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Declaring Repentance or Declaring our Contempt?

A few weeks ago I wrote an article on our political climate. It didn't get much traffic like other topics I write about, but it's still something I feel is super important in our current day and time.

This morning, I came across the video above from the American Enterprise Institute. I wanted to share it with everyone today as it highlights some interesting themes.

For the past few weeks, I have been wrestling with the question of what the difference is in declaring repentance and expressing contempt or hatred for those on 'the other side'?

1. Repentance in the Greek, μετάνοια (metanoia), means a change of heart and mind. It means to turn around and away from things that detract us from God. At its heart, words like 'conversion' and 'reformation' describe it the best. In our efforts to communicate with those whom we disagree, we can do some personal self-reflection and ask "Is what I am saying going to bring a change of heart and a change of mind"? Or, "Is the Holy Ghost going to minister grace in the words I am going to speak/type?"

D&C 121:41-44 are the most straightforward scriptures that exist on how we should go about giving a correction (i.e. declaring repentance):
“No power or influence can or ought to be maintained . . . , only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy and without guile—
Reproving betimes with sharpness when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;
That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death."
Many misinterpret the 'reproving betimes' portion by saying they are obligated to correct and declare repentance on all things that they disagree with or that does not align with Church teachings.

Neal A. Maxwell explains:
"In practice, however, when we undertake to reprove we frequently are prompted not by the Holy Ghost but by ego. Moreover, we often fail to reprove ‘betimes,’ meaning speedily and early on. Time can harden feelings as surely as the sun bakes wet clay." (A Wonderful Flood of Light (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1990), 113)
In other words, we want to reprove EARLY when MOVED BY THE HOLY GHOST. We do not want to reprove OFTEN (which is what many think 'betimes' means). The reproving of early is meant to preserve relationships. When we reprove early and are moved by the Holy Ghost the increase of love is easier to manifest itself as it is not encrusted under days, months, or years of contempt.

You may find things that people do reprehensible. You may cling to examples in the scriptures of Jesus turning over tables or a prophet of God calling a certain anti-Christ a "child of hell". When we refer to those examples often, it is an example of proof-texting scripture. Those are clearly the outliers compared to the host of other examples of 'repentance declaring' we get in the scriptures. When we insist on declaring repentance that way, it says more about our ego than anything. It also reflects our lack of understanding or comprehension of what the scriptures say as a whole on the topics repentance, politics, persuasion, and so forth. If we insist on righteous indignation often, we might want to question the pedestal we have put ourselves on.


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