In my opinion, one of the most damaging books ever published by the Mormon Church is Spencer W. Kimball’s “The Miracle of Forgiveness.” Among other things, this book teaches that:

  • No young Mormon man or woman is worthy to go on a mission if they masturbate.
  • Masturbation alone leads to masturbation with others, which leads to “homosexuality.”
  • Being gay or lesbian is “ugly,” “repugnant,” and comparable to a disease.
  • “Homosexuality” leads to bestiality.
  • “Homosexuality” can be easily “cured.”
  • People who have pre-marital sex, and even rape victims, are “blighted” and “scarred.”
  • It is far better to die than to lose one’s “virtue.”
  • Death by suicide is a sign of foolishness, faithlessness and/or weakness and/or sin.

To be clear, this book is currently sold at Deseret Book, and remains on the book shelves of hundreds of thousands of Mormons across the world.

In this short presentation, I offer my brief argument for why I believe that “The Miracle of Forgiveness” should be removed from Deseret Book, and I let listeners and viewers know what they can do to help. I also share my thoughts on what the Mormon Church can do to help “atone” for selling this damaging book for several decades.

How You Can Help:

  • Share this Presentation.
  • Email Deseret Book:
  • Call Deseret Book
    • 1-800-453-4532 (Toll-Free US and Canada)
    • 1-801-517-3369 (International)
  • Speak to any influencers you know.
  • Do what you can to remove this book from the access of people who might be vulnerable (book shelves, etc.).
  • Please share with me/us what you did, and the reactions.
  • Remember the date: 1/18/2021.
  • Monitor for when they take the book down.
  • I will throw a party when it’s gone (likely this summer post-COVID)

P.S. This is a re-recording to make the video less “ranty,” and to remove the discussion of book bans and book burnings, which is not useful. HUGE thanks to everyone who gave feedback on this. I always want to be a constructive voice.

A screen shot of “The Miracle of Forgiveness” available on as of 1/18/2021.

Download MP3


  1. kirt Williamson January 18, 2021 at 4:16 pm - Reply

    Don’t throw your copy of the book away. Not only will it be a valuable from a collectors point, but there will be young TBM’s that will insist that the Church never taught those things. Not only will It is more incriminating evidence of the hurtful and dangerous dogma of the past but evidence how the Church tries to hide and obfuscate their history. A Shameful, full of deceit organization.

    • Bob July 27, 2021 at 8:00 pm - Reply

      Sorry, but I love that book. I only wish that the current church leaders would take a hard stand today, just like Spencer Kimball did when he wrote that book.

      • Anonymous August 3, 2023 at 8:56 pm - Reply

        I absolutely love the miracle of forgiveness also.
        People who love sin absolutely hate the book.
        Precident Kimball was very straightforward man.

  2. kirt Williamson January 18, 2021 at 9:34 pm - Reply

    I need to clarify, I made the previous comment prior to listening to Johns episode. I agree with John completely that it is hate speech. I’ve already emailed Deseret Book and asked that they discontinue offering the book for sale or printing new copies. I began my exit out of the Church 40 years ago but like John said, the book was ubiquitous and I have a copy. I will not burn or destroy my copy and it goes without saying that it has not been used as a reference for 40 years.

  3. Michael Merkley January 18, 2021 at 10:05 pm - Reply

    John please help me! Dear God! This is too much! I’m gay. My dad gave me $200 and the Miracle of Forgiveness time and time again with all these parts underlined with $200 over and over again…up to about $5000….

  4. Anonymous January 18, 2021 at 10:06 pm - Reply

    Very good podcast, John, but I do not expect that it will change anything with the Brethren.

  5. Bill January 19, 2021 at 5:19 am - Reply

    Damaging yes, hateful no ,in the context of the time ,the views expressed in the miracle of forgiveness reflect an unobtainable religious utopia where perfection is found ,in living by every word that comes forth from the mouth of god . To a straight male the thought of sex is always front and center. And the thought of homosexuality is repulsive and repugnant it’s natural. I think that 4 percent of human beings are born gay . At least that was the figure I last read . I’ve heard that it is much higher in Mormon youth . I would petition John to look deeply into the concept of opposition in all things and to be the teacher and doctor that he is as it pertains to the protection of a valuable soul in the site of a loving savior . Gay or straight , when used as a comparison in mans quest for balance and happiness. Books like this one should not be banned or burned, never never never , don’t go down that slippery slope . We must understand our roots we must come to grips with gods being as described as love and we must not whip gay people up to hate and lash out and judge 96 percent of the rest of the population because we were taught something counter to love I e gods being . Judgement is mans call to action . We must not get into the banning game it is far better to do as you have done so well in over 16 years of your podcast , defend the marginalized in Mormonism. Without separating them from their parents and loved ones who share a different view in life . Mormonism is not pretty when you pull back the layers . But in my lifetime of experience the religion has churned out a few very fine and understanding individuals . So where do we go from here we must go to freedom and enlightenment not to fires of burning books and damning those with differing views . True martial arts instruction teaches you to use your enemy s velocity to your advantage and let him over exert . This is rampant in the church today . The church is damaging itself . Gay or straight we as individuals must be loving and forgiving . We must understand how hard it is to change the course of a religious movement. Hate goes both ways. Let’s choose a better way and let this book die a natural death.

  6. Ocky Dilldock January 19, 2021 at 6:21 am - Reply

    Hopefully this is some constructive criticism:

    Something I have noticed lately John, is that you are sounding just like a bible thumping, fire and brimstone, tent revivalist preacher. Not in content, but in tone. The effect this has on me is to lessen my interest in hearing what you have to say, because I instinctual disbelieve the bible thumpers. The tone gives the impression that to make up for a lack of serious argument, the speaker appeals to the audience with heightened emotion. Even though I agree with your position, I am turned off by the similarity to the bible trumpeters. It make me question if there is some flaw in what otherwise seems perfectly logical. Like Pavlov’s dog, when I here the bible thumper tone, even though I agree with what is being said, my mental reaction is this guy is full of sh**. Maybe I pick up on this because I do the same thing when arguing something I am passionate about even though I know it does not help my argument, the emotion just takes over.

    • John Dehlin January 19, 2021 at 6:46 am - Reply

      I actually agree. Thank you. Gonna regroup.

      • Scott Mcdonald July 29, 2022 at 10:43 am - Reply

        Banning a book that teaches the Lord’s standards? It’s always been a hard and harsh thing for the wicked to obey the Lord’s commandments but a blessing for those that do.

  7. Carrie January 19, 2021 at 10:16 am - Reply

    Just emailed Deseret Book:

    To whom this may concern:

    It is appalling to me (and many, many others) that The Miracle of Forgiveness is still being sold in 2021. Please remove this book from your physical and virtual shelves as it teaches hateful lies concerning homosexuality, rape, incest, and suicide. It has personally hurt me when I was told to read it by my Bishop so I could be “forgiven” for what someone else did to me. This book is so dangerous and wrong on so many levels. Please remove it from Deseret Book and pass along this email to The Brethren!

  8. Danny Larsen January 19, 2021 at 3:50 pm - Reply

    John, I went to Deseret and Seagull Book Stores today. They don’t have Miracle of Forgiveness. It hasn’t been in stock for six years. – Danny Larsen

    • Danny Larsen January 19, 2021 at 3:51 pm - Reply

      You can order it on Amazon and audio.

    • John Dehlin January 19, 2021 at 3:53 pm - Reply

      Danny – It’s available on

      • Danny Larsen January 20, 2021 at 4:34 pm - Reply

        eBook only.

      • Bruce R Josephson October 12, 2021 at 9:17 pm - Reply

        According to to Wikipedia it was last published in 2015.

  9. Karl January 19, 2021 at 4:09 pm - Reply

    It is unbelievably sloppy that a .1 trillion dollar business would not periodically purge their record of nonsense, let alone barbaric nonsense.

    John, I have just found your work and I’m taken by your demeanor. In other words I am very impressed by your command of your truths.

  10. Steve January 19, 2021 at 8:24 pm - Reply

    This is just another place where Church leaders will be very slow to act. They are terrified about doing anything that might undermine the concept that the prophet speaks for God. That is truly their sacred cow. They would rather let people die than compromise that fundamental narrative. This is why there are still members who believe that black people are cused with dark skin, and that gay people can be cured. To facilitate healing, the Church needs to clearly identify which doctrines that it used to teach are false. I’m not holding my breath waiting for that!

  11. Bill January 20, 2021 at 6:34 am - Reply

    John thanks so much for your passion, it is I that passion that shows how much you care . Is it possible that Spencer was writing his legacy with that same passion not knowing the damage that it would cause in future generations ? The wonderful thing in Mormonism is that none of its prophets have been granted immortality they are all dead . And with that a new era is usually brought forward. Enlightenment should be our quest, I’ve often thought that the salt sermon was the catalyst that created the militant god is on our side Book of Mormon re do that brought on the messy unloving egotistical racist religion that all of us born into the faith were brain washed into giving so much of our lives to .Yep we are damaged . Yet we still have hope for a brighter day. Thanks John, your passion is forgiven, just like my former thought process is slowly moving away from this lifetime of brain damage. We are healing mentally and spiritually. Thanks for giving us a place to recognize this . My hope is that God is involved and he is allowing those of us who are so broken in this process to Hal and come together. Even in the midst of such passionate debate .

  12. Mark Jensen January 20, 2021 at 12:27 pm - Reply

    I completely agree that the specific issues John mentions here are huge and that we need to completely stop selling and using these teachings. However, in a broader sense, I find the specific issues raised in this episode as belonging to a broader mental health issue with the entire concept of Christianity as it is commonly taught in The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints, as well as many other branches Christianity. In this video, John talks about problems with an organization offering itself up as the cure to a disease it is causing. Isn’t that a fitting summary of the entire concept of the fall of man and redemption through atonement? We are taught (as in the Book Of Mosiah) that by being our natural selves, we are an enemy to God and that we, as we are, are less than the dust of the earth. I’m reminding of the words of Thomas Paine, which he wrote in The Age Of Reason of the man who receives these teachings, “He calls himself a worm, and the fertile earth a dunghill; and all the blessing of life by the thankless name of vanities.” Then we are told that the cure for our innate wretchedness lies in a father having his son murdered to pay the price for each of our redemption from our natural state of awfulness. How can any woman or man who believes this ever really feel good about themselves? I became increasingly sensitive to this issue after my daughter attempted suicide. As I tried to heal and get her the help she needed to heal, I came to see how damaging the belief that I was innately flawed had been to me in my life and to my children, whom I had faithfully taught such a dangerous doctrine. Unfortunately, to truly stop causing extreme mental health damage and suicidal thoughts to people, I honestly feel that in addition to dropping the specific teachings of The Miracle Of Forgiveness, we would need to also abandon and replace many of the teachings of the Bible and The Book Of Mormon (upon which Spencer Kimball based much of his doctrine found in the book we are discussing here) as well, and I do not have hope that we as a church would ever even consider that.

  13. Emma January 22, 2021 at 10:02 am - Reply

    I would’ve enjoyed it if you interviewed someone who had researched the book and could talk specifically about what the book has to say and possibly why it was written and why the church used it And some examples of how it affected individuals

    an interview with someone more about specifically what the book says that is so disturbing would’ve been informative

    I like when you interview experienced knowledgeable individuals or those who have interesting experiences to share


  14. ANONYMOUS January 22, 2021 at 3:41 pm - Reply

    I’ve been buying every copy I find at Deseret Industries for years, then tearing and tossing in the trash.

    • Anonymous August 3, 2023 at 8:39 pm - Reply

      Seriously? 🤦🏽‍♀️🤣

  15. Anonymous January 22, 2021 at 4:37 pm - Reply

    I would love to confront President Kimball and contrast his chastity rules with those permissible for his grandfather, Heber C. Kimball, a notorious polygamist. As I recall, HCK was ready to give his wife to Joseph. He later told missionaries going to Europe not to marry young female converts in Europe, but rather bring them back to Salt Lake City so that he (and other Mormon royalty) could have a “fair shake” at them. During the 1970s, the history of HCK was not so well known, as now thanks to the internet.

  16. Annie Burton January 29, 2021 at 11:07 am - Reply

    Thank you for sharing. Is there a way to get access to the slides you used? I’m trying to spread the word in Facebook groups I’m in and I think having direct quotes would be very helpful to help those defending this book see the damage it can cause.

  17. Private First Class Clueless February 26, 2021 at 5:11 pm - Reply

    This book says if you survived a rape you consented, otherwise you would be dead.

    “It is better to die in defending one’s virtue than to live having lost it without a struggle.”

    If it really was rape, why are you still alive? You should have struggled until the rapist killed you during or after the assault.

  18. Ana María Ravines de Schur March 3, 2021 at 8:43 am - Reply

    Burning books in the Nazi style may be seen as wrong, because the Nazis circumvented freedom of conscience. But burning the Kimball’s book isn’t the same thing. This man was the prophet when I got baptized in South America. My generation fell like flies in the trap of Mormonism. Little did we know about the whole dirty history. Peruvian Mormons could not imagine the nasty history that was hiding behind the Utah Empire of Doom that was exported to the world as a true testimony of Jesus Christ. I feel that with all his sweetness, Spencer Kimball didn’t have the moral stature to teach morals, because of the history of immorality that his cronies conceal until today. A church that taught their followers to inbreed for the reproduction of a particular race should first go back to introspection before claiming to teach for God, chastising different sexual practices as bestiality while concealing the bestiality of the Founders.

  19. Tam March 10, 2021 at 10:12 pm - Reply

    Oh, so much anger and contempt here! Wow.

    This “cancel culture” generation seems to think that the moment someone disagrees with something that was written or said in the past, present or future, it’s discriminatory and heresy. What I’m hearing from everyone here is that if President Kimball was alive, you’d tie him to a stake and throw burning sticks at him, because, effectively, that’s what you are doing. Prophet or man – it doesn’t matter who it is, we should not seek to destroy anyone for their teaching or their opinions – but you are.

    Think about that. Don’t steam about it, – just pause for a second and think what your intentions are here.
    Where are these intentions coming from?
    Why is it so important that this book be banned from the Mormon church?
    Why do you care?
    Most of you don’t sound like you are card-carrying temple recommend holders.
    So why the fight?
    Move on.
    Do something productive with all that steamed up energy in you.
    You’ve cried the river, you’ve built the bridge, now just get over it.

    Still here?
    People …. are we still people? This is not the way decent people deal with something that angers them, or hurts them, or cuts them to the very center. Write your own books, spread your own message, fine. Don’t tear apart someone else’s opinions and ideas just because you don’t like them.
    Sometimes, the truth hurts and when it hurts, well, that’s a message in a bottle, just for you.
    (see 1 Nephi 16:2)

    And YES … YES … YES … you ARE entitled to your opinion. The teachings of President Kimball’s book are raw and deep and they are blunt, very blunt … and this soft whiney cancel culture generation can’t handle anything you disagree with.

    FYI – the title of the book is a spoiler … the “Miracle of Forgiveness”, obviously, you haven’t read it to the very end.

    Should it be banned, outlawed? Let’s ask Abinadi – a bunch of people didn’t like what he said either and he wasn’t nearly as blunt or open about it as President Kimball.
    We’d be wise to follow the admonition of Disney’s Elsa …. “Let it go!”

    • Mel August 20, 2021 at 8:05 pm - Reply

      I’m guessing you haven’t been hurt by the teachings in this book.
      My husband knew I had been raised by a pedophile, and that I had had a sexual partner as a teen.
      He also knew that I joined the church and was celibate for three years before I met him. I ‘repented’.
      But the words that Kimball printed convinced said husband that he had married below himself.
      I became the servant. And sex was for him only – I was told to lie still and make no sound.
      This man felt ‘entitled’ to a virgin, and his contempt for me grew until I could not stay where I was made to feel so unworthy.
      If forgiveness applies only to some, but not to others, then it doesn’t truly exist.

    • Virgil November 13, 2021 at 3:05 am - Reply

      Hear hear!

  20. Gary S May 14, 2021 at 3:16 pm - Reply

    Rather than pitching The Miracle of Forgiveness into your trash can, I would suggest instead obtaining a copy of Gay Rights and the Mormon Church by Gregory A Prince (University of Utah Press, 2019). The latter volume addresses Kimball’s attitude on homosexuality in its fourth chapter, having examined alleged causes and ‘cures’ from a science-based perspective in the preceding two chapters. To say the teachings of Mormon church leaders on the subject are more fantasy than fact would be an understatement.

    (One could also mention the pamphlet To the One, which is the text of an address by Boyd K Packer at a March 1978 Twelve Stake Fireside at BYU. This can still be found online.)

    So, what was the cost of these disparaging attacks on Mormon youth who had come to realize they might be ‘one of them?’ The answer can be found in the first paragraph of Chapter 29: ‘Yet the incidence of teenage suicide in Utah, the most Mormon state in the country, is rising at the highest rate in the country.’ An early example of the gay Mormon suicide epidemic can also be found in Outside the Temple Gates—The Gay Mormon—an article written by Robert I McQueen and published in the August 13, 1975 issue of The Advocate. McQueen was a gay Mormon RM who related the story of five friends, three of whom were also RMs he had met at BYU in 1965: ‘four had been trapped in the on-going homosexual witch hunts at BYU and subjected to the Church’s disciplinary program. The fifth had sought help on his own by contacting Church authorities and admitting his problem to them. As an initial step in their counseling, each of them was interviewed by the counselor for homosexual problems at that time, Spencer W Kimball.’ All five were expelled from BYU, excommunicated from the Church, and learned their families had been informed of the ‘problem.’ All five took their own lives as they discovered ‘their student records contained this sorry piece of information.’

    McQueen’s conclusion: ‘My friends from 1965 were good people. They wanted to be better people, but they believed in their church more than they believed in themselves. When their church rejected them because they were gay, it destroyed them. I doubt the Mormon Church will ever accept even a portion of the blame.’

    McQueen himself survived for another decade by being true to his own nature: ‘I realized it seemed more natural for me to be gay than Mormon.’

  21. Matthew Brown June 8, 2021 at 3:31 pm - Reply

    I read this book before I went on my mission. I did not realize the harm that it caused to me. I read it as a young, believing mormon, and took it as the word of god. It was a major contributor to me falling into the shame cycle, and it negatively affected my outlook on many issues for years after. I even recommended it to a friend that confided in my that she had been sexually assaulted 🤦‍♂️ I just checked, and this book is still available for sale on Deseret books and also on Amazon. Shameful, to say the least.

  22. Bruce R Josephson October 12, 2021 at 9:22 pm - Reply

    According to Wikipedia it was last published in 2015.

  23. Virgil November 13, 2021 at 3:44 am - Reply

    Think about the story of Sodom and Gomorrah which is taught and believed by 3 large religions: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. If this story is true then how does anyone know that Spencer Kimball’s words aren’t a message from God. I know the words are harsh. However, many words from God’s prophets are harsh. Many people don’t want to or don’t have the will power to know who God really is because we would have to change and give up personal pleasures.

  24. Joe March 6, 2022 at 2:51 pm - Reply

    I am sorry but I have to disagree on this, this book has helped me a lot get through some very tough times in my life and I am very thankful for President Kimball writing this book and wish that the church would push this book more for others to help them with weaknesses that they may have.

  25. Sabrina March 25, 2022 at 3:25 am - Reply

    I will keep all 3 of my copies. I don’t think “deseret books has a right to do this. I’m looking to replace my book membership with them. They’re too far left for me. I’ll have to get out my book and see in what context this as being said. I know of youth that have gone on to fulfill successful missions even though they crossed the line. Like all lefts, they leave too much content out of the conversation. .. after all – this books is called “The Miracle of Forgiveness”

  26. Anita May 11, 2022 at 1:54 am - Reply

    Spencer W. Kimball was not the President of the Church of Jesus Christ yet when he wrote the book. I also felt that some chapters in the book were very dark and I did not feel the Spirit when I read them. I wouldn’t recommend the book to anyone because of the deeply judgmental, depressing tone found in it. P.S. I am active in the Church.

  27. Nobody Important June 16, 2022 at 12:28 pm - Reply

    Any missionary that committed any slight infraction on my mission (Arkansas Little Rock Mission early 90s) was forced to read this book by the mission president Robert T Ferguson. We also had to send him a summarization of every chapter, every single week, citing where we had done wrong. This book has been used (in the past) by bullies, such as this particular mission president to bludgeon others they perceive as weak and unworthy.

    That insane man asked every single elder and sister during the monthly interviews if they masturbated! I wish I had never gone on an LDS mission. And yes, I still attend church to this day. That book the Miracle of Forgiveness creates guilty feelings for even having genitals and sexual urges. On the last day in the mission the elders are given this pamphlet “Single Brethren of the Church.” Now it’s your job to marry as quickly as possible and start procreating, after being told for the last 21 years of your life to feel guilty for even thinking about it!

    Mormon culture is toxic, destructive and filled with hypocrisy, but the gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us to love all, to leave the 99 and focus on the lost one.

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