It Is Well with My Soul: Reclaiming the Sanctity of Sex

In a sex-saturated world, it’s important to remember the true doctrine of human intimacy.

"Human intimacy . . . between a man and a woman is . . . a symbol of total union." — Jeffrey R. Holland

photo by yatheesh gowda

There are so many mixed messages and misconceptions about sex—what it is, when it’s okay, and what it should be like. We see sex portrayed in movies, books, and TV shows, and with all these messages coming at us, it’s easy to forget that sex is actually meant to be a sacred experience shared between husband and wife. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland presents this doctrine regarding the sacredness of sex in his talk “Personal Purity,” which was derived from his 1984 BYU devotional,“Of Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments.”

First, Elder Holland reminds us that “God’s greatest concerns regarding mortality are how one gets into this world and how one gets out of it.” Since life is so precious, we are reminded “to look upon these bodies of ours as gifts from God. . . . We believe that these bodies . . . may be made, in very truth, the temple of the Holy Ghost” (Elder James E. Talmage, quoted in “Of Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments”). Because sex is so sacred, it involves not just our bodies but also our spirits. Sex affects our very souls.

Second, Elder Holland teaches that “human intimacy is . . . the ultimate symbol of total union, . . . the complete merger of a man and a woman—their hearts, hopes, lives, love, family, future, everything.”  Sex is sacred because it is a union of all that a husband and wife are. It is not just a physical joining—it is the joining of two lives, a statement of commitment and eternal promise.

Third, sex “is also symbolic of a shared relationship between them and their Father in Heaven” where “we not only acknowledge His divinity but we quite literally take something of that divinity to ourselves. . . . [It is] the use of His power to create a human body, that wonder of all wonders, a genetically and spiritually unique being.” Because a sacrament is a moment “in mortality whereby we can unite with Him spiritually” and “in so doing . . . gain some access to both the grace and the majesty of His power,” sex is in a very real sense, a kind of sacrament that, when exercised appropriately, gives a husband and wife access to a small portion of God’s divine power. And what could be more sacred than being endowed and entrusted with God’s own power?

Fourth, despite media’s sensationalized and degrading portrayals of sex, it is “right and rewarding and stunningly beautiful when it is within marriage and approved of God” (“Of Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments“). Although many taboos surround sex, it can be good and right and sacred when we remember its true purpose and its true holiness. Sex can bring husbands and wives closer together, create families, and call down the powers of heaven. When kept within the loving boundaries that God has set, sex unifies both body and spirit.

For further insights on how sex relates to other gospel doctrines, read the rest of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s talk: “Personal Purity.”

Source: BYU Speeches

—Elicia Cheney, Mormon Insights

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Find more insights

A Parent’s Guide” is a wonderful resource that offers helpful suggestions for appropriately teaching children and teens about sex.

For another perspective on the goodness of sex within marriage, read “They Twain Shall Be One: Thoughts on Intimacy in Marriage,by Brent A. Barlow, associate professor of family science at Brigham Young University.

For a quick read that explains the benefits of saving sex for marriage, check out the Mormon Insights article “Why Save Sex for Marriage?

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