Blood and Sins of this Generation

by: Guest Author

August 19, 2012

The 2nd Article of Faith states: “We believe that men will be apunished for their bown sins, and not for Adam’s ctransgression.”

Christ's blood (or animal sacrifice in the days of Moses) cleanses us from sin

In the temple, we learn that we can become clean from the “blood and sins of this generation.”

If we’re only punished for our own sins, what does this phrase from the temple mean?  Does the 2nd Article of Faith conflict with the temple?  If not, what are the blood and sins of this generation?

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15 Responses to Blood and Sins of this Generation

  1. Keri Brooks on August 19, 2012 at 8:35 AM

    I’ve been thinking about this a great deal lately, and a month or so ago, I had an idea. There’s a lot of stuff that goes on in this world that’s really bad, and it’s impossible to completely avoid being a part of it.

    The example that sparked this thought has to do with the petroleum industry, but really, any global industry could do, and probably some things closer to home, too. A lot of rulers who own oil reserves do very bad things to their people. By buying their products, we are, in a way, enabling that oppression. But, it’s impossible in modern society to stop using petroleum products. They’re everywhere. Fuel, plastic, computers, medical devices, etc.

    I felt terribly guilty for a while when I realized this. I wanted to distance myself, but I couldn’t. I can reduce my use of these products, but I can’t eliminate my use. That was when the phrase “blood and sins of this generation” started to make sense to me. I’m not the one oppressing people halfway around the world, but by benefiting from that oppression, I’m in some small way a part of it. And that’s what the initiatory (through the Atonement) cleanses me of.

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  2. Mormon Heretic on August 19, 2012 at 9:16 AM

    Keri, I think that’s an excellent explanation. I have been wondering about that phrase lately too. I guess that when we buy any product that has child laborers or poor working conditions, we are also guilty of the blood and sins of this generation, but it is nearly impossible for us an consumers to know of these poor conditions. I know a lot of our products come from China. They are cheap, but there are hidden costs and we are supporting regimes that are against our american values by purchasing their cheap stuff.

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  3. FireTag on August 19, 2012 at 10:03 AM

    We are certainly morally responsible for the FORESEEABLE consequences of our actions or inactions. I’m not sure most of the consequences of our choices are foreseeable, and I’m less sure that trade boycotts do anything positive (in general) to force regimes to change toward valuing the “worth of all persons”. They mostly help us to feel better about our own purity instead of committing ourselves to the harder moral work of changing our souls.

    We can never be pure enough to warrant grace; that’s why it’s called grace.

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  4. prometheus on August 19, 2012 at 11:41 AM

    Perhaps it is also worth considering that each generation has its own invisible prejudices and biases that cause unintended and often unrecognized harm.

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  5. Howard on August 19, 2012 at 12:35 PM

    It may mean that we are exempt from the sins of our fathers that are visited upon the children to the 3rd and 4th generations.

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  6. Jack on August 19, 2012 at 4:38 PM

    Well, I think the simple answer to the conundrum is that each of us contributes to the blood and sins of this generation. So it’s possible that one may be punished for them as part of a collective punishment — unless he has been cleansed.

    That said, it’s my understanding that women are not in need of the same ritualistic cleansing. Why is that?

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  7. Ray on August 19, 2012 at 9:51 PM

    “That said, it’s my understanding that women are not in need of the same ritualistic cleansing.”


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  8. hawkgrrrl on August 20, 2012 at 2:59 AM

    Jack – both men & women receive the same ritualistic cleansing. Your comment doesn’t make sense to me.

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  9. SilverRain on August 20, 2012 at 5:43 AM

    There are differences, but I won’t go into them here. I suggest asking a temple worker next time you attend.

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  10. SilverRain on August 20, 2012 at 5:44 AM

    I will say Jack isn’t right about what the difference is.

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  11. Last Lemming on August 20, 2012 at 7:39 AM

    Keri Brooks’ explanation is excellent. If you can dig up a copy of Vaclav Havel’s first inaugural address as President of Czechoslovakia, he also provides an good example (without ever referencing the term).

    As for the relationship with the 2nd Article of Faith, I see the AoFs 2-5 dealing with salvation only. The “punishment” mentioned in the 2nd AoF is suffering for our sins in hell. And it is entirely correct–we will suffer only for our own sins in hell, not Adam’s, and not Aramco’s or the Communist Party’s or any other “generational” sins.

    But such generational sins do affect our exaltation. Zion cannot reign on Earth with the Iranian mullahs, the Saudi royal family, and Hugo Chavez working their evil at home and/or abroad. As unwilling indulgers of such sins, we must be cleansed thereof to participate in Zion in any form. Ultimately, those generation sins will be overcome, Zion will be established throughout the Earth, and the promises of the ordinance in which we are cleansed of the “blood and sins of this generation” will be fully realized.

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  12. Last Lemming on August 20, 2012 at 7:42 AM

    A link to the Havel address:

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  13. Bonnie on August 20, 2012 at 8:13 AM

    If we look at the experience of Enos and the parable of Zenos, we see that there is a natural progression that a covenant individual makes, from concern about own relationship with Christ to concern about family, community, and then the world at large. If we are truly saints, we become deeply concerned about the relationships others are able to have with God. Prophets continually speak of their garments being clean from the sins of the people when they have done all in their power to help everyone they could to begin and keep moving in a path to Christ.

    I think any responsible individual sees his/her complicity with issues of global significance, and I think that places us in a collective in which their sins also stain us. I think also that we have a responsibility as covenant-keepers to bear one another’s burdens, to do all we can to encourage each other in a path of discipleship, in order to become pure. It is often a temptation, imo, to think that the full exercise of discipleship leads only to our own salvation.

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  14. Carl Miner on August 20, 2012 at 10:35 AM

    Week before last when I attended the temple, this same phrase caught my attention. It’s timely that I came up this blog today. My thoughts on the topic have continued since that time. I’ve turned to the scriptures numerous times. I found the comments above interesting and insightful. But my prayers, thoughts and studies have been led in a little different direction.

    Reading through the “blood” references in the Topical Guide over the past weeks, there are basically two aspects referenced. One blood reference is of course the blood of Christ, represented by the wine of the Sacrament and the washing in the temple, that washes away the blood that has stained our garments. I sense that symbolic of sin, the “blood” of our sins that stains us can only, on the side of a scale on which are sins are placed, be washed away by the counter-weight on the other side of the scale, the sacrifice of our Brother by the shedding of his “blood.,” The blood of our sins on the one side can only be washed away by the counterweight of the blood shed by Jesus on the other.

    So what is the reference to “this generation”? What “generational” blood is staining our garments? Every day we interact with our fellow beings, people of this generation. Our every sin is preceded by a thought, so when we sin in any way, it was likely preceded by a thought that was placed in our minds by something we saw or heard, the sin of someone else in our generation. By “generational,” perhaps the term simply means we are sinning the common sins of the day, supporting the sins and their expansion in some way, and not doing our part to end the sins of our generation.

    We are in a cesspool of sin in these latter days. Sin surrounds us on every front. Sexual sins of every conceivable perversion, divorce and all its causes, abortion, taking advantage of our brother, pride …. We see and hear and feel the sins of this generation in nearly every waking moment. How much do we fall prey to them even if just in our thoughts alone, and how do we condone the sins by outright support or by our silence?

    Can we swim in the cesspool, the “blood” of this generation, and yet not be affected by the filth? Of course, yes, through the blood of the Atonement. The Atonement, and what we symbolically wear to represent that Atonement, literally, through our righteousness, becomes a shield and a protection to us. And, too, as we disregard the teachings of the prophets or don’t stand up for them to others around us in our generation, we are symbolically shedding the blood of the prophets, and then the blood of this generation stains our garments.

    Just my thoughts.

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  15. Brent on August 25, 2012 at 10:32 PM

    We percieve a great deal based upon our upbringing, parental guidance (or lack thereof) and a whole host of other influences. These influences can affect an entire generation (look at the attitudes towards sex since the 1960’s). These influences take their toll on us all and are not Conducive to allowing us to progress to any form of godhood.

    Buying oil (I work for an oil company) or buying tennis shoes made by child labour, has little to do with the sins of this generation – some believe exploiting children is a bad thing – because you have been taught that it is bad – however, to some in some situations, children, if not working, are not providing for their families (abuse of children is not the same as child-labor IMO). Others who extract oil from the ground (as I do) are not sinning as I do not want to harm or kill any living thing, but simply provide for my family in a responsible manner.

    Can we be surrounded by sin on all sides and not have its filth “rub” off on us? Cloud our vision? Prejudice our understanding? This is what I believe it means – to allow us to see things as they really are and as God would have us see them. Preparatory to us exacting judgement without prejudice and executing both temporal and spiritual laws as gods without messing it all up because of our easily swayed mortal minds.

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