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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Alma 39

I have to say, I sometimes find this chapter so depressing. Obviously Corianton had been a little wild, and Alma is forced to tell him basically how disappointed he is. He even says that Corianton's actions had prevented some missionary work from being successful. The thing that makes it better for me, is that a few chapters later, Alma calls him once again to be a missionary, telling him to shape up and repent! I feel like there is a lot of hope for Corianton, and in turn us, so even though these chapters are kind of sad, ultimately we can feel better after reading them.

First of all, Alma compares Corianton to his brother, Shiblon. Shiblon's chapter was pretty short, but Alma says here the reason--Shiblon was righteous and needed less instruction than Corianton. I know none of us likes to be compared unfavorably to our siblings, but Corianton obviously needed it. Among his transgressions were boasting about his own strength and wisdom, but worse, he chased after a harlot. Sexual sin is much worse than boasting.

Alma gives us a hierarchy of sort of major sins. The worst is denying the Holy Ghost, and then murder, and then sexual sin. I remember when I was a kid, I was afraid that I might somehow accidentally deny the Holy Ghost, or for some reason say I denied it and then I would commit the unpardonable sin. I was happy to find out later on that denying the Holy Ghost is not that simple or easy, and I definitely am not in danger of casually doing it. Murder seems easy enough to avoid. Sexual sin--easy. Right? Sadly, I think this is one of the easiest sins to commit these days. Pornography is a form of sexual sin that is easy to justify because it doesn't seem as serious as fornication or adultery. But our prophets tells us all the time how serious it is. Both men and women are susceptible, and it can take many forms, through images, media, and books. I love to read and it's easy to find pornographic passages in books. These days, we often have to sacrifice watching a great movie or reading a great book, and it's no fun, but I think we will find ourselves blessed for that choice. There was a movie that came out recently that my husband and I really, really wanted to see. But at the same time, we knew there would lots of violence and that it would be a really dark movie. We weighed it back and forth, and decided that for us, it would be better to not see that movie. His deacons thought we were crazy! But I am so glad we made that choice. I don't need those sorts of violent images in my head. I really wish I made good choices like in regards to media more often.

Verse 11 has one of the saddest lines in it. Alma tells Corianton that the Zoramites witnessed his behavior, and "when they saw their conduct, they would not believe my words." How many of us have talked to non-member friends who have said "But that person is a Mormon and they drink/swear/wear bikinis (or whatever else you just said you don't do because of your religious beliefs)." I have heard that before. I hope that I can be a righteous example to others, like Shiblon, and not the negative example that Corianton was.

Alma tells Corianton to turn his life around. I had thought that there was a mention of Corianton later on in the book of Alma, and there is. All it says though, was that he went north with Hagoth. I'd like to think that he listened, repented, and went on to become a better person and missionary.

Alma ends with addressing a concern of Corianton's, which is how they can know of Christ's coming so long in advance. Alma says simply, "is not a soul at this time as precious unto God as a soul will be at the time of his coming?" Also, he tells his son that it is just as easy for the Lord to send an angel testifying of Christ before his coming as afterwards. I like that thought. Sometimes I marvel at the faith of those who lived before Christ and just had to have faith he would actually come. But those who knew Christ had to have faith that he was the son of God, and we have to have faith that he lived and atoned for our sins. It requires faith for everyone!

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