Episode 78: Chastity Object Lessons

Join Lindsay as she talks with the Mormon History Guy, Russell Stevenson about the history of Chastity Object Lessons like “Chewed Gum” and the “Flower Lesson.”

You can purchase Russell’s book here.

Elizabeth Smart’s comments on object lessons.

3 thoughts on “Episode 78: Chastity Object Lessons

  1. Thank you for addressing this issue. Hearing Elizabeth’s words about how she felt her value had been lost because of her rape was shocking, and yet as you spoke I realized it was the same for any woman who was raised under the tenets of personal progress.
    What room is there within the young woman’s program for sin of any kind? (I will prepare to enter the temple and remain pure and worthy. ) And even if one can make it through without tangibly committing any of the commandments, the words of Jesus seem to convict us for even our thoughts, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”
    What hope is there for any of us unless we admit that our nature is sinful rather than divine, and our ability to become righteous is fruitless? It seems that our only hope is to accept the righteousness of Christ, “I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ.”

  2. Interesting podcast! Thanks for getting into such an important topic.

    Two comments:

    First, you mentioned the crumpled dollar bill. That’s one that I thought was actually pretty good. As I understand it, the dollar bill starts out crisp and new, and gets crumpled or handled a bunch, but at the end, the question is whether it is worth any less than when it started. The answer, of course, is no, it’s not. I swear there was a post at the Exponent that discussed this one in more detail, but I’m not able to find it.

    Second, you briefly brought up the question of whether object lessons are good at all. Russell, you sounded in favor based on Jesus having taught in parables. I can see that argument, but I do wonder if in general they are so easy to mess up and so prone to do more harm than good that it might not be worth considering giving them up completely. (Besides, I think Jesus’s parables also have some problematic messages. The unjust judge, for example.)

  3. Hi Ziff:

    Thank you for your comments.

    It’s fairly easy to demonstrate at least the factual problematics of Jesus’ parables. For example, the mustard seed is far from being the smallest of mustard seeds, though Jesus claimed that they were. And everyone knew it. There is no evidence of anyone complaining about it (which many were more than willing to do with other parables). It was simply the time-honored tradition of embellishment to make a point.

    What’s most important is that we never take our parables too seriously. We use what communicates the principle most effectively and discard what doesn’t. Licked cupcakes, for example, don’t communicate a message in accordance with the core of the gospel message. Whatever value it has in deterrence, its negative effects should be sufficient for us to give it up as a teaching tool.

    Do we need to hang our hats on Jesus’s parables, per se? Not necessarily. After all, they won’t resonate with us in the same way that resonated with first-century Jews. The scriptures are replete with various symbols, all of them being applied only as needed. Understanding the gospel message (something we all can work on) enables this kind of flexibility. So if we don’t love the parables (say, of the unjust steward), no need to lose sleep over it. We can study the parable, see what the primary message is, and then refashion it in a way that is amenable to our 21st-century minds.

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