Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Planned Prodigalism

The term "planned prodigalism" is pretty descriptive, isn't it? I heard the term first from Harvey Gardner, a Regional Representative (when we had them) from my hometown of Page, AZ. There is certainly a problem with sin. But there is a whole other level of problem when we plan to sin and then repent.

Can a prodigal repent? Yes, but it must be much more difficult to repent if we took the atonement of Jesus Christ so casually as to treat it like a sugar daddy's checking account.

What do you think? Is it more wicked to pre-plan your sin? If it is harder to repent, as I assert, why?


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  • I think our intent matters a lot. Repentance requires a change of heart. If one intends to sin, it seems one has potentially further to go to really change. if one really is trying not to sin, repentance will not be requiring such a drastic change.

    I can't find the right word, but it feels almost abusive (at least unappreciative) of the depth of the atonement. If we willingly sin, symbolically it feels like we willingly heap pain on the Savior. That just feels wrong to me, even though I know He's already paid for whatever we have done. But if you could assign pain points to a sin, it would seem to me that deliberate sin would have more pain points, ya know?

    By Blogger m_and_m, at 10/03/2007 6:07 PM  

  • Purposefully sinning when we accept the Atonement of Christ is a heinous form of rebellion. Not only do we become guilty of whatever sin we have chosen, but we are guilty of what the scriptures call trampling on the Savior, putting him to open shame, and crucifying Christ afresh. That’s strong language, and it’s meant to be.

    It is much worse if we have covenanted to take Christ’s name upon ourselves, because we have willingly broken a very sacred covenant. We have despised that which is of most worth now and in the eternities. Someone that plans to sin and then repent has a deeply flawed understanding of the Atonement and of their relationship with Christ.

    Is repentance possible in this case? Sure, but it’s much harder. It’s like having an affair, figuring that you can simply go back to your spouse anytime you want. Your spouse may take you back, but how do you go about rebuilding trust and rehabilitating the relationship? Christ will take you back, but you are going to find that changing your soul to take advantage of his mercy is going to be much more difficult than you ever imagined. His love is always there, but you are going to have to do whatever it takes to change and love him.

    By Blogger Scott Hinrichs, at 10/03/2007 7:48 PM  

  • Wasn't the Pre-mortal council one giant case of planned prodigalism? We all planned to come to earth, sin and repent and rejoiced because of it.

    While I'm not saying there is no difference between the two, it remains to be shown what this difference is and why it should matter as much as we want it to.

    By Blogger Jeff G, at 10/03/2007 8:00 PM  

  • Do we ever not plan our sins? Are we ever really, sincerely, and completely surprised by our sins?

    Is it not required to make a choice in order to sin? If there is no choice there is no sin.

    Are we not all prodigals at some level. Some of us are just more open about it.

    By Blogger Eric Nielson, at 10/04/2007 8:52 AM  

  • I don't think it's a case of making sin harder to repent from as much as it is a case of two separate sins.

    First, it's a sin to commit whatever sin you plan to commit. Second, it's a sin to plan to sin and repent.

    It's not that repentance gets harder, it's just that there's more to repent of.

    By Blogger JKC, at 10/04/2007 9:47 AM  

  • M&M said, "Intent matters a lot". I agree. Bro. Gardner was talking particularly about young men who want to go on missions and plan to sow their wild oats and then "repent" 6 months or a year before they go. I wonder how much young men who do this really understand the atonement they are trampling.

    Eric, in the law we have a notion that premeditation makes things worse. Can we ever act without premeditation of some sort? Somewhere there is a line, and I imagine the line is somewhere similar in a spiritual sense too. I'm not sure I can exactly define that line. I would be interested to see precisely how it is defined legally. Still, your point is very well taken.

    Jeff, you raise an interesting question worthy of consideration. I know I'm going to sin tomorrow. I don't know exactly how, and I am not planning on it, but I know it will happen. This is a category apart from planning a particular sin for tomorrow and also planning to repent. I expect that in the pre-mortal realm, we knew we would fall short, but we weren't planning out how we would do so.

    Incidentally, I believe we were already sinning and repenting in the pre-mortal existence. The choice to come to earth was a change in environment, not a change in possibility for sin.

    By Blogger Bradley Ross, at 10/04/2007 11:08 AM  

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