Journal of Book of Mormon Studies


Jason A. Kerr


Latter-day Saints, chastity, virtue, rape, Moroni, Mormon


Latter-day Saint discussion of chastity often include Moroni 9:9 because of its suggestion that "chastity and virtue" constitute "that which is most dear and precious above all things:' The verse also says, however, that people can be "deprived" of chastity and virtue by the violence of rape. For the prophet Mormon, the Nephites' actions in Moriantum exceed "this great abomination of the Lamanites;' which involved "feed[ing] the women upon the flesh of their husbands, and the children upon the flesh of their fathers" (Moroni 9:8). Mormon's strong language aims to condemn the rapists, not their victims. Using the verse to teach about chastity, though, invites interpretation from the perspective of the victims, which raises the question of what it means to understand chastity and virtue as something of which a person can be deprived, passively, by another. Such passive loss of virtue runs strongly contrary to LDS teaching about agency, including those rooted in Book of Mormon passages like 2 Nephi 2, with the consequence that victims of sexual abuse or assault can be made to feel guilty for sins that are not their own.