7: Personal Worthiness and the Blessings of Eternal Marriage

Preparing for an Eternal Marriage Teacher Manual, (2003), 26–29


Doctrinal Overview

The Atonement of Jesus Christ made it possible for us to enjoy the blessings that come from a worthy temple marriage. Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said: “I testify that with unimaginable suffering and agony at an incalculable price, the Savior earned His right to be our Intermediary, our Redeemer, our Final Judge. Through faith in Him and receipt of the requisite ordinances and covenants, you will earn your right to the blessings of eternal marriage, made possible through His infinite Atonement” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1999, 34; or Ensign, May 1999, 27).

Principle

The Atonement of Jesus Christ makes it possible for us to enjoy the blessings of eternal marriage.

Student Manual Readings

“Healing the Tragic Scars of Abuse,” Elder Richard G. Scott (5)

Statement in “Principle of Repentance,” Elder Boyd K. Packer (in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” section, 87)

Note: Throughout this lesson, you should emphasize the great value in completely avoiding sexual sin. However, there may be students in your class who have already broken the law of chastity. You should also emphasize the power of Christ’s Atonement and our capacity to repent and be cleansed completely.

Students may also ask questions about abuse and personal unworthiness. Prepare for such questions by reading “Healing the Tragic Scars of Abuse,” by Elder Richard G. Scott (student manual, 5). Encourage students to choose partners who make them feel happy and worthwhile.

Suggestions for How to Teach

Video. Consider introducing the subject of personal worthiness by showing New Testament Video presentation 16, “Godly Sorrow Leads to Repentance” (9:25, item 53141). Or read or retell the following story:

A young woman was engaged and was excited for her upcoming temple wedding. During the temple recommend interview with her bishop, she confessed past sins. He explained that she would have to delay her temple wedding in order to have time to properly repent. She became upset, fearing the embarrassment of telling her fiancé, family, and friends. She felt that the bishop was being unfair, because she had stopped dating the young man with whom she had sinned and was no longer committing the sin.

The bishop explained that true repentance requires more than simply ending the sin, and that her sudden distress was simply a display of “worldly sorrow.” He taught her that she must experience “godly sorrow” in order to repent. Although the wedding date had to be postponed, through study and prayer she drew closer to her Heavenly Father, experienced godly sorrow, pled for forgiveness, and finally gained the joy of repentance. Although the experience was painful, on her wedding day she felt great peace and happiness because she knew she was clean and worthy to be in the Lord’s house.

After the video (or story), ask:

  • Why was it necessary for this young woman to confess her transgressions?

  • What enabled her to move from worldly sorrow to godly sorrow?

  • What must we do to repent besides having godly sorrow? (Among other things, we must ask for forgiveness.)

  • What might have happened if the young woman had chosen to hide her sins from her bishop and her fiancé instead of accepting responsibility? (see D&C 132:18).

  • In what ways do you think she grew by confessing and repenting?

  • What did she risk by confessing and repenting?

  • In what ways might her fiancé grow?

  • How do you think this experience affected her sense of self-worth?

  • How do you think it affected her relationship with the Lord?

Suggestions for How to Teach

Discussion. Read aloud the statement by Elder Boyd K. Packer, who was then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, in the subsection “Principle of Repentance” (in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” section, student manual, 87).

Scripture activity. Read 1 John 1:8 and ask: Why is it important for us to understand how to truly repent of our sins? Invite students to explain the process of repentance as if they were teaching a person who is not a member of the Church. Ask them to include the elements of repentance mentioned in Mosiah 27:23–29; Alma 36:5–24. Include the following elements if the students do not mention them:

  • Recognition of our guilt.

  • Godly sorrow and pain for our sins.

  • Confession (to Heavenly Father, to others we may have wronged, and to proper priesthood authority if necessary) and asking for forgiveness.

  • Acceptance of Christ’s atoning sacrifice.

  • Restoration, as far as possible, of what was lost or taken.

  • Replacement of sin with obedience to God’s commandments.

  • Exquisite joy that comes from forgiveness of sins (see Alma 36:20–21).

Scripture activity. Read Mosiah 4:2–3. Discuss how we can know we have been forgiven after we repent. According to verse 3, what three conditions help us know that we have been granted a remission of our sins? (The Spirit of the Lord comes upon us, we are “filled with joy,” and we have “peace of conscience.”) Read verses 26–30, and discuss what a person must do to retain a remission of sins.

Discussion. Read aloud and discuss the following statement by President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

“In April of 1847, Brigham Young led the first company of pioneers out of Winter Quarters. At that same time, 1,600 miles to the west the pathetic survivors of the Donner Party straggled down the slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains into the Sacramento Valley.

“They had spent the ferocious winter trapped in the snowdrifts below the summit. That any survived the days and weeks and months of starvation and indescribable suffering is almost beyond belief.

“Among them was fifteen-year-old John Breen. On the night of April 24 he walked into Johnson’s Ranch. Years later John wrote:

“‘It was long after dark when we got to Johnson’s Ranch, so the first time I saw it was early in the morning. The weather was fine, the ground was covered with green grass, the birds were singing from the tops of the trees, and the journey was over. I could scarcely believe that I was alive.

“‘The scene that I saw that morning seems to be photographed on my mind. Most of the incidents are gone from memory, but I can always see the camp near Johnson’s Ranch’ [John Breen, “Pioneer Memoirs,” unpublished, as quoted on “The Americanization of Utah,” PBS television broadcast].

“At first I was very puzzled by his statement that ‘most of the incidents are gone from memory.’ How could long months of incredible suffering and sorrow ever be gone from his mind? How could that brutal dark winter be replaced with one brilliant morning?

“On further reflection I decided it was not puzzling at all. I have seen something similar happen to people I have known. I have seen some who have spent a long winter of guilt and spiritual starvation emerge into the morning of forgiveness. When morning came, they learned this:

“‘Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more’ [D&C 58:42].

“‘I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins’ [Isaiah 43:25].

“‘I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more’ [Jeremiah 31:34].

“‘For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more’ [Hebrews 8:12; see also Hebrews 10:17]. …

“Letters come from those who have made tragic mistakes. They ask, ‘Can I ever be forgiven?’

“The answer is yes!” (in Conference Report, Sept.–Oct. 1995, 21–22; or Ensign, Nov. 1995, 18–19).

Suggestions for How to Teach

Scripture activity. Read the following scriptures and discuss the accompanying questions. Ask students to look for insights about repentance and the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

  • Mosiah 11:14; 23:9. How serious were the sins of Alma the Elder?

  • Alma 26:20–22. How do you know that Alma the Elder was forgiven? Why can we also be forgiven?

  • Mosiah 28:4. How serious were the sins of Alma the Younger? How do you know that he was forgiven?

  • Alma 8:14–15; 36:24–30. What did Alma the Younger do to gain forgiveness and become clean again? How does this apply to us?

  • 2 Nephi 25:23, 26. What did Nephi say to those who fear they can never be forgiven?

  • Mosiah 26:29; Moroni 6:8. What hope is there for those who sin again after being forgiven?

  • Mosiah 14:4–5. What do these verses mean to you?

Suggestions for How to Teach

Discussion. Ask: How might the young woman in the story in the previous lesson have benefited by not sinning in the first place? Discuss the following statement by Elder Spencer W. Kimball, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

“Another error into which some transgressors fall, because of the availability of God’s forgiveness, is the illusion that they are somehow stronger for having committed sin and then lived through the period of repentance. This simply is not true. That man who resists temptation and lives without sin is far better off than the man who has fallen, no matter how repentant the latter may be. … His sin and repentance have certainly not made him stronger than the consistently righteous person.

“… How much better it is never to have committed the sin!” (The Miracle of Forgiveness [1969], 357).

Discuss why it is better to be “consistently righteous.”

Conclusion

Read Elder Richard G. Scott’s statement from the doctrinal overview for this lesson (p. 26). Invite students to ponder the influence of the Atonement of Jesus Christ in their lives. Testify of the redeeming power of the Atonement that has given us the opportunity to be married for eternity.