Within the Book of Mormon, Alma, the son of Alma, had three sons: Helaman, Shiblon, and Corianton. Alma’s sons were all ministers, and Corianton was the youngest.
Alma set out on a very important missionary outreach to reconcile the Zoramites to the Gospel. A group of ministers accompanied Alma, including his sons Shiblon and Corianton. The account of this outreach effort is recorded in Alma 31 to 35 – great reading!
Despite all that can be said about this noble outreach of faith, the opposition found an inroad through Corianton. Scripture reveals he was overconfident in his own eyes and not fully rooted in purpose; as such, he was susceptible to temptation. At some point during this missionary effort, Corianton either heard of or had seen the Lamanite harlot Isabel. Corianton yielded to the temptations of Isabel and abandoned his ministerial responsibilities. Alma 39 deals with the reproof of Alma to his son Corianton for the seriousness of his sins.
Alma’s chastisement of Corianton contains this following quote: “I would not dwell upon your crimes, to harrow up your soul, if it were not for your good.” Harrow is a common term in agriculture, meaning to break up the soil and root up weeds before planting. It also means to disturb keenly or painfully; to distress the mind. No doubt Corianton’s sins weighed heavy upon his heart. What good does this serve to Corianton? Is it beneficial to become depressed, dejected, despairing?
The acknowledgement of sin undoubtedly brings regret and sorrow that hopefully lead to repentance. Although repentance is a bitter experience, it serves a dual purpose: first, to seek forgiveness, and second, the bitter memory of regret is a strong caution if the temptation reoccurs. It may leave a scar on the conscience that holds a therapeutic remembrance not to yield to that temptation again.
Even though Alma’s words were harsh, the reproof administered was absolutely necessary. Alma then demonstrates his love, his forgiveness, and his commission to Corianton by the following: “And now, O my son, ye are called of God to preach the word unto this people. And now, my son, go thy way, declare the word with truth and soberness, that thou mayest bring souls unto repentance, that the great plan of mercy may have claim upon them. And may God grant unto you even according to my words. Amen.”
If we should succumb to some temptation, then we should hope to have an Alma-figure involved in our lives to offer the needed admonishment to guide us back to the grace of God.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.