Let’s think about how we progress through the virtues.

A virtue set is static.  Here are virtues and vices that relate to each other.

Its true that real men and women tend to experience a mix of most virtues and vices to greater and lesser degrees all at the same time.   That mix changes over time.  We can become more or less virtuous.  Our existing virtues become stronger.  Our branches grow.  The real experience of virtue is growth, repentance, and change.  A virtue set is a terrain.  We move around on it.

There is a lot of precedent in the scriptures.

For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more; and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.

-thus 2 Nephi 28:30.

That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day

-thus D&C 50:24.

We have the Plan of Salvation which moves us from stage to stage.  In mortality we have dispensations and the Law of Moses giving way or being fulfilled in the higher law of Christ.  We have the concept often preached in the Church and elsewhere that we need to move on from negative virtues (thou shalt nots, direct commands) to positive virtues (thou shalts, open-ended principles).  It is a wicked and slothful servant who must be commanded in all things.

What if for fun we rearrange the virtue set as a virtue chain?

Lets start with a simple virtue chart involving pornography that we’ve used before.



Lets unpack this.  Say a young man gets addicted to pornography.  As part of his repentance he might overreact by avoiding anything that hints of sex.  This may not even be an overreaction.  Maybe at first he needs to avoid everything that hints of sex.  With time and growth he could then return to a healthy relationship with sexuality, get married, and so on.

His course would look like this.


You could even add chastity to the beginning for his innocence when he was just a boy.  This would be a fairly natural progression but there could be and are others.

You could even do a chain for a natural progression in life, something like

Childhood (sexual innocence)  ——–>  Adolescence (exaggerated or obsessive interest in sex) ————->  Healthy Sexuality

A different chain.  I’m tempted to put a period of chastity between adolescence and healthy sexuality, as people seem to get married best when they have had their act together.  Either case there seems to be a natural principle of alternation.


Arranged like this, we can see that the alterations do not have to be alterations between virtues and vices.  They can just be different stages of the virtues, or different types of challenges, that are appropriate at any one given time.

For those who are keeping track, this is the beginning of the new insight into virtue sets that I had just before WJT introduced me to his own work on the subject.

Next time:

The Plan of Virtue. In My Father’s House There are Many Virtues. The Parable of the Seeds.



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