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David O. McKay Diaries – “Repentance”

Below you will find diary entries on the topic of “Repentance.” You can view other subjects here.

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Mon., 20 Feb., 1950:

“At 9:30 a.m., met by appointment at the request of Archie Johnson, President of the Uintah Stake, who phoned the residence yesterday, Bishop Phil Watkins of the Vernal 2nd Ward, and Bishop Heber M. Rasband of the Heber 1st Ward.  Accompanying these Bishops were–Robert Turner of the Heber 1st Ward, and Miss Eloise M. Nielsen of the Vernal 2nd Ward, about whom Pres. Johnson had previously written.  The young couple are seeking a recommend to the Temple, but have made a certain confession, and the purpose of the visit this morning was to see what could be done in their case.  I explained to the Bishops and the young couple the steps that must be taken before a recommend can be issued.”

Tues., 8 Nov. 1960:

“Principle of Repentance as it Pertains to Prospective Missionaries Who May Have Trangressed

At this point, the members of the Presiding Bishopric and counselors of Richard L. Evans withdrew from the meeting.  Elder Richard L. Evans was asked to remain for a discussion of the case of a missionary from Colorado, a convert of two or three years, who had been guilty of transgression two years ago.  Elder Evans’ careful interview with the missionary brought out the impression that the missionary had repented and that he is a young man of good character and should normally be recommended to be called as a missionary, though the views of others would seem to be that he should not be recommended for call.

President Moyle explained that he and Brother Evans meet the newly arrived missionaries at the Missionary Home Monday mornings and instructions are given in the importance of a clear conscience before they go to the Temple and into the Mission Field.  Missionaries needing to make confessions do so.  Missionaries who disclose transgressions are not now sent into the Mission Field, but are returned to their homes from the Mission Home.

I emphasized the importance of Repentance and the possibility of saving a soul.  I said that I think we are not justified in sending a boy home who makes a confession, and who has kept himself clean since his transgression.  If he has truly repented, we are not justified in prohibiting him from going on a mission.

I then said that if you brethren feel that this boy in question is telling the truth, and if we then refuse to let him go on his mission, I feel that we are doing him an injustice, and the Lord will not be pleased with us.  When we say we shall not send any boy on a mission, we are taking judgment into our hands, and that decision really belongs to the Lord.  If a boy lies, that is his responsibility, and he will not amount to anything here or anywhere else.

President Moyle then said that he felt that way yesterday morning, but that he did not tell them (the missionaries) that he who confesses and repents will be forgiven.

I said that I feel that that attitude is Christlike, and that I feel that He would do it.

Brother Evans said that the boy confessed and was repentant.

I said ‘Go thy way and sin no more.’

Brother Evans said, ‘That is my feeling, President; I feel that any time we close the door forever, we discourage repentance and confession and confidence.’

I said that if we do not forgive, then we do not acknowledge that there is power in repentance; that I think repentance is a most Godlike principle.  Of all principles, repentance is the most Godlike.  I then said that I think we had better have an understanding about this with the Twelve.

President Moyle said that it becomes a matter of discretion for the Twelve to determine whether the repentance is sincere, and if it is, then the missionary should be allowed to go on his mission.

I said that I could see no other way; otherwise, we become somewhat pharisaical in our judgment and condemn a soul irrespective of his desire to do right.  I said that I would let this boy who has confessed to go on his mission.

Fri., 6 Jan. 1961:

“Friday, January 6, 1961


To: Clare Middlemiss January 20, 1961

From: Gordon B. Hinckley

On January 6, Elder Hugh B. Brown talked with President McKay about two missionaries in the Mission Home at that time.  President McKay asked me to come in and meet with them.

Both of these young men had come over and voluntarily confessed to morals problems.  Brother Brown indicated that the Council of Twelve were divided in their judgment as to whether they should be returned to their homes or be permitted to go forward with their missions.

One young man had been involved with a girl last May.  She had told him that this was not the first time she had been so involved.  She has since married and the information received by the bishop from the grandmother indicated that she had been married last June but had made no disclosure of it until December.

The young man’s father was also his bishop.  He did not have the courage to tell his father at the time of the first interview, and then found himself in a situation where he did not have strength to confess to the stake president or the interviewing authority.

President McKay expressed the view that the boy should be permitted to go forward with his mission.

The other concerned a young man who had been extremely intimate with a girl.  He voluntarily confessed this.  However, he denied that they had acually committed fornication.  Brother Hinckley stated that he had talked with the young man and the young woman, and satisfied that although they had been too intimate, they were honest in their confessions and extremely repentant for what they had done.

President McKay stated that we must never lose sight of the principle of repentance, and said that the young man should be permitted to go.

Mon., 5 June 1961:

“At 9 a.m.

Took time to listen to a recording sent to me by Mr. and Mrs. William Oviatt of Calgary, Canada, in which they make a confession of their sins and ask for forgiveness.  The tape recording was returned to them together with a letter telling them that if they have entirely repented a just Heavenly Father will forgive.  They were instructed to confide in their local Church authorities.”