“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6:12
As a member of the LDS church I have sat in Sunday School class and heard some short-sighted soul lament about the war chapters in the Book of Mormon. “Why do we have so many war chapters in the Book of Mormon?? I don’t get it??”
Anyone who has had to struggle with a loved one addicted to sex or pornography gets it! This is a war we are fighting! A war for the very hearts and souls of our loved one! We need the strategies of war to know how to fight against Satan and his insidious weapon! Be grateful for the war chapters! Read them as a guide for spiritual warfare and you will find great hidden treasures of knowledge in them.
Case in point:
The phrase “sorrowing of the damned” appears in the scriptures exactly once. In the Book of Mormon, Mormon: Chapter Two. The place that it appears is just as telling as the scripture itself.
Mormon was all of sixteen years of age. Very young, but he tells us he was a large youth and very strong. The scriptures also says that he was extremely righteous. So much so, that the people appointed him to be their leader, and the leader over their armies. At least the people had the good sense to recognize his capabilities.
These are the winding up scenes of the Book of Mormon. A great battle is about to take place between the Nephites, traditionally the good guys, and the Lamanites, traditionally the bad guys. And the Lamanites are about to kick the Nephite’s butts, all the way to the seashore. They are losing, and losing badly. Driven from 3 cities, they are literally with their back to the sea, with no place to go.
Mormon explains in Chapter 2:
“…and notwithstanding the great destruction which hung over my people, they did not repent of their evil doings; therefore there was blood and carnage spread throughout all the face of the land, both on the part of the Nephites and also on the part of the Lamanites; and it was one complete revolution throughout all the face of the land.”
The King of the Lamanites comes against them to do battle with 44,000 men. Moroni has 42,000 men. But he is able to pull off a win despite being out numbered. They were spared, for a short time. So the Nephites begin to repent! Mormon sees their sorrow and he is so encouraged because he knows the Lord will help them in battle, under any condition, if they are righteous. He is hoping his little army is having a change of heart! I’m not talking little sins here. They had been very wicked as a people:
“…for behold no man could keep that which was his own, for the thieves, and the robbers, and the murderers, and the magic art, and the witchcraft which was in the land.”
But it is not to be. The Nephites are sorry alright, but they are only sorry that they are dying! They are not truly repentant! (Does this sound like anything you are going through yet?)
This is Mormon’s account in Chapter 2:
“12 And it came to pass that when I, Mormon, saw their lamentation and their mourning and their sorrow before the Lord, my heart did begin to rejoice within me, knowing the mercies and the long-suffering of the Lord, therefore supposing that he would be merciful unto them that they would again become a righteous people.
13 But behold this my joy was vain, for their sorrowing was not unto repentance, because of the goodness of God; but it was rather the sorrowing of the damned, because the Lord would not always suffer them to take happiness in sin.
14 And they did not come unto Jesus with broken hearts and contrite spirits, but they did curse God, and wish to die. Nevertheless they would struggle with the sword for their lives.
15 And it came to pass that my sorrow did return unto me again, and I saw that the day of grace was passed with them, both temporally and spiritually; for I saw thousands of them hewn down in open rebellion against their God, and heaped up as dung upon the face of the land.”
What is the “sorrowing of the damned?” I became very curious to understand this phrase. So I turned to the words of the prophets. It appears 6 times in General Conference talks. Most of these talks deal with the subject of Repentance and most of them are talks by Elder Maxwell. God Bless Elder Maxwell! He was a modern-day Mormon, and our addicted loved ones would do well to follow his counsel!
Sorrowing of the Damned Is…
A Proud Heart – “In this rigorous process, so much clearly depends upon meekness. Pride keeps repentance from even starting or continuing. Some fail because they are more concerned with the preservation of their public image than with having Christ’s image in their countenances! (Alma 5:14) Pride prefers cheap repentance, paid for with shallow sorrow. Unsurprisingly, seekers after cheap repentance also search for superficial forgiveness instead of real reconciliation. Thus, real repentance goes far beyond simply saying, “I’m sorry.” Repentance, Neal A. Maxwell, October 1991
False remorse and taking happiness in sin – On a larger scale, for instance, the prophet Mormon at first thought his people were sorrowing unto repentance (see Morm. 2:12–13) Yet he soon discerned that theirs was not actually the sorrowing unto repentance but the “sorrowing of the damned,” stranding them in a “no-man’s-land.” Compare that episode to the prodigal son’s solitary working through of his own repentance; since his sorrow was real, he truly “came to himself” Luke 15:17 Sometimes we learn “by sad experience,” but sometimes not! D&C 121:39 Neal A. Maxwell, April Conference 2000
“Recognition is a sacred moment, often accompanied by the hot blush of shame.”
After recognition, real remorse floods the soul. This is a “godly sorrow,” not merely the “sorrow of the world” nor the “sorrowing of the damned,” when we can no longer “take happiness in sin.” 2 Cor. 7:10 Morm. 2:13 False remorse instead is like “fondling our failings.” In ritual regret, we mourn our mistakes but without mending them.” Repentance, Neal A. Maxwell, October Conference, 1991
Repenting because we got caught -Mormon teaches us that there will always be suffering and sorrow in sin, but to repent only because we feel bad or because we have suffered or because we are sorrowful does not show that we understand the goodness of God. (Robert D. Hales, April Conference 1992)
Losing the desire for righteousness – “The absence of any keen desire—merely being lukewarm—causes a terrible flattening (see Rev. 3:15 William R. May explained such sloth: “The soul in this state is beyond mere sadness and melancholy. It has removed itself from the rise and fall of feelings; the very root of its feelings in desire is dead. … To be a man is to desire. The good man desires God and other things in God. The sinful man desires things in the place of God, but he is still recognizably human, inasmuch as he has known desire. The slothful man, however, is a dead man, an arid waste. … His desire itself has dried up” (“A Catalogue of Sins,” as quoted in Christian Century, 24 Apr. 1996, 457). Neal A. Maxwell, According to the Desires of Our Hearts, October Conference, 1996
Desensitization towards sin – “…fearful of the dawn, evil cannot stand the steady scrutiny of bright truth, nor can it endure the quiet reflections of soul-searching!
Thus the drumbeat of desensitization deadens the taste buds of the soul by responding illegitimately to the legitimate need for belonging and for love, as predators and victims sadly become “past feeling” (1 Ne. 17:45; Eph. 4:19; Moro. 9:20).” Neal A. Maxwell, The Seventh Commandment: A Shield, October Conference, 2001
Conflicted feelings about sin – In its extremity, murmuring reflects not only the feelings of the discontented, but also the feelings of the very conflicted:
“Their sorrowing was … the sorrowing of the damned, because [they could not] take happiness in sin.
“And [yet] they did not come unto Jesus with broken hearts and contrite spirits, but they did curse God, and wish to die. Nevertheless they would struggle with the sword for their lives.” (Morm. 2:13–14.) Neal A. Maxwell, Murmur Not, October 1989
Men who are caught in these examples must beware! They are in danger of losing their souls. Bishops and Stake Presidents who counsel with them must be very discerning or they may, unwittingly, let these men fall short of godly sorry and true repentance. Addicts are used to lying. The conditions of their hearts cannot be seen simply though the addict’s words. Their hearts must be discerned by the Holy Ghost.
Wives need to be very discerning when it comes to their addict husbands, because they lie…a lot! We trusted them throughout our marriage. We want to trust them now! But being too trusting can be very painful, especially on the wife of an addict stuck in denial. The lying they do is so difficult to deal with. They don’t care if it hurts you. They are protecting themselves FIRST! The sad reality is the wife is on her own. This is why wives need counseling and support. They cannot wade through this new swamp of deception alone. They need a guide. For most of them, this will be their first encounter with chronic liars.
A Note to Bishops & Stake Presidents:
Bishops and Stake Presidents MUST be educated on the issues of addiction and pornography. They cannot sufficiently councel an addict without a basic understanding of pornography & sex addiction, especially when the tactics of denial are being used by the addict. Denial causes excessive lying so it is particularly important that priesthood leaders are in tune to the Spirit. More often than not, the addict needs to be referred to qualified, professional help. Please don’t think you can just handle this on your own. Trust me, you can’t. And chances are good that you will do more harm to the addict and his family if you try to handle this by yourself.
If you cannot readily recognize the difference between godly sorrow and the “sorrowing of the damned” you will need some basic education. You can find resources to help you here and here. I have found that most men, as leaders in the church, are clueless when it comes to dealing with this issue. There needs to be better training, especially in meeting the needs of the spouse. Spouses are often overlooked in issues of addiction. And they shouldn’t be. The Church should be doing a better job in educating church leaders in the strategies on how to fight this new drug and help addicts find their way to godly sorrow and away from the sorrowing of the damned. Otherwise, they will end up like my ex-husband; faking his way through repentance. He was in leadership positions in the church his entire adult life. He knows what to say to sound convincing. He knows the buzz words. But if you listen with the Spirit, you will know his heart isn’t in it. Unfortunately, his lack of sorrow is also damning to his family because he can’t even see the damage he has done and no one is holding him accountable.