Saturday, September 1, 2012

"Godly Sorrow" New Testament Video Segment Portrays A Harsh Example Of The LDS Doctrine Of Repentance

On Pure Mormonism, Alan Rock Waterman alerts us to a DVD entitled "New Testament Video Presentations", produced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and currently available at Deseret Books as well as other stores selling LDS material. This 11-part video recording teaches principles from the New Testament. It is used in Gospel Doctrine classes, and can also be used for individual and family study.

Part 8 is entitled "Godly Sorrow", and is intended to correlate with Lesson 35 in the New Testament Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual. One of the four objectives of Lesson 35 is to teach people about feeling Godly sorrow for one's sins. President Spencer W. Kimball explained: “If one is sorry only because someone found out about his sin, his repentance is not complete. Godly sorrow causes one to want to repent, even though he has not been caught by others, and makes him determined to do right no matter what happens. This kind of sorrow brings righteousness and will work toward forgiveness”.

However, Alan Rock Waterman characterized the video segment as the "worst church movie ever". After a short intro featuring President Gordon B. Hinckley, a young woman about to be married in a temple appears in her bishop's office. Most of the preliminaries have been accomplished; the wedding invitations have been sent. Undoubtedly the young woman views the interview as little more than a mere square-filling formality. But after an exchange of pleasantries, the bishop then asks THE QUESTION:

"Is there anything in your life, Kim, that hasn't been resolved with the proper priesthood authority?"

Uh-oh. You don't have to buy the DVD to find out what happened next; the segment's on the YouTube video embedded below:

The young woman confessed to certain unspecified indiscretions with a previous boyfriend. Although the time frame is not given, she's clearly been faithful to her fiance ever since she agreed to marry him. But this is insufficient for the bishop, who decides that her temple privileges must be suspended. The length of the suspension can be for as little as six months, but is generally for one year. But towards the end of the video, the woman characterizes the repentance process as positive, and expresses satisfaction that she confessed her indiscretion to the bishop. She acts much more mature.

So I would not agree that it was the worst church movie ever. But it still was a bit hard-nosed; the bishop could have reminded the woman that civil marriage was still an option, even if she had to wait on temple marriage. I understand that it is the Church's duty to promote temple marriage as the ultimate form of marriage, since it is marriage for time AND eternity, but it is still not the only form of marriage. What about all the guests who made plans to attend the original wedding and then had to change those plans after the original wedding was postponed? Where's the concern about the inconvenience imposed upon them?

On The Rains Came Down, Silver Rain notes that repentance isn't merely the ceasing of sin; it's also the process by which we bring our will into alignment with God's will. We don't repent only because we do something wrong, but also because in our mortal lives we have become separated from God. As we repent, we draw closer to Him. It's true that repentance includes purifying ourselves from sin, but it also includes drawing closer to Him, relying on Him, and getting to know Him personally. That's a much more expanded definition of repentance than I've previously seen, and it introduces a more positive outcome into the process. Repentance actually helps you become a better person than before.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As member of the church, who is now in good standing, I completely agree with this bishops decision to suspend this individuals temple recommend in this instance. The temporary inconvenience imposed and the embarrassment suffered is nothing compared to the severity of the consequences imposed for entering a Temple unworthily. The concept or better yet principle of repentance is very personal in nature and is dependent on the individual and their circumstances. True repentance comes ONLY from the aspect of Godly Sorrow and all it entails. You may have a different view and you are entitled to that view but as a member of the Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints you agree to a set of standards of behavior and in this instance the determination to fulfill those covenants, to come clean for lack of a better term, was driven by HER conscience. The idea that the considerations of those in attendance and the assertion that the their being inconvenienced and placing them at a higher value than the commitments made to Heavenly Father completely shows the lack of knowledge this blogger has of the plan of salvation and its importance in the lives of a member of the LDS church.