In the 1981 Ensign, Pres Marion Romney in the First Presidency Message said “Better dead clean, than alive unclean.” He then went on to tell the counsel his father gave him when he sent him of on his mission:
When you are released and return, we shall be glad to greet you and welcome you back into the family circle. But remember this, my son: we would rather come to this station and take your body off the train in a casket than to have you come home unclean, having lost your virtue.”Romney, Ensign, 1981
This was not a minority opinion from a rogue General Authority.
“There is no true Latter-day Saint who would not rather bury a son or a daughter than to have him or her lose his or her chastity – realizing that chastity is of more value than anything else in all the world.”
(Prophet Heber J. Grant, Gospel Standards, complied by G. Homer Durham, p. 55)
“It is better to die in defending one’s virtue than to live having lost it without a struggle.”
(Spencer W. Kimball, LDS Prophet, The Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 196)
President David O. McKay:
Your virtue is worth more than your life. Please, young folk, preserve your virtue even if you lose your lives.”
(The Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 63)
“I know what my mother expects. I know what she’s saying in her prayers. She’d rather have me come home dead than unclean.” (Gordon B. Hinckley, Conference Report, April 1967, pp. 51-55)
There is a lot wrong with theses statements. First they deny the atonement. Christ died for our sins, and we are told that all sins except for murder can be forgiven. We are taught that when we repent and are forgiven for a sin, it is like it never happened. How can the above statements be reconciled with repentance? Wouldn’t you rather have your son come home, repent, be forgiven, and then live a wonderful life? Or maybe Pres Romney’s dad was more concerned about his own embarrassment that he would rather have his kid come home dead so he could save face?
A few years ago Peggy Slack in a SLTrib article speculated that these teaching may be “aiding and abetting rape culture”, so I won’t delve into that.
What about “virtue” being taken from you by force? Is a young girl that is raped still not virtuous?
I have read some comments on the above statements that they are just one step below “honor killings” that take place in some Middle Eastern cultures? (and even here in the United States!) I don’t think that is the case. The Church leaders statements imply that it would be better that you meet some horrible accident on your mission and come home dead, than have sex with the girl next door. The honor killings are family members doing the killing (not an accident) in order to preserve the honor of the family. Do you think there is any connection?
And lastly, why do you think we don’t hear this type of counsel anymore? Was this a generational thing, and we’ve just moved on from it? Do we better understand the atonement? What do you think?