I wrote once that there are those who turn the doctrine of the atonement into adultery. How can such a thing be?
Why it is a perfectly normal thing. It is the practice in all the other churches generally. All churches but the true church provide loopholes for misbehaving, most especially on the topic of chastity. They take the atonement and make it into a doctrine that allows them to be unchaste and get away with it. Sure, they believe it is wrong. But they don’t have a real understanding of the matter. That is why they are called “the whore of all the earth”. They legitimize sexual immorality, and they do it through Christ’s atonement.
I knew a man that belonged to a different church that had a six month affair with a coworker. He was furious when his church leadership said that he needed to spend 45 minutes in prayer to be forgiven. Sure, his church taught that adultery was very wrong. But they altered the doctrine so that the atonement made adultery so easily forgiven that gaining forgiveness required no more than mere inconvenience rather than penitence. The same is true one way or another with the other churches generally. They may make ostentatious displays of their morality, but in practice there is always a way around them.
In the true church, we know what Spencer W Kimball taught “The way of the transgressor is hard. It always has been.” When he said that, he was speaking of a young couple who had engaged in petting and eventually in fornication, but had come forward seeking forgiveness in great remorse. It was quite plain that he was speaking beyond the time of formal church discipline.
We have harsh words these days for Brigham Young’s teachings on blood atonement. We don’t actually have any idea what he taught about it. The lds.org topis article is horribly wrong, as is the wikipedia article. Brigham Young himself said he had been misunderstood and offered corrections, but the lds.org topics article has all of the misunderstandings and none of the corrections.
We don’t seem to read enough Brigham Young to have a sense of what he really taught. But his actual teachings on the matter of blood atonement go hand in hand with what Spencer W Kimball taught about adultery. Brigham Young taught that in cases of fornication after making temple covenants that the individual will be required by the Lord to atone by going through trials during their life as the Lord sees fit to inflict upon them. The Lord himself would inflict the trials, not his earthly ministers. The “blood” part of the blood atonement doctrine was only relevant in a setting like Zion where more than a generation has grown up living a much higher gospel law with much greater spiritual blessings, knowledge and manifestations than we have today. We know nothing about higher gospel laws and have no right contradicting Brigham Young about what will be done in such a setting. But the main point of his doctrine was in precise agreement with Spencer W Kimball: if a person commits adultery after making temple covanents, they may expect a thorny road through life, as the Lord will require them to atone for such a deed through trials he will lay out for them.