Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Can the Murderer Be Redeemed?

A few weeks ago in church we had a guest speaker who has some sort of calling that involves visiting members of the church (or anyone interested) at the prison. He shared some very interesting insights. First, I learned how many times the word prison appears in the Bible, Book of Mormon, D&C, etc... It is a lot. It is often a metaphor for the state of the unrepentant and the unconscious, bound carefully in the devil's fine flaxen cords.

He told us about many of his visits to the prison. Once, a young man asked if there was any hope for him. He was in for some other crimes, but the real sin that he wanted to confess was that he had killed a man.

I think it is a big misconception that the murderer can never redeemed. Murder is one of the most serious of sins. It is "an abomination" to the Lord, because it involves another human soul. But the murderer also has a soul. And I think we need to be careful... Nothing is of more value than a soul. So when our speaker (who didn't have an answer for the sorrowful murderer) talked to the Stake President, he was instructed to bring him back a message of hope: "Never let that man give up hope of being redeemed."

I have read the scriptures on this and I have found different things. One says "he that kills shall not have forgiveness in this life or in the life to come," but many many other scriptures, while seriously denouncing murder, still offer hope. This one from 1 Timothy:
Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, (1 Tim 1:9)

There are also many examples in the scriptures of murderers being redeemed--for example and entire group of people called the People of Ammon--sometimes called the Anti-Nephi-Lehis. They had been a blood-thirsty people who "delighted in the shedding of blood."When they were converted to the Gospel and vowed never to take up weapons again even in self defense, because they felt such remorse for all the killing they had done before.

There are also many murders in the scriptures that I don't really understand, yet I accept and trust that God does. Here are just a few examples:
  • In one of the first few chapters of the Book of Mormon, in an unprecidented act, God commands Nephi to kill Laban--not during a war or in self defense, but when Laban is passed out drunk. (1 Nephi 4:10)
  • In the Hebrew Bible, it is briefly mentioned and then glossed over, that when Moses was young, he killed a man. This is why he was hiding out for several years herding sheep, until a nearby bush started burning. (Genesis)
  • David, the famous King of Isreal, who seems to have been a favorite with God, lost some status after the murder of Uriah incident, but not all his status. (Sam 12:13, D&C 132:39)
I have a friend who married a man who was in prison for murder. She is not crazy. She is lovely. She was a reporter and met him inside. I read an early draft of the book she wrote about it. It opened my eyes to some things. (They are no longer married if you are wondering. But you can read the book if you want. It's called Desperado's Wife.)

In truth, I think there is only one sin that cannot be forgiven and that is a sin against the Holy Ghost and I'm still trying to figure out what that exactly means. I think it means that you deny the God/the gospel/the truth after having a knowledge (not just a belief) that it is true. I don't think very many people in all the history of mankind fall into this category. Not even Hitler. Maybe Cain. A few others who knew God and then turned on Him.

When I started writing this post a month ago, I had no idea why was writing it. I thought perhaps someone out there might need to read it. Then I had a momentary freak out where I was afraid if I posted it that someone I knew would be murdered and I'd have to practice what I preach and forgive. But then I realized that in fact, there have already been several murders in my family tree.

Mom's side: My great grandfather. I knew he died in a mental institution, but I recently learned that there was suspected foul play. (Head injury may not have been accidental.)

Dad's Side: My biological grandfather (the one I didn't know about till I was older. Read all about that here.) Murdered execution style in the back of the head outside of Las Vegas. Body was found in a sand dune several weeks later. We suspect he was running with a bad crowd. Mafia perhaps.

The crazy story that came out of that is that when I finally tracked down this side of the family and found out I had all these living relatives in Detroit, I learned that my cousin (would have also been grandson of murdered guy) was also murdered. He was shot in the back in a Detroit night club. The sad irony of this is that he never knew anything about his grandfather or his death, yet he repeated it.

At the old Ojai Jail. 
When I realized I had all these murder victims in my DNA I did some energy healing on the victim stuff, and on my own (shocker alert) deep dark desire to murder. Okay, let's be clear. I don't have any desire to murder anyone anymore. I am so healed, but a few years ago I did have a very real desire to commit murder. I was very conflicted. The part of me that knew what was right always won, but it was a wrestling match for a few years. I won't go into details, but I once asked my bishop at the time, who was a friend and knew my situation, "Is it okay to pray for someone to get hit by a truck?"

He said, "You can't pray for that, but you can always hold out hope."

I love him for that. Appropriate humor is sometimes the only thing that saved me.

Well, though I felt totally healed from those years, I found that there was still some belief about murder hiding out on my brain stem and causing me a lot of fatigue, and I had sent that "part of me" that wanted to murder to go live in a metaphysical dungeon. When we the belief away and brought my soul fragment out of the dungeon, I felt my radiant body expand immediately and I almost shouted Wahe Guru.

Writing on the wall from the 60's in the old Ojai city jail.
It is my belief that the murderer can be redeemed. Of course, repentance or re-turning to God is a process. The depth of the struggle and tears it takes to turn around seem to be, and rightly so, in equal proportion to the wrong done. But it doesn't take forever.

Perhaps someone out there needs to read this. And if so, I hope that it finds you, and that you never give up hope for yourself or your family member or friend. Always have hope in brighter days can come.


  1. Thanks for writing this Felice. My own father was murdered by his brother about 25 years ago and then he committed suicide. While I (and my siblings) had nightmares about our uncle for years, our dreams changed a few years ago. The dark, scary house where it took place suddenly became filled with light. I dreamed my uncle had a "job" and a purpose and I knew somehow that he had accepted the atonement and been healed. Since then I've even had moments where I sensed his presence and felt love for him. Amazing when you consider how much fear and hatred I felt for him for so long. It's gone now. What a blessed thing the atonement is. (And what an amazing healing modality KY is.)

  2. There is a very interesting talk, "The Brilliant Morning of Forgiveness," by Elder Boyd K. Packer http://bitly.com/Jfw1Q4 that supports what you've written. Here are a few quotes from his talk:
    1) The gospel teaches us that relief from torment and guilt can be earned through repentance. Save for those few who defect to perdition after having known a fulness, there is no habit, no addiction, no rebellion, no transgression, no offense exempted from the promise of complete forgiveness.
    2) I repeat, save for the exception of the very few who defect to perdition, there is no habit, no addiction, no rebellion, no transgression, no apostasy, no crime exempted from the promise of complete forgiveness. That is the promise of the atonement of Christ.
    3)Some years ago I was in Washington, D.C., with President Harold B. Lee. Early one morning he called me to come into his hotel room. He was sitting in his robe reading Gospel Doctrine, by President Joseph F. Smith, and he said, “Listen to this!

    “‘Jesus had not finished his work when his body was slain, neither did he finish it after his resurrection from the dead; although he had accomplished the purpose for which he then came to the earth, he had not fulfilled all his work. And when will he? Not until he has redeemed and saved every son and daughter of our father Adam that have been or ever will be born upon this earth to the end of time, except the sons of perdition. That is his mission. We will not finish our work until we have saved ourselves, and then not until we shall have saved all depending upon us; for we are to become saviors upon Mount Zion, as well as Christ. We are called to this mission.’” 22

    “There is never a time,” the Prophet Joseph Smith taught, “when the spirit is too old to approach God. All are within the reach of pardoning mercy, who have not committed the unpardonable sin.” 23

    And so we pray, and we fast, and we plead, and we implore. We love those who wander, and we never give up hope.