LDS Church removes controversial Book of Mormon scripture from young women’s workbook

File Image - Salt Lake LDS Temple. Photo: Intellectual Reserve

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Sept. 26, 2016 (Gephardt Daily) — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has removed a Book of Mormon verse about rape from the Personal Progress workbooks given to LDS young women for moral study.

The problematic verse, Moroni 9:9, suggested that victims of rape cannot be considered chaste or virtuous. The Book of Mormon verse reads, in part:

“For behold, many of the daughters of the Lamanites have they taken prisoners; and after depriving them of that which was most dear and precious above all things, which is chastity and virtue….”

LDS spokesman Eric Hawkins confirmed the scriptural verse has been removed from the young women’s Personal Progress workbook, an outcome several female LDS writers had been pushing for for several years. Blogger Kristine Haglund, for example, called for the verse’s removal in 2013.

Hawkins said the scripture will remain in the Book of Mormon.

“That scripture reference needs to go, NOW,” Haglund wrote on the By Common Consent blog. “And we need to start explicitly teaching that this scripture reflects a cultural mistake among Book of Mormon peoples in their understanding of virtue, one which fails to properly apply the principle of agency and denies the power of the Atonement.”

Elizabeth Smart, an advocate for child safety and the survivor of a 2002 kidnapping and nine months of captivity and rape, gave an interview about the church’s “purity culture” in an article that ran Sept. 1 on

“I did make that promise to myself that I was going to wait until marriage before I had sex,” Smart, 28, told her interviewer.

“Well, then I was kidnapped and I was raped, and one of the first thoughts I had was, ‘No one is ever going to want to marry me now: I’m worthless, I’m filthy, I’m dirty.’ I think every rape survivor feels those same feelings, but having that with the pressure of faith compounded on top—it was almost crippling.”

Smart said her faith was what helped her survive the ordeal, but in the years following her kidnapping and recovery, Smart said the church’s “purity culture” was hurtful to her as a survivor of rape.

Smart told her interviewer about celibacy lectures she sat through in high school as an LDS Seminary student.

“You’re like this beautiful fence,” she remembers being told in one lecture. “And you hammer these nails in, and then every time you have sex with someone else, it’s like you’re hammering in another nail. And you can’t take them out, you can repent of them, but the holes are still there.”

Smart said as a teenager whose virginity had been taken by force, she was hurt by the words.

“Especially for someone who’s been raped, they’ve already felt these feelings of worthlessness, of filth, of just … being so crushed, and then to hear a teacher come back and say, ‘Nobody wants you now’… You just think, ‘I should just die right now.'”


    • Dave, Your argument falls apart because it’s based on the premise that the Book of Mormon is wrong and the “New Testament” is right, and from that you conclude that the Book of Mormon is wrong and the “New Testament” is right.

      If you want to go that route, the problem you have is that the Bible already existed before the New Testament, and based on what it says, Jesus couldn’t be God, unless you assume that Jews have no clue what their own Bible says or that the New Testament is correct. If you want to assume the validity of Christianity based on the New Testament interpretation, it makes equal sense to assume the validity of what Mormons believe based on the Book of Mormon. But if you want to assume the validity of either of those latter works based solely on what came before it, you can’t do it, since you have to accept the later interpretation.

    • Dave,
      I think we can all agree that rape is wrong. The reason why it is wrong is because it is violating someone, and we see our bodies as precious and our own.

      If you read it Mormon is writing to his son Moroni and describing the awful things the Nephites & Lamanites are doing to each other.

      This is not a scripture that deplores the victim but is describing why it hurts so much. If someone tells you not to do something wouldn’t you want to know why? That is exactly what is happening, Rape is wrong because it hurts the other person deeply.

      For reference feel free to read the whole scripture including the header to gain full context of what is being said.

  1. Sexual Purity and personal chastity continues to be a very important standard for both males and females in the LDS faith. However, the LDS church has long taught that: “Victims of sexual abuse are not guilty of sin and do not need to repent. If you have been a victim of abuse, know that you are innocent and that God loves you. Talk to your parents or another trusted adult, and seek your bishop’s counsel immediately. They can support you spiritually and assist you in getting the protection and help you need. The process of healing may take time. Trust in the Savior. He will heal you and give you peace” (see ). The LDS church continues to teach and emphasize this doctrinal understanding.

    Nevertheless, I am pleased that Moroni 9:9 was removed from prominence in the Young Women’s Personal Progress Workbook since it could indeed contribute to a misunderstanding of the doctrines of chastity and of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Lectures about nail holes left in boards, etc. were always wrong. Teaching using analogies/parables is a powerful way to make what is being taught understandable and memorable. Great care should be taken in choosing what analogies to use to avoid encouraging misleading understandings.

    Thanks for reading and considering my comments.

  2. I disagree with those saying the scripture should be removed from the Book of Mormon. Having been sexually violated as a young woman, I can tell you that I have never been offended by that verse from the Book of Mormon. It states that when these young women were taken prisoner (against their will) they were deprived of that which is most dear and precious, which is chastity and virtue. That’s a true account. One that validates how I felt when I was sexually violated, against my will. I am able to understand that scripture and what it means. I am still a chaste person. I am still a person of virtue. But someone did take what wasn’t theirs to take and that is what that scripture means. Yes, a victim of rape usually feels unclean- because of the filthiness of the crimes of abuse. I have never felt anything but goodness and genuine care and concern for me from this Church and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am grateful to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Savior is the Master Healer.

    • Beautiful! Exactly, it shows how unrighteous the people had become, that they were violating these women. I feel it is very loving and that our Savior is aware of those that suffer at the hands of evil men. No where does it suggest that these women were unclean or no longer chaste.

  3. And if course Spencer W Kimball taught Mormon parents that it would be better if their kids died than were raped. My mom drive that one home to me when I was 7 years old: “If anyone ever tries to rape you, just tell them to kill you. You’ll have died protecting your chastity. That’s better than living after being raped.”

    • I do Not question your memory of what your mom said. However, what Elder Kimball actually published in 1969, in “The Miracle of Forgiveness”, was “Also far-reaching is the effect of loss of chastity. Once given or taken or stolen it can never be regained. Even in forced contact such as rape or incest, the injured one is greatly outraged. If she has not cooperated and contributed to the foul deed, she is of course in a more favorable position. There is no condemnation where there is absolutely no voluntary participation. It is better to die in defending one’s virtue than to live having lost it without a struggle.”

      I am uncomfortable with his statement written 47 years ago which is the most extreme position by an LDS general authority on this topic I can remembers. The book is now out of print. I much prefer what the LDS Church has been teaching for a long time as I quoted above.

      Read carefully, Elder Kimball certainly did Not write: ““If anyone ever tries to rape you, just tell them to kill you. You’ll have died protecting your chastity. That’s better than living after being raped.” He certainly did advocate resisting, but also noted: “There is no condemnation where there is absolutely no voluntary participation.” Again, I much prefer what the LDS Church has been teaching for a long time. For further details see .

  4. Joseph Smith stated:
    “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on the earth … ” (History of the Church, Vol. 4, page 461) That being so, then why has the BOM undergone 3913 changes? I suppose make it 3914 now.
    Introduction to 3,913 Changes
    In this study we will show that there have been at least 3,913 changes made in the Book of Mormon from the time it was first published in 1830.

  5. The vast majority of the changes are merely punctuation and to standardize spelling. Joseph Smith never claimed that the punctuation was correct. The manuscript as it went to the printer had no punctuation. See Royal Skousen’s study of the language of the original manuscript.


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