I have a question that you may or may not want to answer through your column. What is the status (for lack of a better word) of the Spirit abiding or not abiding with excommunicated persons? I realize that those who are in this situation are worse affected than those never having the gospel. I guess I am asking to what degree the Spirit can abide with those who are excommunicated. If one is working very diligently to gain back their membership and blessings, would the Spirit be more inclined to inspire or enlighten the individual?
Thank you for your answer.
At baptism the person receives the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. This gift will reveal to the person the truthfulness of sacred things. However, since the Spirit will not dwell in unclean temples (1 Cor. 3:16-17), if a person after baptism violates the covenants he has made he will not enjoy the influence of the Holy Spirit and will be left without inspiration.
When a person is excommunicated, the blessings received as a member are taken from him, including any priesthood to which he had been ordained and the right to guidance by the Holy Ghost. However, even though a person may have sinned to such a degree that his membership in the Kingdom is revoked, yet he may repent and be forgiven. It must be remembered that excommunication is not used as a punishment, but as a blessing to the person, designed to help the person repent and return to the Lord. Isaiah said, “though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18).
The Lord is anxious to forgive his wayward children and return them to the fold. Think of the parable of the lost sheep (Matt. 18;11-14). And further, he has said, “Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more. By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins–behold, he will confess them and forsake them” (D&C 58:42).
We should be especially attentive to and pray for those who have been excommunicated, that they may not feel ostracized by the society of the Saints. Henry Drummond said, “How many prodigals are kept out of the Kingdom of God by the unlovely characters of those that profess to be within?” (“The Greatest Thing in the World,” London and Glasgow, Collins’ Clear-Type Press, p. 36) It would appear that the powers of Heaven are available to help the prodigal return, and since a man may receive the Holy Ghost, and it may descend upon him and not tarry with him (D&C 130:23) it would seem that a person who had been excommunicated and was seeking to put his life in order and return to the Kingdom would have as much spiritual help as anyone, perhaps more.