Q&A: Questions and Answers


Answers are intended for help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine.

“Can I be forgiven for breaking the law of chastity? If so, what must I do to obtain forgiveness?”

Answer/ Verl F. Scott

One beautiful summer evening as I sat on the porch of a lovely cabin in the mountains, I observed a little moth approach and fly ’round and ’round the porch light. It touched the hot bulb, veered away, and then, as if unable to resist, approached the bulb again and again. Finally, badly singed by repeated contacts with the hot glass, it fell to the floor, burned and helpless.

Like the moth, young people are sometimes drawn by the bright glitter of sexual attraction. And though they know better, they tamper with the heat of unholy passion until they too are badly scarred and eventually lose their God-given chastity.

If chastity is fully lost by unlawful sexual intercourse, it is a sin of great seriousness. Nevertheless, yes, it can be forgiven! There is every reason to hope and have courage, though the way is not easy and is based upon total repentance.

The word chaste is defined in the dictionary as “innocent of unlawful sexual intercourse; pure in thought and act” (Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, 8th ed., 1973).

President Spencer W. Kimball has written: “The early apostles and prophets mention numerous sins. … Many of them were sexual sins—adultery, being without natural affection, lustfulness, infidelity, incontinence, filthy communications, impurity, inordinate affection, fornication. They included all sexual relations outside marriage—petting, sex perversion, masturbation, and preoccupation with sex in one’s thoughts and talking. Included are every hidden and secret sin and all unholy and impure thoughts and practices. …

“… The world may countenance premarital sex experiences, but the Lord and his Church condemn in no uncertain terms any and every sex relationship outside of marriage” (New Era, Nov. 1980, p. 41).

Chastity is seldom lost all at once, but usually a little at a time, until “unlawful sexual intercourse” completes the series of sins leading to it. Nevertheless, it can be forgiven!

To obtain forgiveness one must do a complete turnabout and get on the road back through total repentance that leads step by step to divine forgiveness. It is most important not to wait, but to get started. William Nevins has said: “He that waits for repentance waits for that which cannot be had as long as it is waited for. It is absurd for a man to wait for that which he himself has to do” (in Richard L. Evans Quote Book, Salt Lake City: Publishers Press, 1971, p. 200).

Amulek in the Book of Mormon gave this inspired counsel: “For behold this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.

“… Therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.

“… For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his” (Alma 34:32–33, 35).

One can, indeed, wait too long to repent as did many of the Nephites in the Book of Mormon. Samuel the Lamanite said of them: “But behold, your days of probation are past; ye have procrastinated the day of your salvation until it is everlastingly too late, and your destruction is made sure” (Hel. 13:38).

Get started? Of course, and now! But doing what? How does one go about obtaining forgiveness? Elder Spencer W. Kimball, in his great book The Miracle of Forgiveness, outlines the steps and gives the counsel which, if followed, can lead the transgressor back into full fellowship with the Lord and in the Church.

“To every forgiveness there is a condition. The plaster must be as wide as the sore. The fasting, the prayers, the humility must be equal to or greater than the sin. There must be a broken heart and a contrite spirit. There must be ‘sackcloth and ashes.’ There must be tears and genuine change of heart. There must be conviction of the sin, abandonment of the evil, confession of the error to properly constituted authorities of the Lord. There must be restitution and a confirmed, determined change of pace, direction and destination. Conditions must be controlled and companionship corrected or changed. There must be a washing of robes to get them white and there must be a new consecration and devotion to the living of all the laws of God. In short there must be an overcoming of self, of sin, and of the world” (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1969, p. 353).

Difficult, yes—but fully attainable, if one can see beyond the difficulties ahead to the ultimate eternal blessings to be obtained with full, sincere repentance. As we are told by the Lord: “Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;

“Learn to do well …

“… though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isa. 1:16–18).

Former Bishop, Stake President, and Mission President

“How can I tell when I’m receiving revelation?”

Answer/ Lindsay R. Curtis , M.D.

I have a dear friend with whom I went fishing. He seemed uneasy during the trip and shortly confided to me that he had just returned from a visit with his son-in-law in another state. During this visit he had a strong feeling that he should give his son-in-law a father’s blessing but felt somewhat constrained because he was not his father.

As we discussed his uneasy feelings, it was decided that he should phone his son-in-law immediately upon our return from the fishing trip. During the phone call my friend’s son-in-law, with considerable emotion and tears, confided the great need and desire he had felt for a father’s blessing. He had earnestly prayed that his father-in-law, to whom he felt very close, would know of his desires and give him such a blessing.

When we pray to our Father in Heaven for help, he often answers us by inspiring one of his other children here on earth to provide that help. Generally speaking, the Lord does not speak with a clap of thunder but through the whisperings of a still, small voice as he inspires one of his children to help another in need.

The keystone to our Church is revelation. Beginning with revelation through our prophets for the Church as a whole, it continues through the General Authorities, each in his specific calling, and through the various other authorities—regional representatives, stake presidents, bishops, organizational heads, quorum presidents, home teachers, heads of families, and individuals. Each of these is entitled to revelation concerning his own responsibility.

When we were each baptized and confirmed members of this Church, we were promised that we would have the Holy Ghost as a constant companion as long as we were worthy of it. In this special way every member of the Church is entitled to revelation for himself. But how can we know when the Lord is truly revealing his will to us? In general, there are three different tests that confirm to us that it is revelation from God.

  1. 1.

    He will enlighten our minds so that we will know of a surety that these things are true, because the Lord said, “I will tell you in your mind and in your heart by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart” (D&C 8:2). Also, “Thou hast inquired of me and I did enlighten thy mind; and … thou hast been enlightened by the Spirit of truth” (D&C 6:15).

  2. 2.

    Christ is the Prince of Peace. He will cause us to have a feeling of peace in our hearts and in our minds, and that feeling will bring comfort, reassurance, confidence, certainty, and conviction to our souls. As the Lord said to Oliver Cowdery: “Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?” (D&C 6:23).

    By contrast, Satan is the author of confusion, doubts, misgivings, qualms, negativism. His influence causes uneasiness and misery. Satan’s influence is so different from Christ’s that we can easily recognize the difference.

    Yes, we can know when the answer comes from the Lord by the way we feel peace in our hearts and in our minds, the second way in which we can recognize revelation from the Lord.

  3. 3.

    After we study our problem out in our minds, we are counseled to ponder and pray about it and ask his help. We are promised, just as Oliver Cowdery was taught, that if the course chosen is correct, the Spirit will “cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.”

If, on the other hand, the decision is wrong, “you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought,” a third test for validity of the inspiration or revelation we receive. (See D&C 9:8–9.)

On three successive visits to Brigham Young after the Prophet’s martyrdom, Joseph Smith instructed him that “they can tell the Spirit of the Lord from all other Spirits; it will whisper peace and joy to their souls; it will take malice, hatred, strife and all evil from their hearts.” How well that describes the influence of the Prince of Peace upon men’s hearts and minds.

Elder Boyd K. Packer tells of experiments conducted with audiospectographs in which the songs of birds were recorded on graphs. Through this means it was discovered that there are many, many songs of birds that are not audible to the human ear simply because our hearing apparatus is not attuned to those particular wavelengths. Is it not possible that we are missing many messages from our Father in Heaven, messages in which he would like to instruct us through revelation regarding our lives, our decisions, and our destinies? Is it not possible that we are receiving far more answers to our prayers and supplications than we think, but we are not hearing them because we are not attuned to the proper wavelength to hear these sacred and important communications? Perhaps we are simply too busy or too preoccupied to listen attentively for that particular revelation that the Lord wants to give us.

A revelation for me? Yes, if I desire one badly enough to tune in and listen attentively. Yes, I can have a revelation from God, a revelation just for me, one through which my life and the lives of others may be blessed.

Former Bishop and Mission President