Consummation

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The traditional formulation of the law of chastity is “no sex before marriage.” It’s a rule that is prohibitive instead of constructive. I believe that a more useful definition is, “a physical relationship should not outrun the emotional and social relationship.” And I believe that someone who follows the second rule will also be following the first rule.

For example, a boy and girl that have just met have a nascent emotional relationship that is weak and almost nonexistent. Therefore their physical relationship should also be almost nonexistent. Most physical contact at that stage is inappropriate. A newly-introduced boy and girl who kiss each other are breaking the law of chastity (according to my interpretation above) because their physical relationship has already been allowed to be stronger than their emotional relationship. As a boy and girl’s emotional relationship becomes stronger, they reach a point where kissing becomes appropriate, because their physical intimacy would reflect the emotional intimacy that they had already established. For each progressive step in a physical relationship, there is a corresponding emotional bond that must be forged first.

That rule applies neatly to sexually intimate contact also. Sex has the power to enmesh a couple in a life-long bond. Accordingly, their non-physical relationship should also have previously advanced to the point of a life-long commitment. The manifestation of that commitment is marriage. A couple that has sex before marriage is letting its physical relationship advance too far for its non-physical relationship. On the other hand, a couple that has sex after marriage is virtuously consummating a committed relationship.

Socratic Method

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I have a peculiar style of teaching that I think makes class time interesting. I wish I could convince everyone to use it. It’s a little similar to the Socratic Method. My method works best for Sunday School, where most of the lesson consists of discussing principles rather than reporting facts. My method is based on the following rules for the teacher.

  1. Pick the subject matter that is the most interesting to you, preferably the part that you have the most questions on.
  2. Never ask a question that you know the answer to.
  3. Rephrase questions so the discussion will be constructive.

The goal is that both the teacher and the students will learn something together. When the teacher asks questions that don’t have a single “right” answer, then the students have the chance to help the teacher. I believe that the students learn more when they are talking than when they are listening. The students will also respond to how passionate the teacher is. If the teacher is talking about something personally interesting, and especially if the teacher is motivated by the opportunity to learn something new about the subject, then the energy level will be elevated.

Also, consider how the students feel pressured when the teacher asks the class an easy question. Game theory would say that the predicament carries a high risk and a low reward, leading to an environment where no one volunteers. If a student tries to answer the question and gets it wrong, then they will look foolish. And if a student gets it right, then no one is impressed, because it was easy. Questions like that discourage class participation. On the other hand, imagine a class where the teacher warns that they have a very hard question that they don’t know the answer to. That changes the game to one of low risk and high reward. A student does not need to feel embarrassed about giving an unsatisfactory answer, because the question was very difficult. And if the student gives a good answer, they will feel brilliant.

A teacher can write a typical lesson plan by just preparing some introductory material and then writing down three to five questions that they would like to have answered. Usually the questions need an introduction that engages the students so that they feel the teacher’s own curiosity. The teacher should research all the answers themselves, and then only submit to the class the questions that they couldn’t answer on their own.

Sometimes questions convey a negative tone, and those should be rephrased. For example, a question like, “Could Moses really perform those miracles?” sounds more like a doubt than a question. When a teacher feels like his or her testimony in a subject is weak, then it is important to find questions that will strengthen everyone’s faith. A constructive alternative sounds like, “How can we strengthen our faith in the miracles performed by Moses?”

It takes extra confidence in the students to run a class according to these rules. I’ve successfully taught this way to students as young as twelve, however. I think it would surprise most teachers how capable their students are, and how the teachers just needed to raise their expectations.