For part three of my discussion on the questions asked during the interview process before one becomes a member of the Mormon faith I’ll be focusing on the third and fourth questions.
This set of questions has to do with the Mormons view of repentance and what they consider the more “serious sins”.
The third question is asked in two parts it reads:
What does it mean to you to repent?
Do you feel that you have repented of your past transgressions?
Let’s take look at what Mormons mean by repenting. Chapter 19 of the Gospel Principles Manual lists seven steps Mormons must take to repent and receive forgiveness of their sins.
“1. We Must Recognize Our Sins
2. We Must Feel Sorrow for Our Sins
3. We Must Forsake Our Sins
4. We Must Confess Our Sins
5. We Must Make Restitution
6. We Must Forgive Others
7. We Must Keep the Commandments of God. “
As I look over this list of “to do’s” to repent and receive forgiveness I’m troubled by the way the church seems to micromanage something that should be very simple. Some of the acts on this list are common sense for anyone who believes and desires to follow God.
Of course through the Holy Spirit’s conviction we’ll “recognize” we’ve offend God through our acts of disobedience. Of course we need and should feel sorry for our sins, otherwise why bother repenting? Lastly, of course we should make “restitution” when our acts have hurt or harmed someone else.
When it comes to forsaking our sins in some ways that can be tricky, for instance if we’re unfaithful to our spouse we can repent and forsake that sin. However if we lose our temper with our children, have inappropriate thoughts, or get impatient standing in the checkout line at the grocery store that’s a whole other set of sins that may take us time to overcome.
For a Christian there’s really no exact formula to repent and receive forgiveness of our sins. But if we confess our sins to Him, He will forgive. 2 Peter 3:9 tells us God is patient with us. He doesn’t want us to perish for our sins, but to come to Him and repent.
The Mormon Church however, in its quest for perfection and control over every iota of the member’s lives takes things to a whole other level. In Mormonism you must go through the process above in order to receive full forgiveness of sin.
For instance it’s not good enough to go to God directly to confess and seek forgiven of sins, oh no. For the more “serious sins” such as adultery, fornication, or homosexual relations the Mormon must also confess these sins to their priesthood leader. When a church member commits these sins it can and will affect their church membership. These sins require ecclesiastical intervention to help the repentance process along.
To the Mormons true repentance is forsaking that sin and never doing it again, otherwise they weren’t truly sorry for their sin to begin with. Sadly for a Mormon even when they express true sorrow for their sins, their forgiveness may not be everlasting.
Doctrine and Covenants section 82:7 reads:
“And now, verily I say unto you, I the Lord, will not lay any sin to your charge; go your ways and sin no more; but until that soul who sinneth shall the former sins return, saith the Lord you God. “
Sounds like the Mormon god takes a step forward, three steps back approach to forgiveness and repentance. To never know if you’re truly forgiven of your sins, and to continue to live in fear that if you sin again all your former sins return must be a terrible place to be.
Keeping the commandments also plays a big part of the Mormon’s repentance process. In the Gospel Principles Manual we read:
“To make our repentance complete we must keep the commandments of the Lord” (1992 ed., p.125).
Doctrine and Covenants also tells them they must “keep the commandments”.
Doctrine and Covenants 14:7 And if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God.”
They’ve been taught to believe that they have it within themselves to make themselves holy, righteous and perfect through obedience to the precepts of Mormonism. They attempt to fulfil their desire for perfection on through works, and in the process fail to recognize that they can’t accomplish this feat on their own.
Sin or Transgression
The second part of the question reads:
Do you feel that you have repented of your past transgressions?
The words transgression and sin have the same connotation in Christianity, however in Mormonism this is far from the case. For instance they don’t believe Adam and Eve sinned against God, but merely transgressed the law.
The 2nd Article of Faith states:
We believe we will be punished for our own sins, and not for Adam’s transgressions.
The 6th prophet of the Mormon Church, Joseph Fielding Smith said:
“I never speak of the part Eve took in this fall as a sin, nor do I accuse Adam of sin…This as a transgression of the law, but not a sin…for it was something that Adam and Eve had to do! (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. (1957-66). 1:114-15)
As a Mormon I never thought of myself as a sinner. Sure I’d made mistakes but I wasn’t a “sinner”. According to Mormon doctrine we’re born sinless. They reject the notion of Original Sin, instead they believe all of us are born innocent and remain that way until we reach the “age of accountability”. At the age of 8 Mormons believe their children have a full understanding of right and wrong, to the point that they can be held accountable for their sins.
Mormon doctrine puts a happy ending to Adam and Eve’s sin against God and thereby puts the souls of all those who follow this teaching in jeopardy. In their book Pearl of Great Price the author has Eve exclaiming with excitement at what their “transgression” had done-
“Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient” (Moses 5:11)
Finally I’ll conclude with at short comment about the forth question in the interview process.
Have you ever committed a serious crime? If so, are you now on probation or parole? Have you ever participated in an abortion? A homosexual relationship?
I’ll never understand their church leaders need to be so nosey about the intimate lives of the church members. Before the youth can go to the temple to do baptisms for the dead they are asked if they’re sexually active or masturbate.
Even before adult members can attend the temple they’re asked if they’ve been faithful to their spouse and are wearing the “sacred under garments.” At first I was a little put off by this, as a woman it was very uncomfortable for a man who’s not my husband to ask me about my underwear.
Before I was baptized into the Christian faith the pastor of my church did talk to me. He didn’t ask me if I had a criminal past, had an abortion or was in a homosexual relationship. What he wanted to hear about was how I knew I could be forgiven, and to make sure I knew the significance of baptism. That’s it!
I was amazed at the difference between joining the Mormon Church and joining the body of Christ. The moment I was baptized into the Mormon Church I placed myself on this endless conveyor belt that told me I had to do better, to be better. After a while I became desensitized to the methods used by the church to invade on my person life.
I was conditioned to believe that Adam and Eve’s sin was a happy event, God can rescind His forgiveness if I repent and sin again, and that it’s perfectly acceptable for my church leader to ask me about my underwear, and if I’ve been faithful to my husband.
“Oh what a tangled web we weave, when we practice to deceive.”
Reference: Gospel Principles Manual