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Simple FHE Ideas: Repentance

You may have lived through the awful, error-filled object lessons that I did in Sunday School or seminary. Here are some examples of what not to do to teach children or anyone about sin and repentance:

Simple FHE Ideas Repentance

  1. A teacher picked up a slab of wood. He drove four or five nails into the board, then turned the hammer over and pulled them out. “This is like the law of chastity. You can repent, but the holes are still there.”
  2.  A teacher took out a piece of gum, placed it in his mouth, and chewed it well. Then he took out the gum and held the was before the class. “This gum is like chastity. Who wants it now?”
  3. The teacher brings a luscious looking, decorated cake to class. He sets it on the table in front of the class with plates and forks next to it. After talking about chastity for some time he picks up a plate. All the students’ mouths start watering in anticipation of their treat. The teacher sticks his hand into the cake, grabs a handful, and smashes it on the plate. Then he holds it out to the class. “Who would like a piece?”

I suppose all these awful “analogies” are used in the hopes of scaring kids into avoiding sex at all costs (assuming, of course, that this hasn’t already been a problem for some). Of all things kids can mess around with, it’s one of the most impactful. And there a grain of truth in all that mess. When we sin, we are forever changed. We can’t turn back time and undo what we did. We can’t use the time we spent sinning for growth and service and goodness. We can’t magically make physical ills caused by addictions, repair the relationships that were ruined, cause illegitimately conceived children to be unborn and start over, or pull back all the problematic consequences of our bad behavior, we can still be clean before God.

Still, the gospel teaches us that scarlet sins can be white as snow. Not pink. Not tinted. Pure white. That is truth. Whatever baggage may stick with us from our sins as we travel through life, we can rest assured that God does not hold it over our heads, use it to smack us around, or even remember it.

We can be utterly clean before him. He will see us as we are.



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Here are some example questions to ask about repentance:

  • Why does Heavenly Father want us to keep the commandments? What happens when we do? What happens when we don’t? (I suggest real answers, not simplified ones. We do not always feel good when we do good, we do not always have good things happen to use when we choose righteously, etc.)
  • What does it mean to repent? How do we repent?
  • What are the steps in repentance and how do they work?
  • When do we need to talk to a bishop?
  • How does God see us when we repent?
  • How do we see ourselves when we repent? (Again, truth is best. It is often much harder for other people to forgive us and for us to forgive ourselves than for God to forgive.) What can we do with the memories of sin?(For example: use them as a catalyst to do good, to remember to avoid sin, etc.)
  • What should we do after we repent?

David A. Bednar  said:

Repentance is the sweet fruit that comes from faith in the Savior and involves turning toward God and away from sin.

How do you help your children understand the process of repentance?

{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Shawn Elder April 13, 2014, 12:48 pm

    The very points you make, are addressed in the teaching manuals by the LDS Church. If there are teachers still using this type of example, its clear they have not reviewed the manual – or chose to ignore it.

    However, I must point out that while God will forgive us if we repent, and we will indeed be made pure thru the Atonement, does not mean we will be free from the effects of our sins. Some of those effects can be outwardly obvious, such as diseases, injuries, pregnancies etc. Others are less obvious, and perhaps harder to address, and appreciate the life-long struggle that they incur. This could be any one of diverse emotional, mental, or other challenges that ripple on, well after the sin and subsequent repentance.
    Shawn Elder recently posted…Motorcoach Transportation and Your SafetyMy Profile

  • Cambendy April 13, 2014, 2:36 pm

    ***However, I must point out that while God will forgive us if we repent, and we will indeed be made pure thru the Atonement, does not mean we will be free from the effects of our sins. ***

    Shawn Elder, what you’re saying is that you MUST POINT OUT exactly what Alison wrote in the post?

  • Cardiomom April 14, 2014, 8:03 pm

    Shawn this is so typically male. Ignore what the women say and ride in to make “corrections”–that were already made. Wow.

  • Oregonian April 14, 2014, 8:33 pm

    good lesson for easter. thanks.

  • Shawn April 16, 2014, 3:34 pm

    Sorry Cardiomom.

    My only error was in reading it (2x) and still missing the entire paragraph that said exactly what I thought had been overlooked. I didn’t respond to a previous comment, thinking I could just live with my blunder.

    I had been on the road for 18 hours preceding, so perhaps that played a part in my oversight.

    Perhaps you can forgive me of my genuine error, and either way, I will still forgive you of your vitriol.
    Shawn recently posted…Hazards of CruisingMy Profile

  • Alison Moore Smith April 16, 2014, 8:26 pm

    Shawn, no harm done. 🙂
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…Videos of Jesus Christ – No Regrets ParentingMy Profile

  • suzanne December 8, 2014, 9:49 pm

    “When we sin, we are forever changed. ” I get it. I know this is a sensitive issue. And, when teaching youth, it’s important to help them understand it’s better not to sin in the first place. I get it. And perhaps the following is obvious. But, to me, that quote reads as though–despite the atonement–the effects of SIN are more permanent than the effects of the atonement. That mortals have more power to screw up, than Jesus has to heal and restore. Though challenging, in my own home, I find it’s much better (though not necessarily easier) to teach this concept in a way that fully honors the weight & the reach of the atonement. To teach my children that we are forever changed by sin–would essentially teach them that they might as well really go for it once they do make a mistake. Because there’s no turning back. They’re “permanently changed” anyway. I can’t help but think, how the Lamanites in the Book of Mormon were in bondage because of their own sin ; Yet the burden was “made light upon their backs”–so they could not feel it. The actual “weight” of the burden of their own sin–the mess they created for themselves–was actually taken away. They weren’t just “forgiven”–but, left to suffer the consequences. No, they were BOTH forgiven, AND had the weight of consequences lifted. Would it have been better for them not to have sinned in the first place? Ofcourse. But, part of every mortal life involves learning BY OUR OWN EXPERIENCE, the good from the evil. I think that is much of the message of the story of Peter, who so eagerly and willingly agreed and jumped at the chance to do something none of us would ever try. That was to walk on water. But, in the very act–his mortal imperfection, his imperfect faith caused him to fall. And, he cried out and the Lord saved him immediately. Part of the mortal experience is WANTING to be good ; But, NOT being able to. Falling short. It’s an experience we’re actually SUPPOSED to have. The truth about the unconditional nature of God’s love is–I believe–a much greater motivation to be good, than fear that if we make a mistake, we are forever changed (though technically “forgiven”).

    Further, look at all the examples of SERIOUS sinners in our scriptures: Paul, arguably one of the greatest of Jesus’ followers, had–prior to his repentence–gone about seeking to murder jews. Yet, after repenting, the stumbling blocks that were his horrific sins, clearly, were transformed by the power of His grace into stepping stones. Perhaps even his invitation to a relationship with the Cornerstone, or the Rock of his salvation. Think of Alma the younger. There are countless examples of this in the scriptures.

    I think it’s important to remember that sin is BEHAVIOR. Any behavioral psychologist will tell you that every behavior is driven by underlying beliefs. And, underlying every sinful behavior is a mistaken belief about God that lies in the hearts of men. Beliefs planted by satan about His availability ; And, mistaken beliefs about His lack of mercy toward imperfection. So often we teach our children what to DO and not to DO. But, we don’t teach them where to get the power to carry that out. And we don’t teach them that And Jesus Christ is not a behaviorist. He is a Heart Surgeon.

  • Alison Moore Smith December 9, 2014, 1:33 pm

    But, to me, that quote reads as though–despite the atonement–the effects of SIN are more permanent than the effects of the atonement.

    suzanne, it seems you were bothered about a particular line to the extent that it negated all the caveats and conditions in the post. I don’t disagree with most of what you wrote, but wonder why (given the context) you think I would.

    Of course this singular FHE lesson isn’t the only thing to teach our children. Teaching them “where to get the power to carry that out” might well be another good topic. But given that repentence is a central principle of the gospel, it’s probably decently important to teach. That teaching should, IMO, include both the truth about sin and the truth about repentance.
    Alison Moore Smith recently posted…General Women’s Session of General Conference – It’s OfficialMy Profile

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