02
Jan
09

Repentance and Marriage

 

     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.” 

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14 Responses to “Repentance and Marriage”


  1. January 2, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    Of course, there are many different kinds of people among the Mormons, as in any kind of religion. I would submit that a balanced view can be stated as follows:

    It is important to actually change one’s attitude and behavior in order for one’s repentance to be genuine. It doesn’t mean, however, that we can hit a perfect 1.000 in this. We will inevitably fall prey to some of the same temptations we have succumbed to earlier. That doesn’t necessarily mean we are not changing. I have experience of “sore repentance” (compare Alma), or really feeling a desperate need to find the strength to rise up from the pit I had dug for myself. The Lord extended his hand and pulled me out, in spite of my temporary lapses in some things, because he loves me – and I think he saw that in my heart I really desired change and was ready to accept his way of going about it.

    There is seldom a one-size-fits-all solution for our problems. Pres. Kimball’s personal opinions are not the only words available from Church leaders on the subject (should be noted, that Miracle of Forgiveness was his personal project meant to help people who were under the illusion that it is enough to merely confess again and again to the same sins, saying “I’m sorry”, without sincere effort to actually forsake the sin). More humane and understanding approaches can be found from others.

    I don’t believe in “cheap grace”, but I don’t believe that we have to be perfect, either; still, genuine repentance is possible, even if we stumble on the way towards it.

    Respectfully,
    –velska

  2. January 2, 2009 at 9:55 pm

    Finily Mark you have hit the nail on the head… at least in terms as to what forsake means.
    As for your assertion that many Mormons see forsaking the sin is a goal that is true, but unattainable or as not a requirement for Repentance, that is contrary to what I have heard from all the Mormons I know (that appears to be quite a lot as I attend church with ’em an’all).

    As an LDS Member I agree that true repentance requires us to abandon our sin, and if we should make that sin again then we need to repent. Peroid.Exclimantion point! If we commit a sin that we have turned from before we may have “Repented” then but after we cling to that sin again we basically have not moved from our dependance of the natural man on the desires, and wants for sin, we are yet again an enimy to God. But we have the oppertunity to repent, and it is our duty as Christians to repent of our sins so we can follow God!

    Good day,
    -D

  3. 3 Berean
    January 3, 2009 at 3:25 am

    Here are a couple more LDS resources to help us understand the message they are trying to give its members on this issue:

    “Abandonment of Sin: The forsaking of sin must be a permanent one. True repentance does not permit making the same mistake again.” (LDS pamphlet “Repentance Brings Forgiveness”)

    “There is one crucial test of repentance. This is abandonment of the sin. Desire is not sufficient. To try is weak.” (“Sharing the Gospel Manual”, page 94)

    The Mormons really have their back up against the wall on this one. As always in most LDS manuals and books, the word “sin” is replaced with words like “mistakes” or “transgressions”. The word “sin” is watered-down or down-graded so it doesn’t sound so serious. This is the LDS view of The Fall in regards to Adam and Eve. It wasn’t a sin, but a transgression.

    If we go with the definitions as laid out in the church manuals and other materials, then Mormons who are repeat offenders aren’t truly repentant if they keep making the same “bloopers”. The chain of events from being a repeat offender in the Mormon law are even worse. Since they haven’t abandoned their sin, they aren’t truly repentant. Therefore, all the former sins return (D&C 82:7). The Mormon god can’t look on any sin with the least degree of allowance (D&C 1:31). Only those souls that forsake their sins and complete the other requirements in D&C 93:1 will see the face of the Mormon god.

    Looking at some other LDS quotes it appears that the Mormons aren’t just beholden to the Mormon god, but also to the ward bishop when it comes to forgiveness:

    “The bishop is our best earthly friend. He will hear the problems, judge the seriousness, then determine the degree of repentance and decide if it WARRANTS AN EVENTUAL FORGIVENESS.” (D&C Student Manual, p.334)

    If our Mormon friends could only experience the joy, freedom and liberty with the truths in the Bible that make it very clear how forgiveness of sins are obtained in 1 John 1:9, then how happy they would be! We just confess them to the Lord and His blood cleanses us (Col 1:14). Our sins are remembered no more (Hebrews 10:17). It’s really very simple.

    Compare Hebrews 10:17 with D&C 82:7; compare 1 John 1:9 with Moroni 8:25 and convince me that this is the same God talking here. They are not! The true God (of the Bible) has clearly revealed His truths in the Bible. The person talking in the Mormon scriptures is a false god who only wants to enslave the Mormon people into man-made law.

  4. 4 markcares
    January 3, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    Velska and Ditchu:
    My first point is that “forsake” is not a private opinion of a church leader, but part of LDS scripture. My second point is that “forsake” is an absolute word – as is seen from the illustration to marriage. My dictionary defines it as “to quit or leave entirely”.
    Therefore is it not true that LDS scripture teaches that one element of repentance is forsaking the sin and the natural meaning of that is to quit entirely?

  5. January 5, 2009 at 12:18 am

    Mark, I don’t think ‘forsaking sin’ is a uniquely Mormon mandate. Many Christians believe that repentance includes forsaking sin. Christians read in the Old Testament, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” (KJV Isaiah 55:7). Proverbs instructs “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13). Verses like these has lead Christians to teach that forsaking sin is required by God. For example, Wayne Grudem (who taught at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School for 20 years and is currently at Phoenix Seminary) writes in Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith (Zondervan, 1999):

    It is important to realize that that mere sorrow for one’s actions, or even deep remorse over one’s actions, does not constitute genuine repentance unless it is accompanied by a sincere decision to forsake sin that is being committed against God.

    It is also contrary to the New Testament to speak about the possibility of someone accepting Christ as “Savior” but not “as Lord,” if that means simply depending on him for salvation but not committing oneself to forsake sin and to be obedient to Christ from that point on. (Bible Doctrine, Chapter 21, p. 310).

    It is unclear in what respects you believe the Christian view of repentance is different from the Latter-day Saint view. Latter-day Saints would most likely find very little to disagree with in regards to Grudem’s views on repentance.

    Grudem is not alone in his views. Theologians such as C.H. Spurgeon have read the scriptures to require forsaking of sin. Using Isaiah 55:7 as his text, Spurgeon wrote in 1878: “This brings us to our text, which is consistent with the rest of the chapter, even though some people think it is not. Here we are told, first, that the wicked must forsake his way. There is no Saviour for the man who will not forsake his sin. Such a man can never be among the people who shall run to Christ, for how can he run to Christ while he continues in the way of sin?” (The Need and Nature of Conversion, 1878). In fact, at one point his sermon becomes quite stern, perhaps to the same extent or more than Spencer W. Kimball.

    I most solemnly assure you, in the name of God, that there can be no compromise about this and every other sin. ‘Let the wicked forsake his way, a fleshly way, a way of lust, a way of self-indulgence, any way of sin,—it must be forsaken. You must abandon it, or else you must abandon all hope of ever getting to heaven.

    My point here is that somehow the idea that Christians must abandon or forsake sin was not invented by the Mormons. Christians may disagree with Spurgeon’s sermon, but one can hardly label the forsaking of sin as somehow the unique Mormon view of repentance.

  6. 6 Royalton
    January 12, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    What else does repentence mean? To think it means something that doesn’t include forsaking sin is rediculous. Christ told the woman taken in adultery to “go and sin no more.” That is His message to us. You are right about the LDS church- we proclaim that abandonment of sin is required by the Lord. Is that an issue?

  7. 7 markcares
    January 16, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    Royalton:
    “Abandonment of sin is required by the Lord.” Have you abandoned sin?

  8. January 16, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    Yes Mark. Many times. And I expect I will have to do so many times again in the future.

  9. 9 markcares
    January 16, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    Seth:
    By your answer I take it you don’t agree with the quote from True to the Faith that I had in my post? “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.” Can you have an unyielding resolve and still yield to sin?

  10. January 16, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    Sure.

    I doubt any of the LDS authorities you are quoting thought that a person who repents will absolutely never err again – even at the same sin. The point was that you need to repent as often as you sin. And you need to feel wrong about it and make a serious commitment not to do it again. But the need to repent multiple times is kind of assumed.

    Is this the correct focus?

    Search me.

    But I will say, I’ve met quite a few Evangelicals who are pretty dang laissez faire about sin and wrongdoing. I imagine the LDS authorities are compensating for this natural human tendency to blow sins off at any excuse. They probably feel that if the “feel bad” and “resolve to sin no more” portions are not emphasized, that the general Church membership will immediately jump shark and go on a free-for-all.

    Our teenagers would probably be the first to exploit the new “grace” loophole and throw it back in their bishop’s face. “You can’t deny me a temple recommend just because I got Susie next door pregnant! Jesus saves!” (probably delivered with that smug look teenagers always give you when they feel like they’ve caught an adult in his own rhetoric).

    I suppose that’s probably an overblown worry – probably. But, as in so many things between Mormons and Evangelicals, we seem to be often crafting our rhetoric as an overreaction to the perceived screw-ups of the other opposing faith.

  11. January 22, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    Mark,
    Now you are being confusing.

    You had made the following statemnts:

    that to forsake is to leave entirely

    1. A key characteristic of repentance as defined by Mormonism is the abandoning of the sin of which a person is repenting.
    2. Spencer W. Kimball said: “There is one crucial test of repentance. This is abandonment of the sin.” (Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 163)
    3. 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.

    And these are perfect statments, as a “Mormon” I have an inside view on the opinions of Mormons and many I know of have the same views on Forsaking and abandoning sin as I do.
    Repent and never do it again… Turn absolutly from the sin and never return to it.
    The “ideal” theory is not one I have come across in the Church so I am not sure which “Mormons” you are talking to about this but it is not the the attitude of the majority in the LDS Church.

    So when you say: “Therefore is it not true that LDS scripture teaches that one element of repentance is forsaking the sin and the natural meaning of that is to quit entirely?”
    I am confused.

    What is the differance by your difinition of the term: “forsaking” and “to quit entirely?”

    -D

  12. 12 markcares
    January 23, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    Ditchu:
    There is no difference between forsaking and quitting entirely. I was responding to Seth in his comments 8 and 10.

  13. 13 faithoffathers
    January 23, 2009 at 6:25 pm

    Mark,

    There are many sins in my life which I have abandoned. Still working on many others. It is like an all you can eat smorgasbord sometimes. But I keep trying and do have successes!

    There is a verse in the Book of Mormon that says (Christ speaking): “As many times as my people repent, I will forgive them.”

    I do not think that in order to be forgiven a person must in reality never ever do the same thing again. I think a person must do everything in their power to abandon that sin and make whatever changes needed to avoid such behavior. But as we all know, we do the same things again sometimes. It is our heart that is at the center of this. We must feel “godly” sorrow and desire to never do such things again. Then act upon that desire- meaning make changes.

    If an alcoholic says he repents, but returns to the bar regularly, lying to himself- I don’t really believe that is true repentence. He must be willing to stay out of the bar. Follow?

    royalton

  14. January 23, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    Mark if you were responding to Tim then why did you remark:
    “Velska and Ditchu:
    My first point is that “forsake” is not a private opinion of a church leader, but part of LDS scripture. My second point is that “forsake” is an absolute word – as is seen from the illustration to marriage. My dictionary defines it as “to quit or leave entirely”.
    Therefore is it not true that LDS scripture teaches that one element of repentance is forsaking the sin and the natural meaning of that is to quit entirely?”
    In comment #4

    That is why I am confused. You make the bold statment that: “Therefore is it not true that LDS scripture teaches that one element of repentance is forsaking the sin and the natural meaning of that is to quit entirely?”

    It is true that “scripture teaches that one element of repentance is forsaking the sin and the natural meaning of that is to quit entirely” evein in the LDS context.

    -D


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