Adam has a very thoughtful post at Times and Seasons about our inability at times to control our instincts. This isn't a pleasant thought. We'd like to think that we can control ourselves, but I do think there are times that instinct takes over. I think sometimes this is a sin, but sometimes it isn't. As always, the Lord knows the intents of our hearts.
I have been thinking a lot about my friend Mark Hacking. As some of you know, Mark murdered his wife, Lori, last summer. Last December, I wrote about some of the things that happened. Since then, Mark has pleaded guilty to the murder and been sentenced to prison. (By the way, Mark's mother said that he only pleaded innocent earlier for some technical legal reasons. He always planned to plead guilty to end the process as quickly as possible.)
Mark's descent apparently started with lies. Lies to his wife about attending school. Lies to his mother-in-law. Lies about his mission. Lies to his family about graduating from school and starting medical school. I don't know how many lies he told. The SLC police chief at one point said that he couldn't think of anything that Mark hadn't lied about.
It seems that those lies became instinctive at some point- there were so many that lies were the only way to live. But he chose to start down that path that lead him to a loss of control over his life. Mark seems to have gotten to a point that he did not have control over his own life. This doesn't excuse him in any way. Mark's choices caused him to lose control.
If Mark did start to lie because he wanted people to think he was better/smarter/more righteous/more interesting that he really was, I hope he has learned that his family's love for him is unconditional. Even now, even with all the awful things they know about him, his parents love him. I wish he could have realized that many years ago. Maybe, just maybe, he could have stopped all this before an innocent life was taken.
I wish that the scriptures were clearer about the fate of murders. Maybe it's impossible to be clear. Maybe, as in every case, but in a murder's case especially, the intents of the heart are what make the difference.