One of the differences between Mormonism and Christianity is that each defines repentance differently. A key characteristic of repentance as defined by Mormonism is the abandoning of the sin of which a person is repenting. For example, the popular True to the Faith manual says: “Abandonment of Sin. Although confession is an essential element of repentance, it is not enough. The Lord has said, ‘By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins – behold, he will confess them and forsake them.’ (D&C 58:43). Maintain an unyielding, permanent resolve that you will never repeat the transgression. When you keep this commitment, you will never experience the pain of that sin again.”
In spite of this definition, numerous Mormons have responded to the abandonment of sin as an ideal to shoot for, but not as real requirement to attain. In other words, many Mormons quickly reject the thought that their repeating the sin they repented of reveals that their initial repentance was not genuine. But isn’t that what that says? If they truly repented according to the definition cited above, they would “never experience the pain of that sin again.’
Spencer W. Kimball said: “There is one crucial test of repentance. This is abandonment of the sin.” (Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 163) He then proceeds to quote the same D&C passage quoted above but strengthens it by emphasizing the words “forsake them”.
That word forsake reminds me of the marriage vows people take. They vow to forsake all others and remain faithful to each other. I don’t think any wife would accept the following from our husband: “I agree that forsaking all others would be ideal, but I don’t think it’s very practical. You will have to expect me not to always forsake all others.”
Forsake. Abandon. Those are absolute terms. If Mormons takes Mormon scripture, seriously, then they better take seriously the fact that it says repentance means forsaking the sin. Spencer W. Kimball also said: “Nor is repentance complete when one merely tries to abandon sin. To try with a weakness of attitude and effort is to assure failure in the face of Satan’s strong counteracting efforts. What is needed is resolute action.”