WARNING: This post contains a topic of a sacred sexual nature and is intended for married couples only. Reader discretion is advised.
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Secrets and Selfishness
This is our continuing discussion concerning President Kimball's thoughts on 'secret sexual sins in marriage', as he wrote about in The Miracle of Forgiveness.
So far, we've discussed what some of those 'secret sexual sins' might be - what could be a sexual sin inside of marriage? It's an intriguing question, and some of my thoughts on what these might be have been addressed in the previous articles linked above.
Some further thoughts I have are regarding...
The last scripture used in this section of The Miracle of Forgiveness directly referenced with the phrase ‘secret sexual sins’ was a scripture directed to Emma Smith, as the Lord was introducing the practice of plural marriage to Joseph and Emma:
"And let mine handmaid, Emma Smith, receive all those that have been given unto my servant Joseph, and who are virtuous and pure before me; and those who are not pure, and have said they were pure, shall be destroyed, saith the Lord God." (D&C 132:52.)
To give some context to what is happening here in this scripture, the Lord was encouraging Emma to accept those who were being given to Joseph as plural wives. The Lord was giving an added protection to her (since she was in the more vulnerable position of the two) that if any of the new wives lied about their worthiness to enter into this marriage, the Lord would destroy them. In case any are still confused, by ‘virtuous and pure’, the Lord meant sexual purity.
If any of the women who had agreed to be sealed to Joseph had been involved in immoral sexual activity, and then told Joseph they were clean and worthy, they would be in hot water with God. The protection for Emma was that promiscuity ran the risk of spreading sexually transmitted diseases as well as creating other psychological and relationship issues.
Syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases were around during Joseph Smith’s time and often incapacitating or deadly.[i] The church was small, but it was growing. The people coming into the church were from all walks of life, and their background and family history was not always known to the local members. Where the women were concerned, previous involvement in prostitution was a very real possibility. So this was a clear protection provided for Emma and the sacrifice she was making to be obedient to the Lord.
So what does that have to do with us today, in our marriages?
Lying about or failing to disclose information about previous sexual transgressions to a potential spouse could be considered one of the “secret sexual sins” President Kimball was referring to, based on the context of this scripture. Engaging in immoral behavior after marriage and trying to hide it from a spouse could also count as a secret sexual sin.
As the scripture suggests, this is especially serious if a couple are entering into a sealing covenant in the temple and one or both enter into the covenant and have unrepented sexual sins.
Not only could this lead to an invalid sealing covenant, but it’s also selfish by not disclosing sexual transgressions that could potentially harm the new husband or wife, or not give them the opportunity to make an informed decision on their marriage based on knowing the whole situation.
If we carry unrepentant sin into the temple, and into our marriages, it can destroy us.[ii] If we try to keep sexual secrets from our spouses after marriage, the wedge it drives between you is not worth the effort to keep the secret.[iii]
Being unworthy ourselves denies promised eternal blessings to both spouses. We should repent quickly to free ourselves from such burdens.
There are no acceptable secrets in a marriage – at least, there shouldn’t be. The health of any given marriage relationship often correlates with how open a couple can be with each other (with kindness and respect) in every area of life, including sex.[iv]
[i] For some historical background on this issues, see Jackson, April L. The History of Prostitution Reform in the United States. Thesis. University of Tennessee Knoxville. May 2004: http://trace.tennessee.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1754&context=utk_chanhonoproj
[ii]1 Corinthians 3:17; also see Packer, Boyd K. ”Ye Are the Temple of God”, October 2000 General Conference, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2000/10/ye-are-the-temple-of-god?lang=eng
[iii] Monson, Thomas, “Hidden Wedges”, April 2002 Conference: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2002/04/hidden-wedges?lang=eng
[iv] See my article on secrets in a marriage, and how it can be a killer to a relationship: http://ldsmarriagebed.blogspot.com/2011/06/four-marriage-killers-secrets.html