Excommunication is devastating, but it’s the only way that offers hope that few members truly understand. The purpose of excommunication is to stop us from further sinning, so we can wake up and have yet another chance before we will face our judge. For those with minor sins, we have the Sacrament to wash us clean. For those who carry heavier sins, we have the great blessing of excommunication, which allows us to begin again.
Elder Robert L. Simpson spoke on “Courts of Love,” at the April 1972, Thursday morning session. I’d like to follow up on this idea of what love and mercy from our Savior, Jesus Christ, really entails.
If the purpose and success of our Heavenly Father’s Plan depends on how many souls are saved then it’s logical to think that Heavenly Father would provide multiple ways, and even impossible ways, to make this happen.
Likewise, knowing that Satan is doing ALL HE CAN to stop this plan from succeeding, it is also logical that he would stop at nothing to get us to turn away from what we feel we are not worthy of.
But the truth is that God loves us more than our mortal brains can understand. We only have our own little world to compare love with, but God’s love is immeasurable. He knows all, sees all, and has a plan to save all—but only if we make the choice to accept the love He offers us.
While explaining about how Satan works, my husband has mentioned the 40+ excommunications he has witnessed at the ward and stake level. Every single one of them had to do with breaking the law of chastity. Of course, there are other situations, but sexual perversions are at the top of the list of sins.
We might wonder why there is so much emphasis on sex in the world. Dallin H. Oaks said,
“The power to create mortal life is the most exalted power God has given his children. Its use was mandated in the first commandment, but another important commandment was given to forbid its misuse. The emphasis we place on the law of chastity is explained by our understanding of the purpose of our procreative powers in the accomplishment of God’s plan. …
“Outside the bonds of marriage, all uses of the procreative power are to one degree or another a sinful degrading perversion of the most divine attribute of men and women” (Dallin H. Oaks, “The Great Plan of Happiness,” Ensign, Nov. 1993, 74).
Elder Bednar said, “Our Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son are creators and have entrusted each of us with a portion of Their creative power” (David A. Bednar, “We Believe in Being Chaste,” Ensign, May 2013).
Simply put, Heavenly Father has given us a god’s power—to create worlds without number—to see what we’ll do with it. No wonder Satan is doing everything he can to get us to misuse this temporary ability. By any degree of its misuse, we will never have it again. It is reserved only for those in the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom, those who become gods themselves.
Satan is out to bring us down. He doesn’t have a body. He will never have children, or even experience the act of bringing children into the world. He simply wants to ruin us and take away what we chose already for ourselves. He has no power—NO POWER—except for the power we give him when we choose to sin.
It is a testimony of just how much our Heavenly Father loves us that He is willing to hold his hand out still, and forever, while we figure things out and recognize that He is truly the ONLY way to happiness and joy.
Looking at a scale of sexual immorality we might put pornography and masturbation at one end, and adultery, homosexuality, and bestiality clear over at the other end. Everything from one end to the other and everything else in between is a grave sin in the eyes of the Lord. BUT, it will all be forgiven if we repent. Think about that! How much more proof do we need of God’s great love for us? Each one of these sins brings shame, guilt, depression, confusion, suicidal thoughts, debilitating pain and anguish, but “His hand is stretched out still” (2 Nephi 19:17).
As sons and daughters, we have the great blessing to make choices while on this earth. But even blundering through so many bad choices, God still offers us a chance through “courts of love.” That is what Godly love is like. For those who are in the very depths of anything on the perversion scale, you and God are fighting for the very worth of your soul. Indeed, Heavenly Father’s court is truly a court of love, where we can wake up, disengage from Satan’s grasp, and “come to ourselves” (see Luke 15:17).
When someone is buried in sin, whether they are seeking help or not, it is a favor to them to stop the sin. As a member of the Church, who has taken on baptismal and temple covenants there are certain sins that will incriminate us as we each must stand before the Savior to be judged. Standing before the Judge of Israel is an absolute, which no one will be able to hide from, nor escape. “All men come unto God; wherefore, they stand in the presence of him, to be judged of him” (2 Nephi 2:10). “Ye cannot hide your crimes from God; and except ye repent they will stand as a testimony against you at the last day” (Alma 39:8). “If there was no law given against sin men would not be afraid to sin” (Alma 42:20).
All of us will stand before him dirty, stained, and worn down, some of us more so than others. But the Judge is also the Most Merciful One, and according to our hearts and understanding, He will show that mercy through his everlasting love toward us. Those whose stains are deep may need more help than others. Those are the ones where excommunication stops the staining, and begins the cleansing. Of course, only when the person accepts this help.
Alma told his son Helaman his own personal experience of the sins he had committed.
“I was racked with eternal torment, for my soul was harrowed up to the greatest degree and racked with all my sins … Oh, thought I, that I could be banished and become extinct both soul and body, that I might not be brought to stand in the presence of my God, to be judged of my deeds.
“Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death … When I thought this, I could remember my pains no more … and oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!” (Alma 36: 12, 15, 18-20).
Elder Simpson said, “What a glorious plan this is! How reassuring to know that we all have hope for a total blessing, in spite of all the mistakes we have made; that there might be complete fulfillment; that we might enter his holy presence with our family units.”
For those who feel their stumbling has caused a hopelessness in their situation, he continues, “I bear you my personal and solemn witness that even this extreme penalty of excommunication can be the first giant step back, provided there follows a sincere submission to the Spirit and faith in the authenticity of God’s plan.”
Satan would have us believe we are lost souls. Even if we were to believe him, we still would not be completely lost by our Father in Heaven. Satan does not have complete control over us, even when all we can do is cry out a worn-out, pitiful whisper to that Savior who saves, even Jesus Christ. He will come to our rescue. He is there waiting.
As the end of the world draws near, Satan has pulled out all the stops. Evil is described as good, and good as evil. Satan would have everyone be as miserable, and as hopeless, as he is. But Heavenly Father’s promises are sure. His eternal hope is that His children will turn to Him, and look and live (see Numbers 21:9, Alma 33:19).
“O ye fair sons and daughters … how is it that ye could have fallen! … Ye must stand before the judgment-seat of Christ, to be judged according to your works. … O that ye had repented before this great destruction had come upon you” (Mormon 6:17-22).
Oh that the Nephites, and many of us, could have a Court of Love to help us turn and look and have another chance to choose Jesus Christ and eternal happiness.
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