Is sexual sin really next to murder?

We all know the story. Corianton leaves his mission to go after the harlot Isabel. Alma tells him that his sexual sins are next to murder and denying the Holy Ghost. And that’s why the Law of Chastity is so important.

Is that really what the scriptures teach? Let’s start with the incident in question.

Alma 39:3-5
2 For thou didst not give so much heed unto my words as did thy brother, among the people of the Zoramites. Now this is what I have against thee; thou didst go on unto boasting in thy strength and thy wisdom.
3 And this is not all, my son. Thou didst do that which was grievous unto me; for thou didst forsake the ministry,and did go over into the land of Siron among the borders of the Lamanites, after the harlot Isabel.
4 Yea, she did steal away the hearts of many; but this was no excuse for thee, my son. Thou shouldst have tended to the ministry wherewith thou wast entrusted.
5 Know ye not, my son, that these things are an abomination in the sight of the Lord; yea, most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost?

What are the things that Corianton did that were grievous to Alma:

  • Boasting in his strength and wisdom
  • Forsaking the ministry and going to the land of Sidon after Isabel.

In verse 4, he tells him he should have tended to the ministry that was entrusted to him. Do you notice he doesn’t mention sexual sin? Why isn’t he calling him out on violating the Law of Chasity? If sexual sin was next to murder, why bother talking about trivial things like boasting in his strength and forsaking the ministry?

D&C 3
4
For although a man may have many revelations, and have power to do many mighty works, yet if he boasts in his own strength, and sets at naught the counsels of God, and follows after the dictates of his own will and carnal desires, he must fall and incur the vengeance of a just God upon him.

Boasting is bad. In fact, in the previous chapter, Alma had just warned Shiblon about boasting.

Alma 38
11 See that ye are not lifted up unto pride; yea, see that ye do not boast in your own wisdom, nor of your much strength.

In verse 5, he says that these things are an abomination, but he has never said Corianton had sex with Isabel, just that he left his ministry to chase after her. I suspect sex did happen, but the fact that it isn’t clearly indicated should tell us something. Alma’s focus is on the ministry that Corianton abandoned, not the reason he abandoned it.

Alma continues to discuss the impact to the ministry a few verses later.

11 Suffer not yourself to be led away by any vain or foolish thing; suffer not the devil to lead away your heart again after those wicked harlots. Behold, O my son, how great iniquity ye brought upon the Zoramites; for when they saw your conduct they would not believe in my words.
12 And now the Spirit of the Lord doth say unto me: Command thy children to do good, lest they lead away the hearts of many people to destruction; therefore I command you, my son, in the fear of God, that ye refrain from your iniquities;
13 That ye turn to the Lord with all your mind, might, and strength; that ye lead away the hearts of no more to do wickedly; but rather return unto them, and acknowledge your faults and that wrong which ye have done.

The great iniquity that Corianton did wasn’t having sex outside of marriage. Sexual iniquity would have been brought upon himself, not the Zoramites. Alma specifically says the great iniquity was something Corianton brought upon the Zoramites. Specifically, that after seeing Corianton’s conduct the Zoramites wouldn’t believe Alma’s words.

Alma’s focus is on the effect Corianton’s actions are having on others. Alma places no emphasis on the impact those actions are having on Corianton himself. When Alma says these things are most abominable above all sins, he’s talking about leading people astray, not having sex outside of marriage.

Now I’m not arguing that God has given us a green light to have sex outside of marriage. But Alma is not saying that sex outside of marriage is next to murder. He’s saying that leading people astray is next to murder. He should know – he was guilty of it himself!

Alma 36
6 For I went about with the sons of Mosiah, seeking to destroy the church of God; but behold, God sent his holy angel to stop us by the way.

13 Yea, I did remember all my sins and iniquities, for which I was tormented with the pains of hell; yea, I saw that I had rebelled against my God, and that I had not kept his holy commandments.
14 Yea, and I had murdered many of his children, or rather led them away unto destruction; yea, and in fine so great had been my iniquities, that the very thought of coming into the presence of my God did rack my soul with inexpressible horror.

Alma uses murder to describe his own actions of leading people away from God. He viewed it as committing spiritual murder. Alma was seeing similar behavior in his son Corianton and used similar language (shedding innocent blood) to describe his actions.

If the worth of souls is great, I suspect that Alma was thinking, “how great shall be our sorrow in the soul that doesn’t repent because of our bad example.” The scriptures paint a pretty grim picture of the suffering that those who don’t accept Christ will have to go through. That isn’t something you want to have to answer for on your own behalf. I can’t image how much worse it is when you have to account for someone else whom you prevented from repenting.

Corianton is spiritually killing people. That’s a grave sin. That would sound like something that is next to murder. And for an authorized servant of the Lord to turn his back on what he knows to be true and lead people away from the truth is close to denying the Holy Ghost. So that all makes sense.

But isn’t sex outside of marriage a grave sin too?

In 1942 the First Presidency stated: “The doctrine of this Church is that sexual sin—the illicit sexual relations of men and women—stands, in its enormity, next to murder. The Lord has drawn no essential distinctions between fornication, adultery, and harlotry or prostitution.” (Improvement Era, Nov 1942, 45:758)

President Harold Lee taught that “the Master used interchangeably the words adultery and fornication in defining sexual impurity, and it has been severely condemned in every dispensation by authorized church leaders” (Stand Ye in Holy Places 332).

Is that really true? Let’s look at the Law of Moses.

Leviticus 20
10 And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.

Well, that’s pretty severe: death penalty. Sounds like adultery is bad. How about sex between unmarried people? That’s got to be just as severe if the Lord has drawn no essential distinctions and it has been severely condemned in every dispensation.

Exodus 22
16 ¶ And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife.
17 If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins.

What? The Law of Moses, all justice and no mercy, tells the guy he just has to marry the girl? And if the father refuses the match, he just pays the dowry and goes on with his life? It’s the same physical act, but the punishments are vastly different. Maybe Moses wasn’t an authorized church leader!

We could spend a lot of time speculating on why this is, but it’s just speculation. The scriptures are quite clear that adultery is very bad and not to be tolerated. Non-adulterous sex outside of marriage, while discouraged, is tolerated. The scriptures don’t tell us why they are different, just that they are.

Which takes us back to Corianton. Alma doesn’t accuse him of adultery. There is no discussion of Corianton having a wife at this time. In fact, Alma 39 says:

10 And I command you to take it upon you to counsel with your elder brothers in your undertakings; for behold, thou art in thy youth, and ye stand in need to be nourished by your brothers. And give heed to their counsel.

Webster’s 1828 Dictionary: youth

  1. The part of life that succeeds to [comes after] childhood. In a general sense, youth denotes the whole early part of life, from infancy to manhood; but it is not unusual to divide the stages of life into infancy, childhood, youth and manhood.

This seems pretty consistent with the idea that Corianton isn’t married. So under the Law of Moses, his sexual sins fall under the rules of Exodus 22 instead of Leviticus 20. Sorry First Presidency of 1942, the Nephites at the time of Alma were living under the Law of Moses and that law drew significant distinctions between fornication and adultery.

Once Alma is done reprimanding Corianton for his sins, what does he do?

Alma 42
31 And now, O my son, ye are called of God to preach the word unto this people. And now, my son, go thy way, declare the word with truth and soberness, that thou mayest bring souls unto repentance, that the great plan of mercy may have claim upon them. And may God grant unto you even according to my words. Amen.

What happened to being sent home early? The shame of the one year waiting period? Groveling before a bishop to prove to him that you are truly sorry? Alma just told him to repent and get back to work?!? But we all know that you can’t repent that easily of something so serious. Even if Alma is out of line, the Lord won’t sustain such a bad decision. Right?

Alma 43
1 And now it came to pass that the sons of Alma did go forth among the people, to declare the word unto them. And Alma, also, himself, could not rest, and he also went forth.
2 Now we shall say no more concerning their preaching, except that they preached the word, and the truth, according to the spirit of prophecy and revelation; and they preached after the holy order of God by which they were called.

If Corianton was able to preach the word with the spirit of prophecy and revelation, we might have to re-evaluate some of our assumptions.

So what should we take away from this post? The real takeaway has nothing to do with sex. The gravest possible sin next to murder itself is to lead people away from God. If we are in a position where others are looking to us for spiritual guidance, and we boast in our strength and wisdom, we’re treading on very thin ice. Alma 39 is a strong message to ministers that they need to be on their best behavior. And when they, through their conscious actions, turn people away from God, that is an abomination in the sight of God. Indeed, most abominable above all sins save the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost.

 

12 thoughts on “Is sexual sin really next to murder?

  1. You glossed over the first half of a critical verse from Alma’s lecture to his son Corianton, which sort of runs counter to your argument.

    11 Suffer not yourself to be led away by any vain or foolish thing; suffer not the devil to lead away your heart again after those wicked harlots. Behold, O my son, how great iniquity ye brought upon the Zoramites; for when they saw your conduct they would not believe in my words.

    Doesn’t this verse clearly connect the conduct of Corianton which kept the Zoromites from believing in Alma’s words with the sin of running after harlots?

    Was it not first and foremost Corianton’s immortality which placed a stumbling block before the Zoromites and not his boasting?

    I think it’s also a very slippery slope attempting to justify Corianton’s whoredoms on a couple of verses from the law of Moses. You do realize that the law of Moses was a lesser law and in many ways a cursing on Israel right?

    Jesus Christ was quite critical of some aspects of the law of Moses, including some of the sexual aspects, such as divorcing one’s wife to take another or looking upon a woman to lust after her.

    It’s also clear that the Nephites considered the law of Moses to be dead, and only followed the required parts because it was not yet fulfilled.

    We have no way of knowing if they followed the looser laws on sexual purity from the law of Moses or if they were already living some of the higher laws of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    They were forbidden to practice polygamy, though that was approved and quite likely commanded under the law of Moses, so clearly the laws God gave them were not identical to the ones given to Moses.

    I agree with you’re point that the church can be too harsh on those who are guilty of fornication. If they have truly repented and forsaken their sins they ought to be forgiven without a Catholic like penance. The story of Alma, the sons of Mosiah, and even Corianton show that fornication and other very serious sins should not disqualify one for missionary service if one has truly repented and crossed one’s self in these things.

    1. Regarding verse 11, we need to isolate the cause and the effect. When they saw his conduct (his boasting and his whoring, this is the cause), they would not believe Alma’s words (the effect). Alma’s primary concern was the people weren’t coming unto Christ. That doesn’t imply that the thing that causes them to not believe his words is OK. But the thing that is second only to murder is leading people away from God…not boasting, or fornicating, or offending people.

      I tell my teenagers they aren’t allowed to text while driving. It isn’t because texting is next to murder. It’s because vehicular manslaughter is next to murder. I don’t want them negligently getting into an accident and killing an innocent. The car accident (people not listening to Alma) is the focus, the texting (boasting and whoring) is the cause of the big bad problem. It’s as silly to say that texting while driving is second only to murder as it is to say sexual sin is second only to murder. And it would be folly to have church lessons telling kids that texting in the car is second only to murder.

      I’m unclear on how you think the law of Moses, as a lesser law, had looser rules. When was the last time the Mormon church executed someone for adultery like the law of Moses required? Heck, you can cheat on your “eternal companion”, divorce them, marry your adulterous lover, and five years later petition to be sealed to your new spouse. That’s right in the Church Handbook of Instruction. The law of Moses had some very severe penalties that we don’t have today. Do you wear cotton and wool at the same time? That was against the law of Moses. Do you eat pork, or shrimp, or cheeseburgers? The law of Moses focused on actions, whereas the law of Christ focuses on the heart, so in that sense the law of Moses was lesser. But the penalties under the law of Moses for those actions were far more severe than they are under the law of Christ. And the prohibitions were far more numerous than we have under the law of Christ.

      I also encourage you to reread what Jesus said about the law of Moses. He did not criticize the law of Moses. He criticized the traditions of men that had crept up around the law of Moses. In Matthew 15:3 Jesus asked ” Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your traditions?” Specifically about divorce, Jesus said “Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.” The criticism is directed towards the people, not towards the law of Moses. You also need to look into the difference between divorce and putting away, and the legal rights and protections that a bill of divorcement gave a woman in that society. The Roman standard at the time of Christ allowed men to put away wives without a bill of divorcement, which didn’t give protections to the woman. That’s a far more in-depth topic than can be covered in a comment.

      Please cite your source for saying the Nephites didn’t keep the law of Moses but some “higher” law.
      2 Nephi 5
      10 And we did observe to keep the judgments, and the statutes, and the commandments of the Lord in all things, according to the law of Moses.

      2 Nephi 25
      24 And, notwithstanding we believe in Christ, we keep the law of Moses, and look forward with steadfastness unto Christ, until the law shall be fulfilled.
      30 And, inasmuch as it shall be expedient, ye must keep the performances and ordinances of God until the law shall be fulfilled which was given unto Moses.

      Jacob 4
      5 Behold, they believed in Christ and worshiped the Father in his name, and also we worship the Father in his name. And for this intent we keep the law of Moses, it pointing our souls to him; and for this cause it is sanctified unto us for righteousness, even as it was accounted unto Abraham in the wilderness to be obedient unto the commands of God in offering up his son Isaac, which is a similitude of God and his Only Begotten Son.

      Jarom
      5 And now, behold, two hundred years had passed away, and the people of Nephi had waxed strong in the land. They observed to keep the law of Moses and the sabbath day holy unto the Lord. And they profaned not; neither did they blaspheme. And the laws of the land were exceedingly strict.

      Alma 25:15
      Yea, and they did keep the law of Moses; for it was expedient that they should keep the law of Moses as yet, for it was not all fulfilled. But notwithstanding the law of Moses, they did look forward to the coming of Christ, considering that the law of Moses was a type of his coming, and believing that they must keep those outward performances until the time that he should be revealed unto them.

      When Jesus did appear to them, he told them in 3 Nephi 15
      2 And it came to pass that when Jesus had said these words he perceived that there were some among them who marveled, and wondered what he would concerning the law of Moses; for they understood not the saying that old things had passed away, and that all things had become new.
      4 Behold, I say unto you that the law is fulfilled that was given unto Moses.
      8 For behold, the covenant which I have made with my people is not all fulfilled; but the law which was given unto Moses hath an end in me.

      If they had stopped living the law of Moses and graduated to some “secret” higher law, why would Jesus have to tell them to stop living the law of Moses? Did Jesus forget that he had previously exempted these people from the law of Moses? It sounds like the people forgot it also because in 4 Nephi we read:
      12 And they did not walk any more after the performances and ordinances of the law of Moses; but they did walk after the commandments which they had received from their Lord and their God, continuing in fasting and prayer, and in meeting together oft both to pray and to hear the word of the Lord.

  2. Let me address your comments on the law of Moses first and then I’ll come back to Corianton’s whoredoms and the severity of fornication and other sexual sins.

    I did not say that the law of Moses was less severe or harsh than the laws and commandments Christ gave during His mortal ministry and subsequent visit to the Nephites.

    It was however a lower law. This was not Moses’ fault. God had offered the children of Israel a higher law and they rejected it. God then replaced the higher law with the law of Moses.

    I wasn’t trying to suggest that the Nephites were not living the law of Moses, but thank you for that thorough list of scriptures verifying that they lived the law of Moses.

    What I was saying is that it appears that they also had their own sets of specific commandments beyond the law of Moses.

    For example it appears that the Nephite High Priests such as Alma the Younger had the Melchizedek priesthood. Yet the High Priests in ancient Israel only had the Aaronic.

    Alma 13 makes it clear that the Nephites had and ubderstood the office of a High Priest in the Melchizedek priesthood and not just the Aaronic. The healings and other mighty miracles performed by individuals in the BOM leaves no doubt that they had the Melchizedek priesthood, whereas we learn from D&C 84:24-26 that the Lord took away the Melchizedek priesthood from ancient Israel and left them with the Aaronic priesthood and preparatory gospel.

    I already mentioned polygamy being authorized if not commanded under the law of Moses, yet the Nephites were forbidden to have more than one wife. Jacob 2 contains this commandment which was specifically given to Lehi and his posterity. If you can’t find the several passages under the law of Moses which govern and therefore authorize polygamy I can dig them up for you.

    Regarding the Nephites practicing the law of Moses, here’s what Nephi had to say about it:

    2 Nephi 25
    24 And, notwithstanding we believe in Christ, we keep the law of Moses, and look forward with steadfastness unto Christ, until the law shall be fulfilled.

    25 For, for this end was the law given; wherefore the law hath become dead unto us, and we are made alive in Christ because of our faith; yet we keep the law because of the commandments.

    His said that they kept the law of Moses “because of the commandments” but that the law was dead to them because collectively they new about Christ and his atonement and gospel.

    They weren’t practicing a “secret higher law” as you suggested, but they certainly new of a higher law and had the Melchizedek priesthood. They all were forbidden to practice polygamy. That’s certainly being held to a slightly higher standard than the Israelites in the Jerusalem area.

    It’s late and I’m tired so I’ll have to get back to you on the fornication issue.

    For now you are of course aware that fornication was also punishable by death under the law of Moses right?

    Fornication is also strongly condemned throughout all scripture. It is a very serious sin. Is it the sin next to murder? I don’t know. I think it’s worse than boasting in one’s own strength and displaying a measure of pride.

    That’s not to say it’s okay to be boastful and prideful, but fornication, committing whoredoms, homosexual relations, adultary, etc are very serious sins and can do an incredible amount of damage to a person’s life and the lives of others.

    In this day and age fornication often leads to murder via abortion. It also leads to children being raised in terrible conditions, thus perpetuating unbelief and sin.

    As late as the 1970s the church openly taught that birth control was a sin. Isn’t birth control almost always used during fornication these days?

    Fornication is a mockery of the God given ability and process of creating more human life, of bringing more of God’s children into the world.

    Comparing this to texting and driving is pretty ridiculous in my book.

    I see the point you were trying to make, but for me it falls completely flat.

    1. You stated “The healings and other mighty miracles performed by individuals in the BOM leaves no doubt that they had the Melchizedek priesthood, whereas we learn from D&C 84:24-26 that the Lord took away the Melchizedek priesthood from ancient Israel and left them with the Aaronic priesthood and preparatory gospel.”

      Elijah raised people from the dead (1 Kings 17). Elijah called down fire from heaven(1 Kings 18). Elijah sealed the heavens from bringing forth rain (1 Kings 17). Elisha cured Naaman of leprosy (2 Kings 5). Elisha also raised someone from the dead (2 Kings 4). Joshua parted the Jordan river (Joshua 3). Using your logic for concluding the Nephites had the Melchizedek priesthood, you must agree that Elijah, and Elisha, and Joshua had the Melchizedek priesthood after the event mentioned in D&C 84.

      Which, according to Joseph Smith, was true.
      TPJS 181
      All the prophets had the Melchizedek Priesthood and were ordained by God himself.

      That also supports JST Genesis 14 that says these powers over nature are part of the Melchizedek high priest role and the ordination to that comes from God himself:
      27 And thus, having been approved of God, he was ordained an high priest after the order of the covenant which God made with Enoch,
      28 It being after the order of the Son of God; which order came, not by man, nor the will of man; neither by father nor mother; neither by beginning of days nor end of years; but of God;
      29 And it was delivered unto men by the calling of his own voice, according to his own will, unto as many as believed on his name.
      30 For God having sworn unto Enoch and unto his seed with an oath by himself; that every one being ordained after this order and calling should have power, by faith, to break mountains, to divide the seas, to dry up waters, to turn them out of their course;
      31 To put at defiance the armies of nations, to divide the earth, to break every band, to stand in the presence of God; to do all things according to his will, according to his command, subdue principalities and powers; and this by the will of the Son of God which was from before the foundation of the world.
      32 And men having this faith, coming up unto this order of God, were translated and taken up into heaven.

      We can read in Isaiah 6 and Jeremiah 1 when God calls the prophets by his own voice and they are taken up into heaven. So Isaiah and Jeremiah would have had the Melchizedek priesthood. And if TPJS 181 is correct, all the Old Testament prophets would have had the Melchizedek priesthood as well. Are you sure the Nephites were as different as you claim?

      Regarding fornication, please cite the verse that says it was to be punished with death. The only situation close to that I can find is when a man discovers his bride is not a virgin, she is to be put to death (Deuteronomy 22:13-21). But that is because she had defrauded the husband who thought he was marrying a virgin. The penalty wasn’t for the previous fornication but for the current deception.

      Keep in mind, I haven’t argued that fornication isn’t sin. My argument is that the current beliefs about the severity of fornication are not supported by scripture. The goal of this blog is to measure everything by the scriptures.

  3. I wasn’t suggesting that you were saying that fornication is not a sin, but when you compare it to texting and driving you appear to be minimizing the severity of the sin.

    Alma’s point to Corianton was that fornication is a really big deal and a very serious sin. You appear to be trying to down play it.

    Here’s a passage from the law of Moses which shows that fornication was punishable by death:

    Deuteronomy 22:13-21 addresses the issue in which a man marries a woman he assumes is a virgin, but then after sleeping with her he suspects that she’s not actually a virgin, meaning she had previously committed fornication. He can then bring a charge against her and if her parents are unable to verify that she was in fact a virgin she is to be stoned to death.

    I was actually thinking of Deuteronomy 22:23-27 last night. I had forgotten that the scenario deals with a woman who is betrothed to one man sleeping with another man. So I guess a man and woman who fornicate when the woman is formally engaged to another man was worthy of death.

    I get that a betrothal was a big deal anciently, but we still have a scenario in which heterosexual intercourse between two unmarried individuals was worthy of death.

    I’m not really sure what your point is about Elijah and other Old Testament prophets having the Melchizedek priesthood is.

    Of course they had the Melchizedek priesthood.

    The point was that the high priest didn’t have the Melchizedek priesthood in Palestine, but the high priests in the Book of Mormon appeared to have it.

    Now let me ask you this. Is the baptism of fire and the gift of the Holy Ghost part of the preparatory gospel practiced by ancient Israel under the lesser priesthood, or is it part of the fulness of the gospel under the higher (Melchizedek) priesthood?

    It falls under the higher priesthood and the fullness of the gospel doesn’t it?

    Now look at these verses from 2 Nephi 31.

    10 And he said unto the children of men: Follow thou me. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, can we follow Jesus save we shall be willing to keep the commandments of the Father?

    11 And the Father said: Repent ye, repent ye, and be baptized in the name of my Beloved Son.

    12 And also, the voice of the Son came unto me, saying: He that is baptized in my name, to him will the Father give the Holy Ghost, like unto me; wherefore, follow me, and do the things which ye have seen me do.

    13 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism—yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel.

    How are these Nephites getting the gift of the Holy Ghost and baptism of fire hundreds of years before the coming of Christ?

    Wouldn’t it be by the laying on of hands by one who holds the Melchizedek priesthood?

    It certainly sounds like they had the Melchizedek priesthood to me to a greater degree than a few prophets here and there who were outcasts from society like in ancient Israel, but what do I know?

    I didn’t say it was totally different. I said they were held to a slightly higher standard.

    I notice you didn’t touch the polygamy point, because that one is open and shut. Polygamy is okay in ancient Israel, but not okay for the defendants of Lehi. That’s different isn’t it?

    Why are you trying to minimize the severity of fornication anyway?

    Do you have some ax to grind against people condemning fornication as a very serious sin that requires sincere repentance?

    1. “If you can’t attack the argument, attack the man.” My motive is to test everything against the scriptures, not the precepts of men.

      You cited Deuteronomy 22:23-27 as an example of fornication. Not only do you ignore the two-part ancient marriage ritual, you ignored what is written.
      23 ¶ If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her;

      The damsel is betrothed to a HUSBAND, not a fiance’. At that point they were married. They couldn’t engage in sexual relations with each other until the second part of the marriage had been completed (when she moved into his house), but at that point sex with anyone else was adultery, not fornication. Again, you are misusing an example of adultery to increase the severity of fornication beyond what the scriptures teach.

      As for the case in verses 13-21, the groom paid the father of the bride a dowry based on the girl being a virgin. If the father charged the price for a virgin and she was not a virgin, it would bring dishonor on him and he would have robbed the husband. On the other side, if the husband makes the allegation and it turns out to be false, he has challenged the honor of the father and he thereafter loses the ability to ever divorce the girl. The husband would not be punished if this was about a virgin being a virgin…the issue was a challenge to honor and honesty.

      I can’t keep up with all the separate rabbit trails you’re spawning, so I’ll just wrap up the polygamy one and be done. Yes, the Nephites were prohibited from practicing polygamy completely whereas the law of Moses did allow it. However, in Jacob 2:31-33 we read that the Lord specifically forbade the Nephites from practicing polygamy because the men in Israel were abusing it so much and he was tired of the women suffering as a result. There were differences. I don’t see how that changes the fact that the scriptures treat adultery and fornication differently. You may wish it weren’t so, but you have yet to provide a scripture that shows what you claim.

  4. I wasn’t try to attack you.

    Nor was I trying to say that adultery and fornication are the same thing.

    I’m not really sure why you think I was trying to say that adultery and fornication are the same. Of course adultery is worse, substantially worse.

    So yes I have failed to show that adultery and fornication are one and the same, as I was not attempting to show that, nor would that be possible

    The point is that fornication is also very bad.

    So perhaps my understanding of ancient Israelite marriage customs was not up to par. I’m more than willing to admit that.

    So it looks like I might be wrong about fornication being punishable by death under the law of Moses. This does not mean that it isn’t a serious sin.

    After all divorce was allowed under the law of Moses, but later declared adultery in most cases by the Savior.

    To what degree the Nephites were practicing a higher law than the Israelites back in the middle east is unclear.

    At least we can both agree that their marriage laws were different.

    You didn’t address my point about Nephi teaching about the baptism of fire and gift of the Holy Ghost, which would of necessity require the Melchizedek priesthood.

    It’s not some rabbit trail.

    If one reads the Book of Mormon carefully it becomes clear that the Nephites were not living the exact same laws as the Israelites in Palestine. They were very similar, but it would appear that they had more.

    This is really a minor point I guess.

    So you honestly believe that the scriptures teach that sexual sins other than adultery aren’t really that big of a deal?

    In the book of Ether it states that a king named Morianton was just to the people, but was cut off from the Lord because of his many whoredoms.

    Clearly whoredoms can’t be a minor offense in the eyes of God.

    Perhaps straight up fornication between two consenting adults isn’t as serious as whoredoms with harlots who sell themselves for money, but isn’t whoredoms exactly what Alma was calling Corianton to repentance for?

    He told him to stop chasing after those wicked harlots. Sounds pretty serious to me.

    Perhaps we’ll have to agree to disagree.

    I refuse to minimize the severity of sexual sin in all of its forms, and unless I understand you incorrectly, you appear to believe that fornication and other sexual sins short of adultery are more akin to texting while driving because they lead to more serious sins such as leading people astray by one’s bad example.

    I would suggest that unintentionally leading people astray because one is a sinner is not nearly as bad as the sins one is committing. Leading people astray by one’s bad behavior or hypocrisy is of course a by product of an openly sinful life.

    I didn’t mean to attack you or be overly contentious. I’m sorry if it came off that way and I caused you to take offense. I very much appreciate your attempts to stick to the word of God in the scriptures. From what I have read on your blog so far, you have a lot of good points.

    I take take the scriptures very seriously myself, which is why I engaged you in a discussion about your conclusions, as my conclusions are not exactly the same.

    My goal is to learn and I strive for all of us who see the problems in the church, and truly believe the scriptures to be true and make no excuse for what is written in them, to come to a unity of the faith.

    This last wish is likely not going to happen until the setting in order of the church and restoration of all things by Elias (the one mighty and strong) happens in the future, hopefully soon. The scriptures say that the watchmen will see eye to eye when the Lord brings again Zion, so those of us who are awake and watching probably won’t see eye to eye before then.

    I might make some more comments on some of your other posts, as there are some other things you have written, that I believe could use a little feedback and some other things for you to consider. I hope that’s okay.

    1. I don’t think I have tried to minimize fornication, but simply put it into the scriptural perspective. The post is titled “Is sexual sin really next to murder?”. If an unmarried Corianton running off with Isabel is more abominable than anything else except for murder, where does that put rape or incest? Third only to murder? The scriptures teach that some sexual sins are worse than others. That’s all I’m trying to show. The sin that Corianton committed was less severe than adultery, rape, and incest, so it could not have been more abominable than anything else except for murder. The conclusions that are then drawn from this incorrect understanding of sexual sin lead to incorrect teachings that truly hurt the very people that need to be comforted. (http://www.ldsliving.com/Elizabeth-Smart-Shares-How-Chastity-Lessons-in-Our-Culture-Can-Have-Harmful-Lasting-Effects/s/83107)

      Regarding the Nephites and the gift of the Holy Ghost. In Helaman 5:43-45 the 300 Lamanites were baptized by fire without anyone laying hands on them (second witness in 3 Nephi 9:20). In fact, it isn’t until 3 Nephi 18:37 that Christ gives the disciples power to give the Holy Ghost. Think about that, Nephi did not have power to give the Holy Ghost before 3 Nephi 18, despite the amazing experiences he had in 3 Nephi 7:15-20. I’m not aware of any verses in the Book of Mormon prior to 3 Nephi 18 that say the gift of the Holy Ghost was given by the laying on of hands. By your own admission, the Nephites did some things differently. So to argue that they all had this power when it isn’t recorded in the Book of Mormon is speculation.

      I do hope you continue to comment. And I too look forward to the day when we will all see eye to eye. In the meantime, I will try to do a better job to clearly articulate my arguments and seek to better understand your rebuttals before responding.

  5. You make an excellent point about the bestowel of the baptism of fire among the Nephites prior to Christ’s visit. You could be right.

    At least we’ve seem to come to an agreement now that the decendents of Lehi and the Israelites in Palestine were not living the exact same laws.

    That’s progress.

    I’m glad to see that you’re finally acknowledging that fornication might be a serious sin.

    I agree that rape and incest are worse than fornication. As are pedophilia, homosexuality, bestiality, whoredoms, and of course adultery.

    So can we agree then that fornication is serious and that your texting while driving comparison was an error?

    If we agree that fornication is serious and that there are sexual sins far worse than fornication, then is it not possible that sexual sin as a whole can be considered serious enough to warrant Alma’s claim that sexual sin is second in severity to murder?

    Would you not consider pedophilia and rape next to murder?

    If so, is it not possible that other major sexual sins such as whoredoms, fornication, homosexual sex, and adultery might be considered to be in the same league as pedophilia and rape according to God?

    Anyway, that’s my point.

    Something to think about anyway.

    Sorry I got a little contentious about it. It just really bothers me when serious sexual sin is downplayed, even unintentionally.

    1. First of all, let’s resolve the texting while driving issue. I used a parable to provide an example of focusing on a lesser sin to avoid a greater sin. There was no attempt to say that fornication is the exact same severity in God’s eyes as texting while driving. If you really believe that, then you must really be offended by what Jesus taught:
      – that the kingdom of heaven is only worth the value of a single pearl
      – that the kingdom of heaven can be lost like a coin in a house
      – that the kingdom of heaven is like a mustard tree, that will wither and die with age, or be cut down by a man with an ax, and birds can land on it and poop all over the kingdom of heaven.

      I could go on and show all the false doctrine Jesus taught in his parables if I adopt your hyper-literal mindset. So unless you are going to denounce Jesus, let’s drop the texting-while-driving hysteria.

      Please show me scriptures that show that God considers fornication to be in the same league as adultery, bestiality, rape, etc.

      Law of Moses:
      Punishable by death: adultery, rape, bestiality, incest
      Punishable by fine: fornication

      D&C 42:74-77
      Adultery: punished by being cast out
      Fornication: not cast out

      D&C 42:80
      Adulters: to be tried before two or more elders of the church.
      Fornicators: not even mentioned

      You are using your own precepts to link the severity of fornication with things like adultery and incest. There is no scriptural basis for this. This is mingling the philosophies of men with scripture. You are putting words into God’s mouth that he has never said in scripture. You are assigning a severity to a sin that God has never assigned. By what authority do you presume to override the scriptures and speak for God the things he hasn’t spoken?

  6. Of course I didn’t think you were saying that texting and driving is the same as fornication.

    I understood your comparison.

    You were saying that texting and driving is wrong in and of it self, and leads to something much worse, vehicular manslaughter.

    Thus fornication is wrong because it leads to leading people astray (the sin next to murder).

    I disagree with your comparison. First off there is nothing wrong with texting and driving in and of itself. The only thing wrong with it is that someone could could hurt or even killed. Fornication is wrong in and of itself. In fact I’ll share a few scriptures about just how wrong it is in a moment.

    One a side note, your skirting the issue anyways by continuing to try and make this only about fornication.

    Your post does not say, “Is fornication really next to murder?” It says, “Is sexual sin really next to murder?”

    In my opinion fornication is not as severe as pedophilia, rape, homosexual sex, bestiality, and adultery. It likely is on the exact same level as whoredoms, which are very serious sins according to the scriptures. But honestly what is the point in trying to rank them in severity anyways?

    And again, Corianton was guilty of whoredoms not fornication.
    Perhaps God considers whoredoms and fornication to be the same and perhaps not. If they aren’t the same, they must be pretty close.

    Here’s what it says in Romans 1:

    28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

    29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,

    30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents.

    31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:

    32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

    According to Paul, fornication is serious sin. He mentions it in the same breath as murder.

    At the end of his list (which I think we can both agree includes some very serious sins) he states that those who commit these things (including fornication) are worthy of death.

    Here’s another thought. In Jacob 2 and 3, Jacob rips the Nephite men a new one for their whoredoms/fornication in regards to their taking other wives or at least sleeping with other women based on what they had read about the many wives of David and Solomon.

    This would mean that all of his warnings against them were over the sin of fornication/whoredoms, since he never uses the term adultery.

    Here’s part of what he had to say from Jacob 3:

    10 Wherefore, ye shall remember your children, how that ye have grieved their hearts because of the example that ye have set before them; and also, remember that ye may, because of your filthiness, bring your children unto destruction, and their sins be heaped upon your heads at the last day.

    11 O my brethren, hearken unto my words; arouse the faculties of your souls; shake yourselves that ye may awake from the slumber of death; and loose yourselves from the pains of hell that ye may not become angels to the devil, to be cast into that lake of fire and brimstone which is the second death.

    12 And now I, Jacob, spake many more things unto the people of Nephi, warning them against fornication and lasciviousness, and every kind of sin, telling them the awful consequences of them.

    Clearly the fornication/whoredoms of these men was a very serious matter. They were very filthy and serious judgements were about to come upon them for it.

    Mark 7
    21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,

    22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:

    23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

    Here the Lord states adulterers, fornicators, and murders all in the same breath.

    In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul refers back to God’s anger with the children of Israel in the wilderness and says:

    5 But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

    6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.

    7 Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.

    8 Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.

    Paul says the Lord slew 23,000 over fornication.

    In Galatians 5 we again have fornication listed together with very serious sins, including murder.

    19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

    20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

    21 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.

    Helaman 8

    26 Yea, even at this time ye are ripening, because of your murders and your fornication and wickedness, for everlasting destruction; yea, and except ye repent it will come unto you soon.

    Here murder in fornication are linked together once again. This time they’re the only two sins mentioned.

    Look, believe what you want. Go sleep around and think that it isn’t very, very serious and won’t bring God’s judgements upon you.

    Heck, if you have children, why not teach them that fornication really isn’t as serious as all those confused active LDS kids think.

    I mean shoot as long as one keeps it hidden and no one knows about the fornication, then no one will be led astray by the bad example.

    And if fornication turns out to more serious than you thought, God will just beat you with a few stripes and save you in the kingdom of heaven.

    Don’t you see how ridiculous it is that you are trying to defend fornication, or at least trying to downplay its severity?

    There is no harm in boldy denouncing fornication as the scriptures I quoted do. Even if fornication was somehow substantially less severe than adultery, murder, and the host of other sins it is listed with in the scriptures (which is not at all logical), then is it not still better to boldly warn against It and admonish those guilty of it to repent with a broken heart and a contrite spirit? After all no unclean thing can dwell with God, and we are not to try and justify are sins in the least.

    What good can possibly come from trying to convince people that although fornication is a sin, it is not in the same league as adultery and certainly not murder? All you’re doing is encouraging sin.

    This is why I’m engaging you, because what you’re writing can actually harm people.

    You’re well versed in the scriptures and write well. People might look at what you have written and actually believe it.

    1. Regarding Romans 1, using your logic “debate” is just as evil as murder. In fact, debate must be worse than fornication because it’s right next to the word murder, whereas the word fornication is 7 words away. Because debate is seven times more in the same breath than fornication, does that mean debate is seven times more severe than fornication? Whispering and backbiting are also closer to murder than fornication. Here’s another group of people that are just as bad a murderers: disobedient to parents. Do you teach your children that when they disobey you as a parent they are sinning as bad as if they were committing murder? Just because you found the word fornication close to the word murder means nothing. You need to read the scriptures in context.

      Your exegesis of Jacob 2-3 is also tragically flawed.

      Jacob 1:15 And now it came to pass that the people of Nephi, under the reign of the second king, began to grow hard in their hearts, and indulge themselves somewhat in WICKED practices, such as like unto David of old desiring MANY WIVES and CONCUBINES, and also Solomon, his son.

      Jacob 2:23 This people begin to wax in iniquity; they understand not the scriptures, for they seek to excuse themselves in committing WHOREDOMS, because of the things which were written concerning David and Solomon his son. Behold, David and Solomon truly had MANY WIVES and CONCUBINES, which thing was ABOMINABLE before me.

      The whoredoms the Lord references are polygamy, many wives and concubines. That’s adultery, not fornication. The adultery theme continues as he talks about husbands and wives, not unmarried people. The abominations are polygamy and adultery.

      Jacob 2:31 For behold, I, the Lord, have seen the sorrow, and heard the mourning of the daughters of my people, because of the WICKEDNESS and ABOMINATIONS of their HUSBANDS.

      Jacob 2:35 Behold, ye have done greater iniquities than the Lamanites, our brethren. Ye have broken the hearts of your tender WIVES, and lost the confidence of your CHILDREN, because of your bad examples before them.

      Jacob 3:5 Behold, the Lamanites your brethren, whom ye hate because of their filthiness and the cursing which hath come upon their skins, are more righteous than you; for they have not forgotten the commandment of the Lord, which was given unto our father—that they should have save it were ONE WIFE, and CONCUBINES they should have NONE, and there should not be WHOREDOMS committed among them.

      You cited Jacob 3:10. He reminds the fathers who have grieved the hearts of their children of the bad example they have set (referring back to Jacob 2:45, which proves that these fathers were married men who were committing whoredoms).

      Your idea that because he never uses the term adultery he must be talking about fornication is laughable. He is talking about husbands and wives. How does a married man fornicate without committing adultery?!? What strange new doctrine are you preaching?

      Now, Jacob 3:12 does say that Jacob warned “them against fornication and lasciviousness, and EVERY KIND OF SIN, telling them the awful consequences of them.” Yes, fornication is a sin. But he warns them against every kind of sin. Not just the super-duper-serious ones. Why? Because God cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance. Any sin, big or small, alienates us from God.

      Notice how the Book of Mormon links whoredoms with polygamy.

      Mosiah 11:2 “he did not keep the commandments of God, but he did walk after the desires of his own heart. And he had MANY WIVES and CONCUBINES. And he did cause his people to commit sin, and do that which was ABOMINABLE in the sight of the Lord. Yea, and they did commit WHOREDOMS and all manner of WICKEDNESS.”

      Mosiah 11:6 “Yea, and thus they were supported in their laziness, and in their idolatry , and in their WHOREDOMS by the taxes which king Noah had put his people; thus did the people labor exceedingly to support iniquity.”

      Mosiah 11:20 …thus saith the Lord—Wo be unto this people, for I have seen their ABOMINATIONS, and their WICKEDNESS, and their WHOREDOMS; and except they repent I will visit them in mine anger.

      Notice how Riplakish did the same thing as Noah. He had many wives and concubines, and used taxes to support his lifestyle. This is referred to as whoredoms and abominations.

      Ether 10:5 And it came to pass that Riplakish did not do that which was right in the sight of the Lord, for he did have MANY WIVES and CONCUBINES, and did lay that upon men’s shoulders which was grievous to be borne; yea, he did tax them with heavy taxes; and with the taxes he did build many spacious buildings.
      Ether 10:7 …And it came to pass that he did afflict the people with HIS WHOREDOMS and ABOMINATIONS.

      You reference 1 Corinthians 10. Again, you aren’t reading the scriptures in context. You are wresting them so hard to make your point that it’s almost offensive. The incident with 23,000 being killed that Paul refers to is found in Number 25.

      Numbers 25
      1 And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab.

      If you only read verse one, you could support your argument. But then you would have to ignore the rest of the scripture:

      2 And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods.
      3 And Israel joined himself unto Baal-peor: and the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel.
      4 And the Lord said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the Lord against the sun, that the fierce anger of the Lord may be turned away from Israel.
      5 And Moses said unto the judges of Israel, Slay ye every one his men that were joined unto Baal-peor.

      These people started worshipping false gods, specifically Baal-peor. Moses told the judges to slay everyone who had worshipped Baal-peor, not everyone that had had sex. In fact, the Old Testament often uses the words whoredoms, fornication, and adultery to describe the non-sexual acts of worshipping false gods. (Do a study of those words in the Old Testament, most of the time they are used in a non-sexual context). Because we are supposed to be married to God, Christ is the bridegroom, any infidelity with false gods is akin to adultery. So the language in verse one could refer only to sexual sins, or only to worshipping false gods, or both. We can’t tell looking at that verse in isolation. But verse 5 makes it absolutely clear that the people were killed for worshipping Baal-peor, not for sexual sin.

      You cite Helaman 8 where he says “because of your murders and your fornication and wickedness.” It’s possible that he is referring to sexual sin, but he doesn’t mention it anywhere in his previous discourse. But he does mention not being loyal to God:

      22 Our father Lehi was driven out of Jerusalem because he testified of these things. Nephi also testified of these things, and also almost all of our fathers, even down to this time; yea, they have testified of the coming of Christ, and have looked forward, and have rejoiced in his day which is to come.
      23 And behold, he is God, and he is with them, and he did manifest himself unto them, that they were redeemed by him; and they gave unto him glory, because of that which is to come.
      24 And now, seeing YE KNOW THESE THINGS and cannot deny them except ye shall lie, therefore IN THIS YE HAVE SINNED, for YE HAVE REJECTED ALL THESE THINGS, notwithstanding so many evidences which ye have received; yea, even ye have received all things, both things in heaven, and all things which are in the earth, as a witness that they are true.
      25 But behold, YE HAVE REJECTED THE TRUTH, and REBELLED AGAINST YOUR HOLY GOD; and even at this time, instead of laying up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where nothing doth corrupt, and where nothing can come which is unclean, ye are heaping up for yourselves wrath against the day of judgment.

      That sounds very similar to Old Testament language about fornication being unfaithful to God.

      Looks, it’s obvious that you aren’t going to change your mind regardless of how many scriptures I provide. You have failed to show any scriptures that support your theory, so I won’t change my mind based solely on your passionate beliefs. You’ve stated your beliefs and anyone who reads the comments will see your opposition to what I have written. Let’s just move on.

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