35 Behold, ye have done greater iniquities than the Lamanites, our brethren. Ye have broken the hearts of your tender wives, and lost the confidence of your children, because of your bad examples before them; and the sobbings of their hearts ascend up to God against you. And because of the strictness of the word of God, which cometh down against you, many hearts died, pierced with deep wounds.
In Jacob’s second sermon, after condemning the sin of pride and the resulting class structure which was beginning to appear among the Nephites, he turns to what he calls their “grosser crimes.” The people have begun to justify marital infidelity on the grounds that scriptural characters, including David and Solomon, had many wives and concubines. Jacob responds by clearly stating the Lord’s standard for the Nephites: “There shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none” (Jacob 2:27).
Why is this standard so important for the happiness of Jacob’s people? Because relationships are built on trust, and to betray the trust of the people you love most wreaks immeasurable havoc in the hearts of those people. God loves all of his children and wants them to treat one another with respect, as Jacob has already established during the first half of the chapter. (See Jacob 2:20-21.) Then what are we to say about people who betray the trust of the people closest to them and most vulnerable to that betrayal? Three times in the chapter, Jacob uses some form of the word “tender,” which means both “gentle” and “sensitive.” Intimacy creates vulnerability, and as Jacob warns, God cares very much how we treat people who have placed their trust in us.
As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland has emphasized, the law of chastity is so important because it protects the most intimate of relationships. To be unfaithful, “either with imagination or another person…destroys that which is second only to our faith in God—namely, faith in those we love. It shakes the pillars of trust upon which present—or future—love is built, and it takes a long time to rebuild that trust when it is lost” (“Place No More for the Enemy of My Soul,” General Conference, April 2010).
Today, I will remember that the people we are closest to—our immediate family—have placed extraordinary trust in us and are therefore susceptible to extreme harm if we betray that trust. I not take lightly the sensitive feelings of my wife or the confidence of my children. Consistent with Jacob’s admonition, I will treat those relationships with the respect and care that they deserve and require.