My book on Virtue is making slow, if unsteady progress - mostly by leaps and bounds and then copious rest. Even so, this is the conclusion. If anything, I think I need more on how virtue is closely tied to intimacy.
Virtue is more than merely an important commandment, or aspect of the Gospel – it IS the central goal of Gospel. It is God's Covenant with Abraham, and the uniting of families in eternal marriage, both our immediate families, and the families of all who will repent, both in the world, and in eternity. It is what exaltation and godhood consists of.
Faith, Virtue, Knowledge..... these are the beginning of the traits we need to be partakers of the divine nature and to be like God, as are Faith, Hope and Charity. Charity is the pure love of Christ, and the amount of charity that we have is limited by how virtuous we are. Enduring love for either that special someone, or even for the rest of humanity necessitates actual virtue.
We are virtuous so that we might be filled with love. Pornography and non-marital sex were brought forth to destroy sealings and loving relationships. Virtue impels us to empathy, while forcing us away from narcissism and pleasing ourselves. We can not serve two masters, for the spirit that impels us towards one, is in opposition to the other. We can not be unvirtuous without losing both the capacity to hear the still small voice of the Spirit of God, and eventually, the cries of man. Virtue is inseparable from our ability to feel.
Because of the Fall of Man, our natures are naturally inclined to be carnal, sensual and even devilish, unless are we are spiritually reborn. Because the Fall is so deeply rooted in both our bodies and spirits, we must make continual effort to have the Spirit with us and be born-again over and over. The Lord intended this, so that be thus struggling, we might return to Him. He gave us our weakness, that we might be humble and rely on Him as our Savior. If we will be draw near to God, He can make our weaknesses become our strengths. We need to overcome and tame our weaknesses, so that we can filled with love. Abusing the hormonal highs of intimacy outside of marriage saps our passion slowly, while increasing our hunger. It increases our focus us on ourselves.
Our bodies are temples – we are temples. We need to remember this sacredness, so that we treat the body that way, and become holy. If we do not understand ourselves as holy, we do not comprehend ourselves as children of God. We can not treat the body lightly, either ours or anothers, without seeing ourselves or others, lightly. We need to leave the World, and the ways of the World behind even while we must live in the midst of it.
Not only did the Fall bring our separation from God, it also set men and women at variance with each other, yet God demands a sacred unity between us. Virtue is not simply for its own existence – it is the proper relation of husband and wife and family. Mere celibacy is not sufficient to receive the blessings this commandment is predicated to reach. Though if we can not marry, our celibacy should be joyful. Joy is an not optional part of the gospel.
The center of the Gospel is the Family. It is the enduring unit of organization in Eternity. When we leave this life, we take nothing, but what we have learned, who we are, and the eternal bonds of family we have forged and sealed in this life. Virtue is what sustains those holy bonds, and even what makes them possible. This is the heart of what the Abrahamic Covenant is, and the central feature of our final exaltation. Our relationships are inseparable from our exaltation. No one is saved alone.
Eternal marriage is consecration at its finest. We can not fully accept Christ, without accepting this law. This is not something we can casually remove from the Gospel or alter to suit modern sensibilities, because is both the goal and the living of the Gospel. Immorality is a subtle idolatry. Virtue is worship, and is the consecration needed for exaltation. For many of us, is it the defining sacrifice (Abrahamic Trial) where we truly give our all and like Abraham, put everything we cherish on the alter. This moment of personal Gethsemane is something we all must pass through, if we wish to become like the Son of God.
Virtue has everything to do with coming back into the presence of our Heavenly Parents and family.