I know a couple of ladies in the church—one married, one divorced—who have gone to their bishops to confess to breaking the law of chastity and both were told to stop partaking of the sacrament, the other also being forced to surrender her temple recommend. Now, it has been well over two years for both women and neither one has received permission to partake of the sacrament. In these two years, both women have confided in me that they were repentant and felt that God had forgiven them, but that because they still couldn’t partake of the sacrament, their desire to participate in and continue going to church has been waning.
One of these ladies even told me that her bishop had explained to her that she was only required to confess to the bishop and to God, that she need not confess to her husband nor divulge the name of the man with whom she was unfaithful. She disobeyed his counsel and confessed everything to her husband and they are now reconciled, but she still can’t partake of the sacrament, despite her repentance.
Two plus years seems like an awful long time to keep a repentant person who has confessed her sin to God and priest—and in the case of the married woman, confessed to the husband and received forgiveness from him—from partaking of the sacrament. I wonder how prevalent this practice is. I wonder if church discipline is being used as a means to punish, instead of as a means to bring the unrepentant to godly sorrow and repentance (confession).
I am reminded of Nephi, who, after his brothers had attempted to murder him, they came to their senses and asked his forgiveness and, said he, “I did frankly forgive them.” (See 1 Nephi 7: 21.) He didn’t require them to go through a waiting period, etc. They felt sorry, they confessed, he forgave. Simple as that. So, what’s up will all the waiting times?
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