Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

No Repentance without Punishment

March 04th, 2016 by G.


Now, repentance could not come unto men except there were a punishment, which also was eternal.

Here’s the full context:

16 Now, repentance could not come unto men except there were a punishment, which also was eternal as the life of the soul should be, affixed opposite to the plan of happiness, which was as eternal also as the life of the soul.

17 Now, how could a man repent except he should sin? How could he sin if there was no law? How could there be a law save there was a punishment?

18 Now, there was a punishment affixed, and a just law given, which brought remorse of conscience unto man.

19 Now, if there was no law given—if a man murdered he should die—would he be afraid he would die if he should murder?

20 And also, if there was no law given against sin men would not be afraid to sin.

21 And if there was no law given, if men sinned what could justice do, or mercy either, for they would have no claim upon the creature?

22 But there is a law given, and a punishment affixed, and a repentance granted; which repentance, mercy claimeth; otherwise, justice claimeth the creature and executeth the law, and the law inflicteth the punishment; if not so, the works of justice would be destroyed, and God would cease to be God.

23 But God ceaseth not to be God, and mercy claimeth the penitent, and mercy cometh because of the atonement; and the atonement bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead; and the resurrection of the dead bringeth back men into the presence of God; and thus they are restored into his presence, to be judged according to their works, according to the law and justice.

24 For behold, justice exerciseth all his demands, and also mercy claimeth all which is her own; and thus, none but the truly penitent are saved.

That’s from Alma’s commandments to his son Corianton.

At a primitive level, Alma is saying that without punishment we wouldn’t have any motivation to repent. But he’s also saying something more fundamental.

Choices have to have consequences to be meaningful. If every choice leads to the same outcome, the choice doesn’t matter. Therefore, for something to be a sin, there has to be a punishment (I’m using punishment broadly to mean any kind of unfavorable consequence). Otherwise the choice would not matter, so the sin isn’t a sin. But the choice to repent should also matter. So a meaningful choice to forsake sins is only possible if forsaking your sins leads to some kind of good consequence or avoids a bad consequence. Repentance, in other words, can only exist if sin is otherwise punished.

The same might be said of forgiveness.

We are attuned to Satan’s attempts to strip of us our agency and exaltation through force. We understand that fascism is devilish. We are less attuned to his attempts to strip us of our agency and exaltation through unbounded affirmation and an unlimited therapeutic, nonjudgmental approach to life. Call it pink fascism. It is also devilish.

Christ suffered for our sins. But for our self-actualizing acts of self-expression? Those we are stuck with forever.


Originally published in March 2014
Comments (5)
Filed under: Deseret Review | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
March 04th, 2016 07:44:36

March 4, 2016

“Pink fascism.” I’m going to plagiarize the Mary Kay out of that.

Bruce Charlton
March 5, 2016

This was a very good post, worth revisiting. Perhaps another way of conceptualizing your point ist that Satan wants Men to ‘sleepwalk’ through life; rather than being fully awake, conscious, participating and engaged by it?

(In this context’ ‘sleeping’ would include immersion in the mass media and other addictive distractions.)

March 6, 2016

not my own coinage, unfortunately. Feel free to steal what is already stolen.

@Bruce Charlton,

I like that. Like in the Screwtape Letters, the devils’ tactic is to get the sinner to someday wake up in the middle of ruins, having no idea how they got there.

March 6, 2016

From what I’ve learned of grace, the man of Christ will be equally baffled when he finds himself exalted!

March 7, 2016

Good post. Boundless affirmation can be diabolical, but in my experience, he is far more effective at wielding endless distraction and entertainment as a way to lull folks into never making choices, along the lines of Bruce’s comment above about sleepwalking. Maybe this is the same thing.

Reminds me of when I first read Brave New World. That book has it’s problems, but it struck me (and still strikes me) as such a profound response to 1984–that the weapons of evil in the coming centuries would not be authoritariansim, coercion, and dictatorship, but amusement, entertainment, and distraction. Why force a man to do what you want, when all you want is for him to do anything but choose goodness, and you can give him infinite other options?

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.