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cwilli24

What punishment will I receive?

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Ever since i was about 9 i have had an addiction to pornography and masturbation. I know...early but i had some friends with parents who led somewhat wild lives. I have never really gained a testimony or felt the spirit because of this but i have just gone through the motions. I have gone through the temple and even went on a mission. But since i got back i have broken the law of chastity with 2 separate girls. The most recent one, i am planning on making my wife. In the last year i have gained a testimony and know this church is true and finally am feeling bad for the things that i have done. The girl i am with right now and i are both going to talk to our bishops on sunday and we are hoping to have this all cleared up by next year so we can get married. Can anyone tell me exactly what may be in store for me punishment wise?

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The church does not seek to punish. Why? Because punishment by itself does not bring a soul closer to God. Instead, "The most loving action the Church can take at times is to disfellowship or excommunicate a person" (To Forgive is Devine, Theodore M. Burton, Ensign May 1983).

Why then is there church discipline? One reason is to alleviate the demands of covenants which the member is unwilling or unable to keep, another is to teach. The church disciplines in order to help a person lift the burden of sin and lead them to repentance. The greatest pain and suffering, by far, does not come from church discipline. It comes from sin. Nor is there a level of suffering one needs to endure in order to be forgiven. Your punishment is the pain you have caused and will cause yourself and others because of the many years of committing masturbation, viewing pornography, and fornicating.

Lastly, the opportunity to repent and be forgiven is one of the greatest blessings ever given to man. Repentance is associated with pain as one recognizes what he has done, but it ultimately is about peace and happiness. Suffering does not come from repentance, suffering ever has, and always will, come from sin. When you, and all of us, get that straight in our heads we will leap at the chance to repent and be forgiven.

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The church does not seek to punish. Why? Because punishment by itself does not bring a soul closer to God. Instead, "The most loving action the Church can take at times is to disfellowship or excommunicate a person" (To Forgive is Devine, Theodore M. Burton, Ensign May 1983).

Thank you for stating that, james12!

As to your question, cwilli24, the important thing to consider is not "what punishment will I receive?", it's "am I willing to do whatever it takes to fully repent of what I've done?" You may be excommunicated (not to use this as a way to get a plug in for my blog, but I wrote an entry on this very topic, here) to prevent the further breaking of your temple covenants. If that happens, you mustn't feel like you're being punished. If you read nothing else (in my blog post or elsewhere), I hope it's that excommunication is a form of saving grace, to prevent further damage from being done to yourself; too many people consider it a punishment when that's not actually what it is.

With hard work, devotion and doing what you know is right, along with some fervent prayers, I know you'll be able to pull through this and be sealed with her in the temple - good luck!

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Worst case scenario you'll be excommunicated. I don't know that that'll happen. But with that comes the opportunity to be a totally new person. I know a girl about my age who was excommunicated, returned to the church and is a lovely person. I admire her all the more for freeing herself through the atonement.

James12 couldn't have said it better. Don't be afraid. 2 Timothy 1: 7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord...

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I like Dravin's answer, the bishop will decide as the judge in Israel.

But you can likely expect to be held accountable for breaking the Law of Chastity after covenanting in the temple to lead to disfellowship for a period of time. They will likely have you not take the sacrament, and not give you callings for a period of time, revoke your temple recommend for a period, and want to see that you are sincere in your repentance. Repentance is about changing. They will want to meet with you regularly to see if you are able to keep promises and commit to reading and praying and attending your meetings with a contrite spirit.

THe good news is you have done nothing that cannot be washed clean through the Atonement. But it is not an easy road, and will take faith for you to show you want to work back to full fellowship with the other saints who do keep the covenants they are making best they can.

Do not feel your situation is a lost cause. I have seen many success stories. And I have seen many people not think it is worth it and fall away.

It is up to you how you work through this, but you and your fiance need to look at learning the right gospel principles, not trying to plan a time frame when it can be done.

Christ is the way. That is more important than how to figure out how to get married in a year. Keep focused on the important things, and everything else will fall into place.

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It's all up to your priesthood leaders. You will also probably have to go before a disciplinary council in the stake after you go to your bishop for a final decision to be made. It really depends on the circumstances, and is up to them to decide. One of my best friend's brother was excommunicated for fornication (RM, endowed, etc) but his financee was just disfellowshipped because she hadn't been to the temple yet. But again - all up to the priesthood leaders.

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I have had the unfortunate but blessed experience to be a part of ward level disciplinary meeting/s before. Most cases can stay on a ward level. If your offense involves taking advantage of another whether it is sexual to finance, usually always goes to the stake level.

It was actually a very spiritual experience. If it comes to this, and I mean IF, since there is no way to tell until you have talked to your bishop, if you truely are ready to move on and repent, it should be an uplifting experience leaving you with a great sense of hope and the feeling that your Heavenly Father really loves you.

Best of luck!

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D&C 95

1 Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you whom I love, and whom I love I also chasten that their sins may be forgiven, for with the chastisement I prepare a way for their deliverance in all things out of temptation, and I have loved you—

2 Wherefore, ye must needs be chastened and stand rebuked before my face...

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It bothers me a bit when someone on the otherside of the table says what a spiritual experience it was to be part of a diciplinary council. Perhaps it was for you but having been the object of discussion for such a council I can tell you it was one of the worst experiences of my life. I was disfellowshipped for a year for havning a 3 month adulterous affair with a married woman. I repented and a year later was released from being disfellowshipped. But having to sit in those councils were so emotionally and physically draining and humiliating, I would never say that they were a spiritual experince. Memorable? yes. I don't want to forget because I never want to be there ever again. So.. unless you have been where I have been I would be careful suggesting that it will be a spritiual experience.

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It bothers me a bit when someone on the otherside of the table says what a spiritual experience it was to be part of a diciplinary council. Perhaps it was for you but having been the object of discussion for such a council I can tell you it was one of the worst experiences of my life. I was disfellowshipped for a year for havning a 3 month adulterous affair with a married woman. I repented and a year later was released from being disfellowshipped. But having to sit in those councils were so emotionally and physically draining and humiliating, I would never say that they were a spiritual experince. Memorable? yes. I don't want to forget because I never want to be there ever again. So.. unless you have been where I have been I would be careful suggesting that it will be a spritiual experience.

I don't understand this. If a man has a spiritual experience, is he not allowed to say it's spiritual just because someone else had a similar experience that wasn't spiritual?

Seems to me that a man is allowed to call any experience "spiritual" that he felt was spiritual. You need not agree with him.

I have never been a party to a disciplinary committee or action from either side, so I'm speaking from principle rather than experience.

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I didn't say he wasn't allowed to have a spiritual experience. I even said "perhaps it was for him". This thread is about what this person might expect if he confesses his sins. I am just suggesting that it might not be a sprititual experience for who the council is about. It is great that this person had a spritual experience but don't sell it as this is the experience the sinner might expect. My SP did that to me and it wasn't true. It is an important part of the repentance process but not a comfortable one. I imagine it might be a faith promoting spiritual experience for someone to witness a person repent and humble themselves enought to confess their sin to 15 men. Maybe even a wakeup call to some. And then to see that same person come back into full fellowship with the church. What's not to like about that? Does this help you understand where I am coming from?

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Hi myalternate! It is a pleasure to meet you. I hope you are having a good day. :)

I didn't say he wasn't allowed to have a spiritual experience. I even said "perhaps it was for him". This thread is about what this person might expect if he confesses his sins. I am just suggesting that it might not be a sprititual experience for who the council is about. It is great that this person had a spritual experience but don't sell it as this is the experience the sinner might expect. My SP did that to me and it wasn't true. It is an important part of the repentance process but not a comfortable one. I imagine it might be a faith promoting spiritual experience for someone to witness a person repent and humble themselves enought to confess their sin to 15 men. Maybe even a wakeup call to some. And then to see that same person come back into full fellowship with the church. What's not to like about that? Does this help you understand where I am coming from?

I don't understand where you are coming from. I don't understand why someone has to be careful if they describe something as spiritual. Are you claiming it is some sort of personal offense against you if a person describes a disciplinary council as spiritual because your experience wasn't spiritual?

Regards,

Finrock

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Cwilli24,

I asked this question on this forum a few years ago. Be careful because some of these people can be very very harse. Don't listen to most of them. That said, it was here that I found hope for my future from some very kind and Christ like individuals. You are doing the right thing by even considering repentance. It is a very personal experience even though others will have to know what you did and will try to help. What I did sounds much worse than you. If you go to your bishop being fully repentant I don't think you will have to go through what I did. It does vary from bishop to bishop I am afraid. I know how you are feeling. I had to build up a whole lot of courage to confess what I did and knowing what to expect helped me do that. Someone who hasn't been through it will have a hard time knowing where your mind and heart are at this time. Have faith and do the right thing and everything will workout.

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I didn't say he wasn't allowed to have a spiritual experience. I even said "perhaps it was for him". This thread is about what this person might expect if he confesses his sins. I am just suggesting that it might not be a sprititual experience for who the council is about. It is great that this person had a spritual experience but don't sell it as this is the experience the sinner might expect. My SP did that to me and it wasn't true. It is an important part of the repentance process but not a comfortable one. I imagine it might be a faith promoting spiritual experience for someone to witness a person repent and humble themselves enought to confess their sin to 15 men. Maybe even a wakeup call to some. And then to see that same person come back into full fellowship with the church. What's not to like about that? Does this help you understand where I am coming from?

If I understand you correctly, you are saying that it's not right to "sell" Church discipline as a spiritual experience, because for many people (or at least for you) it was no such thing.

I'm not really sure how to respond. When my younger sister was very little, she got sick. I told her that if she let our mother give her some ipecac, it would make her throw up and she would feel better. But the vomiting was such an awful experience for her that she said she would rather have stayed sick. So was I wrong? Did I lie?

I have told my own children the same type of thing in different situations. In the long view, all are glad that they (for example) let me dig the sliver out, but not all of them were thrilled at the time it happened. I still feel justified in telling them that they will feel better if they let me do whatever it is that needs to be done.

It appears to be the case that for many people, both confessors and leaders, Church disciplinary courts or hearings or whatever they are called are a cathartic and even spiritual experience. I don't think it's dishonest to represent it as such, though clearly the interpretation of the experience will vary from person to person.

Perhaps instead of someone saying, "Trust me, this will be the most spiritual experience of your life," you would prefer they say something like, "Lots of people have taken this step, and many of them have found it to be a great relief and even a spiritual experience where they draw close to God. You might have that experience, too. But in any case, it is something that you will be glad you did once you walk that road to repentance."

I would agree; the latter saying would be better. But not everyone is particularly glib or exceedingly careful in expressing himself. Lots of people just sort of blurt out what they are feeling, as honestly as they can, without taking too much thought for how their nuances might be perceived. Many people consider this "honest speech" and see it as a virtue; often, those same people distrust the carefully turned phrase.

I believe I understand where you are coming from (you can judge whether or not I do, as I explained my interpretation above). I have sympathy for (what I perceive as) your view, but ultimately, I think it's unworkable to insist that everyone express things in exactly the way we find least offensive. I think the best alternative is to try to listen by the Spirit and to try not to take offense.

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Well said. Maybe becuase it is still so fresh on my mind that I am a bit sensative to remarks made however well intended. And that is why I commented at all on the subject. I am not offended. Just suggesting that maybe it is not the same experience one might expect being on the other side of the table. Chathartic is a good description of how it was for me. I don't expect people to be perfect with the way they express themselves. Just to be careful. He was describing it from his point of view and I described it from mine. I believe that the repentant soul might relate more to my experince than the other. The original question was about what could he expect, not what was your experience with attending a disciplinary council? Thanks for your reply.

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It bothers me a bit when someone on the otherside of the table says what a spiritual experience it was to be part of a diciplinary council. Perhaps it was for you but having been the object of discussion for such a council I can tell you it was one of the worst experiences of my life. I was disfellowshipped for a year for havning a 3 month adulterous affair with a married woman. I repented and a year later was released from being disfellowshipped. But having to sit in those councils were so emotionally and physically draining and humiliating, I would never say that they were a spiritual experince. Memorable? yes. I don't want to forget because I never want to be there ever again. So.. unless you have been where I have been I would be careful suggesting that it will be a spritiual experience.

I re-read my original post and find nothing offensive or contrary to what could happen to anyone. I agree that not every time someone enters into any type of disciplinary meeting that you are going to leave as a happy soul. It very well could be a spiritual experience for everyone involved. On the ward side with the bishopric alone, we prayed, talked, prayed talked and prayed again. That is a recipe for a spiritual experience. Not one of smiles, but one of concern and tears. Not one any of us asked for, or wanted, but one that in the end we could say that we appreciated. We could feel the love the savior had for this individual. I cannot say what the other person felt. I apologize if my verbiage "should" was taken as "must". If I used the word "could" would that have cleared things up?

I have had the unfortunate but blessed experience to be a part of ward level disciplinary meeting/s before. Most cases can stay on a ward level. If your offense involves taking advantage of another whether it is sexual to finance, usually always goes to the stake level.

It was actually a very spiritual experience. If it comes to this, and I mean IF, since there is no way to tell until you have talked to your bishop, if you truely are ready to move on and repent, it should be an uplifting experience leaving you with a great sense of hope and the feeling that your Heavenly Father really loves you.

I will continue suggest a spiritual experience to anyone that is seeking repentance. Maybe not the kind of spiritual experience you get when you are in the temple for the first time, or being sealed to your spouse or children. But any time you can feel the spirit, it is a spiritual experience. Why shouldnt someone feel the spirit when participating in part of the repentance process? Remorse for your sins is not a pleasant feeling, but that does not mean that you cannot feel the love of God through the Holy Ghost.

I truely wish you the best myalternate, and I am glad you have a story of success to share and give hope to others. I would hope that you would not discredit my experience because of yours. Both do not contradict eachother. They are simply different.

Edited by EarlJibbs

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Well said. Maybe becuase it is still so fresh on my mind that I am a bit sensative to remarks made however well intended. And that is why I commented at all on the subject. I am not offended. Just suggesting that maybe it is not the same experience one might expect being on the other side of the table. Chathartic is a good description of how it was for me. I don't expect people to be perfect with the way they express themselves. Just to be careful. He was describing it from his point of view and I described it from mine. I believe that the repentant soul might relate more to my experince than the other. The original question was about what could he expect, not what was your experience with attending a disciplinary council? Thanks for your reply.

I think it's ok to have an "alternate" experience with church discipline. I've heard both stories...that it was spiritual, and that it was really hard and even hurtful.

I think we do this a lot in the church. We promise people that we'll always get answers to our prayers or that missions are always wonderful. There is truth here but the "wonderful" doesn't always manifest in the form of an Ensign story.

(One story, I know of a mom that couldn't stand to not have God answer her son's prayer. He lost his $5 bill out the car window one day, you see, and had prayed that God would help him find it. Mom drove out later, planted a $5 bill, and then drove her son to find it. And then celebrated how wonderful it was to get help from God.)

If I'm ever talking to someone about church discipline, or going on a mission, or making covenants, I don't promise happy stories. I promise what the scriptures promise and I keep it at that. Well, I do more than that. I try to tell the truth as balanced as I can. There are not guarantees that our movements towards Christ won't bring discomfort or unforeseen emotional experiences. In fact, sometimes when we finally get to the place where we make our covenants (or remake them) life gets harder. But that isn't important. What is important is our relationship with the Lord. Everything else is superfluous....and often a distraction. If the disciplinary counsel is handled poorly, it doesn't matter. It's another opportunity to practice the lessons of forgiveness and love. At the end of the day, it's all good. It's all an opportunity that God will, if we are open, turn for our good.

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Disciplinary Counsels, I shall interject my .02 because I have experience with this...

The council that determined my excommunication was not a spiritual experience at all. I was not in the mindset to feel it nor to understand it if I did feel anything. I was disappointed and disgusted with myself. And I was convinced that everyone else was also just as disgusted with me as the charges were read. But then again, that was my mindset. I'm sure they were all disappointed and I apologized to the council for putting them through this. It can't be a fun time to hear the sordid story of how a person has fallen so far as to merit loosing his church membership along with his priesthood and temple blessings. Quite frankly, having been in the position to have that decided for me, I hope to never be in a position to decide that for anyone else.

But conversely, my experience in the hearing to be reinstated into the fold was polar opposite. I have yet to have a spiritual experience as breathtaking and powerful. Yea, I was not happy when they read the charges but after the first question, well, it's sacred to me so I'll just leave it at yes, it has been thus far the most powerful spiritual experience I have ever had.

So to declare one way or another the conduciveness of spiritual experiences in a disciplinary hearing is a matter of personal experience. So if one has an issue with someone saying they had one, well, take it at face value. Spiritual experiences are just as different as we all are different from each other. And I would never tell someone that it wasn't one. I wasn't there, I wasn't in their skin so I have no idea one way or the other. Just my own.

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I promise this is the last comment I am making on this thread. The point that I am arguing is in regard to the original question "Can anyone tell me exactly what may be in store for me punishment wise"? IF he has a council HE will be the focus of all discussion not part of the council deciding his fate. I am only saying if you have never been on the other side of the table you can not relate to what that person will be going through. Period. You were part of the council with nothing at stake. But you telling this person it was a sprititual experience is as unrelated as me telling him I had a spiritual experience blessing the sacrament when I was 17. Good for the both of us. But neither of those experiences relate to what this person will likely experience. In an attempt at empathy you said you can relate but you can't. Just like I cannot relate to the experience you had because I have never been involved in a diciplinary council other than my own.

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I promise this is the last comment I am making on this thread. The point that I am arguing is in regard to the original question "Can anyone tell me exactly what may be in store for me punishment wise"? IF he has a council HE will be the focus of all discussion not part of the council deciding his fate. I am only saying if you have never been on the other side of the table you can not relate to what that person will be going through. Period. You were part of the council with nothing at stake. But you telling this person it was a sprititual experience is as unrelated as me telling him I had a spiritual experience blessing the sacrament when I was 17. Good for the both of us. But neither of those experiences relate to what this person will likely experience. In an attempt at empathy you said you can relate but you can't. Just like I cannot relate to the experience you had because I have never been involved in a diciplinary council other than my own.

On the other hand, just because YOU did not find it to be a spiritual experience, does not mean that everyone on "your side of the table" will have the experience that you had. Your experience is your experience and does not reflect how everyone going through that particular experience will feel. You sound adamant that everyone's experience will be just like yours. It even comes across as you not wanting it to be a spiritual experience. As though there is too much anger and resentment in the way.

Being called to account can be a spiritual experience. In my opinion, it should be. And it can be, given the right attitude.

Yeah, yeah....I know....I haven't been there, so I don't know. But at least my mind is open to the possibility that, yes, things like disciplinary counsels and punishment, can be a spiritual experience for ALL parties involved.

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I promise this is the last comment I am making on this thread. The point that I am arguing is in regard to the original question "Can anyone tell me exactly what may be in store for me punishment wise"?

So the ANSWER to the OP in your opinion is really, "no one can tell you exactly what may be in store for you for punishment because no one has been in your shoes exactly. Sorry, you are on your own" ?? That was done, by Dravin in the first post. Case closed. No one should have commented after that.

So really I should just keep my mounth shut because I dont have your experience. But in reality, you do not have the same experience as the OP, you do not have the same attitude, the same back ground, the same friends, the same bishop... so what do you know about what councel he will be given or "exactly" what to expect. Based off of your attitude... you don't. None of us do. So why post anything at all?

Have we all failed the OP by giving what experiences we have had? I thinik not. I think there have been some great posts here showing both sides of how you could feel and what may go on. Not all pointing to a flowery feeling. Should we not all gain something in this conversation? I for one have. And although yours being all pesimistic and untrusting of others, have gianed from your comments as well. I for one am a little ashamed of our attitude on this topic and hope that the OP leaves with something they can use. Not just a bunch of "you don't know anything"

Best wishes.

Edited by EarlJibbs

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Look at what you will experience as - hope. This repentence will be hard and try your relationship with your future wife but the hope of forgiveness and the hope of the return to full fellowship is what it's about. You will feel great love from your bishop and other leaders as they guide you through this process. Think about how much the Savior loves you - he already suffered for these things. The atonement is a wonderous thing. Be strong and "press forward, having perfect brightness of hope. Good luck.

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