend to indulge in our sexuality, acting out on it, using it outside the bounds of the Law of Chastity, indulging in pornography, that kind of thing, in order to deal with our sexuality, or we go to the complete opposite end of the spectrum, where we shove it all down, suppress it in such a way that we won’t even recognize that it’s there.

And what I think really needs to happen is a way to integrate it within our value system, understand what it is and choose from a point of empowerment and agency, how you want to use that in your life, and also understand that your kids may have different values than you. 

I know that that’s been the case in my own family, that some of my kids have different values around sexuality than I do. And so also coming from a place of like, even if your values are different than mine, I still want you to be safe. 

I think that’s a really important point too, but we can definitely integrate this into our lives, our sexual life, knowing that we have bodies that have hormones and desires and attraction, and those are all really, really good things.

There’s not something that we need to shove down and suppress, but how do we want to deal with those from a place of integrity that aligns with our value system? 

Heather: Just something that I have learned from, I guess I’ve always known this, but when I was doing a podcast episode with Zach Spafford and he was talking about agency, and the thing that I never really thought about was that unless we have a choice, there’s no agency involved. So if we don’t see that, yes, this is actually a behavior I can engage in, or it is not. That’s where the agency is. We have to know that we actually can make a choice. 

Amanda: So many times we think of agency as choosing right from wrong. But really it’s about choosing everything from a place of empowerment, rather than choosing from shoulds, which are someone else’s expectation doing this, like, is this what I really want for myself and why? And really figuring that out. 

You know, the behaviors might look the same. But the feelings that are driving those behaviors are very different when we do it from a place of agency, rather than like, oh no, I’m going to, you know, be this awful person if I choose this, I shouldn’t do it. I shouldn’t do it rather than like, I could choose to do this. And I’m choosing not to because that’s who I am and that’s who I want to be. 

Heather: Which just hearing you say that, even though, like I’m not making a choice right now, but hearing you say that, it feels so empowering to me, just hearing that language go through my head and if all of our youth could feel that empowerment, if they could all feel the difference between making a choice from those two different places. It would be so different. 

Amanda: Absolutely. I mean, I just gave a talk this past Sunday, about our youth and children’s goal program. And even looking at what are you putting on your goal list? Are you wanting to pray daily? Are you doing that because you should, or because that’s who you really want to be and the person that you want to become and just notice the different energies that come from that. 

And those same things apply to the Law of Chastity. Who do I want to be? What do I value? Who am I as a person? Are these behaviors, these actions within my integrity, I get to choose that. And that’s so much more empowering from our youth than this fear-based belief that if they break the law of chastity, they’re going to go to hell. It creates so many more problems when we approach it that way. 

Heather: So as we talk today, how are we going to do this? Do we want to talk about the lesson in church? Do we want to talk about as parents, how to have these conversations or what we should be saying? There’s the word should, but, or what we could be saying, I guess.

Amanda: What we choose to say.

Heather: What we choose to say. Where do we want to go today? 

Amanda: Well, I mean, I think the lesson plan that I have actually follows the outline of the lesson that’s in the manual fairly closely. I’ve been very careful about what quotes I pull.

There’s things from Elder Bednars’ talk. While there’s good things about his talk I think there’s a lot of other things that are that more in that fear and shame based language. 

So I’ve pulled quotes that I think promote what we actually want here. I’ve also pulled quotes from, For the Strength of Youth that I think are again, are not filled with that shame language. There’s a video that’s on that page that I really liked. And so I’m pulling from the lesson there, but just doing it in a way that keeps that shame and fear-based language out of the lesson and really helps them understand why they want this for themselves and defining it for themselves. What their values are and so bringing that part into it.

But one part that I did add to the lesson was that chances are, we’re going to make mistakes because we’re human and we’re learning, especially as youth. And so how do we want to act based on mistakes and bringing in the Atonement, which again, I think is so, so important. 

I bring in the woman taken in adultery and how the Savior, I mean, she was obviously breaking the Law of Chastity, but the Savior didn’t condemn her. He didn’t tell her she was going to hell. He wanted to know where she was and what she wanted for herself and was willing to forgive her and she could go out and live in a life of integrity from that point on. And I think that’s really, really important. I think it’s important for our kids to understand, like they’re going to make choices and there’s always consequences for those choices. Some they can’t come back from. Like, you know, if you have a baby or you have a sexually transmitted infection, those are lifelong, but the spiritual ones, they absolutely can come back from because of the atonement. So that’s more like the youth lesson. 

Heather: I’m going to say, we are linking to that in the show notes, correct? People can get access to this lesson. 

Amanda: Yes, absolutely. And then I’ve created just a very simple handout for their personal reflection of what are their values around sex. Do you want to keep the Law of Chastity and why, so that they really define that for themselves rather than looking to those shoulds?

But I think a big part of it is before this lesson comes out and is given to your youth, which I would hope that if you’re a youth leader that you’ll take this lesson and maybe if you’re not a youth leader, pass it on to your youth leaders. I’m kind of the opinion that like most your youth leaders are not qualified to be teaching about sexuality. And so a better outline is probably good if they’re going to have to teach about it at all. 

But the most important part is what we’re teaching in our home about it. And so there is a quite extensive outline for the parents that I think we can dive into a little bit deeper. 

Heather: Okay. Awesome. And obviously like you and I can have this conversation here today, but there is like, this is something that parents you can do on your own. Right? Like they totally, they can download this and do the study and integrate this into their conversations with their family. 

Amanda: Absolutely. And this is one conversation. Having conversations about sex with our kids should be ongoing. It shouldn’t be just a one-time conversation, but just knowing that this lesson is coming up, it’s a really great opportunity to have this talk with your kids about what sex is, what the law of chastity is and also, what it isn’t.

Heather: When I know that those lessons like this are coming up, and I usually do try to look ahead to see what’s coming, the way I handle that, and it doesn’t mean that it’s the right way, but for me, I feel like it’s the way that works well with my family is, Hey, I know you guys are having a lesson on this coming up. I want to have a conversation about it ahead of time, because what you hear in church may actually be different than what our values are as a family or what your individuals are. So it’s not we’re saying we don’t listen or we don’t believe or pay attention to what’s being said in church, it’s just, Hey, I want you to know my opinion as well. 

Amanda: And yes, and also empower the parents that like, if they are really concerned about what this lesson might look like for their youth, it’s also okay to keep them home. Do you have these kinds of lessons within your home? And you know, if you don’t think it’s going to be addressed in a healthy way at church.

Heather: Or ask, if you can attend the lesson and go yourself. There’s options here. Ask ahead of time. Hey, how was this lesson going to be taught in these classes that are coming up? Like we have options. 

Amanda: Absolutely. So we’re going to be in my ward going to be sending out the youth lesson to all of the parents ahead of time to give them a heads up about what’s coming and what’s going to be presented.

Give them the option that their child can come. They can come with their child or they can keep their child home. And that I do have a parent outline if they want to talk to their kids ahead of time. And if they want that, then they can email me for it. And I’ll send that as well. But all of these, both parts will be made available to whoever is listening.

Heather: And if your kids are there that day, a follow up conversation. Like, Hey, tell me what, and they’re not going to probably want to talk about it, but hey, tell me how did it went today? Just ask some questions so that you can see where they sit and what they were taught. 

Amanda: Yes. I know our youth leaders are doing the best they can too, and a lot of times we’re just regurgitating what we’ve been taught and don’t understand the impact that it might have on our youth. 

I’m in a Facebook group for young women leaders and someone was asking for object lessons that they could do with this. You know, there were a few people like, please don’t use the chewed-up gum or different things. And then there were other people that were like, you know what? We are not objects. So an object lesson for the Law of Chastity isn’t great. And I’m like, I agree with that. 

There was one suggestion that I actually did like that you give each girl a present, like a gift and it says, open at the right time or something. And I kind of liked that one, if you have to do something, but I think object lessons don’t really need to come into play for the most part in this kind of lesson. 

Heather: For whatever reason we feel like we need to sugar coat it, and I don’t think we’re giving our youth credit for what they are capable of and who they are. 

Amanda: Well, I mean, I understand in a church setting in a young women’s and young men’s setting, we might need to not be so explicit, but that’s why it’s so important to have these talks with your kids at home, where you can be a little bit more explicit about what sex is.

Chances are there are youth in your ward that are having some sort of sexual activity. They’re just exposed to it so much younger nowadays. And so it’s really important that we clearly define what the Law of Chastity is and what it isn’t. 

Another thing that I kind of just wanted to mention here that is part of this is, we also need to make it clear to our youth that if someone is sexually abusing them or if they’re in a relationship with someone where they are being coerced into sexual activities, that isn’t breaking the Law of Chastity. And that’s not something that needs to be repented for. That’s something that needs to be given a lot of compassion and understanding, and maybe even bringing the law into it.

But I know of way too many people who have had to go through the repentance process for having a sexual relationship with a significant other when it was not really their choice. And I think, you know, understanding consent is a really big thing for our kids. 

Heather: Yeah. And that’s not a conversation that we typically have either, especially if we’re not having conversations like this in general, you know, helping them understand what that even looks like.

Amanda: Yes. Yes. So I think that’s something to definitely bring into those conversations with our kids that these are the things that if you consent to, then if you decide you want to go through the atonement process, you can. But if these kinds of things are happening, that is not something that you need to go through the repentance process for.

Heather: There is a difference between the repentance process and getting some emotional help, if you need that. They do not go hand in hand and I think that we mistakenly think that they can be one and the same sometimes. And it’s important to recognize that, yes, this might be something I need to repent of, but I probably, I may also need, and most likely need some help emotionally moving forward as well.

Amanda: Absolutely. So I think that’s also a really important thing to bring up with your kids is that consent piece is really, really important. 

Heather: And just another thought, without that emotional help, we oftentimes, if it is something that we did need to repent of, we often feel like we haven’t fully repented of something because the emotional pain is still there. And we misunderstand and think I wouldn’t feel this way still if I had been “forgiven”, which is a whole tangled mess and thinking anyway, but it is there. And so I think that’s something that we need to be aware of. 

Amanda: Absolutely. 

Heather: All right. Well, before we go, we’ve got to talk about a lot of fantastic things today, but I feel like there just might be a little more, a little bit more that we could talk about here that we want to leave parents with and also give them access to all of this as well to study on their own.

What else? Where do we want to take them? Where do we want to leave them with today? 

Amanda: I think one of the best things that you can do for your children is to model a good sexual relationship for them. A lot of times we think we have to hide or protect our kids from our sexual relationship. And it’s not like, you know, you should be having sex in front of your kids, but it’s really good for kids to know that their parents have a good sexual relationship. It gives them safety and security and our kids, while you may think you’re doing a really good job hiding it, our kids are able to track where we are and so they can tell if you have a good sexual relationship or not just by the way that you interact with your spouse

So I think one of the things. I think it’s really good to, to actually talk to your kids about is why sex is actually a really good thing in a marriage. 

And I think there’s three purposes for sex within a marriage. 

The first one is to procreate. As husband and wives, we’re supposed to bring spirit’s here to this earth and we know that within a marriage, that is the best place for kids to be raised. 

The second thing is that it bonds spouses together. This is something that we do with no one else. It is what really truly makes a marriage different than any other relationship. 

And the third purpose is just for fun and pleasure. Fun and pleasure are an important part of our life here on earth. We are supposed to experience the full spectrum of emotions, the good and the bad and the fun and the pleasure and sex is a great way for adults to have fun and pleasure together. It’s kind of our adult form of pretend and fun and really making it a great thing. So it doesn’t have to be serious. It can just be fun and pleasurable. 

And really outlined those three reasons for our kids helps to shape their perspective on what sex can be for them in the future.

So many couples make sex really serious. Some think it’s just for procreation. You know, some use it as a weapon against each other or make it really transactional. A lot of women feel like sex is just a duty, something that they have to do for their husbands and all of those are really belief systems that aren’t helping you have the sexual relationship that you could be having in your marriage. 

So when you can frame it in these three things to procreate, to bond and to experience fun and pleasure together, it really shapes and changes the way that we can look at sex. And when you can look at yourself, then it’s also going to be modeling that for your kids, which is really, really good. 

Heather: And when you look at it yourself, I think it actually makes it easier to talk to your kids about as well. Not only are you modeling it and they’re able to track that, but I think the words and the language and all of that, it becomes easier as well.

Amanda: Well, and language and how we talk about it is really, really important. And so when we can use good language around sex. That’s also going to shape how our kids hear it. Cause you can be saying words, but they’re going to be interpreting your words. Right? And so it’s going to shape how they hear it and what they take from that conversation. 

And so, you know, if you’re making this conversation really serious, like we need to sit down and have a talk. Like that’s going to be a lot harder to have this conversation than like, sex is great. It’s fun. It’s pleasurable. We are so excited for you to have this kind of relationship when you are married, but let’s talk about why we want to wait, why we want to hold that really sacred so that it can be a wonderful experience when you do have it. 

So, just a really quick story that I’ve been thinking about this, and I probably won’t use it in the lesson just because it’s my personal story, you know, put in there but maybe it’s something that you can think about as parents when you’re having these talks with your kids. 

So I remember as a kid I really, really wanted, this is going to totally date me, a record by the artist Tiffany. 

Heather: We will start singing right now. 

Amanda: Totally because I have a whole dance and everything. I remember from a kid. Anyway, so I was asking for this record for my birthday and I couldn’t wait. And so I started snooping around in my mom’s bedroom and I found it and I was so excited and it was so fun to see like, yes, I was going to get this for my birthday, but then I put it back and then had to pretend to be surprised when it was on my birthday, but it wasn’t quite the same.

Like I was still of course, happy to get the record finally, and be able to listen to it, but it wasn’t quite the same as if I had waited for the surprise. So I think that’s just kind of a funny little story. Like, yeah, it might be really fun and exciting to do at the time, but when the time isn’t right then it can, cause I really felt guilty afterwards, like for finding it, like it was like, it’s so exciting to find it and know that I was going to be getting it for my birthday. And then I felt really guilty afterwards. And then when I actually got to open it. Yeah, I was excited and it was fun, but it wasn’t quite the same as I could have been.

Also another, just another, I was apparently a really big snooper when I was a kid, but these were the stories that really came to mind. And this is another one that will totally date me. So when I was here, I really wanted a phone in my bedroom. Like, you know, our kids these days want their own cell phone. I wanted a phone in my bedroom. Right. That was a huge, huge thing. And so Christmas was coming and I was sneakily opening, like the corner of a present to see what I was getting. And I opened a box and I saw that it was a box with a phone in it. And I was so excited. I was like, Yes, I am finally getting a phone for Christmas. So, when my mom or my dad handed me the present, I was so excited to open it! And I’m opening it and I’m like, yay a phone. And my mom said, Um, you better open the box. It was just the box. There was something else inside and I was so disappointed. 

And so a lot of times I think sex can kind of be that way. Like we get the buildup and when we don’t actually understand what we’re getting, then it’s kind of a big let down. And so when we can have these better conversations with our kids and they can open that gift at the right time, then it really can be a really great experience for everyone involved.

Heather: Well, those are great stories. You dated both of us because I could see myself in both of those stories. My enthusiasm for this lesson where this could be a lesson I think that is a little bit, we do feel intimidated by, we might be a little bit scared to teach, whatever, this is such a fantastic resource, because I feel like it takes that fear out of it, it makes it feel more exciting to teach. It makes it feel more applicable and to make it something that they will want to actually listen to and make some choices based upon their own values. So thank you for taking the time to do it and thank you for sharing it with us. It’s a great resource.

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