A t the time he spoke in the October 1985 general conference Elder Theodore M. Burton, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, was serving on a special committee. The assignment of that committee, he explained, was to "assist the First Presidency in bringing back into full Christian fellowship those individuals who have strayed from the fold and who now have reached a point in their lives where they feel a need to regain their full priesthood and temple blessings."
Elder Burton said he had been asked if he found it depressing to review the sins and transgressions of people involved in difficulties. He answered: "It would be if I were looking for sins and transgressions. But I am working with people who are repenting. These are sons and daughters of God who have made mistakes – some of them very serious. But they are not sinners. They were sinners in the past but have learned through bitter experience the heartbreak that results from disobedience to God's laws. Now they are no longer sinners. They are God's repentant children who want to come back to Him and are striving to do so. They have made their mistakes and have paid for them. Now they seek understanding, love and acceptance."I often wish that in the first place they had believed the words of the prophet Alma which he spoke to his wayward son, Corianton:
" `And now behold, my son, do not risk one more offense against your God upon those points of doctrine, which ye have hitherto risked to commit sin.
" `Do not suppose, because it has been spoken concerning restoration, that ye shall be restored from sin to happiness. Behold, I say unto you, wickedness never was happiness.' " (Alma 41:9-10.)
Elder Burton encouraged members to treat with love and kindness those who have to be disciplined for transgression. "In English . . . the word discipline has the same root as the word disciple," he noted. "A disciple is a student, to be taught. In dealing with transgressors, we must remember that they desperately need to be taught."