But being “ripened for destruction” doesn’t necessarily mean imminent destruction. Instead, Samuel the Lamanite introduces us to the doctrine of having one’s “destruction made sure”; the polar opposite to having one’s “calling and election made sure.” Atop the wall at Zarahemla, Samuel declares to the wicked Nephites that they have ripened for destruction and if they now failed to repent they would have their “destruction made sure” (Hel. 13:32). He continues by prophesying that when the Nephites finally realize they can go no lower, they will cry out the Lord, “O Lord, canst thou not turn thine anger from us?” (Hel. 13:37). Unfortunately, it will then “everlastingly” too late:
“But behold, your days of probation are past; ye have procrastinated the day of your salvation until it is everlastingly too late, and your destruction is made sure; yea, for ye have sought all the days of your lives for that which ye could not obtain; and ye have sought for happiness in doing iniquity, which thing is contrary to the nature of that righteousness which is in our great and Eternal Head.” (Hel. 13:38)(emphasis added)
In the Bible, and mainstream Christianity, this is called the Doctrine of the Reprobate, or Reprobation. Reprobation is a corollary to the Calvinistic doctrine of unconditional election which concludes that some of mankind (the elect) are predestined by God for salvation, so the remainder are necessarily pre-ordained to damnation, i.e. reprobation. In Calvinist terminology, the non-elect are often referred to as the reprobate.
As LDS, we do not agree with predestined election, but instead individuals must work to “make your calling and election sure,” and subsequently have that election sealed by “a more sure word of prophecy” (2 Pet. 1:10, 19). Likewise, we do not accept that individuals are predestined to destruction, but must “earn” such a fate by first ripening for destruction (the 2-prong test) and then refusing to repent.
Paul briefly comments on some characteristics of those ripening for destruction:
23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. (Romans 1:23-27)
A few of the obvious characteristics asserted by Paul above include idolatry, prostitution, and homosexuality. Paul continues by introducing the Doctrine of Reprobation, wherein God ultimately allows those ripened for destruction to seal their own fate:
28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient (i.e., appropriate);
29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
1 Therefore thou are inexcusable, O man… (Romans 1:28 – Romans 2:1)(emphasis added)
Paul explains that these people block God out of their lives for so long, that he ultimately just lets them seal their own “reprobate” fate. Notice in verse 32 that these individuals are fully aware of God’s impending judgments, but they nonetheless get pleasure out of doing wickedly. Indeed, they eventually seal their own destruction and become “inexcusable” before God. Those that become “reprobates” have done so by forsaking the healing power of Jesus Christ in their lives:
“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (2 Cor. 13:5).
Similar to the peoples spoken of in the Book of Mormon, we have a system of government that allows the people to establish law. We also, however, are susceptible to the similar pitfalls of such a government. Specifically, we may also “ripen for destruction” ourselves when the majority chooses evil over good and subsequently casts out the righteous. I submit that the United States may be close to this point; although not quite fully there.
In sum, I have often wondered if a specific region of the United States eventually chooses evil over good and then subsequently casts out the righteous from among them, would that region of the United States be susceptible to God’s destructive forces? Will the Church ever remove itself from a region as it has previously done and thereby allow the impending judgments of God to come to pass?