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Are All Sexual Sins Really Second Only To Murder?


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The reason sexual sin is next to murder is because of the steps of repentance, one of which is to make restitution. As you cannot give back someones chastity you cannot make proper restitution therefore making repentance more difficult. It's not meant to equate it with murder, it's more about the ability to repent than the seriousness of the crime. And yes I agree it should be taught better because it seriously messed me up during my teenage years!

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Read that article by Michael Ash in The Sin “Next to Murder” in Sunstone, 2006. it re-interprets this phrase

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The reason sexual sin is next to murder is because of the steps of repentance, one of which is to make restitution. As you cannot give back someones chastity you cannot make proper restitution therefore making repentance more difficult. It's not meant to equate it with murder, it's more about the ability to repent than the seriousness of the crime. And yes I agree it should be taught better because it seriously messed me up during my teenage years!

I agree that the way it's taught can throw a teenager under the proverbial bus. It's mistaught in a lot of cases.

But I don't see that Alma's comparison is to sexual sin as a category. He didn't just sin against Isabel. He went in boasting, seeking after the vain riches of the world. He sinned against the Zoramites by denying them the opportunity to hear the words of the prophet.

I would agree that child abuse or rape are "next to murder" as a category of 'impossible to make restituation' because they impose actions on an non-consenting other person which can't be taken back. But no-one consents to being the victim murder!

There are also many other sins against other people (where there is a victim) that I would consider more serious than consensual sex between two unmarried people (so not 'adultery'). We should also not teach our teenagers that masturbation is "second to murder." Thankfully it is not in the current strength of the youth manual (and only specifies sexual relations), but was certainly taught to me by my bishop. It's a shame that the strength of the youth says:

The prophet Alma taught that sexual sins are more serious than any other sins except murder or denying the Holy Ghost

He didn't.

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Read that article by Michael Ash in The Sin “Next to Murder” in Sunstone, 2006. it re-interprets this phrase

Send another memo to the FTSOTY writers... they missed it:

Do not allow the media, your peers, or others to persuade you that sexual intimacy before marriage is acceptable. It is not. In God’s sight, sexual sins are extremely serious. They defile the sacred power God has given us to create life. The prophet Alma taught that sexual sins are more serious than any other sins except murder or denying the Holy Ghost (see Alma 39:5).
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In another thread, teddyaware said:

My reply:

Poor Alma, I wonder if he's up in the spirit world grinding his spirit teeth at the way we've distorted what he said.

We teach an unmarried couple that their intimate moments are second to murder?

Corianton had done more than the chapter heading's simple, broad category of all and any "sexual sin."

His actions:

(2)... "did not give so much heed unto my words"

(2)... "thou didst go on unto boasting in thy strength and thy wisdom."

(3)... "thou didst forsake the ministry"

(3)... "did go... after the harlot Isabel."

(9)... "(went) after the lusts of your eyes"

The consequences:

(11)... "great iniquity ye brought upon the Zoramites"

(11)... "when they saw your conduct they would not believe in my words."

(12)... "lead away the hearts of many people to destruction"

Warning:

(5)... "Know ye not, my son, that these things (plural) are an abomination in the sight of the Lord; yea, most abominable above all sins"

(12)... "command you, my son, in the fear of God, that ye refrain from your iniquities (plural)"

(13)... "lead away the hearts of no more to do wickedly"

(13)... "acknowledge your faults (plural) and that wrong which ye have done."

(14)... "Seek not after riches nor the vain things (plural) of this world."

So Corianton, son of the prophet and called to be a missionary is sent preaching to the Zoramites. Because of all his (plural) actions they won't listen. He may be married, so he may also be commiting adultery. He went after the lusts of his eyes which, in Alma's warning, includes riches and the vain things of the world.

So why is Corianton warned that his actions are "next to murder?" He effectively causes spiritual death. Almost as bad as actual murder or spiritual suicide (denying the HG). All of his actions which lead to the iniquity brought on the Zoramites are collectively referred to in that way.

Also remember he was under the law of Moses at this time. We are not.

If a high profile church leader did all of the above, they might be guilty of "spiritual murder." But if a teenage couple, or a boy in his bedroom, or newly baptised but unmarried (previously intimate) couple commit a sexual sin, is it really responsible to elevate them to the circumstances of Corianton? I believe not.

I will teach my children chastity. But I will not use Alma 39 to do it. Like the old, now removed, 'coins' in a chapter heading, I think 39's heading has also got it wrong.

Fantastic post! Spot on!

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Send another memo to the FTSOTY writers... they missed it:

There is an extraordinary article by a BYU professor on this - he even talked a out how a harlot in biblical vernacular was often a prophetess which leads to the idea corianton may not have ever had sexual relations with her - I believe he stated the only way you arrive at the idea of sexual acts is a misreading of the word harlot.

Can't find the link but I found it via a thread a while back. Really worth a read.

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There is an extraordinary article by a BYU professor on this - he even talked a out how a harlot in biblical vernacular was often a prophetess which leads to the idea corianton may not have ever had sexual relations with her - I believe he stated the only way you arrive at the idea of sexual acts is a misreading of the word harlot.

Can't find the link but I found it via a thread a while back. Really worth a read.

IIRC it was hugh nibley

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The reason that sexual sins are next to murder has nothing whatever to do with the persons involved, their age, their lack of self-control or otherwise wanton disregard of marital covenants. It is because in misusing one's God given powers of creation, we interfere with one of the two perogatives that God reserves only to Himself --- that of giving life (and murder, in taking life). It isn't second to murder in terms of evil, but in terms of interfering with His power and authority. It has the power to bring life into circumstances outside the conditions Heavenly Father plans for each of His spirit children, which affects innocents, just like murder cuts short the time He has granted to work out salvation.

Of course if someone were thinking of it as a description of level of evil, that would be hard. But that is not what the reference means.

Edited by rpn
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In another thread, teddyaware said:

My reply:

Poor Alma, I wonder if he's up in the spirit world grinding his spirit teeth at the way we've distorted what he said.

We teach an unmarried couple that their intimate moments are second to murder?

Corianton had done more than the chapter heading's simple, broad category of all and any "sexual sin."

His actions:

(2)... "did not give so much heed unto my words"

(2)... "thou didst go on unto boasting in thy strength and thy wisdom."

(3)... "thou didst forsake the ministry"

(3)... "did go... after the harlot Isabel."

(9)... "(went) after the lusts of your eyes"

The consequences:

(11)... "great iniquity ye brought upon the Zoramites"

(11)... "when they saw your conduct they would not believe in my words."

(12)... "lead away the hearts of many people to destruction"

Warning:

(5)... "Know ye not, my son, that these things (plural) are an abomination in the sight of the Lord; yea, most abominable above all sins"

(12)... "command you, my son, in the fear of God, that ye refrain from your iniquities (plural)"

(13)... "lead away the hearts of no more to do wickedly"

(13)... "acknowledge your faults (plural) and that wrong which ye have done."

(14)... "Seek not after riches nor the vain things (plural) of this world."

So Corianton, son of the prophet and called to be a missionary is sent preaching to the Zoramites. Because of all his (plural) actions they won't listen. He may be married, so he may also be commiting adultery. He went after the lusts of his eyes which, in Alma's warning, includes riches and the vain things of the world.

So why is Corianton warned that his actions are "next to murder?" He effectively causes spiritual death. Almost as bad as actual murder or spiritual suicide (denying the HG). All of his actions which lead to the iniquity brought on the Zoramites are collectively referred to in that way.

Also remember he was under the law of Moses at this time. We are not.

If a high profile church leader did all of the above, they might be guilty of "spiritual murder." But if a teenage couple, or a boy in his bedroom, or newly baptised but unmarried (previously intimate) couple commit a sexual sin, is it really responsible to elevate them to the circumstances of Corianton? I believe not.

I will teach my children chastity. But I will not use Alma 39 to do it. Like the old, now removed, 'coins' in a chapter heading, I think 39's heading has also got it wrong.

In the list you provide, much of Corianton's wrongdoings have their genesis in his lusting after the harlot; and the sin of boasting in his own strength likely gave the adversary of Corianton's soul the opening to entice him with the fleshly lusts that caused him to abandon his ministry. By the way, Alma was not the only one who placed sexual sin in order of severity next to murder. In 1942, the First Presidency proclaimed: ""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. Each has fallen under His solemn and awful condemnation"

Edited by teddyaware
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I don't really think it matters, it's enough to know that they are serious sins, that need to be repented of, and talked about to the proper authority. Imho, that's all that really matters. They need to be repented of, as soon as it is possible to do.

Best of Wishes,

-TAO

Edited by TAO
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In the list you provide, much of Corianton's wrongdoings have their genesis in his lusting after the harlot; and the sin of boasting in his own strength likely gave the adversary of Corianton's soul the opening to entice him with the fleshly lusts that caused him to abandon his ministry. By the way, Alma was not the only one who placed sexual sin in order of severity next to murder. In 1942, the First Presidency proclaimed: ""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. Each has fallen under His solemn and awful condemnation"

would anyone be prepared to tell some 15 yr old kid that M..is as serious as adultery or that accidentally touching a girl's behind at a church dance is as serious as fornicating? Our Stake President told us, in stake priesthood, that M leads to murder... and heaven forbid some teen who is doing that kills himself before he thinks he will kill someone else, two words Kip Eliason

Edited by Duncan
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would anyone be prepared to tell some 15 yr old kid that M..is as serious as adultery or that accidentally touching a girl's behind at a church dance is as serious as fornicating? Our Stake President told us, in stake priesthood, that M leads to murder... and heaven forbid some teen who is doing that kills himself before he thinks he will kill someone else, two words Kip Eliason

Do you see "M" and the accidental touching of another's posterior in the First Presidency's list of sexual sins next in enormity only to murder?

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Do you see "M" and the accidental touching of another's posterior in the First Presidency's list of sexual sins next in enormity only to murder?

I don't but how often is a 1942 document read to teens? and would a 15 yr make the difference between these things? Because I was taught all sexual sin is next to murder and needs to be confessed, it's no wonder that chastity is a reason people leave churches! i.e. Julia Duin's book, 'Why the faithful are fleeing'

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Sexual sin can be nearly as bad as murder but it has degrees. There are much more predatory sins. The employer who tricks an employee out of his wages, the swindler, the bully, the gossip, the rapist, etc.

"Much as all these sins are to be denounced and deplored, we can ourselves see a difference both in intent and consequence between the offense of a young couple, who, being betrothed, in an unguarded moment, without premeditation fall into sin, and that of the man, who having entered into holy places and made sacred covenants, plots to rob the wife of his neighbor of her virtue either by cunning or force and accomplishes his vile intent."

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I don't but how often is a 1942 document read to teens? and would a 15 yr make the difference between these things? Because I was taught all sexual sin is next to murder and needs to be confessed, it's no wonder that chastity is a reason people leave churches! i.e. Julia Duin's book, 'Why the faithful are fleeing'

And perhaps the difficulties with compliance, inherent to this sacred principle, are why many are called but few are chosen.

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Read that article by Michael Ash in The Sin “Next to Murder” in Sunstone, 2006. it re-interprets this phrase

With all due respect to Michael Ash and Nibley how much weight should we give their re-interpretations on doctrinal issues when we have no (to my knowledge) re-interpretations of the scripture from our prophets? When speaking on horses or coins in the BoM these guys are good to go to, but when speaking on doctrinal issues if clarification is needed shouldn't it come from our prophets?

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And perhaps the difficulties with compliance, inherent to this sacred principle, are why many are called but few are chosen.

No, I'm pretty sure the scripture spells out why they are not chosen and it focuses on a more dangerous temptation then sex usually is.

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Because I was taught all sexual sin is next to murder

It is unfortunate that many children and youth are prone to generalize from specifics inappropriately and do not differentiate realistically...and even worse when they carry the habit into adulthood and attempt to teach it to others, especially children and youth.
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"Much as all these sins are to be denounced and deplored, we can ourselves see a difference both in intent and consequence between the offense of a young couple, who, being betrothed, in an unguarded moment, without premeditation fall into sin, and that of the man, who having entered into holy places and made sacred covenants, plots to rob the wife of his neighbor of her virtue either by cunning or force and accomplishes his vile intent."

Here is the link you forgot: https://www.lds.org/manual/teachings-joseph-f-smith/chapter-18?lang=eng
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It is unfortunate that many children and youth are prone to generalize from specifics inappropriately and do not differentiate realistically...and even worse when they carry the habit into adulthood and attempt to teach it to others, especially children and youth.

this is very true!

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While I do not want to detract from its seriousness, quotes of this type have tended to give sexual morality such prominence that all other forms of morality or immorality get little or no attention. This distraction I fear is part of the reason a greater and greater number of people assign so little credibility to religion. We are viewed as obsessed with the subject.

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No, I'm pretty sure the scripture spells out why they are not chosen and it focuses on a more dangerous temptation then sex usually is.

Only partially true. The quote in question reads: "34 Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen? 35 Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men. (D&C 121) The two general reasons why they are not chosen is that they "aspire to the honors of men," and having one's heart "set so much upon the things of this world." And who can deny that of all the things of in this world that can distract the children of men in their duty to God, sexual immorality -- the misuse of the sacred powers of procreation -- is among the most pervasive, pernicious and provocative of this fallen world's allures? Edited by teddyaware
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