Notes for my writing

This blog is made up of notes on the gospel as found in the only true and living church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This includes notes that are either excerpts from or ideas for books I either have in draft or may yet write.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Spencer W Kimball on Spouses - April 1962 General Conference

Spouses and None Else
Elder Spencer W. Kimball
Of the Council of the Twelve Apostles
Spencer W. Kimball, Conference Report, October 1962, pp. 55-60

In these days of radio and television, we may preach to all the world. Yesterday, the human voice could be heard only hundreds of yards. Today, the Lord having opened the way, modern inventions permit our bearing witness to all the people of the earth. From yards to miles to Telstars to planets the human voice may now be carried. The prophet of God may now be heard in all the world, fulfilling completely the command: ". . . Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mark 16:15-16, italics added).

"For the hour is nigh, and that which was spoken by mine apostles must be fulfilled; for as they spoke so shall it come to pass" (D&C 29:10).

Satan's threat to take all those who will follow him is no idle boast. He may be depended on to engulf and capture all who will listen to him. The Lord announces: ". . . ye are called to lift up your voices as with the sound of a trump, to declare my gospel unto a crooked and perverse generation.

". . . the field is white already to harvest; and it is the eleventh hour, and the last time that I shall call laborers into my vineyard.

"And my vineyard has become corrupted every whit" (D&C 33:2-4).

Nephi in his parting testimony reiterated: ". . . wherefore, no man will be angry at the words which I have written save he shall be of the spirit of the devil" (2 Ne. 33:5).

More often, we warn the youth of the pitfalls endangering them, but today, let us warn the married folk, among whom there are many who suffer with discontent, jangling, and broken homes which, as we know, are the cradles for delinquencies.

The world is increasing in wickedness. We see the wanton disregard for the Sabbath, the limited number really active in any religious program, the graft, dishonesty, delinquency, divorce, and immorality.

In his address to the Relief Society sisters on Wednesday, President McKay quoted evidence that the world is ripening in iniquity. "Today, lawlessness is on the increase, the cost of crime at all levels in the United States is $22 billion, over $4 billion more than is spent for education. Sixteen percent of the total of $141 billion tax load at all levels of government is spent on crime. It represents a cost of $128.00 last year for every person in the United States."

President McKay pointed to the increase of 34 percent in the crime rate in the past five years, while the population increase was seven percent. And, we are constrained to ask, "How long will the Lord tolerate this people when crime increases nearly five times as fast as the population?" Now, as we speak of a sharp rise in iniquity, we are not unmindful of those numerous good people to whom the home life and the commandments of God are still their magnificent obsession. They have their reward. But all too many are following the path of evil, and our voices must sound a warning.

The revelations say: "Wherefore the decree hath gone forth from the Father . . .

"For the hour is nigh and the day soon at hand when the earth is ripe; and all the proud and they that do wickedly shall be as stubble; and I will burn them up, saith the Lord of Hosts, that wickedness shall not be upon the earth" (D&C 29:8-9).

And again: ". . . wo unto the inhabitants of the whole earth except they shall repent; for the devil laugheth, and his angels rejoice" (3 Ne. 9:2).

"Wo unto them . . . and in that day that they are fully ripe in iniquity they shall perish . . .

". . . at that day shall he [the devil] rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good" (2 Ne. 28:16,20).

Infidelity is one of the great sins of our generation. The movies, the books, the magazine stories all seem to glamorize the faithlessness of husbands and wives. Nothing is holy, not even marriage vows. The unfaithful woman is the heroine and is justified, and the hero is so built up that he can do no wrong. It reminds us of Isaiah who said: "Wo unto those who call evil good, and good evil" (Isa. 5:20).

We make no apology then for raising our voices loud to a world that is ripening in sin. The Lord has said: "Say nothing but repentance unto this generation" (D&C 6:9).

The adversary is subtle; he is cunning, he knows that he cannot induce good men and women immediately to do major evils so he moves slyly, whispering half truths until he has his intended victims following him, and finally he clamps his chains upon them and fetters them tight, and then he laughs at their discomfiture and their misery.

The age-old sins continue with us today. The cry of repentance is to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. "But wo unto him that has the law given, yea, that has all the commandments of God, like unto us, and that transgresseth them, and that wasteth the days of his probation for awful is his state!" (2 Ne. 9:27).

To those people who hide their guilt and will not abandon nor confess, the Lord says: "By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them" (D&C 58:43)

". . . I command you again to repent, lest I humble you with my almighty power; and that you confess your sins, lest you suffer these punishments of which I have spoken" (D&C 19:20).

And again, he says: ". . . hearken to the voice of the Lord your God, [who] . . . is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (D&C 33:1).

And, again: "Or do ye imagine to yourselves that ye can lie unto the Lord . . .

". . . can ye imagine yourselves brought before the tribunal of God with your souls filled with guilt and remorse, having . . . a remembrance that ye have set at defiance the commandments of God?

". . . can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands?" (Alma 5:17-19). Sins cannot be forever hidden.

And Jacob stated: ". . . by the help of the all-powerful Creator of heaven and earth I can tell you concerning your thoughts, how that ye are beginning to labor in sin, which sin appeareth very abominable unto me, yea, and abominable unto God" (Jacob 2:5). Some folk hide their guilt and will not confess, and this is what Lucifer desires. He has a greater hold on them.

Peter, a man of God, discerned that Ananias and Sapphira had held back part of the returns from their sale and said: ". . . Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost . . .

". . . thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God" (Acts 5:3-4).

And in our own day the Lord promised his bishops and other appointees: ". . . to have it given unto them to discern all those gifts lest there shall be any among you professing and yet be not of God" (D&C 46:27). And, again, ". . . and those who are not pure, and have said they were pure, shall be destroyed, saith the Lord God" (D&C 132:52). Men's thoughts and lives are engraved on their faces.

Some let their marriages get stale and common, the Lord says: ". . . whoso forbiddeth to marry is not ordained of God, for marriage is ordained of God unto man.

"Wherefore, it is lawful that he should have one wife, and they twain shall be one flesh, and all this that the earth might answer the end of its creation" (D&C 49:15-16). There are those married people who permit their eyes to wander and their hearts to become vagrant, who think it is not improper to flirt a little, to share their hearts, and have desire for someone other than the wife or the husband, the Lord says in no uncertain terms: "Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shall cleave unto her and none else" (D&C 42:22, italics added).

And, when the Lord says all thy heart, it allows for no sharing nor dividing nor depriving. And, to the woman it is paraphrased: "Thou shalt love thy husband with all thy heart and shall cleave unto him and none else." The words none else eliminate everyone and everything. The spouse then becomes preeminent in the life of the husband or wife, and neither social life nor occupational life nor political life nor any other interest nor person nor thing shall ever take precedence over the companion spouse. We sometimes find women who absorb and hover over the children at the expense of the husband, sometimes even estranging them from him. The Lord says to them: ". . . Thou shalt cleave unto him and none else."

Marriage presupposes total allegiance and total fidelity. Each spouse takes the partner with the understanding that he or she gives self totally to the spouse: all the heart, strength, loyalty, honor, and affection with all dignity. Any divergence is sin—any sharing the heart is transgression. As we should have "an eye single to the glory of God" (D&C 4:5; D&C 82:19) so should we have an eye, an ear, a heart single to the marriage and the spouse and family.

Modern revelation gives us: "Thou shalt not commit adultery; and he that committeth adultery, and repenteth not, shall be cast out [or excommunicated]" (D&C 42:24).

Many acknowledge the vice of physical adultery, but still rationalize that anything short of that heinous sin may not be condemned too harshly; however, the Lord has said many times: "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old times, Thou shalt not commit adultery:

"But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matt. 5:27-28).

And to paraphrase and give the modern version: "And she that looketh upon a man to lust after him shall deny the faith, and shall not have the Spirit; and if she repents not she shall be cast out [or excommunicated]" (see D&C 42:23). The commands of the Lord apply to women with equal force as to their husbands, and those scriptures come with the same sharpness and exactness to both sexes, for he has but a single standard of morality. It is not always the man who is the aggressor. Often it is the pursuing, coveting woman, and note that for both, all is lost if there is not true, sustained, and real repentance.

Home-breaking is sin, and any thought, act, or association which will tend to destroy another's home is a grievous transgression. A certain young woman was single and was therefore free to properly seek a mate, but she gave attention to and received attention from a married man. She was in transgression. She argued that his marriage was "already on the rocks" and the wife of her new boy friend did not understand him and that he was most unhappy at home, and he did not love his wife.

Regardless of the state of the married man, the young woman was in serious error to comfort him and listen to his disloyal castigation of his wife and to entertain him. The man was in deep sin. He was disloyal and unfaithful. So long as he is married to a woman he is duty bound to protect her and defend her and the same responsibility is with his wife. Numerous cases have come to us such as the following one:

A husband and wife were quarreling and had reached such a degree of incompatibility that they had flung at each other the threat of divorce and had already seen attorneys. Both of them, embittered at each other, had found companionship with other parties. This was sin. No matter how bitter were their differences, neither had any right to begin courting or looking about for friends. And any dating or such association by wedded folk outside the marriage is iniquitous. Even though they proceeded with the divorce suit, to be moral and honorable they must wait until the divorce is final before either is justified in developing new romances.

Recently, I learned that the woman of a broken marriage was married within hours after her divorce was final. She had been untrue to her marriage vows, for she had been courting while she was still an undivorced wife.

If one cannot marry before the divorce is final, then it must be obvious that generally one is still married. How then, can one justify courtship while he or she still has living, an undivorced spouse? So long as the marriage covenant has not been legally severed, neither spouse morally may seek new romance or open the heart to other people. After the divorce becomes final, both freed individuals may engage in proper courting activities.

There are those who look with longing eyes, who want and desire and crave these romantic associations. So to desire to possess, to inordinately want and yearn for such, is to covet, and the Lord in powerful terms condemns it: "And again, I command thee that thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife; nor seek thy neighbor's life" (D&C 19:25).

How powerful! The seventh (Ex. 20:14) and tenth commandments (Ex. 20:17) are interwoven into one great command which is awesome in its warning. To covet that which belongs to another is sin, and that sin begins when hearts begin to entertain a glamorous interest in anyone else. There are many tragedies affecting spouses, children, and loved ones. Even though these "affairs" begin near-innocently, like an octopus the tentacles move gradually to strangle.

When dates or dinners or rides or other contacts begin, the abyss of tragedy opens wide its mouth. And, it has reached deep iniquity when physical contacts of any nature have been indulged in. Man's desires are fed and nurtured by the food-thoughts, be they degenerate or holy.

Amulek, the prophet, reminded us: "For our words will condemn us, yea, all our works will condemn us; we shall not be found spotless; and our thoughts will also condemn us; and in this awful state we shall not dare to look up to our God; and we would fain be glad if we could command the rocks and the mountains to fall upon us to hide us from his presence" (Alma 12:14).

The case of Potiphar's wife is an example of the creeping tentacles of sin (Gen. 39:7-20). Even though this scheming woman did not succeed in defiling Joseph, her sin was most grievous. The intent was there and the desire and the lust and the coveting. She had "already committed adultery with him in her heart and mind . . ." as she "cast her eyes upon Joseph day by day" (Gen. 39:7,10). This woman's transgression did not begin when she ripped the clothes from the body of this fleeing stalwart. Her perfidy had been born and nurtured in her mind and heart in the "day by day" of wanting him, teasing him, desiring him, lusting for him, and coveting him. Her sin was a progressive thing. So, for all the numerous people, who, like this seductive woman, carry in their hearts and minds designs or desires or covetings, deep sin lieth already at their doors.

"For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he" (Prov. 23:7). Nothing justifies evil. Two wrongs do not make one right. Spouses are sometimes inconsiderate, unkind, and difficult, and they must share the blame for broken homes, but this never justifies the other spouse's covetousness and unfaithfulness and infidelity. James Allen gives us this: "The outer world of circumstances shapes itself to the inner world of thoughts."

Many super-selfish folk think only of themselves when they begin to cross the lines of propriety in their romanticizing outside their homes; to them who ignore the innocent parents, the innocent spouse, and the innocent children, the scriptures are replete with warnings. ". . . I must do according to the strict commands of God, and tell you concerning your wickedness and abominations, in the presence of the pure in heart, and the broken heart, and under the glance of the piercing eye of the Almighty God" (Jacob 2:10).

Little do most of those who deviate think of the innocent bystanders until the heaviness of final guilt weighs down upon them. The Lord speaks again: "For behold, I, the Lord, have seen the sorrow, and heard the mourning of the daughters of my people . . . because of the wickedness and abominations of their husbands" (Jacob 2:31).

". . . Ye have broken the hearts of your tender wives, and lost the confidence of your children, because of your bad example before them; and the sobbings of their hearts ascend up to God against you . . . many hearts died, pierced with deep wounds" (Jacob 2:35).

And, women also justify themselves in irregularities. They often invite men to sensual desire by their immodest clothes, loose actions and mannerisms, their coy glances, their extreme "make up," and by their flattery. Paul also called to repentance. "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

"For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is head of the church: . . .

"Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be unto their own husbands in everything" (Eph. 5:22-24, italics added).

And to the husbands comes the command: "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it . . .

"So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.

"For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church" (Eph. 5:25,28-29).

Some who marry never cut themselves loose from the apron strings of the parents. The Lord says through his prophets: "For this cause shall a man [or woman] leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife [or husband], and they two shall be one flesh." (Eph. 5:31, italics added).

Parents who hold, direct, and dictate to their married children and draw them away from their spouses are likely to regret the possible tragedy. Accordingly, when two people marry, the spouse should become the confidant, the friend, the sharer of responsibility, and they two become independent. No one should come between the husband and wife, not even parents.

Paul concludes: "Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband" (Eph. 5:33).

To those who claim their love is dead, let them return home with all their loyalty, fidelity, honor, cleanness, and the love which has become embers will flare up with scintillating flame again. If love wanes or dies, it is often infidelity of thought or act which gave the lethal potion. To those who belittle marriage and its vows and responsibilities, to wives and husbands who joke each other about possible infidelities, Paul decries such jesting and joking about sacred things. "But fornication, and all uncleanness, and covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;

"Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting" (Eph. 5:3-4).

To jest one's spouse about "affairs" could be the planting of seeds which might grow to destroy the marriage. Marriage is holy. It is sacred. Last week in Chicago four men sitting behind me were drinking. They were joking about their wives' boy friends, and their own girl friends. Whether or not they were adulterers and adulteresses was not known, but certainly no good could come from such foolish jesting, and it is an unholy way to speak of the glorious relationship of marriage.

May we, with Jacob, plead to the couples of the world: ". . . arouse the faculties of your soul, shake yourselves that ye may awake from the slumber of death; and loose yourselves from the pains of hell" (Jacob 3:11).

". . . ye would be more miserable to dwell with a holy and just God, under a consciousness of your filthiness before him, than ye would dwell with the damned souls in hell.

". . . when ye shall be brought to see your nakedness before God, and also the glory of God, and the holiness of Jesus Christ, it will kindle a flame of unquenchable fire upon you" (Morm. 9:4-5).

". . . Save yourselves from this untoward generation, and come forth out of the fire, hating even the garments spotted with the flesh" (D&C 36:6). Those who have slipped into the ugly approaches may have already silenced the still, small, pleading voice so many times that he hesitates longer to return as an unwelcome guest. He leaves the iniquitous one "on his own."

The Lord says: ". . . my Spirit shall not always strive with man, saith the Lord of Hosts" (D&C 1:33).

But, forgiveness may come to that person who repents with all his heart, restores all that can be restored, and lives the commandments fully and constantly.

In conclusion, I plead with all young people bound by marriage vows and covenants to make that marriage holy, keep it fresh, express affection meaningfully and sincerely and often.

Husbands, come home—body, spirit, mind, loyalties, interests, and affections, and love your companion into an holy and unbreakable relationship.

Wives, come home with all your interests, fidelity, yearnings, loyalties, and affections, and working together make your home a blessed heaven. Thus, would you greatly please your Lord and Master and guarantee yourselves happiness supreme.

I urge this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The sin of Sodom and Gomorrah

I believe the words of prophets and apostles who lived thousands of years ago in wildly different cultures from my own are completely relevant and true today. In fact, I accept them as the word of God. 

Thus I also accept words of President Spencer W Kimball in general conference April 1971 when he recalled statements from organizations recommending that homosexuality should no longer be considered a criminal act. He responded to those quotes stating: "Those are ugly voices - they are loud and raspy. Why do we speak in this vein? Why do we call to repentance when there are such pleasant subjects? It is because someone must warn the world of its doom if life does not change directions.... Some voices must cry out against them. Ours cannot remain silent. To the great Moses these perversions were an abomination and a defilement, worthy of death. To Paul it was unnatural, unmanly, ungodly, and a dishonoroble passion of an adulterous nature and would close all the doors to the kingdom."

If I can learn from an apostle who lived in 33 AD, or from prophets that live thousands of years before that, and accept their words as coming from God, I can certainly do the same for someone as recent as 1971. Truth doesn't change. Truth taught then is truth still now.
I also accept the counsel from prophets and apostles today. I do not see the two as contradictory, any more than I see Christ's admonition's for love as being hypocritical when he frankly speaks out against the pharisees, or even cleanses the temple. Quite the contrary, as a parent I know that the best way to show love is often correction.

There is another side to the coin of acting out of love. Sometimes a wicked mans actions forces one to choose. Nephi was reluctant to kill Laban, and it was only when he was reminded of the generations that would perish if he would not smite off the head of Laban that he conceded to do so. It seems odd to call that an act of Love, but it was only when Nephi's feelings of love for the Lord and love for his posterity were stirred up that he was willing to go through with it. Sometimes, we must act out of love to oppose evil. 




Monday, December 2, 2013

The MMM and Matt Walsh blog response chain letter

Matt Walsh wrote a blog telling married men to stop their pornography habit. MMM wrote a blog in response. To make sure this response blog chain keeps on going unhindered, I wrote a response to MMMs blog on my blog. The blog written by MMM was oddly critical of the Matt Walsh blog as well as oddly protective of those involved in pornography, objecting to Matt Walsh calling such husbands sneaky, shameful and perverted. Here is my response.

Loving the sinner: our most developed virtue

We live in a day where the sinner enjoys more protection and is less likely to be reproved than the faithful. If someone introduces themselves as living with their boyfriend or girlfriend no one in their right mind these days will so much as raise an eyebrow. My wife has many friends with large families and they have numerous stories of the criticisms they get for having many children. My wife has received much criticism herself over our family size. I remember the disdain with which one man asked me if I was going to continue to have children. The man himself lived with his girlfriend. But in our society there is no question which one makes you a weirdo: living with your girlfriend or having nine children. Sadly from what we can tell even church members appear to be much less likely to reprove the couple living together than to reprove the parent who has too many children.

Every one knows that we should love the sinner but hate the sin. But frankly the amount of love heaped on the sinner these days is already phenomenal. Movies and books portray him again and again as the heroic figure. Bad guys must be exaggerated in the extreme just to ensure the good guy still looks good by comparison. In real life many people don't challenge any behavior that isn't actually illegal. Our societie's idols are grossly immoral people portrayed in films, books and music which are portrayed, written and sung by yet more grossly immoral people. No longer are there many heroes in these days, and we are anxious to find flaws in any heroes the past has to offer. By constrast, somehow, the sinner enjoys a blessed state of protection.

This attitude is not limited to our media and has not been kept out of our churches. Sometimes bishops and stake presidents don’t get much love among their local congregation. But the sinner is generally free of any open show of disdain. In fact, to frankly condemn sin is more likely to bring opposition that if you actually commit sin. If I state that living together is a perversion (words used by a prophet in my lifetime) I will be more likely to be reprimanded for judging someone than the person who sleeps around freely and often is likely to be reprimanded for his immorality.

Another aspect of this is a dampening of accountability in the minds of many if a person has truly and fully given way to the sin. For instance, to be considered addicted to pornography one has to partake of it frequently and in large quantities. The occasional user is not the "addict" we speak of. Of course that comes at a terrible price spiritually. While I agree that it is terribly difficult to break free of I do not agree that it somehow provides freedom from accountability for it. For some the porn addict's plight is portrayed as if agency has nothing to do with it at all. The magic of the word "addicted" is invoked and partaking long and frequently is suddenly deemed as no longer being an act of will. A mental reversal takes place where the sinner's accountability is simply waved by some and rather than the wife and children being the victims, the sinner becomes viewed as a saint "struggling" with pornography. He may be a latter day saint, but let us not pretend that the justice we know God will exercise against him if he fails to repent is somehow arbitrary and capricious. As we believe God is just then let us put aside the notion that the sinner has no choice. Let us put aside the fallacy that is he is not the chooser, but the victim, not the perpetrator, but the valiant Christian. If we give way to that notion, which in his blinded state he may well believe and openly preach, we will only limit our ability to help him as well as limiting his own ability to save himself.

Of sacred things

One of the interesting things about the gospel is that the Lord sets apart some items as “sacred”. These things offer great spiritual potential, but come with serious consequences if toyed with. One example is the temple. The Old and New Testament dramatically illustrate that, whether or not Jesus loves you, if you mess with the temple the consequences are going to be grave. Sometimes quite literally. The Philistines took the ark of the covenant from the temple and started dying so fast they moved it to a different city, where in turn they started dying so fast it was moved again. Eventually it was moved again and then allowed to return to Israel of the Philistines own volition. The famous “writing on the wall” incident was precipitated by using the dishes from the temple for a kingly feast. On two occasions a man was slain for merely touching the ark of the covenant. The two different cleansings of the temple by Christ further illustrate that some things are sacred, and whether Jesus loves you or no, you must not tamper with them. Christ made a cat of nine tails and used it to forcibly drive people out of the temple.

I think this notion that certain things are sacred is one that is necessary to us for exaltation. We need to understand that even though God loves us there are still some things that if we tamper or toy with we will face terrible consequences. We need that idea partly because family relationships are guarded like the tree of life, with its guardian cherubim and their flaming sword that turns every way, by the law we call the law of chastity. We need to have the idea that “some things are sacred and you must not mess with them” written into our minds and hearts so that we will not rationalize away the sacred law that protects the family, the law of chastity.

From the JST of Matthew 5 we read:

Behold, it is written by them of old time, that thou shalt not commit adultery. But I say unto you, that whosover looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath commited adultery with her already in his heart. Behold, I give unto you a commandment, that ye suffer none of these things to enter into your heart, for it is better that ye should deny yourselves of these things, wherein ye will take up your cross, than that ye should be cast into hell. (JST, Matt 5:29-31)

They are coming out from under the law of Moses, and being offered a more complete picture of the gospel – looking lustfully is adultery in ones heart. The contrast between this and the law of Moses is lost on us because we are so used to these verses, but at the time the use of the word adultery there must have been a bit of a jolt.

I love the Savior’s frankness in these verses. He makes reference to his own crucifixion, and then speaks of taking up our own cross as keeping these lustful desires out of our heart. I love that because I don’t think I know anyone that is as blunt about the strength of men’s sexual desire as Christ is. Christ, who will, himself, take up his cross to be crucified on it, compares keeping lustful desires out of our hearts to taking up a cross as he did. I love it both for its expression of the crucial nature of the required sacrifice, as well as the difficulty of it.

So when a man says that it is really, really hard to cast lustful desires out of his heart then yes, sure, that is no unusual thing for a man. According to Christ that is the general situation. But when that man says “it wasn’t my fault”, “I can’t control myself”, “I’m addicted so it wasn’t really my own choice” then my response is “No, it is your fault, and you can control yourself – it is the crux, the crucifiction of your flesh, the crucial but tremendously difficult sacrifice – but as Christ took up his cross to save mankind if you will not face up and take up your own you will not save your soul”.

The woman taken in adultery

But what of the story of the woman taken in adultery? There are a lot of stories in the scriptures that involve adultery. It is probably a sad commentary on us that this is the only one anyone ever seems to be able to bring to mind. What was the penalty she was supposed to endure? Death. Death? Seriously? Who came up with that idea? It is just so completely unchristian. It was the penalty enforced during all the times when Israel was strictly following the law of moses. It probably claimed thousands of lives in those many years. But who came up with it?

Well, Jesus did.

I'm sorry if that is shocking, but it is simply the reality of the situation. Jesus, as Jehovah, was the one who came up with that penalty and it was enforced whenever the law he gave through Moses was followed strictly. It wasn't Moses, it was the Savior, Jesus Christ, though at the time he was called Jehovah by his followers.

And he wasn’t a different person with different sentiments in his premortal life, his mortal life, and his resurrection. In all three of these he was completely one with his father, subjecting his will to the will of his father. Do Heavenly Father’s opinions about moral matters change?

But as it has been pointed out (Talmage I think), under the circumstances where killing someone is forbidden by roman law except by roman consent, and where a lot of adultery is going on but nobody else is paying the consequences mandated by Jesus in the law, the right thing to do was to simply allow her to go with the imperative that she sin no more. But let’s be clear on who came up with that outrageous “death” penalty for adultery. It was Jesus’ idea.

What to call a spade?

What about Corianton? Alma tells him frankly he commited the worst sin he could have except murder. Had Alma no compassion? Or is it an act of compassion that leads him to say it.

The MMM blog post reproves Matt Walsh for calling husbands looking at porn sneaky, shameful perverts. With regard to whether it is wrong to refer to those committing such sins as perverts or shameful it is worth referring to whether apostles and prophets have deemed that unhealthy for the sinner to hear (all quotes are from general conference, just google them if you want to check).

N Eldon Tanner as well as L Tom Perry both quote Plato’s teaching:
“The first and best victory is to conquer self; to be conquered by self is, of all things, the most shameful and vile.”

Boyd K Packer
“There are magazines—you know the word, pornography—open, wicked persuasions to pervert and misuse this sacred power.”

President Kimball
“It is ridiculous to imply that pornography has no effect. There is a definite relationship to crime. Murder, robbery, rape, prostitution, and commercialized vice are fed on this immorality.”

Salvation is free, so isn't repentance free too? 

President Kimball teaches powerfully about the nature of immorality and the repentance necessary for forgiveness.

“Immorality does not begin in adultery or perversion. It begins with little indiscretions like sex thoughts, sex discussions, passionate kissing, petting and such, growing with every exercise. The small indiscretion seems powerless compared to the sturdy body, the strong mind, the sweet spirit of youth who give way to the first temptation. But soon the strong has become weak, the master the slave, spiritual growth curtailed. But if the first unrighteous act is never given root, the tree will grow to beautiful maturity and the youthful life will grow toward God, our Father.

‘Can we be forgiven, Brother Kimball?’ the young couple asked.

‘Yes,’ I replied, ‘the Lord and his church can and will forgive, but not easily. The way of the transgressor is hard. It always has been and it always will be. The Lord said: ‘I tell thee, thou shalt not depart thence, till thou hast paid the very last mite’” (Luke 12:59).

But I went on to tell them that in his goodness he provided for us a way to forgiveness. One may do as he pleases, but he cannot evade responsibility. He may break laws, but he cannot avoid penalties. One gets by with nothing. God is just. Paul said, ‘Be not deceived; God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap’ (Gal. 6:7)
…..
We must repeat what we have said many times: Fornication with all its big and little brothers and sisters was evil and wholly condemned by the Lord in Adam’s day, in Moses’ day, in Paul’s day, and in our own day. The Church has no tolerance for any kind of perversions. The Lord has indicated his lack of tolerance, stating:

‘For I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance” (D&C 1:31).’ ”

Elder Nelson made the stunning statement that
“Transgression of moral law brings retribution

I italicize the last word because it is so easy to read without thinking about what the statement means.

Sorting victims from perpetrators

The division of counsel in Jacob 2 is pretty clear for the immoral husband and the victim wife. It is not acceptable to simply offer a nod to her suffering, but then make the husband, the porn addict, a victim rather than the perpetrator. Sure, we are all victims of our own sins, but that doesn’t change who is the victim and who is the perpetrator of a sexual transgression. It is not right to make the husband the chief victim and leave the injured spouse forgotten in the background except as convenient to help quiet those who would rebuke the type of actions taken by the husband. Jacob 2 sets a clear precedent. The husband is the offender, not the victim. The wife's tender feelings do not mean one cannot speak out against the husbands sort of behavior in public.

There are those who would claim "but the perpetrator is also a victim!". Well yes, that is true...of every crime you have ever heard of. Of murder, of plunder, of theft, of lying, of hatred, of any sin you want to name. But when we speak of the victim of a murder, we mean the person who is dead, and when we speak of the victim of an immoral spouse, we mean the other spouse.

The protective Father (in Heaven)

I don’t know how many of you have daughters, but I am going to give you some nice ways to ignore everything I have said by offering some bizarre opinions addressed to the fathers. The first is that the zealously protective feelings of a father toward his dating daughters, aimed against those who would take advantage of her, are a reflection of a divine trait. Put differently, the way you as a father feel about the young man who wants to misuse your daughter when he takes her out on a date is a trait you share with your Heavenly Father. If you want an offended God on your hands, try leading one of his daughters into moral compromise. Try paying to see one of them shame herself in pornography. Try bringing penetrating shame and misery to your wife when she finds out her husband is involved in pornography. We live in a day when we don’t really think of God as being “offended” by things. But I firmly disagree. You want to make God upset, you offend one of his daughters in a way that violates chastity.

In my mind, the porn addict has chosen to defile sacred things. We love him as a person. We certainly do not intentionally mistreat him thinking “he deserves it”. But no, we do not withhold teaching frank warnings to the still innocent or already repentant or even to the guilty themselves in order to avoid offending the guilty. Nor do we fail to recognize him as the perpetrator and his spouse as the victim. Honestly, I think that you can try and make a porn addict as cheerful, as delighted, as happy as you want. You can try and bring him out of his depression, out of his wallowing misery by any means other than actual repentance. You can hush up everyone, make sure they treat him as an angel from heaven and it won’t make a smidge of difference in this one regard: Sooner or later he will still suffer excruciating misery and anguish one way or another. The man who offends God’s daughters through immorality, especially the man who offends his faithful wife, will pay the full measure and not a mite less. He has defiled the temple and will feel the lash. And it will not matter how tenderly anyone wishes the opposite were true. Forgiveness is possible, but don't offend a Heavenly Father's precious daughters in matters of virtue. You cannot do so for free.


Forgiveness is real, and reproof may help us find it

Now, all that being said. It is still absolutely true that there is a way to forgiveness. It comes through the atonement on the condition of repentance. It is still absolutely true that though our sins be red as scarlet, Christ can make them white as snow. It is true that we all sin, not just once or twice but day to day, and without the cleansing blood of Christ we would all be doomed. It is true  that we all desperately need the transforming power of the atonement of Christ. Elder Packer’s “The Brilliant Morning of Forgiveness” talk is all still true from beginning to end. But pay attention to the moment of that talk in which he states “It will not help if, out of tender regard for your feelings, I avoid telling you about the hard part.” We can be rescuers, but we are better rescuers for teaching the hard part, not for silencing accountability for sin. We all need reproof at times. It is not charity that fails to warn and ward away from the broad road that leads to destruction.