There is a matter that we truly don’t understand, and that we sometimes do in perfect opposition to what God expects of us because it is such a foreign idea to us.
It is that in matters of serious sin, where someone has defiled something sacred, God often appoints serious consequences. The thing that we do not understand is that in such cases our job is not to lessen the consequences. Instead our job is to offer repentance.
I am under the impression that there used to be some sense of this among the people generally. They used to have some idea that there are some consequences God appoints, and that they should be afraid to touch those.
From the History of the Church, during Zion’s camp, we read:
June 24.— This night the cholera burst forth among us, and about
midnight it was manifested in its most virulent form. Our ears were
saluted with cries and moanings and lamentations on every hand; even those
on guard fell to the earth with their guns in their hands, so sudden and
powerful was the attack of this terrible disease. At the commencement, I
attempted to lay on hands for their recovery, but I quickly learned by
painful experience, that when the great Jehovah decrees destruction upon
any people, and makes known His determination, man must not attempt to
stay His hand. The moment I attempted to rebuke the disease I was
attacked, and had I not desisted in my attempt to save the life of a
brother, I would have sacrificed my own. The disease seized upon me like
the talons of a hawk, and I said to the brethren: “If my work were done,
you would have to put me in the ground without a coffin.”
When the cholera made its appearance, Elder John S. Carter was the
first man who stepped forward to rebuke it, and upon this, was instantly
seized, and became the first victim in the camp.
The men of Zion’s camp had not been true to the prophet, and had murmured against him. They were called to redeem Zion, but they defiled their sacred responsibility, and God would not even let Joseph Smith intervene on their behalf.
There are consequences that God appoints that we should be afraid to toy with. These consequences may extend long into the life of people when they have defiled sacred things. Our job in such circumstances is to offer repentance. But we are not to spend our efforts lessening the consequences of serious sin, only to offer repentance. We cannot pursue another course without consequence.