In an October 2009 general conference address, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf described God’s love:
“God does not look on the outward appearance. I believe that He doesn’t care one bit if we live in a castle or a cottage, if we are handsome or homely, if we are famous or forgotten. Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God’s love encompasses us completely.
“He loves us because He is filled with an infinite measure of holy, pure, and indescribable love. We are important to God not because of our résumé but because we are His children. He loves every one of us” (“The Love of God,” Oct. 2009 general conference).
God loves all of us. He loves those of different faiths and those without any faith. He loves those who suffer. He loves the rich and poor alike. He loves people of every race and culture, the married or single, and those who experience same-sex attraction or identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. And God expects us to follow His example.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
Nothing more fully demonstrates the depth and reach of God’s love than His willingness to sacrifice His Son that we, His children, might overcome death and be offered eternal life.
Nothing better expresses the love of Jesus Christ than His willingness to give His life to atone for the sins of mankind, compensate for all suffering and injustice, and break the bands of death for all (see Alma 7:11–13).
“We have given much thought and care to better understanding the experience of same-sex attraction. And making sure individuals who feel such attraction, and their families, feel welcome and part of the great worldwide family that is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“I now speak directly to Church members who experience same-sex attraction or identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. We want you to know we love you. You are welcome. We want you to be part of our congregations. You have great talents and abilities to offer God’s kingdom on earth, and we recognize the many valuable contributions you make. If any of you are unclear about where the Church stands on these issues, we invite you to please take the time to view the material published at ChurchofJesusChrist.org/topics/gay. Prayerfully seek the Spirit to provide the answers you seek. And be assured that God loveth His children.” —Elder Whitney L. Clayton
God promises that if we obey His laws, we will have eternal joy, and He always keeps His promises. People who experience same-sex attraction or identify as gay can make and keep promises to God. They can walk in His light. They can fully participate in the Church.
“ If members feel same-sex attraction and are striving to live the law of chastity, leaders support and encourage them in their resolve. These members may receive Church callings, hold temple recommends, and receive temple ordinances if they are worthy. Male members may receive and exercise the priesthood. (General Handbook: Church Policies and Guidelines,38.6.12)”
President Gordon B. Hinckley stated:
“We love them as sons and daughters of God. They may have certain inclinations which are powerful, and which may be difficult to control. Most people have inclinations of one kind or another at various times. If they do not act upon these inclinations, then they can go forward as do all other members of the Church. If they violate the law of chastity and the moral standards of the Church, then they are subject to the discipline of the Church, just as others are” (“What Are People Asking about Us?” Oct. 1998 general conference).
Whatever a person’s circumstances, he or she can contribute to the Lord’s cause in the present and can anticipate that his or her faithfulness will yield the same blessings, here and hereafter, that are promised by God to anyone who is similarly faithful. Elder D. Todd Christofferson has observed:
“Everyone has gifts; everyone has talents; everyone can contribute to the unfolding of the divine plan in each generation. Much that is good, much that is essential—even sometimes all that is necessary for now—can be achieved in less than ideal circumstances. So many of you are doing your very best. And when you who bear the heaviest burdens of mortality stand up in defense of God’s plan to exalt His children, we are all ready to march. With confidence we testify that the Atonement of Jesus Christ has anticipated and, in the end, will compensate all deprivation and loss for those who turn to Him. No one is predestined to receive less than all that the Father has for His children” (“Why Marriage, Why Family,” Apr. 2015 general conference).
The Church does not take a position on the cause of same-sex attraction. In 2006, Elder Dallin H. Oaks stated:
“The Church does not have a position on the causes of any of these susceptibilities or inclinations, including those related to same-gender attraction” (Interview With Elder Dallin H. Oaks and Elder Lance B. Wickman: “Same-Gender Attraction,” 2006).
Elder M. Russell Ballard stated:
“Let us be clear: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believes that ‘the experience of same-sex attraction is a complex reality for many people. The attraction itself is not a sin but acting on it is. Even though individuals do not choose to have such attractions, they do choose how to respond to them. With love and understanding, the Church reaches out to all God’s children, including [those with same-sex attraction]’” (“The Lord Needs You Now!” Ensign, Sept. 2015, 29).
While same-sex attraction is not a sin, it can be a challenge. While one may not have chosen to have these feelings, he or she can commit to keep God’s commandments. The parent of a child who experiences same-sex attraction or identifies as gay should choose to love and embrace that child. As a community of Church members, we should choose to create a welcoming community.
If you’re asking yourself whether you’re gay, you’ve probably experienced same-sex attraction and are wondering how to interpret these feelings. Sexual desires are complex and shaped by many factors. While a romantic, emotional, or sexual attraction can signal a sexual orientation, you should not automatically assume that it does. Sexual desire can be fluid and changeable. If you are questioning, you should not feel pressured or rushed to reach conclusions about your sexuality.
Words mean different things to different people, and the definition of a word can change throughout our lives. What does the word gay mean to you? Is it a feeling? An identity? A lifestyle? The usage of the word gay has been changing as society and culture change. Identifying as gay may mean you experience same-sex attraction but choose not to act on these feelings. Or maybe this label describes how you express yourself emotionally, physically, sexually, or politically. If you’re wondering what someone means when they say, “I’m gay,” just ask them.
For some people, keeping feelings of same-sex attraction private can result in shame or a negative internal dialogue. Sharing those feelings with a trusted confidant can be liberating and healing. Some, however, wish they had waited longer or at least limited the number of people to whom they disclosed their feelings, so this decision shouldn’t be based on yielding to pressure to “come out” publicly or openly identify as gay. If you decide to disclose feelings of same-sex attraction, prayerfully consider whom you would like to tell about it and how to share this aspect of your mortal experience.
If you decide to share your experiences of feeling same-sex attraction or to openly identify as gay, you should be supported and treated with kindness and respect, both at home and in church. We all need to be patient with each other as we figure things out.
As Church members, we all have a responsibility to create a supportive and loving environment for all our brothers and sisters. Such a support network makes it much easier to live the gospel and to seek the Spirit while navigating any aspect of mortality.
The intensity of same-sex attraction is not a measure of your faithfulness. Many people pray for years and do all they can to be obedient in an effort to reduce same-sex attraction, yet find they are still attracted to the same sex. Same-sex attraction is experienced along a spectrum of intensity and is not the same for everyone. Some are attracted to both genders, and others are attracted exclusively to the same gender. For some, feelings of same-sex attraction, or at least the intensity of those feelings, may diminish over time. In any case, a change in attraction should not be expected or demanded as an outcome by parents or leaders.
The intensity of your attractions may not be in your control; however, you can choose how to respond. Asking the Lord what you can learn from this experience can focus your faith on an outcome you can control. Turning your life over to God is an important act of faith that brings great blessings now and even greater blessings in the world to come.
The Savior has a perfect understanding of all our difficulties. As mortals, our understanding is limited. We can declare with Nephi that we “know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, [we] do not know the meaning of all things” (1 Nephi 11:17).
As we seek answers and direction for our personal journey, we can trust God and the power inherent in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. As Jesus Christ took upon Himself the sins of the world, He also experienced every pain and affliction any human being might experience.
“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).
“And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people” (Alma 7:11).
In our mortal lives, we may be given or assign ourselves many labels. Some labels may describe affiliations or a stage of life, and other labels may reflect physical characteristics like tall, short, brunette, bald, or redheaded.
Labels have power. In an October 1983 general conference address, then Elder Thomas S. Monson described his firsthand experience with the power of labels:
“Sometimes cities and nations bear special labels of identity. Such was a cold and very old city in eastern Canada. The missionaries called it ‘Stony Kingston.’ There had been but one convert to the Church in six years, even though missionaries had been continuously assigned there during the entire interval. No one baptized in Kingston. …
“While I was praying about and pondering this sad dilemma, for my responsibility then as a mission president required that I pray and ponder about such things, my wife called to my attention an excerpt from the book, A Child’s Story of the Prophet Brigham Young, by Deta Petersen Neeley (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1959, p. 36). She read aloud that Brigham Young entered Kingston, Ontario, on a cold and snow-filled day. He labored there about thirty days and baptized forty-five souls. Here was the answer. If the missionary Brigham Young could accomplish this harvest, so could the missionaries of today.
“Without providing an explanation, I withdrew the missionaries from Kingston, that the cycle of defeat might be broken. Then the carefully circulated word: ‘Soon a new city will be opened for missionary work, even the city where Brigham Young proselyted and baptized forty-five persons in thirty days.’ The missionaries speculated as to the location. Their weekly letters pleaded for the assignment to this Shangri-la. More time passed. Then four carefully selected missionaries—two of them new, two of them experienced—were chosen for this high adventure. The members of the small branch pledged their support. The missionaries pledged their lives. The Lord honored both.
“In the space of three months, Kingston became the most productive city of the Canadian Mission. The grey limestone buildings still stood, the city had not altered its appearance, the population remained constant. The change was one of attitude. The label of doubt yielded to the label of faith” (“Labels,” Oct. 1983 general conference).
Throughout our lives, aspects of our identities change. We inevitably change from young to old. Our views may change, and, along with those views, we may change our affiliations.
Our identity may be in flux, but there is one aspect of who we are that is eternally fixed. We will always be children of God.
We should exercise care in how we label ourselves. Labels should be used thoughtfully and with the guidance of the Holy Ghost. Labels can affect how we think about ourselves and how others treat us and may expand or limit our ability to follow God’s plan for our happiness. Labels may impact our goals, sense of identity, and the people we call friends. If labels get in the way of our eternal progress, we can choose to change them. Elder Dallin H. Oaks explained in a 2006 interview:
“I think it is an accurate statement to say that some people consider feelings of same-gender attraction to be the defining fact of their existence. … We have the agency to choose which characteristics will define us; those choices are not thrust upon us.
“The ultimate defining fact for all of us is that we are children of Heavenly Parents, born on this earth for a purpose, and born with a divine destiny. Whenever any of those other notions, whatever they may be, gets in the way of that ultimate defining fact, then it is destructive and it leads us down the wrong path” (Interview With Elder Dallin H. Oaks and Elder Lance B. Wickman: “Same-Gender Attraction,” 2006).
If one experiences same-sex attraction, he or she can choose whether to use a sexual identity label. Identifying oneself as gay or lesbian is not against Church policy or doctrine; however, it may have undesired consequences in the way one is treated. No true follower of Christ is justified in withholding love because you decide to identify in this way.
President Russell M. Nelson reminded us: “One day you will be asked if you took upon yourself the name of Christ and if you were faithful to that covenant” (“Identity, Priority, and Blessings,” Ensign, Aug. 2001, 10).
As Paul expressed it: “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:27–28).
One day, at the end of this short mortal journey, we will return to the presence of our Heavenly Parents. One day, all other labels will be swallowed up in our eternal identity as children of God.
Elder Gary E. Stevenson:
“All of us look at our lives sometimes and try to evaluate where are we; where am I in my life? I’ve always said that when you begin to compare yourself one with another, it either leads to discouragement or it leads to pride. Neither of those are good, but that’s often what happens when people began comparing. They start to think, ‘My lot in life is better, or my lot in life is much worse.’ And so it’s not a constructive exercise for us to try to compare our circumstance to another. Blessings come in the near term; blessings come in the long term. Sometimes blessings are in store for us, I believe, after we pass through the veil, in our post-mortal existence. And so we’re in a very finite space right now, and in this finite space, it’s just not beneficial to try to compare adversity that we’ve had or to try to compare the blessings that we have.
“We remember when Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden, one of the things that was introduced when they left was thorns and thistles, and we all have them in our lives. But, we can have confidence that all of those can be overcome, whatever those might be that are placed in front of us. The Lord tells us that there’s going to be adversity along the way, and he even suggests to us that our afflictions will be consecrated for our gain. Now sometimes we have to wait some years for this, but, ultimately, we can be assured that the promise of eternal life is for everyone. Everyone will be rewarded for their faithfulness equally. If you endure to the end, you’ll be blessed. It might be hard today and tomorrow and next month, but it will not always be hard. You can do this.
“As you exercise your faith in Jesus Christ in His Atonement, there will be sometimes adversity and trials that will come to us that seem like they’re almost too hard to bear. But then he says, “Nevertheless, be of good cheer for I will lead you along.’ That’s a promise from the Lord. Be of good cheer in the midst of your adversity; be of good cheer for I will lead you along. And I bear testimony that Jesus Christ will lead you along in any adversity that you have.”
God’s plan is perfect, even if our current understanding of His plan is not. Through the Savior Jesus Christ, we can find hope and healing despite life’s many challenges.
God has a plan for our happiness. He sent us to earth to learn from our circumstances. He sent us here to make choices.
We lived with God before we were born. We knew Him, and He knows us. He knows our strengths and weaknesses, our dreams and our fears. Mortal life is our personal journey of getting to know God again. He knows our great potential and who we can become. More than anything, God loves us. (See 2 Nephi 2:25.)
We may have forgotten the time we spent with God, but He hasn’t forgotten us. He calls prophets to remind us why we’re here and how to become like Him. (See Luke 11:49.)
We are here for a wise purpose. God sent us to this time and place. He knew the challenges we would face, the choices we would be required to make. God will not force any of His children to obey His laws. He wants us to choose for ourselves, whatever our circumstances, to learn from experience and to become as He is. But God won’t force us to obey Him (see 2 Nephi 2:16).
As followers of Jesus Christ, we learn to listen to the Spirit and walk in the light of Christ. We can discern what is right or wrong, despite physical appetites and temptations that are contrary to true principles. And by choosing right, we grow stronger. At times it may seem we are at war with ourselves, but overcoming opposition is part of the plan to make us stronger. Opposition is not comfortable, but it is necessary.
“For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, … righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad” (2 Nephi 2:11).
When we sin—and we all do—we can repent. The process of repentance helps cleanse our souls and allows us to grow closer to God. Repentance is not a punishment. It is a gift, purchased in Gethsemane and on Golgotha by our Savior Jesus Christ.
“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).
The sacrifice of our Savior—which we call the Atonement of Jesus Christ—is more than payment for our sins. We can turn to the Savior to heal our heart, to strengthen our spirit, to find peace. We can lay our burdens at His feet, and He will take them up. He is our Redeemer. He knows us.
“And he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities” (Alma 7:12).
As descendants of Adam and Eve, all people inherit the effects of the Fall. In our fallen state, we are subject to opposition and temptation. When we give in to temptation, we are alienated from God, and if we continue in sin, we lose the companionship and influence of His Spirit, the Holy Ghost, in our lives.
The only way for us to be saved is for someone to rescue us. We need someone who can satisfy the demands of justice—standing in our place to assume the burden of the Fall and to pay the price for our sins. Jesus Christ has always been the only one capable of making such a sacrifice.
From before the Creation of the earth, the Savior has been our only hope for “peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come” (Doctrine and Covenants 59:23).
“Our Savior’s Atonement does more than assure us of immortality by a universal resurrection and give us the opportunity to be cleansed from sin by repentance and baptism. His Atonement also provides the opportunity to call upon Him who has experienced all of our mortal infirmities to give us the strength to bear the burdens of mortality. He knows of our anguish, and He is there for us. Like the good Samaritan, when He finds us wounded by the wayside, He will bind up our wounds and care for us (see Luke 10:34). The healing and strengthening power of Jesus Christ and His Atonement is for all of us who will ask” (Dallin H. Oaks, “Strengthened by the Atonement of Jesus Christ,” Oct. 2015 general conference).
This life is an opportunity to become more like our Heavenly Father. As we embrace our eternal destiny as children of God, we enter a process of continual growth and improvement. As Elder David A. Bednar taught in an April 2012 Ensign article:
“The journey of mortality is to go from bad to good to better and to have our very natures changed. The Book of Mormon is replete with examples of disciples and prophets who knew, understood, and were transformed by the enabling power of the Atonement in making that journey. As we come to better understand this sacred power, our gospel perspective will be greatly enlarged and enriched. Such a perspective will change us in remarkable ways. …
“As you and I come to understand and employ the enabling power of the Atonement in our personal lives, we will pray and seek for strength to change our circumstances rather than praying for our circumstances to be changed. We will become agents who act rather than objects that are acted upon (see 2 Nephi 2:14)” (“The Atonement and the Journey of Mortality,” Ensign, Apr. 2012, 43–44).
As we access the power of our Savior Jesus Christ to strengthen us and heal us, He can change our hearts.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland shared the following story:
“I speak of a young man who entered the mission field worthily but by his own choice returned home early due to same-sex attraction and some trauma he experienced in that regard. He was still worthy, but his faith was at crisis level, his emotional burden grew ever heavier, and his spiritual pain was more and more profound. He was by turns hurt, confused, angry, and desolate.
“His mission president, his stake president, his bishop spent countless hours searching and weeping and blessing him as they held on to him, but much of his wound was so personal that he kept at least parts of it beyond their reach. The beloved father in this story poured his entire soul into helping this child, but his very demanding employment circumstance meant that often the long, dark nights of the soul were faced by just this boy and his mother. Day and night, first for weeks, then for months that turned into years, they sought healing together. Through periods of bitterness (mostly his but sometimes hers) and unending fear (mostly hers but sometimes his), she bore—there’s that beautiful, burdensome word again—she bore to her son her testimony of God’s power, of His Church, but especially of His love for this child. In the same breath she testified of her own uncompromised, undying love for him as well. To bring together those two absolutely crucial, essential pillars of her very existence—the gospel of Jesus Christ and her family—she poured out her soul in prayer endlessly. She fasted and wept, she wept and fasted, and then she listened and listened as this son repeatedly told her of how his heart was breaking. Thus she carried him—again—only this time it was not for nine months. This time she thought that laboring through the battered landscape of his despair would take forever.
“But with the grace of God, her own tenacity, and the help of scores of Church leaders, friends, family members, and professionals, this importuning mother has seen her son come home to the promised land. Sadly, we acknowledge that such a blessing does not, or at least has not yet, come to all parents who anguish over a wide variety of their children’s circumstances, but here there was hope. And, I must say, this son’s sexual orientation did not somehow miraculously change—no one assumed it would. But little by little, his heart changed” (“Behold Thy Mother,” Oct. 2015 general conference).
Life may seem unfair at times. It may seem as if our sincere prayers are going unanswered. It may seem as though we were denied the fulness of opportunities and God’s ultimate blessings. But no honest prayer goes unheard. God will fulfill all His promises. No blessing will be denied His obedient and faith-filled children. Our divine potential is to be able to live as eternal families and be like our Heavenly Parents.
Sometimes our doubts, fears, and frustrations may seem overwhelming. Life can pose difficult questions and present serious obstacles. To have faith is not to have all the answers, but choosing faith over doubt is a choice to trust God. We choose to trust His plan and His timetable, even if some parts of our mortal experience make no sense to us at the present time. As we put our faith and trust in God and have the patience to build our faith day by day, eventually we will see things clearly. (See 1 Corinthians 13:12.)
Seeing clearly is not an event. It is a process. We see more clearly as we fulfill our potential as children of God. And what is our potential? If we do our best to keep His commandments, He has promised eternal joy—lasting, true joy.
People who experience same-sex attraction or identify themselves as gay may be at higher risk for depression or suicide. People who are depressed or who may be contemplating suicide need to know they are loved and should be referred to a competent mental health professional. Additional resources addressing suicide can be found at preventingsuicide.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
Feelings of depression are real and can be overwhelming and debilitating. Often, professional counseling and medical care can help people deal with depression. When feelings of depression turn to suicidal thoughts, it is critical to have someone to talk to. People who are suicidal are in significant physical, mental, or emotional pain; are often isolated; and may feel they have no hope for the future. They may feel there is no other way to end the crippling pain except through taking their own life. Thoughts of death by suicide are often contemplated, considered, and reconsidered before any attempt is made. During this period of contemplation, intervention can save a life.
Preventing suicide starts with recognizing the warning signs. For a list of warning signs, please visit the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention.
If it appears someone may be at risk, the best thing one can do is talk to them about it. It may seem awkward or presumptuous, but people who are depressed often desperately need someone to talk to, someone to help them process thoughts and feelings. These conversations may be difficult, but they are critical in reducing the feelings of isolation and hopelessness that can lead to suicide. If it appears that a person is at immediate risk of attempting suicide, call the national suicide prevention lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland speaks compassionately of dealing with depression:
“Whatever your struggle, my brothers and sisters—mental or emotional or physical or otherwise—do not vote against the preciousness of life by ending it!
“Trust in God. Hold on in His love. Know that one day the dawn will break brightly, and all shadows of mortality will flee. Though we may feel we are ‘like a broken vessel,’ as the Psalmist says, we must remember, that vessel is in the hands of the divine potter” (“Like a Broken Vessel,” Oct. 2013 general conference).
Sexual purity is an essential part of God’s plan for our happiness. The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles declared:
“The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World”).
“The Lord’s law of chastity is:
Within the context of marriage between a man and a woman, sexual expression is an important aspect of bonding between spouses. However, if we express ourselves sexually outside the bounds the Lord has set, we not only jeopardize our ability to choose well; we also reject the pattern the Lord set for our eternal happiness.
In his October 1993 general conference address, “The Great Plan of Happiness,” Elder Dallin H. Oaks explained:
“The power to create mortal life is the most exalted power God has given his children. Its use was mandated in the first commandment, but another important commandment was given to forbid its misuse. The emphasis we place on the law of chastity is explained by our understanding of the purpose of our procreative powers in the accomplishment of God’s plan. …
“Outside the bonds of marriage, all uses of the procreative power are to one degree or another a sinful degrading and perversion of the most divine attribute of men and women” (“The Great Plan of Happiness,” Oct. 1993 general conference).
“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7).
“The Church opposes pornography in any form. Indulgence in pornography damages individual lives, families, and society. Such indulgence drives away the Spirit of the Lord. Church members should avoid all forms of pornographic material and oppose its production, dissemination, and use.
“Viewing explicit sexual images, even out of curiosity, also violates God’s commandments. Sexual stimulation has a powerful effect on us. Even looking at images or thinking about sexual expression causes us to feel pleasure and desire more. In promoting this stimulation, pornography deadens one’s sensitivity to God’s moral law. Most importantly, it offends the Spirit, leaving one without the guidance and protection of the Holy Ghost.
“The Church condemns pornography in any form. Pornography use of any kind damages individual lives, families, and society. It also drives away the Spirit of the Lord. Church members should avoid all forms of pornographic material and oppose its production, dissemination, and use.
The Church provides the following resources to help bishops and stake presidents as they counsel members who are involved with pornography:
As we use our agency to make choices to follow God’s laws, our spirits grow stronger. If we find ourselves spiritually weakened—and we all do from time to time—our Savior Jesus Christ is there for us. Through repentance, we can return to a life characterized by self-mastery.
People of any sexual orientation who violate the law of chastity can be reconciled with God through repentance.
As Elder David A. Bednar explained in an April 2013 general conference address:
“Some of you who receive this message need to repent of sexual or other sins. The Savior is often referred to as the Great Physician, and this title has both symbolic and literal significance. All of us have experienced the pain associated with a physical injury or wound. When we are in pain, we typically seek relief and are grateful for the medication and treatments that help to alleviate our suffering. Consider sin as a spiritual wound that causes guilt or, as described by Alma to his son Corianton, ‘remorse of conscience’ (Alma 42:18). Guilt is to our spirit what pain is to our body—a warning of danger and a protection from additional damage. From the Atonement of the Savior flows the soothing salve that can heal our spiritual wounds and remove guilt. However, this salve can only be applied through the principles of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, and consistent obedience. The results of sincere repentance are peace of conscience, comfort, and spiritual healing and renewal” (“We Believe in Being Chaste,” Apr. 2013 general conference).
Repentance requires a change of heart. The precious gifts of repentance and forgiveness are made possible by the Atonement of Jesus Christ. They can wipe the slate clean and strengthen our ability to use our agency for good.