Journal text selected by Dennis B. Horne.
Much of Spencer W. Kimball’s Apostolic ministry was devoted to working with and counseling members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that had committed “moral” sins.
This is part of a longer series of Excerpts from The Journal of President Spencer W. Kimball.
For those wishing to delve deeper and read the actual diary entries, I have included the date of the journal entry. President Kimball’s journal is simply not polished writing but is excellent as both a first and final draft. Please forgive any typos. A church email account is needed to access the material on the Church Archives website (the call number is MS 21541):
January 3, 1960: In the evening went to the first of the series of 13 special youth programs in which I am to participate. President McKay was the speaker on this first night; the tabernacle was filled with youth and it was an excellent start for a campaign to help our youth to see their responsibilities and protect their lives and their morals.
January 23, 1960: Brother [name removed] and their three daughters came to see me, their eldest daughter is beginning to feel the spirit of independence and throwing off all restraints. I had a fine visit with her and believe that I may have helped her. Brother [name redacted], a prospective missionary came for an interview and I postponed his mission for a month, since he has had some emotional problems and is hardly ready to go.
January 28, 1960: We then went to the Junior M.I.A. dance and the Golden Green Ball for the Juniors, ranging from 12 to 14 [years old] or a little more. They were well behaved and the floor show was nicely done, but I was greatly disturbed that this many little children [young teens] should be out at night and there were about a dozen of them with dates. I must do all I can to slow down the social life of our children.
February 1, 1960: I spent this last hour with Vernon, trying to dissuade him from marrying a non-member woman in February. He had been the Stake President at one time and I have tried earnestly to get him to postpone his marriage until she will have had time to have learned the gospel and accept it without pressures.
February 27, 1960: I had had one more interview with a middle aged couple who had some serious morals problems and we went to the bishop’s home and I turned the problem over to him.
April 27, 1960: There were many interviews today, some of them very distressing ones—broken lives.
June 15, 1960: We had a meeting at 2:00 for the General Authorities. President Smith had read to them the new statement on a tightening up of interviews for young missionaries; a matter that had been before us in the Council of the Twelve and the Presidency meeting two different weeks and in which I made a very desperate effort to try to keep some latitude in our interviews and not let the door be shut too tightly upon repentant young men and women.
August 16, 1960: I had a couple who had recently committed sin and were anxious now to go to the temple and be married. I urged them to be married civilly and when they had proven themselves to be worthy they could be sealed in the temple at a later date. . . . I interviewed several missionaries, some of whom had been in transgression and I had to deny to some the privilege of going on their missions. I had several difficult situations, morals problems, and some very pleasant interviews.
August 17 1960: I performed the ceremony this morning for [names removed]. . . . The parents and several of his brothers were there. He is the eighth of nine in the family to be married in the holy temple, with the last one a younger boy. This was a happy family and an exemplary family, and they were very proud of their eight to be in the temple. . . .
I had a long visit with the adulterer who has taken so much time in the last year and a half. He is doing much better but now wants a temple recommend, which I feel he is not ready for.
November 24, 1960: Again at Melbourne I had the bitterest experience of my life when I had to press action against three young men [missionaries] and sever them from the Church. The difficult and harrowing experience of the numerous night and day hours as the ugly situation was uncovered, together with the organization of a new stake from the mission, was a terrific responsibility and I was much perplexed. Knowing what must be done, in spite of its terror, and being fortified by a call to President Moyle in Salt Lake City [rest of paragraph is redacted].
December 4, 1960: I find I can stand a terrific amount of physical effort, but when morals problems come for me to solve, it takes out of me much.
August 22, 1961: Today the man, father of four children, came to confess immorality with the woman in another family where there was a husband and children. I have been working for months with these two families and felt sure that this was or would be the result. I seemingly could make no impression upon the two individuals, but today the man is repentant and on his knees and willing to do anything to clear it up.
Sister [name redacted] came in. I have been close to this family through their trouble. When her husband [words redacted] and she had remained faithful to him all the years of his imprisonment, and his former employers had been good to him and given him employment when he came out of prison. But now he has turned sour, abandoned his family, gone off with an adulterous woman, according to all reports, and left his family penniless and Sister [redacted] without any good means of earning a living for her children. I gave to her the $100 which was handed me on April 6, 1961 as a gift to the Savior. She was overwhelmed. There were many other interviews through the day, some pleasant, some very distasteful.
June 11, 1963: I had an interview with Harol I. Bowman regarding special cases at 9:00 and one with Miss Carter at 9:30.
September 19, 1963: Considerable business was transacted and Brother Stapley and I secured approval from the Presidency and the Twelve for the restoration of three brethren who had been excommunicated. One was a young man, excommunicated in [redacted, probably New Zealand or Australia] while I was there and I attended his excommunication. He will be now very happy to be baptized.
September 24, 1963: At 2:00, [name redacted] and a woman whose first name was [redacted] openly admitted that they were living openly together and he said he did not agree that this was wrong. He did not accept the Church’s policy on morality—that he was the Holy Ghost himself, and the Lord had told him many things and he had visited with the Almighty. But, he felt that the authority was in the Church and that she must be baptized by authority. She was more sensible and said she realized that these things were wrong. But she had been an alcoholic and she was trying hard to overcome. She had felt that life was hardly worth living. She had given up her children to her more righteous husband. She is now married to a third husband with whom she does not live and he has a family and neither has any divorce. This calls to mind the ever-increasing number of strange ideologies and ideas [floating around]. . . . I had a visit with Brother [redacted], looking toward a possible restoration of his blessings. He has had a long and sordid career of a number of serious morals problems and seems very sincere. I will present his case before the brethren next Thursday.
Late in the evening came [name redacted] who had been excommunicated in the mission field and I had a good long talk with him and he has a fine attitude and I proposed to present his name to the Thursday Temple meeting for rebaptism. Last week, I presented [redacted] and he was approved to be baptized.
October 13, 1963: We had a special meeting with Brother [redacted] and Brother [redacted] and their wives. These two men had been excommunicated for insubordination and had later been reinstated but they are still rebellions. They indicated they would sustain the leaders if the leaders did what they thought should be done. They had many complaints of the bishop who they said was dictatorial and demanding and did not carry forward the program according to best practices.
November 9, 1963: We spent hours with a couple, the young man 36 years old, five years in the Bishopric, 5 years as a High Councilor, 2 years as a seminary teacher, and now a successful businessman with a wife and five children whom he admitted he loved and appreciated, but about a year ago, he met a young woman, twenty-four and a returned missionary. Apparently, an infatuation has taken them over body and soul. The stake president has been working with them but they will not desist seeing each other and so we talked to them long and earnestly and with little result. I talked to the man and then I talked to the girl and then I talked to them together and then I talked to them with their stake president and they finally stated that they would desist in seeing each other, but that he would have to have three or four days to make the transition and as we left the room, he whispered to her, “I still love you.” We felt we had made little progress. They left finally with a solemn injunction that they must not ignore what we had told them. I bore my testimony strongly to them that they were listening to an apostle (two apostles) of the Lord and that they would ignore us at their peril. The young man seemed to be possessed though he was calm and deliberate in all that he said. The girl appeared to be under domination of a master spirt and without power to jerk herself loose. It appeared that they had a pact that neither would break. Sunday morning, I called his two brothers, one in the stake presidency and one a bishop, to ask them to do all they could to dissuade this man from destroying himself, this girl and the family. This was most distressing and I think I have never fought so hard for two or three solid hours as I fought these hours to persuade these people of the folly of their ways. They both told me they had not committed adultery but there have been some intimacies.
Brother Monson and I each interviewed a young man, each of whom had committed sin; each wanting to go on a mission. The one I interviewed responded well. It has been some time and he seems most repentant and I felt that probably after some months, he might be able to go. . . .
I now had an interview with another couple where the woman was still married to a husband from whom she was estranged and a divorcee who was showing her attention. I have made little headway here, it seems, for the woman said little but soon angrily walked out of the office. The man explained that the woman was just hanging onto the Church by her eyelids nearly, and that I had given her offense when I performed the marriage ceremony for herself and her now estranged husband because of wearing a dark suit in the marriage room and that I had said something that gave her offense. I have no idea of what it could be as I have been very careful in all these matters but I will check further to see if I can clear it up for her. . . . I was very weary. I went to bed immediately. The strain of so many morals and marital cases and problems injected in between all other strains of the reorganization through a hard scheduled two days left me a bit weary.
January 3, 1964: I went to the funeral of Richard R. Lyman at noon, who was about 83 years of age. Brother Brown spoke and three of us of the Twelve were present, but I was the only one present who was in the Quorum when we excommunicated Richard R. Lyman for adultery back in November, 1943. I took the initiative in helping Brother Lyman to secure permission from the brethren and from the prophet to be rebaptized. I kept hoping through the years that he would make another serious attempt to receive his blessings back but apparently it did not seem important enough to him, or he didn’t have the energy or the courage or something. At any rate, he died as a lay member of the Church without Priesthood, without endowments, without sealings and it was sad indeed.
January 4, 1964: I think I have not for years had so many cases of immorality come to me as in the past few days—broken homes because of infidelity of husbands and wives. I have struggled for hours and hours for the past few days trying to get people to see their situation and to repent. I have come to realize how powerful and subtle is that evil one who makes them think that ‘black is white’ and helps them to rationalize away all their errors and call them virtues when they are base vices. Most of the morning was spent thusly.
February 16, 1964: Here I met [name redacted] and her husband who have had some problems they wished to discuss with me, particularly the possibility of bringing her father, [name redacted] back unto his blessings by proxy which will be a difficult thing since he had three or four women in the so-called polygamy, and he was excommunicated long years ago, and he died without any signs of repentance so far as we could see.
February 19, 1964: Then at 5:30, came a meeting with several stake presidents to consider the possibility of housing the numerous girls who come in from the outside to Salt Lake City for employment, many of whom we lose when they get away from their home restraints. The meeting was very satisfactory.
February 26, 1964: A young man I met in the mission field came in—most despondent and near suicide. He had many problems—sex, smoking, drinking and I fear dope. I have put him in the hands of Brother Bowman and hope that we can save him.
March 11, 1964: This was a really hectic day with divorce problems and broken homes and immorality and perversion among girls and perversion among men. It was really a hectic day from early morning until 8:30 at night at my home. We sincerely hope we have helped some of them in their problems.
April 6, 1964: After the meeting, I went back to the office and met the [redacted] and here in the presence of his wife and his former mission president and others of his friends, I restored all the blessings to [redacted] who was excommunicated while in the mission field about two years ago. This was a very pleasant experience and a delightful occasion and the spirit was manifest. The young man was so overjoyed that he threw his arms around my neck and wept and would hardly terminate the embrace. His wife was weeping and all the other people were weeping and grateful and happy.
July 22, 1964: One of the police officers came from Utah County to tell me about a case of incest where one of our members has been using his three daughters for many years.
July 25, 1964: (Additional) The age of the three daughters mentioned above was 23, 21 and 17. The father was put into the insane asylum.
July 16, 1964: I had visitors from Arizona—a father and son and the friend of the son. The two boys are deviates and could not be persuaded by their father or their stake president that it was so wrong. I spent all morning with them from 8 until 12. They left with a good feeling and a determination, so far as I could tell, to desist and to live worthily and to overcome their problems.
October 11, 1964: At noon, I interviewed a man for a position and found he had been immoral a month before. He brought his wife in and I found that they had been having marital problems for a long time.
December 5, 1964: In the meantime, I spent about three hours with three different young missionaries and finally permitted number one to go on his mission upon his protestations of repentance and my deep feeling that he was repentant and that he was safe. Number two brought his girlfriend in from BYU and we had a long talk and I was convinced of a very sincere repentance here and finally felt it was the wise thing to let him go into the mission field. Number three, I could not feel that he should go into the mission field. He and the young lady who came with him had been immoral only a week ago. There was no sureness that there might be pregnancy. I urged them to marry even now and before that it was definitely ascertained. I felt very little repentance here and some belligerency and some rebellion. This matter is still pending and will not be totally solved today.
December 27, 1964: I had three interviews—one for a young returned missionary who has had a very difficult problem in adjusting since returning; another for a man who has twice been excommunicated for adultery and now after seven years, is very anxious to return to the fold; and a third, a beautiful attractive woman who has been in adultery and who is quite strongly pressing for a temple recommend. I sustained the stake president and told her she was lucky to be still in the Church and it would be better if she would wait quietly.
December 29, 1964: And then, there were other interviews for the balance of the day and it was a long, exhausting day. One of the interviews was a former bishop who was excommunicated for incest, asking for return to the Church.
May 1, 1965: During the next two and a half hours, I was very busy with some most difficult problems. A young woman, probably 26 or 27, came in to confess repeated adultery over a year and a half with a young man about her own age. They had been dating companions before their marriages and now they had continued their sin which had begun before their marriages. Neither spouse and no one else knew of their perfidy. She did not want to reveal his name. He did not want her to confess but under some persuasion, she called him and asked him to come down. I did not know who he was until he revealed it himself. He seemed very repentant as she had been. I talked with them long and earnestly and sent them back to tell their spouses. Later in the evening, I visited with both of their spouses. The young man’s wife was very receptive and forgiving and responsive but the young woman’s husband was a bit non-committal. I saw them again on Sunday afternoon and all had a good attitude and were very repentant and I turned the matter back to the bishop and the stake president who will carry forward in the matter. . . .
I visited with another couple who were on the verge of divorce. The woman was adamant and she could not stand the conflicts longer. And then, I visited with another woman whose husband has left her with another woman as the cause and this woman also has a daughter who has left her husband.
May 1, 1965: I authorized the [stake] Presidency to see to the trial of Sharon Kinne against whom there is incontrovertible evidence of many crimes. She is reported to have killed her husband and then shot the woman who was the wife of her lover and then in Mexico where she fled while on bond, she shot two other men, one of whom died and the other was seriously injured.
May 14, 1965: It has been a difficult day. I do knot know whether my depression is the result of the day’s problems with moral and marital problems and disappointments or whether they have any connection. I do not know if my depression tonight is the result of the day with its disappointments and partial failures or if my failures to measure up, and my impatience is the result of the chest pains. They are not severe but worrisome. I left the desk and watched TV for a while but there seemed to be no relief. I must find a way to get out of the tense sequences and get more relaxation. How can I?
May 26, 1965: This was a hectic day with numerous problems and difficulties—morals cases and marital problems. Two young men in Europe needed to be excommunicated today because of immorality.
May 30, 1965: I . . . then had an interview. This was with a young man with his wife of a year and a half. She knew of his whole sexual problem of the past. They were married in the temple about a year and a half ago and received their recommends in spite of the fact that he had a red tag on his record. I shall check this with his bishop and stake president. He claims to be quite totally recovered. When I visited him first he denied vehemently any such condition or situation. A year or so later, he came in of his own accord and admitted it. I placed him in the hands of Dr. Charles Taylor at BYU and he now says that he visited with the Doctor as long as he was in Provo. I did not feel that he was totally frank with me yet. He hedged as I asked for the name of the bishop and stake president who gave him the recommend contrary to the instructions. I will check into the matter.
June 20, 1965: At one o’clock, I performed the special ordination of restoring the blessings to former Bishop [name redacted] who was excommunicated several years ago for adulterous relations but who has sorely repented and I have had several visits with him and was instrumental in getting him re-baptized and now restoration was taken care of in the stake presidency office in the high council room of the Holladay Stake.
July 6, 1965: I met a couple from Arizona—a mother and a son—he is nineteen and quite deeply entrenched in homosexual life. We worked for three constant hours with all the vigor and power and inspiration we had, trying to dissuade this young man from his activities.
July 7, 1965: I went to the office to meet the mother and son again and we spent nearly two hours again—straining and stretching and praying and serving and warning and finally ending without any real assurance that we had penetrated his immature mind and heart.
July 10, 1965: We had an interview this morning with the Stake President and his accuser. The accuser stated before him that he had seen him in the act of immorality with two different people at different times. The stake president denied it and assured us that this was all a plot to discredit him and destroy him. It was a long interview lasting all morning. We finally dismissed both the accuser and the president and caught the plane back home, arriving late afternoon.
August 19, 1965: There were morals problems that came in and it was 7:00 when I got through the day. After supper, I took a little nap, had a long distance call again tonight from another boy who was guilty of immorality in the homosexual line. The boy from Las Vegas, the one we had the other night, was from Oregon. They are coming to their senses now when they find that they cannot enroll in the Brigham Young University until and unless they totally clean up their vile practices.
September 20, 1965: Today was an unusual day. We had found a number of homosexual boys in the BYU last year and the school put a tag on their registration packet so when they came to register the last day or two and found they could not register until they cleared up their evil situations, they came one after another all day and into the late evening with tears and apologies and remorse and sorrow now. Some were very mild, others were quite confirmed in their evil. I am sure I helped them a great deal as I spent the whole day in talking repentance to them. Some of them will be permitted to register under strict probation; others who are more deeply involved will not be permitted to register. I think this will have a very wholesome affect upon the people at the BYU. I am sure that it will scatter far and wide and the young people will come to realize that their evils will not be tolerated on this campus.
November 18, 1965: The phone and Brother Richards at the Mission Home stated that there were three missionaries that had some problems. . . . I visited with one boy who was tall and slender, very egotistical and cocky. He wanted to pass off as being insignificant and unimportant his two visits across the border of Mexico to the Red Light District, and a lot of heavy petting and other allied ills. He had had his endowments. He had lied to his bishop and stake president when asked about his chastity. I had him leave and pray and think, while I handled boy number two who had been guilty of many evil things. He was much more repentant, but I had to consider a long time and do some praying before I know whether I could send him in the mission field. Number three was a young lady from Salt Lake who had just slipped out and gone riding with a boyfriend, without telling anyone where she was going. . . . The person number 4 was an Indian girl, who admitted serious moral infractions and she was backing out on her mission. It was quite important that I interview these people even though it was late, as tomorrow morning the missionaries go to the Temple. I found out that the two boys, one and two, had their endowments before coming to the Mission Home, so I forbade them to go to the Temple.
November 19, 1965: It was a very busy day. I had interviews with three missionaries that had serious problems. I had had interviews with them the night before over at the Mission Home. Three of them were very serious cases. One of them was simple and was soon taken care of. I was extremely tired as I got home. Today, I had a visit with the Indian girl, of last night’s experience, and she was determined to go home and give up her mission. I interviewed both the boys, because they were extremely repentant, I felt impressed to let them go on their missions. They were very grateful.
November 21, 1965: I had interviews with three young men who had some problems in perversion. All were very repentant. One of them was not a member of the Church and has been asking for baptism. I have been working with him for months. I believe now that he is repentant enough to be baptized.
December 15, 1965: Then a visit from a young man who is in deep sins, and is struggling for strength to overcome.
December 16, 1965: I had two very long and difficult interviews with two different young men who were deep in sin but are beginning now to catch the vision of eternity and the need for early repentance.
December 21, 1965: We came home at 9:30 and a young man was here to get help. He had had morals problems with his girlfriend and now he had given up his job and the girl’s parents had kicked him out and he was in pretty desperate straits and now wanted to go on a mission. I think he wanted an escape. I told him that if he would get him a job and go back to work and earn his money for his mission, and stabilized himself, and repented of his sins, possibly a mission might still be available to him, when he had proved himself.
December 22, 1965: At 10:30 came a young man deep in sin who had resisted my helping him. He had ignored two of my letters. I finally called him at the Genealogical Society where he was employed and he was very curt and almost insulting. He said he had nothing to talk to me about. I told him positively that he had a great deal we had to talk about and that he had better be coming, and so this morning, I had the interview. He began in a long explanation, stating that I was not qualified to handle his case or to understand it or to help him, and that it was his problem and that he did not wish to be pressed or hurried or pressured. I told him as long as he is a returned missionary and held the priesthood and was a member of the Church that we did have jurisdiction and that we did not intend to let him continue on with his sin; unless he was willing to cooperate, he would need to be immediately excommunicated from the Church. He finally began to yield and was willing to cooperate to some degree.