Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Moral Worthiness, Lying and LDS Missionaries

A few months ago I did a post on Masturbation and Missionaries. A few of the commenters didn't seem to find anything wrong with masturbating and felt it was no one's business but their own. I had a roommate at BYU that told me that he had been immoral and that it was between him and the Lord. I have known people and read blogs and information on the Internet of people who thought it was no big deal to lie their way on a mission. Some of the disaffected ones point to the lack of inspiration on the part of their bishop, stake president, MTC leadership, and mission president to catch them in their bad behavior. Some think this proves the Church untrue.

I have never felt comfortable with the belief that lying is an acceptable practice in any circumstance. I have even had close relatives that have experienced sexual problems but never fully resolved them. As a convert I myself did not fully understand the importance of a full proper confession. Today with the bar being higher interviews by church leaders with young people going on a mission needs to be more thorough and complete. Even when careful there will be a few who will still lie their way on a mission.

In 1994 Gene R. Cook shared this experience that he had to handle:

Let me tell you of a young man I knew some years ago. He began dating long before he was 16. He took young ladies out alone, to places where he and a girlfriend ought not to have gone. He began going steady. Hand-holding led to kissing, kissing to more passionate kissing, then petting, and finally fornication a number of times in his later teen years.

From the earliest parts of that downhill road, his parents and priesthood leaders fervently counseled him to turn away from bad practices. He always dismissed the counsel.

“I never planned on going all the way,” he said once, “I thought a little involvement with the world would give me experience.”

When it was time for his missionary interviews, he made matters worse by lying to his bishop and stake president. I was amazed to learn later that he’d even transgressed morally after he had received his call and been to the temple. How disappointed the Lord must have been to see one of his servants take a call so lightly. How much more disappointed the Lord must have been to see him set aside his temple covenants.

In the Missionary Training Center, this young man felt great agony. He couldn’t sleep most nights. The Spirit of the Lord came strongly upon other missionaries, but he felt miserable. His leaders asked if there were transgressions that had not come to light. He kept on lying.

In the mission field, the intensity of the Spirit increased. The other missionaries began to have spiritual experiences, to teach the missionary discussions with power and authority, to baptize, and to experience solid growth as they served the Lord.

Finally, this young man could go no further in deceiving his companions, his parents, his local leaders, and his mission president. Several weeks into his mission, in total agony for his sins, he confessed them to his mission president.

What a sad experience! He felt greatly relieved that he’d finally confessed, but with all his heart wished he had done so four or five years earlier. With great sadness for all, the young man was sent home. One can only imagine the pain, humiliation, and regret. How his parents and family wept! How the heavens must have wept!

He told me that in the beginning it was hard to lie, but it became easier as he went along. The Lord told us that in the telestial kingdom, the lowest of the three kingdoms of glory, will be found the murderers, the adulterers, and the liars. Lying is that serious! We may temporarily deceive our fellowman, but we will never deceive the Lord. We will suffer agony and misery until the truth is finally known. However smart, educated, or talented you may be, you cannot fool the Lord.

As the years have gone by, this young man has faced serious trials as a result of his sins and lies of his youth. He was finally married and had children, but later separated from his wife. Because of additional transgressions he was excommunicated.

Now this man is at last back in the Church, reunited with his wife, and trying his best to raise up his family to the Lord. But it has been a long, difficult road. As a young man, he never would have believed how serious the consequences would be for having transgressed and then not corrected the situation when he was young. He has learned through bitter experience that those transgressions tend to follow one through the years and affect parents, spouses, and children.

I had a child that suffered from a pattern of dishonesty. She rationalized why she sometimes told falsehoods. When she was young I would catch her and check her behavior. One time she even stole a package of gum and I took her to the manager and described the theft. She seemed remorseful at the time and for a while it seemed to help. I noticed as she became a teenager that she began a viscious cycle of deception. The sad thing was that I caught her many times in a lie. It was hard to know when she was being honest. She was a great actress and could convince people she was sincere and she knew how to tell people what they wanted to hear.

Many of our youth had learned to be deceptive at times. We teach them that it is okay some times to tell a small untruth in order to justify the greater good such as not offending someone. I like the philosophy of Elder Yoshihiko Kikuchi who once told me that we should always walk in the noon day sun rather than be dishonest.

When I was a missionary many missionaries would say when I felt guilt toward not keeping a mission rule. Aw elder we can always get forgiveness rather than permission. I remember M. Russell Ballard would tell us that the road to hell was paved with good excuses. As a missionary I find that it is just as easy to get permission.

If a missionary has a problem he or she should straighten it out with their leaders before they go on a mission. If they get in to the field without resolving it they should confide in their mission president. Remember that you and the Lord know what you have done in order to finalize the process of repentance you need to confess and forsake it. It is better to be honest and go home then to live dishonesty.

No comments: