A principle in this statement that is often overlooked is that they must fully repent and “suffer for their sins” and “pay their debt to justice.” I recognize that now is the time ‘to prepare to meet God’ [Alma 34:32]. If the repentance of the wayward children does not happen in this life, is it still possible for the cords of the sealing to be strong enough for them yet to work out their repentance? In the Doctrine and Covenants we are told, “The dead who repent will be redeemed, through obedience to the ordinances of the house of God, “And after they have paid the penalty of their transgressions, and are washed clean, shall receive a reward according to their works, for they are heirs of salvation” (D&C 138:58–59).
Mercy will not rob justice, and the sealing power of faithful parents will only claim wayward children upon the condition of their repentance and Christ’s Atonement. Repentant wayward children will enjoy salvation and all the blessings that go with it, but exaltation is much more. It must be fully earned. The question as to who will be exalted must be left to the Lord in His mercy.
There are very few whose rebellion and evil deeds are so great that they have “sinned away the power to repent” [Alonzo A. Hinckley, in Conference Report, Oct. 1919, 161]. That judgment must also be left up to the Lord.[xii]
John J. Carmack
In 1919 at general conference, Alonzo A. Hinckley, then president of the Deseret Stake of Zion, quoted Elder James E.Talmage of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as follows: “I promise the Saints in the Deseret stake of Zion that if their lives are such that they can look their sons and daughters in the face, and if any of them have gone astray, that the parents are able to say, ‘It is contrary to my instruction and my life’s example; it is against every effort of love, long suffering, faith, prayer and devotion that that boy or girl has gone,’—I promise you, fathers and mothers, that not one of them shall be lost unless they have sinned away the power to repent” (in Conference Report, October 1919, 161). Balm and hope abound in that counsel. We may not understand exactly how Elder Talmage’s counsel will come to pass in this life, but we can understand that there is more to the relationship of righteous parents and their children than we fully understand in this life and more help available with the problems that arise in that relationship than we grasp with our worldly logic. We are not alone in our struggle to save and preserve the sealing between us and our children.[xiii]
Gordon B. Hinckley
I leave my blessing upon you. May there be . . . a sense of security and peace and love among your children, precious children every one of them, even those who may have strayed. I hope you don’t lose patience with them; I hope you go on praying for them, and I don’t hesitate to promise that if you do, the Lord will touch their hearts and bring them back to you with love and respect and appreciation.[xiv]
Don't give up. Complete judgment can only be passed with complete light and truth. Your wife is not there yet. From your description, I suspect that she is dealing with unresolved past sin. Neglecting repentance or repenting only partially render us vulnerable to the buffetings of Satan. If we do not achieve a change of heart, the unresolved sin will act like a cancer until it overwhelms us. Pray that she can have experiences to come to grips with these unresolved issues then do what it takes to finally be rid of them. Of course, she will have to make this discovery on her own, and perhaps she will need a counselor and most certainly a bishop someday, but when she does what is necessary, she will find peace and reconciliation will follow.
Until then, love is the only answer. "Love casteth out all fear," John says. Make life safe for her while she is working things out. I promise that the Lord is working with her. He has marshaled angelic hosts to help. That is how He works most of the time, so pray for the ministering of angels. Because of your priesthood, you have the right. In the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood we are promised angelic ministry. Believe! President Faust used to speak a lot about angels, and Elder Holland spoke of it in October 2008 conference. Look up their talks on LDS.org. Your answer is in your priesthood.
On last question and I will leave you alone. You mentioned unresolved sin. Aren't those taken care of at baptism? Why would those be an issue?
Husband of a Wayward Spouse
Dear Husband of a Wayward Spouse:
While it is true that baptism cleanses us from sin, it is also true that we can carry the effects of sin in our physical being. Remember, we are both spiritual and physical beings. For example, let's say that you became drunk, injured yourself then found the Church and were baptized. Your sins might be resolved, but you would still carry the physical injury that needs healing. Moreover, baptism cleanses us only if we have truly repented. Otherwise, the sin still needs remedying.
Additionally, we are given the gift of the Holy Ghost at the time of confirmation, but that gift is not a guarantee that the Holy Ghost will always remain with us. The sacrament is the covenant that provides retention of the Holy Ghost. But if we do not partake of the sacrament worthily, the Holy Ghost will not abide in us and keep us clean. These ordinances are completely dependent upon our worthiness.
An unresolved issue eats away at us until it invokes a reaction, and often that reaction drives us away from the person or thing with which we are at odds.