In the 1981 Ensign, Pres Marion Romney in the First Presidency Message said “Better dead clean, than alive unclean.” He then went on to tell the counsel his father gave him when he sent him of on his mission:
When you are released and return, we shall be glad to greet you and welcome you back into the family circle. But remember this, my son: we would rather come to this station and take your body off the train in a casket than to have you come home unclean, having lost your virtue.”Romney, Ensign, 1981
This was not a minority opinion from a rogue General Authority.
“There is no true Latter-day Saint who would not rather bury a son or a daughter than to have him or her lose his or her chastity – realizing that chastity is of more value than anything else in all the world.”
(Prophet Heber J. Grant, Gospel Standards, complied by G. Homer Durham, p. 55)
“It is better to die in defending one’s virtue than to live having lost it without a struggle.”
(Spencer W. Kimball, LDS Prophet, The Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 196)
President David O. McKay:
Your virtue is worth more than your life. Please, young folk, preserve your virtue even if you lose your lives.”
(The Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 63)
“I know what my mother expects. I know what she’s saying in her prayers. She’d rather have me come home dead than unclean.” (Gordon B. Hinckley, Conference Report, April 1967, pp. 51-55)
There is a lot wrong with theses statements. First they deny the atonement. Christ died for our sins, and we are told that all sins except for murder can be forgiven. We are taught that when we repent and are forgiven for a sin, it is like it never happened. How can the above statements be reconciled with repentance? Wouldn’t you rather have your son come home, repent, be forgiven, and then live a wonderful life? Or maybe Pres Romney’s dad was more concerned about his own embarrassment that he would rather have his kid come home dead so he could save face?
A few years ago Peggy Slack in a SLTrib article speculated that these teaching may be “aiding and abetting rape culture”, so I won’t delve into that.
What about “virtue” being taken from you by force? Is a young girl that is raped still not virtuous?
I have read some comments on the above statements that they are just one step below “honor killings” that take place in some Middle Eastern cultures? (and even here in the United States!) I don’t think that is the case. The Church leaders statements imply that it would be better that you meet some horrible accident on your mission and come home dead, than have sex with the girl next door. The honor killings are family members doing the killing (not an accident) in order to preserve the honor of the family. Do you think there is any connection?
And lastly, why do you think we don’t hear this type of counsel anymore? Was this a generational thing, and we’ve just moved on from it? Do we better understand the atonement? What do you think?
I think these statements have stopped because people have pointed out that they are damaging and culturally, we (i.e. western people) just don’t think that way anymore.
“And lastly, why do you think we don’t hear this type of counsel anymore?”
Probably because those thoughts are no longer prevalent among us. Each generation, each person, tries to find ways to meaningfully teach correct principles to those they love. These teachings change with time, circumstance, and person.
I first heard this phrase in the LDS movie “States of Grace”, where it results in tragedy. I had no idea Marion Romney said it first.
If those thoughts and statements no longer represent the institution, come out and say it before the public body. Do not let it linger. ” I/we are sorry” and “will you forgive” are much more powerful words than ” we neither seek or give apologizes”.
The reason we shouldn’t hear those kind of proclamations any more is because they are not true or correct. As mentioned above, they deny the atonement and the sacrifice of the Savior. That is blasphemy. I remember my mission president telling me that in an interview once, and just thinking in my 19 year old head “That is not right”. Is there really any parent that honestly feels that way? I certainly don’t.
I recall pushing back against those quotes from the Miracle of Forgiveness at a stake youth fireside. .. one where we got to write down questions anonymously… my leaders knew those were my questions..
I think that statements like those you cited above, and that were included in the booklet I was given as a missionary when I first came to my mission, certainly suggested to at least some young missionaries the notion that suicide was better than giving in to sexual temptation. And of course, such radical notions were often internalized both before and after missions by gay LDS young men. So, yes, they share some commonality with honor killings.
I think such statements have (mostly?) gone out of fashion because there has been recognition of how terrible the optics are. While I think that many church leaders still don’t understand how badly such statements in regards to women needing to fight to death against assault, misled them in their dealing with young women who came to them to receive support and counsel after sexual assault, I think they did at least recognize that the statements weren’t accomplishing the intended objective.
It would be appropriate for such statements to be disavowed, but I don’t see it happening.
Most reasonable, thinking people don’t see morality and the atonement in absolutes like this any more. If the atonement is in fact I finite, which I believe it is, then is has provisions to cover every possible scenario – the black, the white, and especially every shade of gray.
My earlier comment should say infinite, not I finite. Sorry about that.
I was adopted as an infant and later as an adult found my birth mother, who was LDS at the time and from an LDS family. Her family shipped her across the country to have the baby and live with a foster family during the pregnancy. My birth mother’ mom (ie my LDS birth grandmother) suggested an abortion. The foster family my birth mom lived with reminded her often that they would rather see their daughter in a grave than have a baby outside of marriage.
So much wrong with this thinking I don’t even know where to start. No understanding of compassion, of repentance, of support. The “rather dead” language seems focused at women, but where are the statements about the fathers? My birth father was allowed to serve a mission.
I don’t think it’s a generation thing – I believe it’s a fundamentalist religion type of attitude in which men believe they own the virginity of their future wife.
I didn’t really understand some of those quotes as a kid. As an adult, I feel they say more about the heartache that comes from sin (rather than the grievousness) for all associated, as opposed to the heartache of the temporary and somewhat insignificant nature of death in LDS theology.
Having said that, I’m glad to see quotes of this nature fade away. And although the Church certainly hasn’t backed away from the seriousness of sin, I feel like it’s done a better and better job emphasizing the nature of the Atonement.
Marriage on the Mormon frontier was a sexual free-for-all, and it is likely that this later stance was an effort to rehabilitate the institution. At that, the onus was focused on young women, those cupcakes somehow dropped in the the dirt no man would ever want to … eat? Hmmmm. But give the old guys credit, at least they did not advocate stoning the adulteress, tho surely that flash of bare ankle was absolutely irresistible to the pure young man.
The statement by President Romney and similar ones by other leaders were the product of fear based in part on the collective neurotic anxiety that began in the early days of polygamy, plural marriage, or whatever that practice was called. Many single women who joined the LDS Church in Europe as a result of missionary work then became plural wives of church leaders after arriving in America.
(That same sexual neurosis has had other manifestations such as the dreaded “self pleasuring” question which had been the core of “worthiness” interviews for youth and missionaries.)
Fear also becomes a tool to enforce obedience.
But the scriptures teach a path of repentance, receiving forgiveness and obtaining mercy through Christs’ atonement.
The story of the prodigal son in Luke 15.
The younger son spent his father’s money in “riotous living” and with “harlots.” The younger son then exhausted the money and suffered through a famine. He then humbled himself, repented, and returned to his father.
 And he (younger son) arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
In the Book of Mormon, Alma the Younger chastised his missionary son Corianton for his sexual sin. (Alma may have been recalling his own youthful rebelliousness). But then Alma showed an increase in love toward Corianton and called him again to “preach the word unto this people.”
Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. (Isaiah 1:18)
I think other thing to keep in mind is that this attitude was not unique to us. While the dangers of human sexuality had been exaggerated since Augustine and Jerome, a lot of Mormon rhetoric was informed by later Victorian and 19th century Protestantism. Add to this mix the claim that sexual sins are next to murder in seriousness you are bound to get a really unpleasant result. I remember even in the 1980s, seeing these statements used in Sunday School and YM lessons. I have no doubt some of my own sexual hangups can be traced to these teachings.
Those of you attributing this attitude of “better off dead than soiled” to something about Mormonism are missing the bigger picture. Among the America pioneers of all religions, there was advice to the women to save one bullet for themselves because if the Native Americans captured them alive, they would be married to a native, and this was “the fate worse than death.” It would not have been “immoral,” so much because the natives had just killed her husband, so she was now a widow and free to remarry, but the white men just couldn’t stomach the idea of their wife being forced to become a wife to “savages”. So, the men would rather have their wife shoot themselves than to be captured and forced into marriage to a nonChristian. The idea of better dead than raped is still common enough in the Catholic Church that a few years ago they granted sainthood to a 12 year old girl who jumped out a window to her death to avoid being raped. The idea is hardly unique to Mormons.
And a few years ago I was horrified by some Moslem men in Bosnia or someplace at war who ran and hid in a forest when the enemy came around and left their wives and daughters defenseless, then disowned and shamed those women because they had been raped. The cowards who ran and hid said their women should have fought to the death, yeah, while the men ran and hid. The cowards didn’t even see how they expected their wives to defend themselves in a way the men were too afraid to do, and it was the cowardly men who needed to be shamed, not the women abandoned to rape by their cowardly husbands.
I believe that Toad above is correct that this in not generational thinking but fundamentalist religious thinking of men who think they own the virginity and purity of their wives body. They are not seeing the women as human beings, just a possession that is either clean or soiled.
I worked as a rape counselor for several years and I cannot count the number of clients I had that considered or attempted suicide because of this attitude and bishops who suggested as a cure for being raped that they read The Miracle of Forgiveness, which told them that they should be dead.
“ The idea is hardly unique to Mormons.”
Yes, but aren’t we the true church which has been established to correct such error? To affirm that our behavior on this critical issue is pretty much in line with other denominations is problematic, to say the least.
So, funny (or horrifying) story about this teaching. On my mission, one of our investigators found one of these quotes on the internet and confronted us about it. My companion confidently said (and I concurred) that if it didn’t have the Church’s seal on it, it wasn’t true. A few weeks later, I happened to be reading through old conference talks on my iPad, and I ran across the quote from Romney. We talked about it all along our two-hour drive to the zone HQ that day, and I immediately resolved that I would never accept such nonsense. Truthfully, that was the first item on my shelf.
Ironically, the investigator, a single mother, didn’t end up getting baptized (to my understanding–I completed my mission before that happened), but her three daughters did.
I definitely heard these ideas growing up and am glad they are going away. I haven’t heard anything like this for a while.
I heard an LDS sex therapist say recently that virginity is a totally irrelevant concept from a physiological perspective. I liked that thought and think we should make waaaay less a big deal about it.
This was not about the virginity of women. Of the five quotes in the OP, two are directed at men and the other three are gender-neutral. You can deplore the sentiment all you want, but it was deployed most frequently (at least during the McKay-Kimball period) against missionaries, most of whom were men.
On the other hand, Lemming, I’ve never heard “fallen” males in the Church referred to as septic pastries…
Lastlemming, yes many of the quotes were about missionaries, but it was still used on a regular basis in the YW lessons, firesides, and always in chastity lessons that we had on a regular basis while I was growing up. I believe that there was far more pressure on the young women because we were given the job of making sure our boy friend stayed worthy of going on a mission, as well as taught on a regular basis that we should defend ourselves to the death against having our chastity taken from us, against our will or not. It isn’t such a bad message to make the young terrified of crossing the line. But it is a devastating message to the girl who was raped before she knew what chastity, rape, and sex even were, say at 5 or 6. Then she gets told in YW that she would be better off before God if she was dead.
As a counselor, I had both male and female rape victims. The male victims, not one of them had been taught he was better off dead than raped. They had often been taught that they were better off dead than losing their chastity, but none of them was taught that rape was in the category of lost chastity. It was the girls who had been taught that their worth was in their physical virginity, not necessarily in choices they made. The men seemed to know that it was only their choices that damaged their status before God, but the women felt that it was also what was done to them. And worse because they had been taught they could repent of choices they made. But how is one supposed to repent of being raped? Nope, the stain of rape was worse because they had no idea how to repent and become clean again.
P, of course it is worse that the Mormon church claims to be led by Christ and yet still has all the failings of the culture around it. *IF* it really was led by God, they would never have taught something that holds someone guilty for the choice of others, or denies the atonement by saying you are worse off making a mistake than you would be dead. But then I assumed that went without saying, and as someone who no longer believes, I try to give the church credit for being no worse than other churches and not bash it for being the same as others.
So does this only apply to rape, or does it apply to consentual sex too? Or even more so?
I thought it applied much more to women than men, and to everywhere but California.
I was on a mission in the late 60s. Had a DL from California. His girlfriend came to visit, and they went off together for a week. Perhaps they just held hands?
I am coming to think living together might be an opportunity to find out more about each other before commiting. Particularly find out whether there is likely to be abuse.
My wife and I are amazed at how little we knew about each other, before we married, and how lucky we were.
The present generation are more likely to try before they buy, and perhaps that will reduce the rate of divorce and abuse. Perhaps the rapist will likely be the abuser, it is about control.
I really think domestic abuse is a greater moral problem than consensual premarital sex, and if one can prevent the other, that would be a moral win.
Jason: You made a key point here that needs to be expanded…when an organization teaches that sexual sin is 2nd only to murder, you have the foundation for a lot of fear. I’ve seen an interpretation of the Alma the Younger / Corianton story that is quite different from the conventional wisdom among active members. But without debating that, is it reasonable to charge every single sexual sin with the same “next to murder” label? Is the 16-year-old YM or YW who gets carried away at a party in the same category as the man / woman who breaks up a family over chronic sexual misconduct? Do we really believe that sexual sin is similar to taking of a life?
Like a lot of things in the Church, the shame and guilt associated with certain “sins” may be more damaging to individuals than the sins themselves. But you have a hard time making that case in the LDS culture. Thus, better dead than unclean.
As has been well stated, there’s a larger context for this line of thinking, but let’s not forget that Joseph Smith codified it in scripture. The penultimate chapter of the BoM states explicitly that rape constitutes a loss of “chastity and virtue,” which is a pretty damning argument against the BoM being “the most correct book” on Earth. There are many reasons why the BoM should be revised, and that’s a huge one.
Kirkstall, I’d been wondering when someone here would raise Moroni 9:9, Moroni’s troublesome statement there that equates virginity with chastity and possibly, not necessarily, with virtue. In current American English, one may wonder whether Moroni or his translator was simply too “nice-nasty” (as my mother-in-law would say) to use the word “virginity.” On the other hand Webster’s 1828 dictionary had some definitions of “chastity” that are broader than current American English and don’t necessarily include a concept of of choice:
1. Purity of the body; freedom from all unlawful commerce of sexes. Before marriage, purity from all commerce of sexes; after marriage, fidelity to the marriage bed.
2. Freedom from obscenity, as in language or conversation.
3. Freedom from bad mixture; purity in words and phrases.
4. Purity; unadulterated state; as the chastity of the gospel.
If it was meant in that verse in either Webster’s 1828 sense 1 or 4, it meant nothing more than virginity (“purity”) of the body whether as a result of one’s own or a rapist’s unlawful action.
Similarly, if “chastity and virtue” is not redundant, like a legal doublet, ( maybe doubtful in view of the singular verb and the punctuation in the current text), then “virtue” may have been used in 1828 Webster’s sense 5: “Acting power; something efficacious” as it is sometimes elsewhere in the BoM. In that case the verse would mean that the Nephites of Moriancum had committed an abomination as great as any of the Lamanites in depriving daughters of the Lamanites of the power of acting for themselves in matters of sexual, bodily integrity.
Of course, none of these possibilities excuses the use to which some have put that verse.
BTW, The “most correct book” claim does not appear to some to suggest that every statement of every character in the book is correct, even if understood in the English of the time of its translation or the translator’s adoption of some earlier English (arguably the King James bible translation or even middle-English, as alleged by some linguists. Instead, the BoM title page explicitly acknowledges the possibility of its including the “mistakes of men.” The “most correct book” claim seems to have originated as part of an assertion that one could get closer to God by following its principles than those of any other book. That’s a far different notion than the notion that every statement it contains is correct, even if correctly understood. The popularity of the latter understanding among many Church members doesn’t make it the correct.
I agree that Moroni 9:9 is one of the most appalling verses in the BoM, if read in contemporary American English. It’s at least as deserving of a text change as some verses that were changed. In the absence of a text change, it deserves a significant footnote more than the simple links to lists of scriptures using the words “chastity” and “virtue.”.
So does this only apply to rape, or does it apply to consentual sex too?
When deployed against missionaries, the teaching was entirely focused on consensual sex. The notion that a male missionary could be raped by a woman never crossed anyone’s mind.
But, lastlemming, some of those quotations are after BKP’s 1976 “To Young Men Only” speech that made it clear that the possibility of a male missionary being raped by a man had quite definitely crossed the minds of Church leadership.
Until fairly recently, the Young Women were invited to read Moroni 9:9 and ponder its meaning in the context of the value ‘Virtue.’ And mind you, the girls in that story weren’t ONLY raped, they were then murdered AND EATEN.
That scripture was quietly dropped from the Personal Progress requirement. It was around the same time that Elizabeth Smart was decrying purity culture, and I have to wonder if she spoke to someone at church HQ about the fact that that scripture is awful, awful, awful.
Wondering–“Quite definitely” is overstating things. I have seen posts, much like this one, that denounce Packer for advocating violence against gays based on the quotations I’m sure you have in mind. Even if Packer intended his excuse of violence to be limited to defense against rape, that is not how his words were generally viewed, then or now. (I was in the LTM when that address was delivered. We all thought he was talking about responding to a proposition, and nobody disabused us of that notion.) But I will concede that male-on-male rape very likely crossed Packer’s mind, which is why I added “by a woman” to my comment just before I submitted it.
Even the “Come Follow Me” manual offers clarification on Moroni 9:9, re-emphasizing that victims are not at fault.
When the woman with the issue of blood touched the Savior, he said he felt the virtue go out of him, implying virtue was an actual power. Given the powerless feeling that victims feel after sexual assault, I suppose it’s possible virtue was forcibly drained as well. I would imagine the Atonement, meant as much or more for victims of sin as it is perpetrators of it, can refill that person with virtue much more quickly and powerfully than one who gave it up willingly and is slower to seek it again. I’d liken it to losing blood after an attack I did nothing to provoke, only to have a blood donor help me through the healing process. The Savior is the ultimate and universal donor.
I’ve repeatedly heard people say that the Church teaches all sexual sin is next to murder in sin. I’ve never, ever been taught that. There are varying levels. I think the seriousness of sin, mainly of a sexual nature, involves the number and degree in which other souls are affected. Fornication affects 2+ people. Adultery affects 3+ people. Of course, Ponzi schemes can affect thousands, but doesn’t quite reach the degree of soul-sharing that sexuality does. That fornication and adultery are the closest to murder (and still pretty far away by any standard) makes a lot of sense to me.
Eli: let me get this straight? You’ve repeatedly heard people say that the Church teaches x, but YOU have never been taught x so all is well? Come on. Do you think we are all making this up?
And then you conclude by stating that fornication and adultery are “closest to murder”? So I guess you HAVE been taught this or you simply believe it yourself.
“The notion that a male missionary could be raped by a woman never crossed anyone’s mind.”
Well, it crossed SOMEONE’S mind, which is why I (a wicked middle-aged temptress) can’t have the missionaries over for dinner unless my husband is there to protect them.
This was not a radical idea that was hidden in the pages of the Ensign. Here is Marion Romney, second counselor in the First Presidency, teaching it at the April 1979 General Conference. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6otSI5ati0
The idea of “better dead, clean” was definitely weaponized against rape survivors, but that was not the genesis of this doctrine. Romey is clearly teaching that it is better to die than engage in sexual sin.
He sucks, and so does anyone who has ever taught this steaming pile of garbage.
And to our friend Eli, who insists “I’ve repeatedly heard people say that the Church teaches all sexual sin is next to murder in sin. I’ve never, ever been taught that.” You are either a kid, or you weren’t paying attention. Good for you either way, but it was definitely taught.
Kindly reread what I wrote please. I said ALL sexual sin. That’s a sentiment I’ve seen here in the past and elsewhere. On another forum, one man told me his Bishop had told him that because he had masturbated, he had come just short of murder. THAT I have a hard time believing, but if true, it would be a genuinely horrible experience, and a rare and isolated one at that based on the experiences of myself and those I know. I know of no personal, worldly, Gospel, or Church scenario in which masturbation can properly be equated with fornication or adultery (unless you’re the first), and second to murder. Fornication and adultery, on the other hand, are sins in which the relative closeness to murder makes sense, and is something I’ve indeed been taught.
No, I don’t think you’re all making this up, but since you bring it up, I do think the majority of W & T authors and commenters make up a very vocal minority of Church members (or former ones) with experiences that rarely or infrequently reflect many of the experiences of active, mostly orthodox members who likely make up an even bigger portion of the Church. For all the perspective, empathy, sympathy, and opposing viewpoints I come here to gain, lower on my list of priorities is the idea that sometimes I just feel equally humanly obligated to remind others here that there are other Church members with wildly different experiences.
This is nowhere near the first time that I’ve seen people insisting that the “better dead but clean” attitude denies the atonement. Frankly, I do not get it – pretty much all human cultures share the idea that there are some acts so nasty that it is better to die than to commit them. (For the authors of the Bible, the number one die-rather-than-do-this sin is idol worship, hence the story of Shadrach, Meshach, amd Abednego.)
Do you really think that the first-century Apostles – who were all willing to die rather than deny the ressurection of Jesus – didn’t understand the atonement as well as you do?
What I really think is going on is that everyone believes there are some sins so bad that it is better to die than to commit them, but the question of which sins go on that list differs from person to person.
For example, I think that most commenters on this thread would agree with at least SOME variations of the following sentiment:
I would rather find my 17-year-old son dead, than discover that he had…
1. Had consensual sex with a girl his own age.
2. Raped a girl his own age.
3. Had sex with a 9-year-old girl.
4. Had sex with a 50-year-old man in exchange for money.
5. Gotten a girl pregnant, then helped her get an abortion.
6. Beaten a classmate to death in an argument over a poker game.
7. Talked a depressed classmate into committing suicide.
8. Shot a man dead while committing an armed robbery.
9. Non-fatally shot a man while committing an armed robbery.
10. T-boned another car while driving drunk and killed both of its occupants.
11. T-boned another car while driving drunk and turned both of its occupants into paraplegics.
12. Committed a string of residential burglaries.
13. Committed a string of residential burglaries, in which an innocent man ended up being mistaken for the burglar and is now doing time.
14. Apostatized from the true faith and converted to Catholicism.
15. Apostatized from the true faith and converted to Islam.
(Yes, I know that number 14 sounds especially silly in our time, but in some historical periods – like 16th and 17th century Germany and England – that sort of attitude was the norm.)
@Eli: “W & T authors and commenters make up a very vocal minority of Church members (or former ones) with experiences that rarely or infrequently reflect many of the experiences of active, mostly orthodox members who likely make up an even bigger portion of the Church.”
Strongly disagree that the comments here, on this post and others, only “rarely or infrequently” reflect the experiences of most of the church. I think *responses* to those experiences may be different because for whatever reason we are willing to call a spade a spade, but the experience of being told that sexual sin is next to murder is near universal in my age group. Have heard it, in large groups and from many sources, many times and that’s not remotely surprising since it’s literally in the Book of Mormon.
Eugene wrote, ‘I think that most commenters on this thread would agree with at least SOME variations of the following sentiment: “I would rather find my 17-year-old son dead, than discover that he had…”’
Though I believe the thrust of his comment is mistaken, Eugene has inadvertently hit on a key point. Those who teach this false idea make it all about their own embarrassment or their own fear of the failure that it implies if their child sins. What actually matters is what is best for my child, not how “I would rather” feel. What is best for my child is to know the love of Jesus Christ. Jesus invites us to repent and live now and in the eternities, not to die on a guilt trip.
Eugen’s comment got me thinking beyond the typical sexual sin context of these quotes. All three synoptic gospels (Matt 18:6, Mark 9:42, Luke 17:2) record that the Savior of the world taught that it is better to die (by drowning) than to “offend these little ones” (as the KJV translates it) or “cause these little ones to sin/stumble” as other translations render it. Perhaps there are rhetorical explanations, or maybe there is a flaw in the scriptural record, or maybe I am just having a hard time understanding what the Savior means in these verses. It seems that even the perfect, sinless Savior believed that there was at least one sin that it is better to die rather than commit that sin (and it’s not clear to me exactly what that sin is).
I agree with Loursat — if I’m going to say that death is better than x, it should not be merely because x causes me as a parent/sibling/friend/associate embarasment or other minor discomfort. Better dead than x is a fairly drastic thing to say and nothing less than extreme consequence to myself or victims of said sin/crime should make it worthy of that extreme.
I’m going to have to think on this some more…
Personally, I find the question of, “Is it better to die than to commit x sin” to be a pointless and grotesque thought exercise and a false dichotomy. And the question of “would you rather find your child dead than having committed x sin” is horrifically disturbing and something no loving parent should seriously contemplate.
Obviously, the only correct answer here is that good behavior should be lovingly encouraged (not compelled by fear of death), religious sin should be met with compassion and understanding, and moral wrongs against others should be answered with rehabilitation and restitution.
I agree with Kirkstall, but wonder if some of those older statements grew out of 19th century focus on and faith in the hereafter and a view of it as eternally more significant than passing from this life. There was then a great deal more of what we would now call early death of children and loved ones. I noticed that the men quoted by the OP on the subject were mostly born in the 19th century — one or two in the early 20th century — and all raised as children and youth by parents and leaders of the 19th century. I wonder how much of our current reaction to those ideas may be influenced in part by a significantly lower death rate and longer average life-span and a concomitant lesser focus on and fear of negative possibilities in the hereafter.
I think you make a great point, Wondering. I think there is quite a bit of the “spiritual death is worse than physical death” in these statements. I think you’re right to touch on lower death rates as a reason for the shift. I think also there is a more compassionate understanding of the Atonement than was evident 40 years ago.
Mr Shorty, I’ve always understood the sin referred to in your quotes as being sexual abuse enacted against a child, an offence against innocence .
Hope that creates more clarity than distress. I’m happy to be corrected.
I actually think that the list of questions Eugene puts out there is worth considering. As parents, we want our kids to be happy, to live fulfilling lives, to have joy. If they do some of the things on this list, they may have substantially curtailed or completely prevented their ability to have a fulfilling life for the rest of their time on earth. In several cases, the type of person they are is so altered that they can’t really come back from it very well. If they are a rapist, can they have normal, healthy relationships in the future? If they kill someone in an armed robbery, are they in prison for the rest of their life? For 30 years? For 10 years? What are they like after that? What is their life like?
Consensual premarital sex, even if someone is on a mission at the time (*shudder to think*) is decidedly not in the “better dead than” category based on what I value as a parent–the potential happiness of my child as an adult, as a human. There’s plenty of time to recover from such a thing. Some of the things on that list, though, I’m not sure.
The world I live in is very different from Utah, as is most of the world. My neighbour is a couple with 3 teenage children, but no marriage certificate.
I have 12 grandchildren, 9 are over 18, of these one is married in the temple, with one child and another coming, one is a ysa, the rest are all living with a partner, 2 have children. These young people are in every other way good responsible citizens , and we are proud of each in their own way.
They will know their partner much better than their grandparents did, and hopefully be less likely to divorce than our generation was, and less likely to get into an abusive relationship.
I don’t believe their happiness is impaired by their partners/relationships. I assume it is enhanced. In Utah they could be affected by guilt, or social pressure, but not here/now. Do the scriptures even worry about consentual sex? Thou shalt not commit adultry, does not apply.
By contrast we have a very bright young lady in a neighbouring ward, already has a university degree at 18, is getting married, has just had a engagement party, then a wedding practice party, and presumably will have a reception, after the temple wedding, and then get pregnant. We don’t do all that stuff in Aus, just the reception. I am as concerned for her as much as I am for my grandaughters.
I’m looking at a picture of my two sons who are dead.
There is nothing on Eugene’s list that is worse than that.