…the parched land shall become a pool, and the thirsty lands springs of water…(Isaiah 35:7)


By Rex Goode


In the last few days, I have experienced more of spiritual pain than I ever hope to see again. The problems were largely of my own making, brought on by dwelling on my lifelong struggle to separate temptation from sin. Theoretically and conceptually, I know that it is no sin to be tempted. Yet, throughout my life, I’ve mentally punished myself at least as much for my temptations as I have for my sins. I frequently cannot even distinguish one from the other, preferring a better-safe-than-sorry approach that requires me to assume the worst.

Even when I am able to separate the two, I am often willing to indict myself based solely on the pain my temptations cause others. Such is an unrealistic and altogether unrighteous view. It is true, that to some degree, we are responsible for how our actions make others feel.

If I intentionally do something, knowing full well that the result of my doing it will cause some other person unnecessary turmoil, then it is sin. This is the indictment, but also the rub. Being tempted, for the most part, is not a willful act. Certainly, we can intentionally place ourselves in temptation’s path, but the thoughts and feelings that occur to us to do other than good are not intentional and we are not responsible for how others feel as a result of knowing them.

My temptations of late have been the worst I can ever remember, both in magnitude and scope. I am often presented with questions by curious people as to how I quantify the level of my temptation to indulge in homosexual behavior. Adjectives like “powerful” and “unrelenting” are the words I usually use, but they still feel inadequate to express the strength of the desires that pass through me like waves. I try to relate that if it was just a thought, just a passing fancy, that it would hardly qualify as a temptation. To be truly tempting, a thing that could be done must present itself to me in ways that are nearly irresistible and compelling.

A man who occasionally has an inappropriate fantasy about sex with another man would hardly be someone I would say is tempted by homosexuality. If the thought is fleeting because he would never really follow it to conclusion, then I would have to say it was little more than an anomaly, virtually random.

When it oppresses the mind, when a choice presents itself (especially if that choice seems irresistible), when all spiritual power must be mustered against the thought–THAT is a temptation!

In the arena of temptations, nothing could have been more powerful and oppressive than the temptation expressed in “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.”

I think of how many times he must have warned his disciples, “The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” With each utterance of that prophecy about himself, must have come the thought of escape from that fate.

He was full of great heaviness and sorrow, hurling himself headlong towards what I believe he understood would be more pain and suffering than ever experienced by anyone. Surely that request to “remove this cup from me” was temptation in the superlative.

His own latter-day description of it tells us that it was more than a simple request–that he shrank from his duty and desired to turn away.

Therefore I command you to repent–repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore–how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not.

For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;

But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;

Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit–and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink–

Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men (D&C 19:15–19).

So, now, here I sit, finally humbled after many days of shaking my fist at God. The change in me now is that I am willing to forgive myself for being tempted. Self-hatred for being tempted is a waste of spiritual energy–energy needed to serve as a fortress against the real enemy.

I can also see my temptations in another light where others are concerned. This is also because of my examination of the atonement and Christ’s temptation. You see, part of the guilt I feel about being tempted is because I know that the fact of my temptations makes Barbara feel unloved. However, in the light of truth, if I were to follow that illogic to its conclusion, I should somehow feel slighted by Jesus Christ for having thought to change course.

The perfect expression of love that is the atonement is not diminished at all by any temptations he may have suffered in accomplishing the redemption of mankind. The proof of his love is in the obedience, not in the temptation.

Though a difficult concept for us, I believe that the Lord Jesus Christ understands it thoroughly. He harbors no resentment towards us because we have strong urges to do things contrary to his commandments. He does not accept as evidence of a failing in our love for him because we have these feelings.

Real love, the kind that matters, is evidenced by what we do, not by how we feel.

If I brighten when I see a good-looking man, if my mood improves because a man calls or visits, if I sometimes seem in anguish or pain, if I act as if I want to throw everything away for the pursuit of a man, if I sit and weep and tremble because this all seems too difficult, none of it means I do not love my wife and family. Look for the real me in the things I do. I think of quitting because I’m tempted like everyone else. I stay because I love.

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