We named our youngest daughter Charity, partly because we loved the sound of the word and partly because we loved what it meant. She got called “Chastity” a lot — partly because Chastity Bono was in the media occasionally.
Charity was a precocious child and a joy to our whole family, and she grew into an absolutely beautiful and delightful young lady. She graduated from Wellesley College with honors, taking semesters at BYU and in Jerusalem along the way. She completed a circle of sorts when she served her mission in the same England London South Mission where we had presided before she was born.
She lives in Palo Alto, Calif., now and works for Clayton Christensen’s education think tank. We love Charity’s writing (and find ourselves reading it almost every day in her blog posts at www.drippingwithpassion.blogspot.com), so when she said she had a guest column for us, we jumped at the chance. Here is Charity’s article on chastity:
“My favorite part of Victor Hugo’s masterpiece 'Les Miserables' (and there are just so many brilliant parts) is the author’s description of the wedding night of lovers Marius and Cosette. Yes, it’s my favorite part. As I read these words, I feel an immense swell of gratitude for the law of chastity:
Here we stop. Upon the threshold of wedding nights stands an angel smiling, his finger on his lip. The soul enters into contemplation before this sanctuary, in which is held the celebration of love.
There must be gleams of light above those houses. The joy which they contain must escape in light though the stones of the walls, and shine dimly into the darkness. It is impossible that this sacred festival of destiny should not send a celestial radiation to the infinite. Love is the sublime crucible in which is consummated in the fusion of man and woman; the one being, the triple being, the final being, the human trinity, springs from it. This birth of two souls into one must be an emotion for space. ... A nuptial bed makes a halo in the darkness. ... If, at that supreme hour, the wedded pair, bewildered with pleasure, and believing themselves alone, were to listen, they would hear in their chamber a rustling of confused wings. Perfect happiness implies the solidarity of the angels. That little obscure alcove has for its ceiling the whole heavens. When two mouths, made sacred by love, draw near each other to create, it is impossible that above that ineffable kiss there should not be a thrill in the immense mystery of the stars. These are the true felicities. No joy beyond these joys. Love is the only ecstasy, everything else weeps. ... There is no other pearl to be found in the dark folds of life. To love is a consummation.
"Hugo has me completely convinced: The greatest of mortal happiness is to be found in pure, pure love in which the full physical manifestation has been preserved. There’s no way I’m missing that.
"Now, I would never dream to impose my belief in abstinence on others, and I fully recognize that many find happiness and healthy relationships without it. I also recognize the power of the Atonement to make love that may seem broken pure again.
"I am so grateful for an understanding of the law of chastity in my own life. I am grateful because I know obedience to this commandment protects me from so many shades of heartache. But even moreso I am grateful because I know obedience to this commandment makes me eligible to experience the greatest of any human joy.
"The closest to heaven I’ve ever felt has been while witnessing temple sealings. The celestiality of the feeling, dense and gleaming, in those sealing rooms is a remarkably strong motivator to obey the law of chastity. Indeed, watching two faithful people look into each other’s glossy eyes across a sacred altar in a holy place — two people who have sacrificed to give of themselves wholly and purely to each other and none else — is just incredible. I always leave temple sealings with a tear-drenched face, a heart positively bursting with love and joy, and a will fiercely determined to kneel at that altar one day myself, worthy and pure, across from another worthy and pure. It is worth any wait, any struggle, any feat of self-control.
"And then, to meet the angels in a wedding night that causes 'a thrill in the immense mystery of the stars' — there’s no way I’m missing that.”
Richard and Linda Eyre are New York Times No. 1 best-selling authors who are in demand throughout the world as speakers on parenting and life balance. You can visit them anytime at www.TheEyres.com or at www.ValuesParenting.com.