Pop Quiz: What Not to Do

Do you ever wonder exactly how you’re doing, as far as keeping the commandments goes? Well, now’s your chance to find out. Get out the pen and paper, and simply go down the following list of sins (from Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, at 25), checking off each infractions, to find out how you are doing:

Murder, adultery, theft, cursing, unholiness in masters, disobedience in servants, unfaithfulness, improvidence, hatred of God, disobedience to husbands, lack of natural affection, high-mindedness, flattery, lustfulness, infidelity, indiscretion, backbiting, whispering, lack of truth, striking, brawling, quarrelsomeness, unthankfulness, inhospitality, deceitfulness, irreverence, boasting, arrogance, pride, double-tongued talk, profanity, slander, corruptness, thievery, embezzlement, despoiling covenantbreaking, incontinence, filthiness, ignobleness, filthy communications, impurity, foolishness, slothfulness, impatience, lack of understanding, unmercifulness, idolatry, blasphemy, denial of the Holy Ghost, Sabbath breaking, envy, jealousy, malice, maligning, vengefulness, implacability, bitterness, clamor, spite, defiling, reviling, evil speaking, provoking, greediness for filthy lucre, disobedience to parents, anger, hate covetousness, bearing false witness, inventing evil things, fleshliness, heresy, presumptuousness, abomination, insatiable appetite, instability, ignorance, self-will, speaking evil of dignitaries, becoming a stumbling block; and, in our modern language, masturbation, petting, fornication, adultery, homosexuality, and every sex perversion, every hidden and secret sin and all unholy and impure practices.

It’s a daunting list, and I suspect a bit disheartening for all of us. Depending on whether I wanted to give a stricter or a looser definition to terms, I counted for myself anywhere from around ten infractions, all the way up to the high twenties and beyond.

And it’s a nice reminder of the seriousness of the task we have here on Earth. God is on our side, and will help us become more perfect. But there is certainly a lot of work to be done.

15 comments for “Pop Quiz: What Not to Do

  1. D. Fletcher
    September 12, 2004 at 1:07 pm

    Interesting that adultery is on the list twice. What’up with President Kimball?

    Curiously, almost every psychological and sociological sin is listed before the big sex sins.

    It’s very difficult for me to count. Certainly I’ve been envious, or jealous, but do I think of those as sins? I can’t remember the last time I was jealous.

    Finally, I feel it very sad that incontinence is listed here — my poor grandparents had trouble with this.

  2. Jonathan Green
    September 12, 2004 at 2:14 pm

    I’m glad the list includes instability. We never talk about that enough in the Church. I mean, along with Obedience and Conversion, Stability is one of the big three promises we make, that we will maintain our professed way of life and never divert from it, when we take the Benedictine vows and enter the monastic religious life.

    Or did you mean some other kind of instability?

  3. Ashleigh
    September 12, 2004 at 2:56 pm

    Incontinence is a huge problem for me, but I never thought of it as a sin, just as the sad result of having three kids in the last four years.

    TMI I’m sure.

  4. Ben S.
    September 12, 2004 at 3:05 pm

    I suspect Pres. Kimball simply collected all the sins listed in the scriptures, regardless of what they might mean now, in modern day language. His statement “and in our modern language” hints at this. You find incontinence in 1 Co. 7:5, which seems to mean “unfaithfulness”or something similar (after a quick look). I didn’t find “instability” but there is James 1:8 -” A double-minded man in unstable in all his ways.”

    I haven’t looked through the whole list…

  5. Ashleigh
    September 12, 2004 at 4:52 pm

    Oh? Thank Goodness.

  6. John H
    September 12, 2004 at 5:42 pm

    I know President Kimball came to regret some of the harsh rhetoric of “The Miracle of Forgiveness” in his later years. I don’t have the source for this on me, but I’ll get it and post it (since I certainly don’t expect people to take my word for it).

  7. Ashleigh
    September 12, 2004 at 5:57 pm

    That is interesting. I haven’t read it for a loooong time. And yet the few things I do remember were things that I just wasn’t comfortable with. I wonder if these memories aline with Kimball’s regrets.

  8. Jack
    September 12, 2004 at 6:12 pm

    I heard (back in 80’s) that some mission presidents were counciling there missionaries not to read the miracle of forgiveness. I guess it was causing them to feel unworthy of their calling. Is this true, or just mission lore?

  9. Aaron C. Brown
    September 12, 2004 at 9:31 pm

    Next time my wife tells me I talk too loudly on the telephone, and that I ought to try “whispering,” I’ll be sure and chastise her appropriately for leading me into sinful temptation.

    Why is it that speaking evil of “dignitaries” is important enough to get its own entry? Inquiring minds want to know.

    Aaron B

  10. Wilfried
    September 13, 2004 at 12:10 am

    Incontinence (formal or old use): Unable to control oneself, especially one’s sexual desires.
    Thesaurus: lecherous, profligate, unbridled, promiscuous, debauched, dissipated, ungovernable, dissolute, lascivious, lewd, licentious, wanton.
    Antonym: restrained, chaste, controlled, checked.
    (From All Words English Dict)

  11. September 13, 2004 at 1:25 am

    “disobedience to husbands”

    I’m still waiting for the Kristine comment on this one… What the heck is it supposed to mean? As if I, as a husband, could / would never request anything of my wife that she could / would reject. Silly, silly.

  12. Last_lemming
    September 13, 2004 at 9:21 am

    Then on page 76 (if I remember correctly–I don’t have it in front of me), pregnancy is listed as an “ugly sin” in between fornication and abortion. I actually have an expanation for this one, but I suspect it is not the interpretation that President Kimball intended. Before I reveal it (if anybody even cares), I wonder how others interpret pre-marital pregnancy as a sin in addition to fornication.

  13. Matt Evans
    September 13, 2004 at 10:56 am

    What I found to be the most peculiar passage in Miracle of Forgiveness was Kimball’s recounting the story of a man who had met a “person who represented himself as being Cain,” (p. 127-8):

    As I was riding along the road on my mule I suddenly noticed a very strange personage walking beside me . . . His head was about even with my shoulders as I sat in my saddle. He wore no clothing, but was covered with hair. His skin was very dark. I asked him where he dwelt and he replied that he had no home, that he was a wanderer in the earth and traveled to and fro. He said he was a very miserable creature, that he had earnestly sought death during his sojourn upon the earth, but that he could not die, and his mission was to destroy the souls of men.

    This story sounds apocryphal; doctinrally apocryphal for the claim that Cain had not and could not die, and culturally apocryphal for the allusion to Sasquatch destroying the souls of men. I wonder if Kimball came to regret giving this story breath.

  14. Mark B
    September 14, 2004 at 10:07 am


    I believe that Pres. Kimball was referring to pregnancy arising from either fornication or adultery in his list of ugly sins. The editor did him a disservice by not tightening up the words.

    Your question is best answered by another: What did the Lord mean when he said that he would visit “the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation”?

  15. Last_lemming
    September 20, 2004 at 10:11 am

    Sorry that I neglected this thread after soliciting feedback. First, I should point out the the quote in question can be found on page 65, not 76. Although bad editing is indeed probably responsible for the passage, I think an (almost) coherent rationale for the passage can be extracted. My initial response was that labeling premarital pregnancy a sin was totally unfair, because unlike fornication and abortion, the “perpetrator” has no control over the outcome. But then I realized that one can, in fact, exercise a great deal of control or whether or not one becomes pregnant and that perhaps the sin is for unmarried sexually active couples to fail to exercise that control. Again, probably not what President Kimball intended, but perhaps the poor editing was back-door inspiration.

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