“Lesson 96: Alma 39,” Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual (2012)
“Lesson 96,” Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual
Alma reproved his wayward son Corianton, who had forsaken the ministry and committed sexual sin. Alma taught him the seriousness of his actions and expressed disappointment that Corianton was guilty of such a serious sin. Alma commanded his son to stop going after the lusts of his eyes and to repent. (Alma’s counsel to Corianton on other subjects continues in chapters 40–42.)
Write the following question on the board: Why are some sins more serious than others?
Invite students to silently consider answers to this question. Suggest that Alma’s counsel recorded in Alma 39 can help us understand the serious nature of certain sins.
Invite students to look at the note just above the heading for chapter 39. Ask them to identify who is speaking in this chapter and to whom he is speaking (Alma is speaking to his son Corianton). Explain that Corianton had accompanied his brother Shiblon and Alma to preach the gospel among the Zoramites, but he had fallen into sin. Point out that understanding what Corianton did wrong will help students better understand Alma’s counsel to him in this chapter and the next three chapters.
Invite a student to read Alma 39:1–5 aloud. Ask the class to look for what Corianton did that was wrong. (You may need to explain that the word harlot in verse 3 refers to an immoral woman or prostitute.)
What did Corianton do that was wrong? Which of his sins was most serious? (Sexual immorality.)
Among the Zoramites, Corianton had boasted of his strength and wisdom (see Alma 39:2). In what ways can a prideful attitude lead to serious sins such as sexual immorality? What are some modern-day examples of prideful attitudes leading people to commit sexual sin? (As students discuss these questions, point out that when people are boastful, they often overestimate their own strength, including their ability to resist temptation. Some modern-day examples of this are early dating and dating one person exclusively.)
Ask students to read Alma 39:5 silently, looking for how Alma explained the seriousness of sexual sin. (It may be helpful to explain that the word abomination refers to something that is sinful, wicked, or awful.)
How does the Lord feel about sexual sin? (As students answer, help them identify the truth that sexual sin is an abomination in the sight of the Lord.)
Why do you think fornication and adultery are placed next to murder in seriousness?
To help students understand the Lord’s standards and promises associated with sexual purity, invite them to read silently the first two paragraphs of the section titled “Sexual Purity” in For the Strength of Youth. Ask them to look for answers to the following question as they read. (You may want to write the question on the board. You may also want to suggest that students mark in the booklet the answers they find.)
What are the benefits of remaining sexually pure?
After students have had time to read and to report the answers they found, ask them to read the rest of the “Sexual Purity” section silently, looking for answers to the following question:
What standards has the Lord set for us to remain sexually pure?
Invite students to ponder what message they feel the Lord would have them learn from what they just read. Testify of the seriousness of sexual sin and of the blessings that come from being sexually pure.
Point out that by counseling his son about a sensitive issue, Alma was fulfilling his duty as a parent. Ask students to consider how they might respond to counsel from their parents or Church leaders concerning sexual purity. Invite them to read Alma 39:7–8 silently, looking for Alma’s purpose in teaching Corianton the seriousness of sexual sin.
What was Alma’s reason for teaching Corianton the seriousness of his sin? (To help Corianton repent so that he would not have to stand guilty before God.)
How should we respond when someone invites us to repent?
To help students understand why parents, like Alma, would invite their children to repent, read the following statement by Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“The invitation to repent is an expression of love. … If we do not invite others to change or if we do not demand repentance of ourselves, we fail in a fundamental duty we owe to one another and to ourselves. A permissive parent, an indulgent friend, a fearful Church leader are in reality more concerned about themselves than the welfare and happiness of those they could help. Yes, the call to repentance is at times regarded as intolerant or offensive and may even be resented, but guided by the Spirit, it is in reality an act of genuine caring” (“The Divine Gift of Repentance,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 39).
To introduce the counsel Alma gave his son about how to repent and turn to the Lord, write the following on the board: Repentance includes …
Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Alma 39:9–13. Pause between each verse to ask students the following questions:
What does it mean to “forsake your sins”? (To stop committing them.)
What do the phrases “go no more after the lusts of your eyes” and “cross yourself in all these things” have to do with forsaking sin? (It may be helpful to explain that in our day the phrase “lusts of your eyes” could refer to images and entertainment that are pornographic in any way. To emphasize the danger of pornography, consider asking students to read the counsel on this subject on page 12 of For the Strength of Youth. You might also explain that the phrase “cross yourself” means to exercise self-control or self-mastery; see footnote 9b.)
What are some ways young Latter-day Saints can exercise self-control in matters of sexual purity and avoid going after the lusts of their eyes? (To help students discuss this question in more detail, you may want to describe some situations that are relevant to your students’ culture and circumstances. For example, you might say something like the following: A Latter-day Saint young woman has decided to “cross herself,” but then a young man she admires invites her to an inappropriate party. How should she respond?)
Point out that Alma 39:9 is a scripture mastery passage. You may want to suggest that students mark this passage in their scriptures so they will be able to locate it easily.
In what ways can seeking spiritual nourishment—possibly from parents, Church leaders, siblings, or trusted friends—help us to repent?
What does it mean to “suffer not yourself to be led away”? (You may need to explain that the word suffer means to allow.)
What are some “vain or foolish” things that you see people being led away by today?
What does it mean to refrain from iniquity? (To avoid sin.)
Explain that repentance means “a turning of the heart and will to God” (see Bible Dictionary, “Repentance”). In the scriptures, the phrase “turn to the Lord” usually denotes repentance.
What do you think it means to “turn to the Lord with all your mind, might, and strength”?
Remind students that during the mission to the Zoramites, Corianton’s conduct had led some people not to believe Alma’s words (see Alma 39:11).
When our sins affect others, what must we do as a part of our repentance? (Acknowledge or confess our faults to those we have hurt and seek to repair the hurt.)
Write the following truth on the board: Repentance includes acknowledging and forsaking our sins and turning to the Lord with all our mind, might, and strength. You may want to suggest that students write this statement in their scriptures near Alma 39:13. Invite students to write in notebooks or scripture study journals about what they feel the Lord would want them to do to turn their hearts and wills to Him more fully.
To emphasize the Savior’s role in the repentance process, ask a student to read Alma 39:15–16, 19 aloud. Ask the class to look for a phrase that is repeated three times in these verses. (The phrase is “glad tidings,” which you may want to explain means “good news.”)
What “glad tidings” did Alma teach his son? (Among the answers the students give should be the truth that Jesus Christ came to take away the sins of the world. You may want to write this on the board.)
Why was the coming of Jesus Christ good news for Corianton? (As students answer this question, you may want to tell them that Corianton later repented of his sins and returned to being a missionary [see Alma 49:30].)
Consider sharing with the class how the message of Jesus Christ’s Atonement has been “glad tidings” for you or those you know. Add your testimony concerning the principles the class has discussed from Alma 39. Encourage students to follow the promptings they may have received during the lesson to safeguard their purity and turn to the Lord through repentance.