Counseling Experiences from President Kimball’s Journal: 1971 – 1974

Journal text selected by Dennis B. Horne.

Much of Spencer W. Kimball’s Apostolic ministry was devoted to working with and counseling members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that had committed “moral” sins.

This is part of a longer series of Excerpts from The Journal of President Spencer W. Kimball.

For those wishing to delve deeper and read the actual diary entries, I have included the date of the journal entry. President Kimball’s journal is simply not polished writing but is excellent as both a first and final draft. Please forgive any typos. A church email account is needed to access the material on the Church Archives website (the call number is MS 21541):




April 16, 1971: One of my problem boys who had so completely overcome his perversion [homosexual] problems that we sent him on a mission, came in to see me today. He had slipped twice in the mission field and just last week, had yielded again to perversion problems. I was heart sick. I still believe that he will conquer. There was a young woman from out of state who had had the problem before baptism into the Church. I believe we were able to help her that she will be in total command of her life from now on. Two other young women came together and they needed a great deal of help and I believe they are on their way to recovery.


April 17, 1971: I had two homosexual boys come to have help—they were both satisfactory interviews and then I delegated one to Brother Evans to work with, and the other to Brother Bowman to work with.


April 20, 1971: There were several homosexual boys came in for help—one at a time, and two of them came together.


April 21, 1971: Two bishops came in this morning with [ward member] homosexual problems and then I visited with [name removed] who had had some emotional problems years ago.


February 5, 1971: A number of critical and important interviews I had. There seems to be no end of them, in fact, they seem to be increasing whereas I used to need to dig out some of the difficult cases, now, they come in voluntarily—almost more than I can handle.


February 6, 1971: One young man came all the way from Ricks College to confess to me his sins. I was greatly relieved when his principal sin was masturbation and he had not yielded to that since his baptism over a year ago. It is interesting how some people take their sins so seriously and others so lightly. I had just read a letter from a man in the east who has been a member of the Church for a year and he said he had done everything in the book—he says, “you name the sin and I have done it, a great many times over a great many years.” He was very much surprised when his bishop excommunicated him, the one so deeply involved in sin and the other so lightly.


July 4, 1971: I had an interview also with one of the problem boys and his Bishop who came in with him. It was a very satisfactory interview and I believe much good will come from it. I believe we will save this boy.


July 26, 1971: For the past ten years in vacations of two weeks a year I had produced the Miracle of Forgiveness which had turned out to be a good seller and though I had not written it for that purpose it is now in its 7th printing and about 40,000 copies. I wrote it to change lives of people who needed to change. It has done that. I have given many copies away to people in distress and in morals [problems] or family life and numerous letters have come and statements to me that they owe their transformed lives to this book.




January 21, 1972: I remained from the office till 2 p.m., my first appointment. First I talked to a young man who had been determined to become a woman and his wife and two children have left him. Apparently this was a shock and he remembered what I had told them three months ago and had nine days ago determined that he had been in serious error and now wished to change his thoughts and come back to real manhood. He is grieving about the loss of his family.

[This story continued on another day some weeks later]: Waiting for me as I came back from the Temple was a young man who had been married who had two children and who had been divorced and who had developed in his own mind a feeling and an assurance that a mistake had been made when he was created and that he was made male instead of female and he has developed over the months and years a very great determination to be changed into a female, even to the point of surgery. Even the first of this week he was masquerading in his apartment as a female and had rented the apartment as a female and his landlord knew nothing different. He had purchased some very fancy clothes from ZCMI and wore girls clothes and make up, had his whiskers plucked, let his hair grow long and made every pretense to be a girl. I worked with him for a year or two with little avail for he seemed to slip further into his fantasy. He had had two or three good jobs and lost them when it was found out that he was abnormal. He lost some apartments when the landlord found that he was masquerading, had no employment and was trying to eke out an existence on unemployment insurance. I have been talking very frankly to him and plainly and strongly. I called him at his apartment but did not know that he was masquerading in this fashion. He said he could not come to see me because if he left the apartment dressed as a man, his landlord would kick him out and if he came to the office dressed as a woman, there would be problems. He finally asked for a blessing from President Lee, so after the Temple meeting on Thursday, President Lee had us come in his office and he gave him a remarkable blessing of promises and admonitions which I believe made quite an impression on the boy. I took him to my own room and Brother Victor Brown, Jr., and Dr. [Russell M.] Nelson and Ned Winder and the first two accompanied us to my room where we talked very, very strongly to the boy and told him this had to be the end—that he had offended the Lord, and it would be an offense to Brother Lee if he went back to any degree of his fantasy, and that we did not want him to go back to his apartment and these other brethren would assist and take him to a [stake president in Arizona that would board him while he repented and changed].


February 6, 1972: I had an interview with Brother [name redacted] from Napa Stake who had been excommunicated and since his attitudes were excellent and his wife’s, and they seemed very repentant and it had been a long time; I restored to him his temple privileges and total priesthood and they went away very happy, indeed. I had an interview with Sister [name redacted] who had been excommunicated and had been rebaptized. She was praying for her blessings. I did not feel quite so favorable in this case as I had felt that her repentance was not totally complete and that she was still not doing all that she could to bring her non-member husband into the Church and herself to give herself to the Church service. Another local couple I interviewed and felt quite good about their repentance and so reported to the committee.


September 19, 1972: I had some interviews today with people that had many problems long ago and were so anxious to get rid of them. My books continue to sell. The Miracle of Forgiveness. It was the greatest shock of my life. I never had any idea when I turned over the manuscript to the publisher that it would sell more than a few thousand copies at the most and probably only hundreds, but to my amazement we are now in the fourth year in October and in the twelfth edition and tens and tens of thousands have gone and I have received royalties that amaze me and so I am giving much of the royalties to the Missionary Committee of the Church, designed especially for the Indian program.


November 17, 1972: I went to a meeting at 8:15 at my office and officially turned over to the Social Services Department the homosexual program which I have been handling for many years. Brother Petersen and I were asked by President McKay some possibly 15 years ago to relieve him of this responsibility since he was being crowded. During this period I have spent many hundreds of hours with at least 1200 or 1500 cases and have struggled with all my power to recover these unfortunate men and women who had come into this obnoxious practice. I believe honestly that I have succeeded in helping many many people. We have lost some who did not cooperate and were belligerent and went to the large cities to hide, but I feel there are many happy people today because of the work that Brother Petersen and I have done through the years. We have worked independent of each other. Today I wrote a letter to the First Presidency advising them that I had officially turned it over to the Social Services Department under Elder Robert L. Simpson.




January 30, 1973: I went to the Deseret Book Company and autographed about 250 books, most of them “Faith Precedes the Miracle,” and a good many “The Miracle of Forgiveness,” both of which are selling very readily, and I am using much of the royalties to assist missionary work in the world where missionaries are unable to furnish their monthly needs.


February 25, 1973: At one o’clock a couple came to see me, the husband of which couple was deeply involved in homosexuality years ago when he came to see me. Today they came to express their thanks. He has been clean and reformed and changed and has a happy family life with his wife and eight children. It is a great satisfaction when people come and say that they were transformed because of our influence.


May 9, 1973: I sat by President Lee and we discussed somewhat the many morals problems that we faced. Yesterday when I had an interview with him where one stake president had received something over $4,000 in checks from his bishop; where one prominent man was disfellowshipped from the Church and should have been excommunicated; where one man, a stake president, had apparently taken some $40,000 from temple and hospital funds; where one mission president had come to confess immorality in the homosexual field. . . .

I had a very long interview with a bishop who revealed to me many things that were almost terrifying in their seriousness, a branch of young people in which there were several who indiscriminately lived together, men and women, both in adultery and homosexuality, of a girl who came to the BYU and had admitted sex with at least sixty men, the names of which she had, only part of which she had the full name. He mentioned 60 to 70 problems in this one small branch with six potential suicides, seven or eight abortions, young girls, and these involved three suicides.


May 17, 1973: The [First] Presidency came in at ten. They reviewed for us the [name redacted] interview, and we all voted to disfellowship Brother [redacted] for incorrect doctrine teaching while a mission president and for other things.


May 18, 1973: At one o’clock I had a visit from [names redacted] from Logan. It was a very unsatisfactory interview. I felt they were listening only to their selfish desires rather than to have any counsel from me.


May 29, 1973: I invited [name redacted], an old friend, to come and eat lunch with me. He has had some problems. He left his wife and married a girl he had known many years ago. I have been rather close to him and I had advised him against it. I believe now he is very sorry that things worked out as they did.


June 8, 1973: [Name redacted] came to see me. He had had problems and had visited me before. Now he is in control of himself and is doing well and I gave him some encouragement.


June 10, 1973: Yesterday I had a visit from a stake president, indicating that he had been indiscreet and flirting with a woman other than his wife. I am greatly concerned about this matter and am watching it.


June 29, 1973: I had a visit with Bishop [name redacted] with whom I have had dealings for many years. His family had had some serious problems. His father and mother were divorced, his father was excommunicated, he was associated with a woman who killed two of the sons and is still in prison. This young man is a very fine young man and an excellent bishop and has been bishop for seven years. He came in for counsel.


July 23, 1973: Had a young couple in. Early twenties. One child. Two separations in three years. Having marital troubles. I laid down the law to them. They wanted to know what marriage counselor they could go to. I told them to get smart and settle their own difficulties—that it was all selfishness and pride. That they would have to do it anyway so why didn’t they go and settle their own difficulties. Why pay a fee to a counselor to tell them. I told them to go home and forget self and serve the other unselfishly and start to give instead of expecting to get. I told them to go back to their courting and serve each other and express love for each other frequently, and live the commandments. They reached for each others’ hand and held hands. Nice kids, they were. They were all smiles and I could see written on their faces a determination to go back and do their homework.

I had a 45 year old man in from Springville who had just been divorced by his wife and was very low. She had gotten a hundred thousand dollars in the settlement in lands and other THINGS. He had about the same in a motel and other THINGS. He was most unhappy and bitter and hating with all his might. He had lavished on his 18 year old son and 20 year old daughter so much that they had long ago ceased to say thanks at all for that which they had come to think was their due. He had lost their confidence long ago when he gave THINGS to them and not himself to them. He admitted he had been very busy making the 20,000,000. He had been on a mission in California under Brother Oscar McConkie and had said when he was released, “Ok. Now I have given two years to the Lord and now I will give these years to (myself).” And he did. He paid tithing for a year or two but for 15 years no tithing. He served in positions but he needed the time for his fortune he was accumulating. He had no time for his children, he admitted, and perhaps he had neglected his wife, but then she was too demanding anyway. Her people were too possessive and she had gone to them in her interests and time—he was too busy making money for her and himself.

Now what should he do? Why he had come to my office and to me, I do not know. I was frank and bold. I gave him a very simple answer when he asked what he should do now. He asserted with some positiveness he would never marry again—he was sick of marriage and women, and all that it meant in sacrifice and losses. He had lost confidence in his wife and hence in all women. What should he do? He was young and vigorous and physical yet. How could he satisfy his physical demands and urges? Was adultery so wrong? Man had to have his satisfactions and fulfillment for his urges and passions and desires. What could he do? My answer was short and simple in the telling but not so easy in the doing. I told him: “You return to the Lord. Remember: ‘even from the day of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts. . .’ (Mal. 3:7). Malachi continued: ‘…But ye said, Wherein shall we return? Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.’ (Mal. 3:8-9).” He had already admitted that he had been a robber when I asked him straight: “Have you been paying your tithing?” I am guessing that he must have robbed the Lord of some $80,000 or maybe $100,000. For that kind of a robbery in normal business life he would serve a long penitentiary confinement, but here he was wondering why he was suffering the loss of a wife, a daughter, a son, half his wealth, much of his pride, and perhaps most of all his spirit—the true spirit. When I asked him about his prayers he evaded the question somehow and looked a little sheepish when I asked him how devout were his prayers, how often, how sincere, how anything. Well, when he left my room he was smiling a little and talking sense and admitting failures and, I thought, determined to go back and do his homework. He did not seem to take any offense at my bold approach. (I enter this in my journal as an example of numerous interviews I have from time to time.)

He had admitted that he would take nothing with him for which he had striven so hard for, such long hours for, such a price in human relationships for. He admitted that his grave would be only about 7 feet long and 3 feet wide and there would be therein no motels, no farms, no hoarded silver, no stocks, no bonds, no wealth of any kind for which he had given his life for some twenty years. His hundreds of thousands would go to others; possibly his children who would quarrel about and spend it almost without gratitude.


July 23, 1973: In Seattle I had some interviews, one with ex-bishop [name removed] and his wife. This man had been recently excommunicated for adulterous relations. He and his wife are having a very difficult time. He apparently is very thoughtless of his wife and has talked pretty strongly to her, and she is not willing to remain with him unless the marriage relationship can be improved. I feel that he was largely at fault. I talked very straight to him about his ever getting back into the Church. He has been notoriously evil for a long time, running back even before his marriage.

I had an interview with Bishop Calhoon regarding [name removed] who is divorced from her husband and then went into evil doing.


September 7, 1973: Had an interview with a father and mother and son. The son was called to the Sweden Mission but had revealed in the LTM at Rexburg that he had been grossly sinful, even after his interview by the bishop and stake president and after his temple endowment. I had a difficult time to console the parents who were broken hearted, and I suggested that the two young people get married, even though they felt she was not pregnant, and urged him to go on to school and use his scholarship, and he could come back to talk to me if he chose about it when school was out next year, although I made no promises that he could go on his mission.


September 11, 1973: There were many interviews through the day, one with [name redacted] and Brother and Sister [name redacted], and Brother and Sister [name redacted], then President [name redacted] came in with one of his members who was deep in homosexuality, a 40 year old man who said he had been involved throughout his life. He had now involved a young man whom I had met in [redacted] on his mission and had defiled that young man. He gave me a list of several others; the president of the stake came in with him. I returned the matter to the president’s care and they will have court [disciplinary] action.


September 12, 1973: In the afternoon one of the boys who had been involved with the homosexual man of yesterday came in. I found on careful interrogation that he himself had been most passive and had permitted himself to be victimized by the older man. He seemed greatly relieved when he left my office.




March 1, 1974: Russell Nelson, my beloved doctor who gave me the open heart surgery, came in to see me and to check my pulse and my blood pressure and to check with me.

[Name redacted] came to see me. He is a boy who came to me about a year ago in Burley, Idaho, for an interview for a mission. At that time I felt he was not ready to go on a mission and held him up for nearly a year. He came in today to thank me for holding him up so that he could make the mental and spiritual adjustments which he had made. He feels ready now to go.


March 22, 1974: At 1:15 Brother [name redacted], former bishop of the [redacted], came in to ask my forgiveness concerning a matter which had resulted in his disfellowshipment. I assured him of my love for him and extended a hand of fellowship and encouraged him to do all possible to bring himself to the position where he can be returned to full fellowship.

Additional item: February 1973 First Presidency “Statement on Homosexuality”

5 comments for “Counseling Experiences from President Kimball’s Journal: 1971 – 1974

  1. I wonder if Dennis will put in the journal accounts of Pres. Kimball reprimanding Pres. Benson for his political opinions?

  2. That seems a bit outside the scope of what Dennis is doing in what he submitted. If it is something you’re interested in, though, feel free to put together and submit a guest post on the topic, James.

  3. Wonderful if rather sad reading, thank you for sharing.

    I cant help but wonder what happened to all these people. Did the trans-woman find peace and healing? Did the couple seeking therapy solve their issues? Did the Rexburg couple end up married?

  4. There just isn’t really a way to find out the end results of situations, other than common sense: if the person/couple involved followed counsel and repented and changed their lives and lived the gospel, the probability of a bright future and things working out would be high. On the other hand, if they kept involving themselves in the same immorality, then odds of improvement and success would be low.

    One reason we can’t find out what happened is because it is rarely recorded.
    Another reason is that when it is recorded, the names of the individuals involved are redacted so following up in later portions of the diary is futile.

    Elder Kimball was optimistic and had high hopes for those who repented, but could also see the reality that those who didn’t rarely repaired their lives or marriages. But he never gave up on them without a fight.

    In the case of the guy who thought he was a woman, we have this description of three presidents of the church being involved in trying to help the guy realize he was not a woman (quite a rescue team!), and that his thinking offended both the Lord and his prophets. One can only hope the fellow got his act together. As a side note on this one, after I typed this info up, the CHD employees redacted it, so you can’t find this account in the diary any more.

  5. Oh I understand why follow up isn’t possible, and that it would be an invasion of privacy to share individuals names. It’s just hard not to feel for these people and their struggles.

    I wonder why the church removed the notes on the trans-woman…? (Again unknowable.)

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