Strengthening the Family:
The Sacred Powers of Procreation

A continuing series giving insights for your study and use of "The Family: A Proclamation to the World."

"Strengthening the Family: The Sacred Powers of Procreation," Ensign, June 2005, 26
"God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife." 1

The Powers and the Plan

"Under the accepted plan," explained President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, "Adam and Eve were sent to the earth as our first parents. They could prepare physical bodies for the first spirits to be introduced into this life.

"There was provided in our bodies-and this is sacred-a power of creation, a light, so to speak, that has the power to kindle other lights. This gift was to be used only within the sacred bonds of marriage. Through the exercise of this power of creation, a mortal body may be conceived, a spirit enter into it, and a new soul [be] born into this life.

"This power is good. It can create and sustain family life, and it is in family life that we find the fountains of happiness. It is given to virtually every individual who is born into mortality. It is a sacred and significant power. ...

"The power of creation-or may we say procreation-is not just an incidental part of the plan: it is essential to it. Without it the plan could not proceed. The misuse of it may disrupt the plan." 2

Moral Agency and Chastity

Disrupting the plan is, of course, the focus of Satan's attention, and encouraging the misuse of the power of procreation is one of his most pervasive and successful tactics. "Human sexuality," wrote Terrance D. Olson, "is presented in our culture as if it were the driving force-if not the ultimate need-behind all human endeavor. If the popular culture is right, sex is so compelling that societies must figure out ways to allow the regular, frequent expression of sex. ... Indeed, ... the popular culture sees humans as victims of sexual needs and feelings." 3

The scriptures teach us otherwise. "The children of men," Lehi taught his son Jacob, "have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day. ... Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself" (2 Ne. 2:26-27).

In this matter of chastity, we are not at the mercy of our physical bodies. We are moral agents, and these purported "needs" are no different than any other choices we face in mortality. We can choose obedience and spiritual life, or we can choose captivity, misery, and spiritual death.

Three Reasons to Obey

As president of Brigham Young University, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles offered three reasons for choosing chastity. First, according to scripture, the soul consists of both body and spirit (see D&C 88:15). "In trivializing the soul of another (please include the word body there), we trivialize the Atonement. ... We cannot then say in ignorance or defiance, 'Well, it's my life,' or worse yet, 'It's my body.' It is not. 'Ye are not your own,' Paul said. 'Ye are bought with a price' [1 Cor. 6:19-20]." 4

"Second, may I suggest that human intimacy ... between a man and a woman is ... a symbol of total union: union of their hearts, their hopes, their lives, their love, their family, their future, their everything. ... But such a total ... union ... can only come with the proximity and permanence afforded in a marriage covenant, with the union of all that they possess-their very hearts and minds, all their days and all their dreams. ... Can you see then the moral [fracturing] that comes from pretending we are one, sharing the physical symbols and physical intimacy of our union, but then fleeing ... all such other aspects ... of what was meant to be a total obligation?" 5

Third, "sexual intimacy is not only a symbolic union between a man and a woman-the uniting of their very souls-but it is also symbolic of a union between mortals and deity, ... uniting for a rare and special moment with God himself and all the powers by which he gives life in this wide universe of ours. ... Surely God's trust in us to respect this future-forming gift is awesomely staggering. ... We carry this procreative power that makes us very much like God in at least one grand and majestic way." 6

With good reason the inspired prophets of the Lord's Church have declared "the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed." 7

Gospel topics: agency, family, morality, parenthood, standards


1. "The Family: A Proclamation to the World," Liahona, Oct. 2004, 49; Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102.

2. "Why Stay Morally Clean," Ensign, July 1972, 111.

3. "Chastity and Fidelity in Marriage and Family Relationships," in David C. Dollahite, ed., Strengthening Our Families: An In-Depth Look at the Proclamation on the Family (2000), 51.

4. "Of Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments," in Brigham Young University 1987-88 Devotional and Fireside Speeches (1988), 78-79.

5. "Of Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments," 79-80.

6. "Of Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments," 82, 84.

7. Liahona, Oct. 2004, 49; Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102.

[photos] Photography (except as noted) by Craig Dimond, posed by models; left: Photograph of hands © Eyewire

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