I struggled with pornography for a while. I have recently stopped my actions regarding the subject. And continue to repent and try to make up for what I did. I make sure to put others first, I help out whenever I can, and I know the gospel is true without a doubt. I would like to go on a mission. It’s like a fire is burning inside of me whenever I talk about the gospel. So, can I work for forgiveness by going on a mission? It’s not my only reason to go of course, but one of them.
I have wonderful news for you! The forgiveness you are seeking can be obtained before you go on a mission! In October 2002, Elder Ballard challenged “our young brethren of the Aaronic Priesthood, to rise up, to measure up, and to be fully prepared to serve the Lord” (The Greatest Generation of Missionaries).
“We need vibrant, thinking, passionate missionaries who know how to listen to and respond to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit. This isn’t a time for spiritual weaklings. We cannot send you on a mission to be reactivated, reformed, or to receive a testimony. We just don’t have time for that. We need you to be filled with ‘faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God’ (D&C 4:5).” (Ibid.)
The mission field is too late to be seeking forgiveness. In fact, if you have not resolved your issues with pornography before then, you may very well find your mission delayed. I do not say this to discourage you. You may have fully repented but not yet felt the Father’s forgiving embrace. Regardless, my point is that you are not powerless to move forward. Your bishop is a gatekeeper to the mission application process. You can ask him his thoughts on your qualification given your current state of repentance. It’s akin to a student who recognizes that her teacher is the one who prepares the exams, so she asks if this particular subject or problem will be on the test. She looks to get the inside scoop that is only a mystery or a secret because no one else is asking. So ask. Additionally, your bishop is also a common judge in Israel (D&C 107:74) and can assist you in completing anything that’s lacking in your repentance, and in recognizing the spirit of forgiveness when it comes. Elder Ballard encourages:
“If you find yourself wanting in worthiness, resolve to make the appropriate changes—beginning right now. If you think you need to talk to your father and your bishop about any sins you may have committed, don’t wait; do it now. They will help you to repent and change so you can take your place as a member of the greatest generation of missionaries.”
Elder L. Tom Perry has echoed Elder Ballard’s challenge. He explained why the worthiness aspect is an important criterion in missionary service.
“Please recognize that while your teaching as a missionary may be persuasive, only the Spirit converts. Preach My Gospel gives a good description of what missionary work is all about. It states, ‘As an authorized representative of Jesus Christ, you can teach people with power and authority that “redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah,” and that no one “can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah” (2 Nephi 2:6, 8)’ (, 2).” (Raising the Bar, October 2007 General Conference).
As a missionary, you will teach people who have addictions, who have committed abortions, or who otherwise need the Atonement. The gospel light will reveal their sins for the darkness they are, and they may sometimes feel alienated from God because of it. When you are worthy and clean, you can testify powerfully to them of “the merits, and mercy, and grace” of the Savior by which redemption and forgiveness come.