Mormon's and Morality

Mormons and Morality


This is a paper that I published on a religious bulletin board in answer to the question "Why do Mormons believe in such strict rules of chastity." This attempts to show from a Mormon point of view why we feel so strongly about the law of chastity. Changes have been made to fix spelling and grammar etc. 

It should be noted that this paper was written a long time ago (back in 1994 before my mission), and that some of my views and manners of expression have changed  (I believe for the better) since its publication.  However, it is included on my web page because of the importance of the subject, and because it illustrates my thinking at that time.

You may freely distribute this paper, as long as there are no changes made to the text. Copyright 6/27/2004, James Lamond Carroll.


I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is God's church here on the Earth. I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God, and I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I invite all to give heed to its message.


Introduction

Since the beginning, when mankind was first placed on the earth, many varying philosophies have appeared concerning human sexuality. Some of the philosophies teach half truths like: "Sex is just a natural biological function, and therefore any sexual desires that you might have should be immediately gratified." Other philosophies teach that sex and marriage "... are but a carnal necessity, inherited by man as an incident of his degraded nature; and that celibacy is a mark of a higher state, more acceptable in the sight of God." These opposite extremes are equally abominable in the sight of the Lord. The law of chastity as practiced by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that sex is to be reserved for a man and a woman in the bonds of marriage, and that within that relationship sex is both beautiful and approved of the Lord.

There are many reasons to follow the law of chastity. One obvious reason is simple obedience to the laws of God. "And even if we don't fully understand all the 'whys,' we can understand that God loves his children, and gives us commandments because of that love. Sometimes we have to obey even if we don't know why." (John Bytheway) But, in regards to the important issue of chastity, God has not forced us to walk by that faith alone. There are many logical reasons for waiting until marriage to have sex. The reasons are many and diverse, ranging from disease, pregnancy, abortion, broken homes, single parents, crime, to simply saving yourself for that right person. In the pages that follow I will try to deal with each of the above ideas individually and more fully.

Obedience

Often we do not, at the time, understand all the why's behind all of God's commandments. It is only later that the reasons become clear. Take for example God's command to the children of Israel not to eat pork. At the time, there was no obvious reason for this commandment, other than that the fact that it came from God. Their obedience to this law was based on the idea that God loves his children and would not give them a commandment without a very good reason, even if that reason were hidden from them at the time. It was only later, as science began to understand the nature of communicative diseases that the reasons for this commandment became obvious. The diseases associated with undercooked pork were numerous and deadly. God knew that, even though the people at the time did not. The people followed this commandment even though they did not, at the time, understand God's reasons for giving it. From the beginning God has stressed the importance of obedience:

"5 And he gave unto them com-
mandments. that they should wor-
ship the Lord their God, and should
offer the firstlings of their flocks,
for an offering unto the Lord. And
Adam was obedient unto the com-
mandments of the Lord.
6 And after many days an angel of
the Lord appeared unto Adam, say-
ing: Why dost thou offer sacrifices
unto the Lord? And Adam said unto
him: I know not, save the Lord com-
manded me." (Moses 5:5-6)

Adam did not at the time understand the significance of the sacrifice that he was making. But after his obedience was tried and tested the Lord opened his understanding. We read:

"7 And then the angel spake, saying:
This thing is a similitude of the
sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the
Father, which is full of grace and
truth." (Moses 5:7)

It was only after Adam's obedience had been tried, that his understanding was opened. Often we must follow God's commandments without fully understanding why. When Abraham was commanded to sacrifice his only son, he did not know why. Yet he trusted in the Lord, and did as he was commanded. It was only after the trial of his obedience that great blessings were imparted unto him, and his son was spared  It was only after the trial of his faith that he learned that his acts were in the similitude of the sacrifice of God's only son that was to come. Obedience brings great rewards. We must trust that God understands more than we do and put our trust in him. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9) If he commands us we obey.

God has given us very plain commandments regarding sexuality. If we are going to be obedient to the law of Chastity we ought to know what that law is. Is the law of chastity celibacy? No, for God commanded us to multiply and replenish the earth (see Gen. 1:28).  The law of chastity is simply that you should not have sex with anyone, except with those to whom you are legally and lawfully married.

Adultery

Adultery has been expressly forbidden by God. Adultery was forbidden in the 10 commandments given to Moses. "Thou shalt not commit adultery."(Ex. 20:14) and again "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor." (Ex. 20:16) Adultery is having sex either while you are married to another or with someone who is married to another.

Marriage is a promise to only have sex with your husband/wife. Thus Adultery breaks not one but two of the ten commandments, for you also bear false witness when you break the pledge that you made when you were married. "I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in LIES;..." (Jer 23"14).  When Joseph was resisting the advances of Potiphar's wife, he said "... how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" (Gen 39:9)  "But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul" (Prov 6:32).

Fornication

God has also commanded us not to commit fornication (Sex before marriage).

"21 With much fair speech she
caused him to yield; with the flatter-
ing of her lips she forced him.
22 He goeth after her straightway,
as an ox goeth to the slaughter, or
as a fool to the correction of the
stocks;
23 Till a dart strike through his
liver; as a bird hasteth to the snare,
and knoweth not that it is for his
life.
24 Hearken unto me now there-
fore, O ye children, and attend to the
words of my mouth.
25 Let not thine heart decline to
her ways, go not astray in her
paths.
26 For she hath cast down many
wounded: yea, many strong men
have been slain by her.
27 Her house is the way to hell,
going down to the chambers of
death." (Prov. 7:21-27)

"For out of the heart proceed
evil thoughts, murders, adulteries,
FORNICATIONS, thefts, false witness,
blasphemies:
These are the things which de-
file a man:....." (Mat 15:19-20)

"...Abstain from...Fornications..."
(Acts 15:20)

"3 But fornication, and all un-
cleanness, or covetousness, let it not
be once named among you, as be-
cometh saints;" (Ephesians 5:3)
"3 For this is the will of God, even
your sanctification, that ye should
abstain from fornication:
4 That every one of you should
know how to possess his vessel in
sanctification and honor;"
(1 Thes. 4:3-4)

And many more. It seems that God's commandments on the matter are very clear.

Rape

Another sexual practice forbidden by God is that of rape. Not only does rape usually consists of either the sin of fornication or of adultery, but it involves an act of violence. "Him that loveth violence his [God's] soul hateth." (Ps. 11:5) It also involves violently robbing a son or daughter of God of his or her free will. Free will is one of God's greatest gifts to man. The scriptural example is that of Ammon who loved his sister Tamar, and by craft and superior strength he forced her to lie with him. "And she answered him, Nay, my brother, do not force me; for no such thing ought to be done in Israel: do not thou this folly." (2 Sam 13:12) He ignored her plea, and was killed shortly after he commited this heinous sin.

Homosexuality

God has also forbidden the sin of homosexuality (having sex with a member of the same sex). First of all homosexuality always involves either fornication or adultery, which we have already shown were forbidden by God.  But this is not all, homosexuality is also expressly forbidden:  "Thou shalt not lie down with mankind...it is an abomination." (Lev. 18:22[20:13]) "there shall be no.... Sodomite of the sons of Israel;" (Deut. 23:17) "...men...burned in their lust one toward another;..."(Rom 1:27) "nor abusers of themselves with mankind;"(1 Cor 6:9) "Them that defile themselves with mankind"(1 Tim 1:10) "Sodom and Gomorrah...going after strange flesh;" (Jude 1:7) See Gen 19 for the story of the men of Sodom trying to sexually abuse Lot's male guests. The sin of Sodomy is thus the sin of homosexuality and or rape and sexual abuse.  With this definition in mind there are many more scriptures that refer to sodomy, and thus to homosexuality.

Reasons for Chastity

Although, why God would command us to do some of the things that he has, may not always be obvious to us, we must accept that his ways are not our ways, and that he has knowledge that we do not. Therefore we trust that He would not give any commandment unto mankind unless He has a very good reason. Our obedience to God's laws is essential to our salvation whether or not we understand all of the "whys". However in the area of sexual immorality, the reasons for the commandments that God has given us, are often more clear than are the reasons for His commandments in other areas. We can try to surmise His reasons for commanding us to follow the laws of chastity.

What is God's plan for his children? "For behold, this is my work and my glory--to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." (Moses 1:39) If we are to become like God... having the power to create, we will need a companion. A companion that will be with us for time and for all eternity, not just for the duration of this life. A companion who is of the opposite sex.

"...Neither of the sexes is complete in itself as a counterpart
of Deity. We are expressly told that God is the Father of
spirits, and to apprehend the literalness of this solemn truth
(see Num. 16:22; see also Heb 12:9)
we must know that a mother of spirits is an existent per-
sonality. Of the creation of humankind we read: "So
God created man in his own image, in the image of God
created he him; male and female created he them." The
purpose of his dual creation is set forth in the next verse of
the sacred narrative: "And God blessed them, and God said
unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the
earth." Such a commandment would have been meaningless
and void if addressed to either of the sexes alone; and with-
out the power of perpetuating his kind, the glory and
majesty of man would be insignificant; for small indeed are
the attainments of any individual life in mortality.
(James E. Talmage.. "The Articles of Faith")

Thus we see that both celibacy and homosexuality, are not part of God's plan for his children. Those that say that celibacy is somehow a "higher state" than marriage are ignoring a direct commandment from God. Those that say that homosexuality is acceptable to God are ignoring the same commandment from God. Marriage is a part of God's plan for his children and is, in fact, essential for us in our quest to become like God.

".......The woman will not go there [to exaltation]
alone, and the man will not go there alone, and claim
exaltation. They may attain a degree of salvation alone, but when
they are exalted they will be exalted according to the law of the
celestial kingdom. They cannot be exalted any other way."
(Joseph F. Smith)

If this (marriage) is part of God's plan for us, then what would Satan's plan for us be?

"......He promotes sex without responsi-
bility, without the commitment of marriage (or any commit-
ment at all). "Do what you want, live it up! It doesn't mat-
ter--just protect yourself and use birth control." (Sounds like
a commercial for 90102, or 91202, or 911, or whatever that
show is. If you don't know what show I'm referring to, that's
good. Maybe it's been cancelled.)
"Is Satan's plan working? Well take a look around, anyone
who is awake can see that traditional homes and families are
under attack, and the attacks will continue. I read the most
chilling quote the other day, and it comes from a leader in a
movement that claims to be trying to help women:

"Since marriage constitutes slavery for women, it is
clear that the women's movement must concentrate
on attacking marriage. Freedom for women cannot
be without the abolition of marriage."

How do you like that! A direct attack on one of the steps
to heaven! Apparently, Satan will do everything he can to
fuel the war between the sexes."
(John Bytheway)

Just turn on a talk show! Watch the men and the women scream at each other for a while. Hatred, bitterness, and distrust are just some of the weapons that Satan uses to discourage understanding and mutual respect between the sexes.

Sex has a very Godlike power. The power to create the physical bodies for God's children. "His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of the lord." Matthew 25:21. Our Lord has given us this Godlike power to see what we will do with it. And if we are faithful with this small power, then what powers of creation will be given us when we enter into the rest of the lord? Sex has the awesome power to call down one of God's choice spirits from his side to this earth. The worth of souls is great in the sight of God. (see Gen. 18:31; Ps. 8:5, 49:8; Isa. 13:12; Jonah 4:11; Matt. 18:11; Luke 9:58, 15:4, 15:10; John 3:16) Every soul deserves to be born into a home with parents that not only love the child, but who love each other. "But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea." Matthew 18:6 "Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish." Matthew 18:14 Is there any real question as to how our Father in Heaven feels about those who use his power of creation carelessly? What will the punishment be for someone who carelessly abuses the powers of sex? Someone who brings an innocent child into the world without the ability, or desire to care for it? It is easy to see why God considers sexual immorality one of the greatest of sins.

"How beautiful is the marriage of a young man and a young
woman who begin their lives together kneeling at the altar in
the house of the Lord, pledging their love and loyalty one to
another for time and all eternity. When children come into that
home, they are nurtured and cared for, loved and blessed with
the feeling that their father loves their mother. In that environ-
ment they find peace and strength and serenity. Watching their
father, they develop respect for women. They are taught self-
control and self-discipline, which bring the strength to avoid
later tragedy." (Gordon B. Hinkley)

All the theological reasons to wait for marriage aside, there are many reasons that have to do with simple common sense. I once heard someone on a radio talk show complaining about all the money that our government spends combating AIDs. His complaint was that cancer and heart disease kill many more people, and thus we should be spending more money on those things. What this caller failed to realize is that although AIDs doesn't kill as many people as cancer or heart disease, AIDs is growing at an alarming rate, and is likely to become the plague of the next century. It's so sad because AIDs could be so easily controlled. Fatal diseases have a tendency to disappear because they kill all the carriers, so long as transmission is controlled. There are a few cases of people getting AIDs from things like sharing razors, blood transfusions etc. These cases however are few and far between. If every person waited to have sex. If they looked hard and found one person that they truly loved, and then made sure that this person is truly right for them, and then had sex with only that person (sounds like marriage eh?) AIDs would disappear from the face of the earth in under 20 years. AIDs is not the only sexually transmitted disease that is currently running rampant in our society today. And they could all be easily controlled by following the advice given to us from God regarding sexual morality.

Disease is, of course, not the only reason to wait for marriage. How many children are born into half of a family? How many children do we have bearing children? Are they ready to be parents? Does the couple love each other enough to stay together and raise the child? And if not what effect will being raised by only one the parents have on the child? How many children are murdered before they can even be born because the parent felt that they had made a mistake. They realized too late that they were not ready or willing to live up to the responsibilities that come with having sex. Teenage pregnancy, abortion, broken homes, single parents; children without any direction; children who have no one to guide them; children turning to crime and gangs to find the love that they should be finding at home; it all has to do with the misuse of sex. Adultery leads to mistrust, which leads to divorce, which leads to what effects on the children? Children from broken families have a tendency to create broken families themselves. This perpetuates a cycle that goes on and on.

Fornication leads to the illusion of love. This can lead to either a marriage with someone with whom you are not truly compatible (and eventual divorce) or to unwanted pregnancy. Half the problems our country has can be traced, at least in some part, to sexual immorality. "The plaguing sin of this generation is sexual immorality. This, the Prophet Joseph said, would be the source of "more temptations, more buffetings, and more difficulties for the elders of Israel than any other" (as quoted by President Ezra Taft Benson).

Aside from all the physical reasons for waiting to have sex there are many emotional reasons as well. Emotional reasons like self esteem, "objectising" another, self-control, true love, and saving yourself for the right person.

Often people with low self esteem try to compensate for that basic feeling that they are of no worth by looking for sex. They are either looking for someone to love them (which they mistake for sex), or they are looking to prove to themselves, and to their piers, that they are desirable to the opposite sex. In either case they are "objectising" another. They are using their partner to fulfill a basic need in themselves. They do not care about the other person, they merely care about feeling good, often at the expense of their partner. Such relationships rarely last, and usually cause deep emotional pain to either one or both of the people involved. People are not objects for the fulfilling of anyone's personal desires. They are children of our Father in Heaven, who loves them.

(I couldn't find the exact reference that I was looking for here... so I am paraphrasing)
"Every person we meet, even the dullest and least talented
of us, has the potential to become either a being of such
light and glory that if we saw them now we would be
inclined to fall down and worship them, or a being of such
loathing and dread, that if we meet them at all it is only in
our worst nightmares. And every interaction we have with
every person leads them toward one consequence or the other."
(C. S. Lewis)

When we treat people as nothing more than objects to be used and then discarded, we show our own selfishness, lack of compassion, and lack of self control.

Self control doesn't mean that we masochistically deny ourselves all pleasure. It means that we are willing to give up what we want at the moment for what we want in the long run. It means that we are willing to sacrifice pleasure for joy. The world talks about instant gratification regardless of the consequences. Self control talks about long range goals. Real joy comes through self control. Real freedom doesn't come from instant gratification, real freedom comes from keeping ourselves free, by putting reasonable limits on our self. Is the alcoholic free? Real freedom comes from the self control to say no to things like alcohol. Is the teenage mother free? Can she do what she wants when she wants? Or does she have a child to take care of? Real freedom comes from self control not self gratification. How can someone who has not learned to master himself or herself be made a master of others, or of nature? The powers that come with exaltation cannot be given to someone who has not learned to first master himself or herself.

One of the stranger excuses for having premarital sex that I have seen, was this: I was talking to a good friend of mine about sex. When it came out that I was waiting for marriage to have sex he blurted out something like "That's crazy... you won't know what you are doing! You are going to be so embarrassed on your wedding night!" This argument blew my mind. It is based on the idea that you will be embarrassed and "not know what to do" the first time that you have sex. I am not at all sure that this is the case, but for the sake of argument I will concede this point. But even if it is true, who would you rather be embarrassed in front of, someone who you love and plan to spend eternity with, or someone for whom you care nothing at all about? Who better to share a little embarrassment with than someone you really love, and who really loves you? My father once commented to me that the best thing about sex, was two people, learning how to please each other together. Both ending their innocence together.

On occasion I have heard excuses like "We are living together to find out if we are sexually compatible." What about finding out if you are emotionally compatible? The purpose of dating is to find someone with whom you can spend eternity. Isn't there any consideration other than sexual compatibility when choosing an eternal partner? People tend to equate sex with love. Then their judgment is clouded. Clouded just when it is most vital that their judgment be free from all obstruction. The decision of who we want to spend an eternity with is one of the most important decisions that we can make. Living together doesn't help us decide, it clouds our judgment. And then what happens if the woman becomes pregnant? Then you have to get married whether you are compatible or not.

The following letter from a friend is illustrative:

"I think there is too much emphasis placed on the sex act and the pleasures it
brings...and not enough on the other things we do 95% of the time. Many people
today have the sex ahead of marriage, they say, to find out if they are
compatible with the other person sexually. I think this can be a cop out for
many, just a way to have fun and feel ok about it. Does premarital sex hurt
people? It does if one values giving only parts of themselves to special people
that they plan to spend a lifetime with." (TAG)

When we talk about morality there is a tendency to dwell on the negative. "If you do this then all this will happen to you..." etc. Sometimes we need to spend some time talking about all the good things that happen when we wait for the right person. There is something serene and beautiful about saving yourself for that right person. There is something very romantic about it. You have a gift to give. Gifts become cheap when they are passed around. But the gift that you save and give to only one person is infinitely more precious. Like a priceless painting. If everyone had one it would be common, cheap, and worthless. But because it is a one of a kind it is priceless.

"Around Christmastime we place all the beautiful gifts
under the tree, and we "postpone" opening them until
Christmas morning. If we wanted to, we could sneak in and
open all our presents before Christmas, but it would ruin the
fun and the anticipation. Experimenting too early with
expressions of affection is like opening all your presents
before Christmas. It's not nearly as nice as waiting for the
appropriate time. You see, you are working on a wonderful
gift. You've been working on it since you were born, and
only you can give it! You don't want to share it until the time
is just right. On some exciting future day, you'll be able to
give this gift to someone else. The gift you've been working
on all your life is: you." (John Bytheway)

"I just know that I myself would never get into premarital
sex. I have too much respect for myself as a person. I
don't care to be treated like an object. I don't wish to be a
toy you throw away when you're tired of it. And I have
too much respect and love for my husband and my kids to
come. I want the best life for my kids and I can't give it to
them alone. I long for a special some one who won't go
away. It's a lonely world out here without those who love
me near me. It's hard to leave all the people I love for so
long. I long for the day when my life will at least be secure
enough that I know that one person will stay by me. I'm
going to play my cards right so that one person really does
stay. My greatest fear is that I will marry a man I truly
love and that he'll change his mind in the long run, dumping
me back into the cold world alone. I can forget all the
practical reasons, I'm saving myself as an emotional
protection." (Angela Phillips)

"I wish I had held off sex. Of course, my situation is
different than many peoples...with things I have been
through in my life. I at least wish I had cut the number of
sex partners down to those that I truly cared about...versus
'anything goes' so to speak. I find that the worse part of
having a lot of sex if that I tend to equate sex with love.
When I want love I go out after sex...but it is just a quick
fix. After sex I still find myself wanting more love...which
tends to mean more sex. I am now staying away from sex
with partners in order to build relationships based on
longer lasting things than sex alone. I feel better inside
with these relationships" (E-Mail friend, for privacy I will
not give his name here)

I would be willing to bet that we can all agree that some level of commitment is necessary before people have sex. Without a basic level of commitment and love, sex can cause great pain and suffering, for the potential children and for both partners. The real question here is how much commitment is necessary. What is commitment and how much is needed? Commitment is defined in the Random House as the noun of commit which is defined as "to pledge oneself, as to a position on an issue." The issue in our context is love. Do you love your partner? Will you stay and take care of any children that you and your partner might have? Will you support your partner? Will you share all things alike? Are you willing to give up things like financial security, free time, that favorite couch etc.? Will you spend the rest of your life and beyond with your partner? If the answer is not yes to all these questions then you are not ready to have sex. What is marriage? Marriage is basically just a commitment to stay with your partner for the rest of your life. And it is a commitment to have sex with only that partner, for the remainder of your life.  That sounds like the arrangement that we decided earlier was ideal for raising a healthy family and avoiding things like AIDs!

Is it possible that Marriage is not the requirement for sex, but that commitment IS? For those of you who say that some meaningless ceremony isn't important if you really love each other, let me ask you a question. If you really love each other, and you have the level of commitment that we decided was necessary for intimacy, then why are you afraid of making the promises that will formalize that commitment? After all, that is what marriage is. Marriage is God's method of insuring that people who want to undertake the responsibilities that having sex entails, really do have the commitment to each other that is essential for raising a family.

In 1990 the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints issued a small 19 page pamphlet called "For The Strength of YOUTH." The pamphlet was written at the request of the church leadership. It's purpose was to guide the youth of the church to happiness while living in the uncertain world of the 90's. The intro reads "This pamphlet summarizes the standards from the writings and teachings of the Church leaders and from scriptures. The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve have reviewed, accepted, and endorsed this pamphlet, which is printed at their request and with their approval for the information, guidance, and blessing of the youth of the church." I carry this pamphlet with me wherever I go. It summarizes in clear brief language the standards of the church in regards to things like dating, modesty, chastity, media, language, honesty, Mental and Physical Health, Music and Dancing, Sunday Behavior, Spiritual Help, Repentance, and service etc. It has very good advice regarding sexual purity.

"Our Heavenly Father has counseled that sexual inti-
macy should be reserved for his children within the
bonds of marriage. The physical relationship
between a husband and a wife can be beautiful and
sacred. It is ordained of God for the procreation of
children and for the expression of love within a mar-
riage: "Therefore shall a man leave his father and
his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they
shall be one flesh: (Genesis 2:24)
Because sexual intimacy is so sacred, the Lord
requires self-control and purity before marriage as
well as full fidelity after marriage. In dating, treat
your date with respect, and expect your date to
show that same respect to you. Never treat your
date as an object to be used for your own lustful
desires or ego. Improper physical contact can cause
a loss of self-control. Always stay in control of your-
self and your physical feelings.
The Lord specifically forbids certain behaviors,
including all sexual relations before marriage, pet-
ting, sex perversion (such as homosexuality, rape,
and incest), masturbation, or preoccupation with sex
in thought, speech, or action.
Homosexuality and lesbian activities are sinful and an
abomination to the Lord (see Romans 1:26-27, 31).
Unnatural affections including those toward persons
of the same gender are counter to God's eternal
plan for his children. You are responsible to make
right choices. Whether directed toward those of the
same or opposite gender, lustful feelings and
desires may lead to more serious sins. All Latter-
day Saints must learn to control and discipline
themselves.
Victims of rape, incest, or other sexual abuse are
not guilty of sin. If you have been a victim of any of
these terrible crimes, be assured the God still loves
you! Your bishop can also help and guide you
through the mental and emotional healing process if
you seek his advice and counsel.
Scripture reinforces the foregoing teachings and
standards: "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and
ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh
lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the
flesh: and these are contradictory the one to the other:
so that ye cannot do the things that ye would...
Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are
these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lascivious-
ness,. idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emula-
tions, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings,
murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of
the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in
time past, that they which do such things shall not
inherit the kingdom of God: (Galatians 5:16-17,
19-21)."

I think that sums it up. For those of you who have already fallen, remember this: "The law of repentance is not the law of the second chance, it is the law of the first chance over again." (Michael McLean) The scriptures are full of stories about people who went on to do great thing who had once been sinners because they had been made new. These are people who have done almost everything wrong that could be done, but who repented and come back to the lord. Paul is one of the best examples. When we repent the pain of our mistakes is taken away and the Lord has promised us the he will remember our sins no more. What joy and what ecstasy, to stand clean again. To be made new. If we but repent and have the courage to really change. People can change. If you are off the path, find your way back now. Don't wait. "I will repent tomorrow" is one of the most dangerous traps of Satan. Part of repentance is truly feeling sorry for what you have done. It's hard to feel sorry for something you did with the intent of repenting later. Don't wait or put off repentance. It may seem hard now, but when it's through the pain is taken away, for your joy will be greater than was your pain. That feeling of knowing that we are again as clean as the day we were born, is one of the greatest feeling that I have ever known, and you can feel it too.

James Carroll