We have heard it taught for years now throughout the Church that chastity (or virtue) cannot be taken away but only given away by someone’s free will. Yet Moroni 9:9 has a statement about the wicked Nephites, which seems to contradict this. Quoting in part: “and after depriving them of that which was most dear and precious above all things, which is chastity and virtue”. So we were hoping you could clarify the subject for us. Is it given away? Or can it be taken against one’s will?
The answer to your question Robert, is that it can be both — given and taken; however, in order to answer your question appropriately let’s first begin with our nature. As sons and daughters of God, to further our progression, those who kept their first estate will inherit a physical body. Our physical body is the temple of our spirits. Our physical body and our spirit determine our dual nature — to be carnally minded is death, while being spiritually minded is life eternal.
In the Book of Mormon we read, Moroni 9:9 that the daughters of the Lamanites were deprived of their chastity and virtue. In relation to our dual nature, these Lamanite daughters were deprived of their chastity and virtue — “physically.” That which they were supposed to be able to give freely was taken, not received.
In light of this, I believe the words of Moroni are correct; physically, a woman, may either give or be deprived of that which is most dear and precious to the Lord, “chastity and virtue”; however, in contrast, spiritually a woman could never be deprived of her virtue — she remains innocent and pure before the Lord.
“Victims of abuse should be assured that they are not to blame for the harmful behavior of others. They do not need to feel guilt. If they have been a victim of rape or other sexual abuse, whether they have been abused by an acquaintance, a stranger, or even a family member, victims of sexual abuse are not guilty of sexual sin.”
When the Lord commanded us, and we have covenanted to obey, to keep the Law of Chastity women who have been victims of rape have not broken this law; spiritually, they have lost no virtue and are still pure before the Lord. We are further informed:
“The scriptures tell us that virtue is to be cherished, that a virtuous woman is loved of the Lord. And as far back as the Mosaic Law the scriptures discuss the idea that when a woman is the unwilling victim of rape, she is innocent of crime; she is innocent of sin.
“Yes, the unfortunate and innocent victim is innocent before the Lord. We recognize that such an individual feels guilt, feels she has lost that which she cannot regain. But we hope within that person’s mind will reside the complete assurance that the Lord is just, that she is still a child of God, and that God loves her. We also hope that family and friends would have only an increase of love for her.”
When an individual willingly gives of themselves to another, before marriage, they are “giving” their virtue to their partner, physically and spiritually, and sin before the Lord. Their virtue, or chastity, is removed from them until they repent.