God’s Power Can Make All Things Right, But an Entire Life is a Long Time to Wait for That to Happen
By Ken K. Gourdin
Recently, there was a thread at Mormon Dialogue and Discussion about some of the object lessons sometimes (misguidedly) used to emphasize chastity before marriage in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I responded:
Yes, on the one hand, Isaiah wrote that “though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Though they be crimson, they shall be as wool.” He didn’t write, “Well, if you’re lucky, maybe the Atonement will turn your bright-red sins sort of a faint pinkish hue.”
Yet, on the other hand, one cannot unimpregnate a woman (and she cannot be unimpregnated herself); one cannot ungive someone a sexually transmitted disease, and cannot give someone her (or his) virginity back. Yes, the Gospel and the Atonement of Jesus Christ offer tremendous promises of peace and forgiveness, but they cannot (in this life, anyway) undo all the earthly consequences to which one may be subject because of the law of the harvest.
In at least some cases, we’ll have to wait for the Resurrection and/or for the Afterlife for that. So it’s not an either-or proposition: Either the Atonement is fully effective in your life, or you’re a “licked cupcake.” It’s a fine line, and I do think teachers should be careful to not send the wrong message, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with teaching that the entirety of mortal life is an awful long time to have to wait for some of the harmful consequences visited upon us by the law of the harvest to be made right.
Another poster responded:
Your closing line in your first paragraph is totally contradicted by your opinion in paragraph two.
You’re saying, essentially, that a non-Mormon woman who has been sexually active before being baptized but then gets baptized, can never consider herself clean. The “Gospel and the Atonement of Jesus Christ offers tremendous promises of peace and forgiveness, BUT”
Perhaps an illustration that removes my point from the highly-charged realm of physical intimacy will serve to illustrate. Suppose someone who spent much of his life as an irresolute drunkard then is introduced to the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, stops drinking, is reformed, and begins living the Word of Wisdom and the other commitments and covenants associated with the Restored Gospel.
Suppose that, alas, his reformation notwithstanding, this gentleman then is diagnosed with severe cirrhosis and/or other end-stage liver disease and is given weeks or months to live. Has he repented? Yes. Has he been forgiven? Yes. Does the Lord love him any less, notwithstanding his being subject to the law of the harvest? No. Is the Atonement of Jesus Christ fully operative in his life. Yes. But absent a miracle that may or may not come to pass depending on what best meets the Lord’s earthly, mortal purposes for him and for those around him, he is still subject to the physical, mortal consequences of his prior choices and his prior addictive, not-fully-choice-driven behavior.
I said something similar on the Blog here: