addiction, repentance, Uncategorized

“Sorrowing of the Damned”

“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.

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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?)

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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.”

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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…

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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. 17:45Eph. 4:19Moro. 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.

addiction, betrayal, repentance, Uncategorized

Forgiveness for Adultery: Is it Different?

A family member recently told my daughter she wasn’t being forgiving enough of her Father. In the famous words of Indigo Montoya, “I don’t think that word means what you think it means.”

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This idea that we just have to forgive someone even when they are still in the throws of sinning against us, is a very common musconception and reveals that the person who is saying it has a lack of basic doctrinal understanding about when, where, how and why we forgive someone who has wronged us through adultery and infidelity.

Let me be clear about something: we must forgive everyone. That much is clear in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I understand this. However, some wrongs are easier to forgive than others. When someone breaks your favorite toy, it  is much easier to forgive that than it is when someone breaks your family.  Some wrongs need more time and space to forgive. And some wrongs require the sinner to repent or be cast out, by the church and maybe even his own family.

Doctrine and Covenants 42 is pretty clear on this:

21 Thou shalt not lie; he that lieth and will not repent shall be cast out.

22 Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else.

23 And he that looketh upon a woman to lust after her shall deny the faith, and shall not have the Spirit; and if he repents not he shall be cast out.

24 Thou shalt not commit adultery; and he that committeth adultery, and repenteth not, shall be cast out.

25 But he that has committed adultery and repents with all his heart, and forsaketh it, and doeth it no more, thou shalt forgive;

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26 But if he doeth it again, he shall not be forgiven, but shall be cast out.

This sounds to me like you get one pass in committing adultery from the church.  The 2nd time, no forgiveness is required. I might be wrong on this one, but after reading a few conference talks with this reference included, I don’t think so.

I hated it when my husband would say to me, “You are just too angry with me for me to repair anything with you. You haven’t forgiven me yet.”  Some idiot in his group told him I was like trying to hug a porcupine. So he used both of these things as excuses to not repair anything. He thinks there is no point, I won’t accept anything he would or could do, so why bother.

Except that the Lord REQUIRES him to repent, repair and restore to me what he took away.  That is why he should bother!  Of course I am angry.  He would not change, he still refuses to change, and he blamed me for his failure to do so. Wouldn’t that make you angry? Wouldn’t it make anyone angry?

Peter was pretty clear about how you treat someone who refuses to repent, repair and restore:

2 Peter 2:

14 Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children:

15 Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;

16 But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet.

17 These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever.

18 For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.

19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.

20 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.

21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.

22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.

Proverbs is very clear about what happens when a man commits adultrey and refuses to repent:

Proverbs 6:

32 But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul.

33 A wound and dishonour shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away.

And this one is pretty clear about requiring the innocent to withdraw from the man who refuses to repent!

2 Thessalonians:

24 For the hearts of many were hardened, and their names were blotted out, that they were remembered no more among the people of God. And also many withdrew themselves from among them.

25 Now this was a great trial to those that did stand fast in the faith; nevertheless, they were steadfast and immovable in keeping the commandments of God, and they bore with patience the persecution which was heaped upon them.

It seem pretty clear to me from my study on this topic that the Lord requires us to forgive, more for our own souls, than for the sinner.  However, it is not quite as cut and dried for adultery. If the adulterer is unrepentant and refuses to change the innocent are expected to withdraw from him in order to save themselves. The question then becomes, why? Alma gives us some insights…

Alma 46:

8 Thus we see how quick the children of men do forget the Lord their God, yea, how quick to do iniquity, and to be led away by the evil one.
9 Yea, and we also see the great wickedness one very wicked man can cause to take place among the children of men

Of course, those who continue to be rebellious, wicked and prideful still deserve our forgiveness, but it’s pretty clear that we are not required to continually expose ourselves to the influences of these sins.

D&C 64:

33 Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.
34 Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days.

35 And the rebellious shall be cut off out of the land of Zion, and shall be sent away, and shall not inherit the land.

I do forgive him for what he has done.  That was pretty easy to do, and it happened fairly quickly after the original offense.  What I have a hard time forgiving is what he has done since then.  I know I need to forgive him and I will, eventually.  It would be so much easier to extend that mercy if he would do what is required of him to repent, repair and restore that which he took away. If he did the bare minimum in this regard all of our lives would change for the better.

Even so, I still need to forgive him for my own sake.  But it goes a long way with me to know that the Lord doesn’t expect me to continue to expose myself to his bad behavior while he is still in the depths of sin.  One thing my ex-husband liked to bully me over was that I wasn’t supportive enough of him.  Of course not! He wasn’t repentant! The Lord expects me to protect myself from his persistent sin.  He refused to repent.  So I removed myself, and “escaped from him who lived in error.”