Latter-day Saint Video Vault: “Godly Sorrow” Still Teaches True Repentance

Godly Sorrow
Jared Jones

Jared Jones

A young woman learns what it means to have godly sorrow before she can marry fiancee Aaron Eckhart. Yes. That Aaron Eckhart.

Latter-day Saint Video Vault celebrates decades of uplifting, funny, weird, and sometimes cringe-worthy Mormon-related videos, most of which are now found on YouTube.

Greetings videophiles! This week we go to Godly Sorrow Leads to Repentance—a 1992 seminary classic. It features everything: actors who border on being too old for college, a scripture-focused plot device and a song with on-the-nose lyrics.  It’s a short one—less than 10 minutes—but it uses all of its time present the concept of  godly sorrow (2 Corinthians 7) through the lens of a young woman preparing for temple marriage.

As the film begins we hear Kim speaking with Bishop Maxwell over a montage wedding prep images. She is so excited and can’t believe this is all happening. Bishop Maxwell is excited as well. He has heard a lot about Matt. He seems to be a good man who is prepared to go with her to the temple. Before she can go with him Bishop Maxwell wanted to see how she feels about this important step.

They go through a temple recommend interview and Bishop Maxwell asks if there is anything in her past that hasn’t been resolved with appropriate authority.

Kim looks down, hesitates and then talks about her involvement with another boy before Matt came home from his mission. She says they spent too much time alone and things got out of hand. She pauses, and Bishop Maxwell asks her to continue so he knows the best way to help. Kim finishes her story.

“What you’ve told me is very serious,” Bishop Maxwell says.

“But I’m not involved with that man anymore.” Kim says. “It’s not a problem.”

“True repentance isn’t just stopping what is wrong. It’s much more involved.”

Kim insists this is different. She loves Matt. She has never felt this way about anyone before and is excited to go to the temple with him. The bishop says she has some more work to do before she can get a recommend.

“But the announcements are sent! The dress is paid for!”

Bishop Maxwell understands these concerns but says it would not be appropriate to go to the temple unless this is resolved.

“What will I say to Matt? How can I tell my parents?”

“Just tell them that you, me and the Lord need a little more time. You are so caught up in the social and worldly consequences that you haven’t considered the godly consequences,” the bishop says.

They continue their discussion and Bishop Maxwell helps her realize her biggest concern is how she will face everyone. He reminds her it is more important to realize how we can face the Lord.

“You need to feel how God feels when we sin. What we are talking about is being worthy to go to the temple. I want to help you clear this up so you can.”

We cut to Kim in her room. She is very upset. We hear a song about godly sorrow begin and she throws a pillow across the room. A photo of her and Matt tumbles to the floor in slow motion. The song continues and we see her talking to her parents friends and eventually to Matt. The photo reaches the floor and the glass in the frame shatters.

Kim is back with Bishop Maxwell. He teaches that godly sorrow is a gift of the spirit. It is a gift that helps us renew our ties with God.

Next there is a montage of Kim reading scriptures and pondering the lessons she is learning about godly sorrow. She lays on the grass and looks at the sky, is comforted by her mom and weeps with the bishop as the godly sorrow song continues. We also see her trying to talk to Matt, but he doesn’t want to talk to her and he quickly continues past her down the long stairway in the N. Eldon Tanner Building at BYU.

Later we see her leaving the bishop’s office with a lightness about her. We then see her looking at the Provo Temple.

“It’s beautiful.” Kim says. She then turns and we realize she is talking to Matt.

“I almost didn’t say anything.” Kim continues. “It would have been so easy. But it’s incredible. I never felt happier.”

“What about the pain?” Matt, says.

“It’s gone,” she says.

We then hear the final words of the song: “Yet this pain I know / can lead my soul  / back to Him again.”

Godly Sorrow is still an effective teaching tool. It’s doctrinally sound and is short enough to teach a point without belaboring it and really shows the progression that must take place in repentance. The fact that it hasn’t been disavowed and is still available on the church website definitely says something about its quality. Some may find the theme song a little cheesy but it is very typical of films of the era. I mean the repentance ballad is a key track on that seminary soundtrack.

Thoughts, Musings & Trivia

  • Matt is played by a young Aaron Eckhart—a noted actor of film and television.
  • According to IMDB he took time off after high school to surf in California and he even served a mission in Switzerland and France, but is no longer a “practicing” member of the church.
  • He was Harvey Dent in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Night and also starred in Erin Brockovich and Thank You for Smoking.

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