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by Gladys Clark Farmer
Latter-day Saints view chastening as a manifestation of God's love and concern. "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth" (Heb. 12:6). Like other religious peoples, they sometimes see death, famine, pestilence, and other human calamities as "acts of God" because he allows them to happen as functions of natural forces. However, Latter-day Saints tend to focus less on the punitive nature of such events and more on the possible positive results, such as humility, repentance, instruction, and spiritual change. To "chasten" denotes "to make chaste."
God loves all mankind and works to bring his children back to dwell with him. No one can endure God's presence who has not been purified to become like him. For this reason, Latter-day Saints view life on this earth as a period of testing and training, a time to instruct, refine, and purify the individual, making the child of God more like the Father.
The Book of Mormon tells of God allowing natural disasters to chasten people because whole communities had forgotten him, broken his commandments, and desecrated holy things (Hel. 12:3). The Doctrine and Covenants teaches that many will be blessed if they willingly turn their hearts to God and accept the call to repent and put their lives in order (D&C 93:38-52; cf. Heb. 12:5-11).
The Prophet Joseph Smith stands as an example to Latter-day Saints as one loved, yet chastened by the Lord. To carry out his mission effectively, he had to learn many lessons. Sometimes the Lord merely reminded him to humble himself and become more submissive. Other times, as when he allowed Martin Harris to take the first 116 manuscript pages of the Book of Mormon, which were subsequently lost, the Lord withdrew the power of translation and allowed Joseph to suffer the oppression of darkness. When Joseph was incarcerated in the Liberty Jail, the Lord counseled that all his experiences would be for his good (D&C 122:7). It was, indeed, during and after this difficult period that Joseph received some very significant revelations.
(See Basic Beliefs home page; Doctrines of the Gospel home page)
Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 1, Chastening
Copyright © 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company
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