In accordance with the law of chastity, LDS Church doctrine bars sexual activity outside of heterosexual marriage, and sexual transgressions are considered second only to murder in seriousness.
The first time that any approval of a non-abstinence fertility control method was publicly expressed occurred in a 1942 Improvement Era article in which Apostle John Widtsoe mentioned the rhythm method as an acceptable means of spacing children.
In his influential 1956 treatise Doctrines of Salvation, then apostle Joseph Fielding Smith called birth control a wickedness which leads to damnation and caused the downfall of nations.
but states that abortion could be an acceptable option in cases of rape, incest, danger to the health or life of the mother, or where the fetus has been diagnosed with "severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth." From the 1830s, marriage has been a central and distinctive component of Mormon theology.
Mormon teachings on marriage begins with the belief that, if performed by a person who has the requisite priesthood authority, a marriage may continue in the afterlife.
He further stated that an LDS couple that deliberately prevents themselves from having more children after their second or third child is guilty of iniquity which must be punished.
In 1969 the first and only First Presidency statement on birth control was released reemphasizing that it was "contrary to the teachings of the Church artificially to curtail or prevent the birth of children", though, for the first time there was a clarification that men should be considerate to "conserve" the "health and strength" of their wives when planning families since they carry the "greater responsibility" for bearing and rearing children.
He gave vigorous exercise as a method to help control thoughts and break the habit of masturbation since it is a "transgression" that is "not pleasing to the Lord".
Since 1985 the church has provided a manual for parents to use in discussing sexuality with their children.
A follow-up letter on 15 October 1982 stated that the First Presidency had received numerous complaints of church leaders inappropriately "delving into private, sensitive matters" and directed leaders to never inquire with "explicit questions" about "intimate matters involving marital relations".
The oral sex ban, however, was neither removed, modified, or clarified as the only additional directive to leaders was that "if the member has enough anxiety about the propriety of the conduct to ask about it, the best course would be to discontinue it".
In the past the use of family planning birth control methods including artificial contraception was explicitly condemned by LDS church leaders.