Recently a discussion was going on about sins that are forgivable and unforgivable. It was mentioned that incest was ranked as an unforgivable sin. Can one be forgiven of incest?
Great question. We are taught that the only unforgivable sin is blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. According to lds.org, unpardonable sin is defined as: The sin of denying the Holy Ghost which cannot be forgiven.
Even Christ said that all sins can be forgiven except for the denying of the Holy Ghost. We read this in Matthew 12:31-32:
31 Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.
32 And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.
As you can see in Christ’ words, He doesn’t state that denial of the Holy Ghost and incest are both unforgivable. He only mentions the denial of the Holy Ghost.
Gordon B. Hinckley had this to say regarding incest:
“There appears to be a plague of child abuse spreading across the world. … I am glad there is a hue and cry going up against this terrible evil, too much of which is found among our own. Fathers, you cannot abuse your little ones without offending God. Any man involved in an incestuous relationship is unworthy to hold the priesthood. He is unworthy to hold membership in the Church and should be dealt with accordingly.” (Ensign,May 1985, p. 50.)
While the disciplinary action the Church and brethren take are quite explicit, is there repentance and forgiveness?
Spencer W. Kimball once said in a talk the following:
“The dictionary defines incest as “sexual intercourse between persons so closely related that they are forbidden by law to marry.” The spirituality of one’s life may be severely, and sometimes irreparably, damaged by such an ugly sin. The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve have determined that the penalty for incest shall be excommunication. Also, one excommunicated for incest shall not be baptized again into the Church without the written permission of the First Presidency.”
This tells me that there is hope for those who have committed this horrible sin. It will take longer to go through the repentance process and requires a much higher approval from the First Presidency. But there is hope, and it is possible to be forgiven.
I hope this answers your question.