A Higher Law of Chastity Within Marriage?

A talk given by Elder Orson Hyde of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of TheChastity Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Given 11 February 1857

I sincerely hope the former discourses, and the teachings I have before given to the brethren and sisters, have been properly understood and appreciated; that there has been no misunderstanding. I have found a good spirit, manifested among the people in all the settlements south, as far as I have been (to Sanpete) which shows, that there are important times at hand.

I find a great spirit in men for getting more wives. I have heard that in this place, there is not a girl knee high to a toad (using a strong figure) that is not engaged. I do not know that you have outstripped the mark. If you have gone into this, with the same sanction of your Bishop, or the First Presidency, all is right; but if not it is not right. It is true I labored to show up the principle and tell the people where they were binding; but I did not give any one the right to act. I could not give that which I do not possess. I only tried to remove the obstacles. I hear that they have gone in couples, triples, quadruples, and even sextuples, to Salt Lake City; & the Presidency may think I am raising the very Devil here. It has been said by some that from what I preached when here before, that a woman or a girl has no voice, in the selection of a husband; no volition. I talk plainly, that no man should use his priesthood to force a girl against her will, did I not? (Yes) Would I force a girl into a union with me when she told me plainly she did not love me; would I thus destroy the peace of my own Kingdom with my eyes open? No, I would not, but I would advise parents to be obedient to those over them in the Priesthood, and children to obey their parents. Children will not receive the interference of even a higher authority when it comes between them and those immediately above them and I don’t blame them.

I have a few lessons to give to those sisters in the first place, who are married and secondly to those who contemplate being married. If I should speak in plain terms and call things by their right names I hope you will not be offended and if any are, I am sure it will be those only who are not pure in heart.

The reformation is not over yet. We now design going to the root of the matter. Let me ask you the question; Why is it that our lives are not as long as the fathers that have gone before us? They could live to eight or nine hundred years. Shall I tell you the reason, will you give me the privilege to tell you the reason? (Yes) Well then I’ll show you the reason of this. Everything in creation has its proper uses and qualifications. The horse has a hard hoof to protect his feet and the camel a hard bony substance to protect his knees as he falls on them to receive his load. So also man has been endowed with certain qualifications which if not perverted would enable him to live long on the earth but if taken away or perverted the man goes down to death The Lord has given us certain muscles, bones, and ligaments and there is nothing but what is necessary for the prolongation of our lives. Now, when the proper intercourse which is necessary for the propagation of our species takes place between a man and a woman and no more than that – the balance of his power of muscle, etc. goes to strengthen other parts of his system, and thus gives him power over disease and enables him to prolong life. But when the contrary is the case, the man becomes prostrated by over indulgence and having given his strength to women, he becomes prostrated and is rendered liable to disease – not only this but the man who is given to great indulgence in this habit becomes weak in mind, and debilitated in intellect and his mind is feeble.

What power is it that enables us to bless us to raise the sick? It is the power of the Holy Ghost.

It is by the of the Holy Ghost that the dead will be raised; and when a person is filled with the Holy Ghost from the soles of his feet to the top of his head, the power of disease cannot enter and if has it all the time to enable him to raise above the power of disease, and assist the strength of his body, how long would he live? If we could live in this way, and have the Holy Ghost all the time we could, if not conquer death, live yet a great while on the earth – If we were to observe these laws our children would be healthy and strong in body as well as mind. – They would make good statesmen, men fit to guide the helms of state. Now in order to show you this thing plain, I will give you a figure- suppose you should sow a field with wheat and when you find it begin to sprout and sprung up, you were to harrow it up and plant again, and when this should also spring up you should still plant again and again. Suppose the first planted should any of it escape the continued plowing and harrowing, how much – What kind of crop would you have! How often do we see cripples born into the world. And why is it, that some are born idiots? It is because the laws of nature have been interfered with; and they were not let alone, in their mother’s womb.

These laws have been violated again and again and because of this, many children have scarcely opened their eyes upon the world when they gasp and die. The laws of nature have been violated by their fathers – mothers -from one generation to another diseases have been generated in the children, by their parents and by their degeneracy and now instead of raising up a healthy progeny and a noble race*, we raise a puny set, a race of helpless, scrubby children. Is this acting as wise stewards and keeping the command of God to be fruitful and replenish the earth. We see many persons who are naturally addicted to lying, stealing, and drinking liquor’s to excess. Who is the cause of this? The sin was begotten in then by their parents. I will venture to say, that in a majority of cases, out of one hundred times, one has gone to propagate our species and ninety nine to the gratification of our base passion. The Bible says that “he that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption.” (Galatians 6:8) And is this indeed sowing to the flesh when ninety nine parts of our intercourse has been to gratify our debased passions. Now do we suppose that God is going to send angels to us while we are so low and debased in our feelings and sensual in our minds. Will he fight our battles while we are in this state? Why did the children of Israel wonder so long in the wilderness? Because they murmured. Why did they murmur against Moses? They murmured against the teachings of Moses for the same cause that you may perhaps murmur against my teachings this night. How can we expect the Lord to bring us up into sanctification while we indulge in these practices. Now you understand me, you know what I mean, and you know that these things are verily so. Shall we continue these things or shall we begin to root out the evil.

We find that the ancients took a wife and went in unto her and she conceived and then they let her alone. Their children were begotten in faith and purity and their faith was transmitted to their children and they grew up to reverence their parents. Now what is the reason that men cannot govern their families? As long as you give your strength unto women you never will do it. It is this practice that brings jealousies into your wives and grieves the spirit of God; and the spirit of lust reigns in the family and that spirit begets hatred and not love. It begets insubordination in the wife to her husband and in the children to their parents. Now suppose a pair to have not intercourse save what is necessary for the propagation of their species just as you plant the seeds of your gardens, even as squash seeds. You wouldn’t plant even a squash seed in the fall*. It is true that goats it is said will have sexual intercourse within fifteen minutes of the moment when the kid is born. Monkeys also, as some writers affirm are as debased in their practices, but most of the lower animals, may give us a lesson. And it is considered a trial for men to be as temperate all the bests, unless they maybe goats and monkeys. I say suppose a family where there is no intercourse of this kind, only with the prospect of having children born, – That family can be governed: the Devil cannot come here; Jealousy cannot enter the breasts of the wives and the children begotten under these circumstances will be like John the Baptist filled with the Holy Ghost from their mother’s womb. So also with Jesus, whose birth was so remarkable that the heavenly bodies were turned from their courses to point it out. The laws of their being were not violated. But we cannot say this. Jesus was a Savior and there is to be a race of Saviors raised up on Mount Zion in the last days, a race of Saviors.

David says, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity and in sin did my mother conceive me” “He also says he was cast down to hell”. Through the sin that was transmitted to him, he was led to do the deed in the matter of Uriah the Hittite, that sent him to hell, for this reason he being a man of blood, he was not allowed to build the temple. But he had this consolation, thou wilt not leave my soul in hell.

Now, in the midst of this Reformation we no doubt thought we were sailing into the parts of eternal glory. We now see there is still need of reform, and that not only in our outward conduct, which is open and manifest, not only in our outward conduct, which is open and manifest, but in our secret acts, in the private intercourse of men and women; there is a great need of repentance etc.

I call upon you to repent of these secret sins, for they are a kind of murder. And if I stifle and crush the infant germ of my offspring by my unholy indulgence, it is pretty nearly murder. In such a case the Spirit returns to the God that gave it and there makes its complaint that it has been wronged in its mission and disappointed in its intention.

Now before you go to get more wives, you Elders: Be wise and reform and turn from those things and not waste your strength in this way. I never was led out so much to see this principle so plainly as when in Sanpete. And, while there the spirit said preach it and preach it I have although the chips may fly in my own face.

In ancient times women rejoiced to bear a son and considered it an honor and that son was never interfered with, he was uninterrupted in his growth. I say to you remember these things. You have not been to blame hitherto; although you have all more or less been given to these things. I cannot blame you but from this blessed night remember you will be under condemnation if you continue in these things because the matter is laid before you.

I have prayed that I might be able to overcome them that I might be full of the things of God all the time and that God would take away from me all that was evil. The first thing then that was stuck up before me was a plug of tobacco; but I put it away- and the next thing was this very subject. I thought these are tight papers anyhow. Well, I have laid the matter before you and now can you say that I have said a wrong thing (No). I know that when I act in wisdom and have the spirit I shall never say anything that is wrong.

Now then, here is a Reformation on hand and by the time that we have got through with all things that are necessary for us to know and to do, we shall be hard up. Now if for the purpose of building up the Kingdom of God, you wish to take more wives, all is right, but if it is for the gratification of your base feelings, you had better not enter into it – better you had never been born. Better to leave the spirits in the eternal world, that to bring them down here into such habitations as many of us have. Why is it that so many of the children born in the first adoption of the plurality system were destroyed, died and were cut off from the earth; because of evil concupiscence and the gratification of our lusts.

I warn you my brethren and sisters, I warn you of these practices. I love women, but I find that there is a love above the love of woman. I say unto you do right and may the spirit and blessings of God be with you from this time forth when you act in obedience to his commandments for Jesus sake – Amen.

52 thoughts on “A Higher Law of Chastity Within Marriage?”

  1. https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2012/04/the-doctrine-of-christ?lang=eng
    At the same time it should be remembered that not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. It is commonly understood in the Church that a statement made by one leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, not meant to be official or binding for the whole Church. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that “a prophet [is] a prophet only when he [is] acting as such.”
    “In the afternoon meeting he arose and said that Brigham Young had been talking in the morning, but the Lord was going to talk now.”

  2. I was just having a conversation today with friends about the old traditions the church taught and how some people have in the past stayed away from the church due to judgment… Or odd doctrine like when saturday night warrior came out and everyone believed that we picked our families in the pre-earth life. The church has come out and stated there is no doctrine to support that fact. But because of traditions many don’t follow the councel to ask god for themselves of the truth… obviously we have medical advancement to prove this theory was incorrect, but it still is just as disturbing to me that so many could be so off kilter…

  3. I know of an LDS couple that lives this law. While I am not sure how their choice became commonly known within their ward and stake, I do know that they are scorned for it, especially the woman. She is viewed as being mentally fragile if not unstable and as cruelly controlling their marriage. Everybody pities her husband. I have even heard jokes about the amount of times he’s been allowed to “do it”- just count how many kids they have. Obviously, it is possible to live this law, especially if the woman will allow nothing else. I can say that they have many children, and that there IS a peculiarity about the children – in a good way – especially the daughters. They are BEAUTIFUl, FAITHFUL, SPIRITUAL girls, with no lack of suitors. Coincidence? You decide.

    1. Yeah, I’m gonna say that has nothing to do with it. :-P since I’m sure you aren’t family there may be problems in that home you don’t know about. Mental disabilities that you aren’t aware of. There is no medical proof to support that theory.

      1. Marie, I know the history. This woman is one of my best friends. But I didn’t feel it was necessary to air for the world to read.

        As for me, this article/apostolic witness gave me deep pause because he addressed things which I have long puzzled over. I have studied herbal medicine, and many of the recommendations which my mentor, Dr. Christopher, gave to infertile couples were Biblically based in Levitical law. Since science is not my God, and I believe in the law of witnesses, I found this article very sobering.

      2. Marie, I know the history. This woman is one of my best friends. But I didn’t feel it was necessary to air for the world to read.

        As for me, this article/apostolic witness gave me deep pause because he addressed things which I have long puzzled over. I have studied herbal medicine, and many of the recommendations which my mentor, Dr. Christopher, gave to infertile couples were Biblically based in Levitical law. Since science is not my God, and I believe in the law of witnesses, I found this article very sobering.

        1. It is interesting the places you’ll find this law if you have “eyes to see” and aren’t blinded by the precepts of man. Moses taught this law. Some evidence can still be found in the Torah.

          “And he said unto the people, Be ready against the third day: come not at your wives.”
          (Exodus 19:15)

          Some may think this is a mistranslation, but there is more evidence. Please read a few paragraphs into this article:


        2. Thank you so much! Do you give out your contact info for herbal advice or classes on herbs? I’d be interested to learn more about dr Christopher.

  4. This is obviously NOT Church doctrine. The Brethren have stated that only the scriptures constitute Official Church doctrine. The prophets have even stated that if they say something contrary to scripture, that scripture prevails and that their own words are to be ignored.

      1. No, it wasn’t doctrinal. It is a long established principle that only sustained scripture constitutes official doctrine. Everything outside of that is opinion/speculation and I think that this describes Elder Hyde’s views.

    1. It’s not necessarily against any scripture. My point is that it is a long established principle that only sustained scripture constitutes official doctrine. Everything outside of that is opinion/speculation and I think that this describes Elder Hyde’s views.

    2. But them stating that it is not doctrine cannot be taken as doctrine sine it is not in the scriptures. So do you go with all the “out there” comments from former leaders or with the it “it’s not doctrine of the current either one by your logic is useless

  5. You are all missing the point here. The advice he is giving is all crap. His conclusions that the children are going to be mentally retarded or cripples is not only crap…it is disgusting crap.

    You all miss the other point. People were hurt by following this stupid advice. Real marriages were damaged by this stupid sermon.

    I am sick of leaders giving their uninformed opinion as if it were the word of the Lord. The scriptures call this type of sermon the commandments of men. And you know what Nephi says about the commandments of men? He says to hell with it.

    Orson Hyde was a stupid ass.

    1. Yes…my mother in law’s family was impacted by this. They have a severely autistic child. This was in the 50’s when autism was blamed on the mother. She was ostracized by her ward because of her child. You have no idea the hell she went through. The kind of judgmental, condescending crap the women of her ward put her through. We look back today…in our enlightened age…and can’t believe what they said to her. It was this same insensitive crap that Orson Hyde was saying. Probably a left over from this very sermon. At least it was that attitude that people gave her. It is documented that 75% of couples who have an autistic child will divorce. She was one of those statistics and lived her life as a divorced mother with 6 children.

      1. So don’t tell me this false doctrine doesn’t impact families.
        Look…I hope that all of your children will be healthy and mentally whole. But when or if you have a handicapped child, why don’t you come back then and tell me how you feel about Orson Hyde’s doctrine.

      2. Well, then I apologize. You are correct. Having sex after conception is clearly what causes idiots and cripples. Certainly it is so because Orson Hyde, the world renown expert on reproductive issues, said it was so. Please forgive me for my ignorance. I will not intrude on your site again for I know I am unworthy.

        1. Your conclusion that Orson Hyde was wrong or stupid is opinion and not fact. There are many things that have not been revealed in scripture that the Lord has given to his servants through the Holy Ghost because the people could not live up to it! In your ignorance you claim authority that the Lord wasn’t speaking through Orson Hyde! You happen to have such a close connection to heaven that you can make that claim! What are you a prophet? The point of the women ridiculing that woman is in and of itself wicked as we have been commanded not to judge. As the apostles during the saviors time had asked about the crippled man as to who had committed the sin him or his parents and the Savior said neither had. So this isn’t always the case! Look at the degraded condition of the world. How many rapes, murders, and general immoral conditions of the world and explain how it got this way. You look back on h rough history and see how the world has slowly become so immoral. And this hasn’t been from following this teaching but the exact opposite course! The evidence speaks for itself!

    2. I don’t like the language you use, but I have to agree that prejudices have hurt a lot of innocent people, and those who contribute to prejudice have to bear a certain amount of responsibility–

  6. Re: “I say suppose a family where there is no intercourse of this kind, only with the prospect of having children born, – That family can be governed: the Devil cannot come here; Jealousy cannot enter the breasts of the wives…”

    In a strange way, the discomfort I have with this talk’s message that couples only have sex in order to create children mixes with the automatic discomfort I have with polygamy. By removing the pleasure of sex altogether, the task of avoiding jealousy in a polygamous relationship actually becomes easier. It’s a way of dealing with the inherent lack of sexual balance between partners. We see here into the tension-riddled mind of someone wanting to be chaste within a polyamorous structure.

    1. I find your thought to be a very plausible explanation for such a teaching. I think it is also borne out in his comment towards the very end wherein he says, “Why is it that so many of the children born in the first adoption of the plurality system were destroyed, died and were cut off from the earth; because of evil concupiscence and the gratification of our lusts.” This statement also would suggest feelings of guilt on his part and confirm my suspicions regarding the motivations for expanding this practice as much as occurred.

  7. If what the early apostles and prophets where just teaching their own opinion then how do we know what the apostles and prophets today are teaching is not just mere opinions as well?

      1. President Lee said that we are to measure every man’s doctrine against the scriptures. If a teaching violates the scriptures, the prophets have said that the teaching is to be rejected…even if it a teaching of their own.

        1. …and…Joseph Fielding Smith and others said the same thing and also stated that the only official doctrine of the Church comes from the scriptures. Having the Spirit confirm something is true does not make it official Church doctrine. When the revelation on the priesthood came, it was confirmed by the Spirit to SWK and the 12. If that is all that it takes for something to be official, it would simply have been announced and that would be it. It was brought forth and sustained via Common Consent in order to make it officially binding upon the whole Church.

          1. ET – Does that mean that the “Living Christ” and the “Proclamation on the Family” are not official doctrine because they were never put to a vote and sustained via common consent?

            KK – Exactly. The priesthood revelation was a REVELATION and still had to be sustained by Common Consent as happened with D&C 137 and 138 ( also revelations) when they were sustained in 1976. The Proc was NOT a revelation but rather a political position paper written by a committee and was approved by GBH on its third draft. It was written in response to the same-sex marriage campaigns in Alaska and Hawaii. It will never be sustained as scripture and therefore will never be official doctrine.

          2. The prophets have stated that if anything contradicts scripture, we are to reject it and anything on which the scriptures are silent is opinion/speculation. What else can be said?

          3. No, it’s pretty straight forward – If a teaching agrees with scripture, then it’s true, if it disagrees, then it’s false and if scripture is silent on the issue, then it’s opinion/speculation.

          4. Obviously not. If we vote it down or it is never brought forward to the membership for a vote, it doesn’t become official Church doctrine. Individuals may pray about it and if the Spirit confirms it, that doctrine becomes binding upon them, but not the whole Church.

      1. Why did God say that mankind has become fallen with a devilish nature. That mankind has become sensual and devilish! This is what God said! If intercourse did not bring forth sensual gratification would it be engaged in for any other reason than to bring for children? Answer that question Kevin!

  8. I’ve always understood the instruction given to Joseph to “know her not” was to preserve the claim of Heavenly Father’s paternity.

  9. um, it’s not always safe or wise to do that–

    there are those who can handle it; there are those with health problems who shouldn’t–

    it can be a ‘medical’ issue–

    So I would say that Joseph and the angel were merely being wise–


    And considerate.

  10. This seems like a very private thing to discuss over a pulpit–

    sort of a ‘crossing the line’ thing–

    but then I believe that polygamy crossed the line in a very big way–

  11. 2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?
    3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

    (New Testament | John 9:2 – 3)

  12. if that were the case every general conference would require a sustaining vote to canonize all the talks given. Not every doctrine is going to be plainly taught or taught at all in the standard works. Remember this dispensation is one in which things that have never ben reveled before have ben brought forth. another thing were those revelations that Joseph received not true until they were canonized into standard works?

  13. I think we are on shaky ground trying to squeeze doctrine out of obscure sermons from 150 years ago.

    The idea that sex is inherently evil can be traced back to the Greek mystics who thought that anything to do with the physical world is corrupt. The catholic church adopted this thinking and we had a heck of a time trying to get rid of it. the truth is that our bodies are holy and can be used for good or evil. In many marriages amd relationships in general, i see great unhappiness because people are obsessed by what they can get. I think that if sex is about simply getting a climax, then it is debasing, but if it becomes a sacrament, an occasion to be unified with your spouse spiritually, mentally, physically and emotionally, then it brings you closer to god.

  14. Back on topic… Orson’s sermon has mostly to do with the sexual depravity in LDS men- they were forcing marriage for the sole purpose of gratifying their lusts. His council also suggests that men with one wife were guilty of the same spirit. For Orson, it would be better to only have sex to procreate, than to constantly subject a wife to debasing sexual servitude.
    The world is preoccupied endless frequent “hot sex”. This is completely against the gospel and is destroying many LDS marriages. Sex is a sacrament- it is sacred and should be enjoyed often by the righteous. A couple who goes beyond mere physical gratification and uses sex for to also bond spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually will experience great joy and come closer to god.

    1. Eric: yes. In addition, the sermon was primarily intended for those men who were participating in polygamy, whether condoned by Church leadership or not.

      1. That is also how I read the talk, that he was worried about lustful men physically crushing their unborn babies, which could result in mental and physical disabilities. “And if I stifle and crush the infant germ of my offspring by my unholy indulgence, it is pretty nearly murder.” Maybe some of the early Saints needed to hear that?

  15. I don’t pretend to know what the speaker intended for that audience, but I think it is wrong to assume that married couples are only supposed to have relations for the purpose of procreation. Abraham and Sarah conceived Issac when Sarah was past the age for women to be able to conceive, I’m assuming she was in menopause, and yet they obviously were having relations and not expecting pregnancy. Abraham , I think it’s safe to say, was a holy man. ( who by the way did not live to be 8 or 900 years old.).

  16. Wow! I am not sure what I found more…disturbing, the comments or the article. I have been very happily married for 15 years — I have eight children. My wife and I are the best of friends and find our intimate relationship to be one of the greatest joys of our life. We are together often. Their IS NO SERVITUDE, only love — we are both fully satisfied. We are unified in the raising of our 8 beautiful, well behaved, loving children….so obviously, I take exception with what was said.

    IMHO, the discourse was trying to harness the whoring spirit that naturally follows when you allow men to take multiple sexual partners and force them to live in harmony and ‘love’.

  17. The principle of sexual abstinence in marriage is expressed in the following scripture:

    “Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.” (1 Cor. 7:5)

    A plainer translation:

    “Do not ·refuse to give your bodies to [refuse sex to; deprive] each other, unless you both agree to stay away from sexual relations for a time so you can ·give your time [devote yourselves] to fasting and prayer. Then ·come together again [resume your sexual relationship] so Satan cannot tempt you because of a lack of self-control.”

  18. Orson Hyde’s talk was an extreme view based on a limited understanding, attempting to apply plant nature to human nature and putting the animal kingdom in a bad (base) light. He did not understand that semen is both seed, water and nourishment, thinking it was only a seed to be planted. If you plant a seed (insemination) but fail to provide water and nourishment to the soil, if it germinates, it will be a malnourished (bad) seed. His talk only makes sense to those with limited light. Under greater light, the sermon’s erroneous foundation is plainly made manifest.

  19. As a corrective to this post (Orson Hyde’s sermon), I will submit this link, which shows that for best genetic health, not only is regular sexual intercourse ideal, but regular insemination, also (which nourishes and “waters” the “female soil”).

    1. By Orson Hyde’s “logic” presented here, Joseph Smith was a carnally debased mans and a fallen prophet.

      Gnosticism needs to die and stay dead. People need to stop perpetuating its false philosophies.

      1. Amen. This whole article is bogus. Orson Hyde inherited this “tradition of men” from the Catholic church’s dark ages. It’s intuitively obvious, that this is not what marriage is supposed to be like. Sad depressed people live this celibate life, and rob their spouses of a completeness of joy.

  20. Thank you for this. Orson Hyde speaks truth. “ Now if for the purpose of building up the Kingdom of God, you wish to take more wives, all is right, but if it is for the gratification of your base feelings, you had better not enter into it – better you had never been born.”

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