New Handbook Online

November 14, 2010 | 107 comments
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Well, this will keep bloggers busy for a good long time.

There’s a lot to comment on here:

(1) The mere fact that the handbook is online.
(2) Specific policies that have changed. (In a cursory glance, I noticed changes in virtually every paragraph.)
(3) The “doctrinal introduction.” I don’t even know where to start with this one, but it is huge, in both form and content.
(4) How on-the-ground life in the Church will change, now that members have access to these policies.
(5) How people outside the Church will use this information.
(6) To what extent Church members will change their thoughts and behaviors based on it.

Also note that many items from “Book One” are also online (see link above.)

In this post, I want to mention just one specific item since it has been quite the hot topic in the Bloggernacle before:

21.4.15
Surgical Sterilization (Including Vasectomy)

The Church strongly discourages surgical sterilization as an elective form of birth control. Surgical sterilization should be considered only if (1) medical conditions seriously jeopardize life or health or (2) birth defects or serious trauma have rendered a person mentally incompetent and not responsible for his or her actions. Such conditions must be determined by competent medical judgment and in accordance with law. Even then, the persons responsible for this decision should consult with each other and with their bishop and should receive divine confirmation of their decision through prayer.

Note that this is the first time this counsel has been directly available to Church members. (The Church “strongly discourages surgical sterilization” in the older version, but members did not have access to it.) I believe that the idea of consulting with the bishop beforehand is new to this edition, but I don’t have the old one available to compare. I am very curious to see how this plays out: Will men stop getting vasectomies? Will having “the chat” with your bishop become something of a regular rite-of-passage for LDS men? Will bishops dole out approval like bubble gum, or will they resist? Will this become another instance where “location is everything”? [Idea: Short story with LDS family house hunting and ward shopping based on bishop’s perceived vasectomy leniency.] Will people just ignore this counsel?

107 Responses to New Handbook Online

  1. Chris H. on November 14, 2010 at 11:27 am

    So, how much whinig will there be about book one not being online?

  2. Chris H. on November 14, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Whining…that is.

  3. Clair on November 14, 2010 at 11:41 am

    I attended the worldwide training meeting where the new handbook was introduced, and was impressed by the friendly (folksy, really) and commonsense way the manual was explained. It is 12% shorter than the previous version (Congress, take note). Elder Packer quoted D&C 46:2 three times for emphasis.

    A legal parsing of the text won’t capture the spirit that was urged in its application. I felt a witness of the rightness of it, and the wisdom of the leaders who presented it.

    I have no comment on sterilization, still being somewhat miffed that young couples aren’t so thoroughly schooled on the spirits waiting on them as we were, or perhaps that we were so schooled.

    BYW, the focus of the meeting was on ward councils. PEC’s are preparatory for them and welfare committee meetings are done away, with RS presidents invited to PEC meetings (notable?) as needed to discuss family needs.

    Other notables – HT and VT can be every other month if there aren’t enough teachers available, members should not have more than one major calling, and non temple-worthy fathers can bless children and stand in on their confirmation and ordination with the bishop’s approval.

    Tithing is still 10%.

  4. Clair on November 14, 2010 at 11:46 am

    Oh, and, the attendees were told to not share the handbook with anyone else, so I’m surprised to see it online.

    The worry is that the manual will be used and misused in lessons and discussions, and just when the book Mormon Doctrine is fading away.

  5. Mike D. on November 14, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    While it’s not a doctrinal point, I thought it was interesting that the ward activities committees are being done away with.

  6. makakona on November 14, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    yeouch on the sterilization. we have five kids under the age of seven. i have major birth control hangups, courtesy of the catholic guilt with which i was raised, and because i view hormonal control as physically unhealthy. we were thinking maaaaaybe one more, but husband had definitely planned on going in at some point in the not-distant future. we live in southern california and are single-income, so we’ve already made a lot of financial sacrifices. to clair’s point, we kind of feel like we’ve “done our part,” compared to couples our age.

  7. Clair on November 14, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    As Julie noted, the church “strongly discouraged surgical sterilization” even in the 2006 handbook. I never heard that mentioned in any church meeting over those years. Did anyone?

    It may have been discussed privately, if the member happened to bring it up in an interview. Having that instruction now published online will make for some interesting discussions, if only in the foyer.

  8. makakona on November 14, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    i know it was mentioned in previous editions, but were the clarifications made in the prior version? i am fine with saying it’s “strongly discouraged” in general, but wasn’t aware of the clarifications regarding medical condition or mental status. i always figured it was one of those things between husband and wife.

  9. Michelle on November 14, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    Was there any discussion of what the ward activities committees will be replaced with?

  10. the narrator on November 14, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    It seems that the sterilization policy is a hangover from the old anti-contraception days.

    What I find interesting is the continued prohibition of hypnotism for entertainment and the lack of the supposed R-rating rule for movies. Compare this to Provo where hypnotist shows are filled with BYU students who wouldn’t touch an R rated movie with a 12 foot pole.

    Furthermore, what is the basis for the hypnotists prohibition? Is is just a hangover from McConkie’s ignorance on the matter?

  11. MoHoHawaii on November 14, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    This is a smart move on the Church’s part. If there’s a question, people can just look it up for themselves, and this centralizes control over policy even further (ordinary members can see if their local leaders are following the handbook). Also, putting many of the Church’s policies online deflates conspiracy theorists. It’s a more straightforward way of doing business.

    People who are really motivated to read Handbook 1 for things like disciplinary councils and organizing wards can find it online from unauthorized sources. (Just ask any college undergrad.) It’s hard to keep secrets these days. Bits just want to be free, especially when they affect people’s lives to the degree that these two handbooks do. I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing.

    I’m guessing that the decision to post Handbook 2 is a recent one, motivated by the recent unauthorized posting to the Internet of both books.

  12. Tim on November 14, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    I’m guessing the omission of any discussion of R-rated movies has more to do with the church trying to be an international church (where different ratings exist in different countries) than anything else. I’m not sure the church wants to get involved in telling people in each country what rating of movies they can or cannot see. Especially since violent R-rated movies in places like Germany warrant a PG-13 in the U.S., and a bit of nudity will get the “Titanic” treatment outside of the U.S. (i.e.–it will be rated PG-13 despite the nudity).

    I’ve known many people who unknowingly violated portions of the handbook (vasectomies, hypnosis, etc.) Glad that they can now know where the church stands on the issue without having to go to their bishop first (assuming they even considered the need to speak with their bishop before making that decision).

  13. Mike D. on November 14, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    AS to activities, quorums and auxiliaries will handle their separate activities as before. Ward-wide and stake activities will be handled by temporary assignment with cooperation from quorums and auxiliaries.

  14. Bored in Vernal on November 14, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    Will people just ignore this counsel [on surgical sterilization]?

    I was tempted to say “Yes,” but then I remembered the reaction of Church members when asked not to wear more than one set of earrings, and I had to wonder…

  15. John C. on November 14, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    BiV,
    If our innards were as visible as our earlobes, I imagine we’d have a higher rate of compliance.

  16. Ardis E. Parshall on November 14, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    A legal parsing of the text won’t capture the spirit that was urged in its application. I felt a witness of the rightness of it, and the wisdom of the leaders who presented it.

    Thank you, Clair. This won’t keep us from parsing — what else is the Bloggernacle for? — but it would be nice if this insight were mentioned from time to time.

  17. Tim on November 14, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    Bored in Vernal–earrings are a visible sign of faithfulness. Surgical sterilization is not. I’m not expecting a huge decrease in Utah surgical sterilizations (although I’m sure there will be a bit of a decrease).

  18. Aaron T. on November 14, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    My reading of the “Fathers may……” section highlighted by Elder Cook is that fathers who are “not fully temple worthy” may baptize their children, may stand in the circle during their confirmation, but cannot actually confirm their children (as voice)? So if a father is not a full tithe payer, or cannot answer one or another of the other questions in the TR interview, he can’t confirm his own kids? Wow…..

  19. Ben on November 14, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    A friend pointed out that the new books say explicitly that men and women can give opening and closing prayers. (Vol 2, p. 146, section 18.5)

    A stroke against the UOT!

  20. Stephanie on November 14, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    The previous CHI did mention counseling with the Bishop before choosing sterilization. If my memory serves correctly, it sounds like the statement you quoted is the same as it was before.

    I am glad that so much of the CHI is now available to lay membership. I have a lot of friends (myself included) who are at the stage of life where we have a lot of kids and are not sure we can/want to have any more and are considering our options. In talking to them, I have been surprised at how few knew that was in the handbook. (But, then again, I only knew because I read my husband’s copy) It seems rather silly for the church to take positions on things if noone knows about them. So, I am glad the information that pertains to individuals is now available.

  21. Cameron on November 14, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    I know 3 very active men who have had a vasectomy, including one serving as a bishop now and he had it done before he became a bishop. I am confident that none of them consulted their bishop to do it or not, some things are not the bishop’s bloody business!

  22. Researcher on November 14, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    I thought for a single glorious moment that the Scouting program was not to be found in the Handbook. But a text search turned it up, buried in sections on the Aaronic Priesthood. Sigh.

    (Same for Early Morning Seminary. Double sigh.)

    There is a change to the music section that will affect one of my church callings (organist): the handbook specifically prohibits the use of a postlude to the sacrament. Our former bishop started the practice in our ward, much to my dismay, and the current bishopric continued it, again over my recommendation to the contrary, so of course, it is obnoxiously satisfying to see the church handbook back me up.

  23. namakemono on November 14, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    Online in English only?

  24. g.wesley on November 14, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    i am confused.

    this morning i hear the usual: the handbook is not to be copied or distributed beyond leadership.

    then i find out it is online.

    and yet the intro itself says:

    “This handbook has been prepared solely for use by general and local Church officers to administer the affairs of the Church. It should not be duplicated or given to any other persons.”

    what gives?

  25. Ardis E. Parshall on November 14, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    After a very rapid run-through, I appreciate the number of times individuals are mentioned. Maybe that’s no different from previous iterations; I don’t know. But it is reassuring to me to read over and over that the purpose of the church is “to bless individuals and families,” and variations of that theme. Too often it feels in practice as though families as a unit are all that matter, when even families are composed of individuals who must learn and work and worship first of all individually. A husband can’t repent for a wife, a parent can’t understand a principle on behalf of a child, a brother can’t make a covenant for a sister. The church is to bless individuals as well as families, and the new handbook acknowledges that repeatedly.

  26. Kent Larsen on November 14, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    g. wesley (23), I agree. We also looked at who was supposed to have a copy in my meeting today, determining that the secretary in the quorum leadership wasn’t supposed to have a copy (only 3 copies to the presidency). I guess he can look everything up now!

  27. Mike Parker on November 14, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    On a VERY encouraging note, “Men and women may offer both opening and closing prayers in Church meetings.”

    https://new.lds.org/handbook/handbook-2-administering-the-church/meetings-in-the-church?lang=eng

    Thus endeth a persistent and unnecessary local practice.

  28. Mike D. on November 14, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    You mean there are places where they allow the women to give opening prayers? How could you possibly have the spirit in a meeting with such heresies? (tic).

  29. Kent Larsen on November 14, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    namakemono (22) asks:

    Online in English only?

    Apparently, yes. The “Language” pop-down menu does list Español (Spanish) and Deutch (German). But both go to blank pages at the moment.

    I presume these are in progress, and I assume the other major languages will happen in succession.

  30. the narrator on November 14, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    “I’m guessing the omission of any discussion of R-rated movies has more to do with the church trying to be an international church (where different ratings exist in different countries) than anything else.”

    I think that is true to a certain extent, though I rarely feel that the Handbook or General Conference or much anything else the Church speaks about goes far beyond the borders of the United States. The Handbook, especially it’s notion of what constitutes sacred worship, is thoroughly infused with a very western/protestant worldview.

  31. willf on November 14, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    Anyone can now watch the training session from this weekend as well: https://new.lds.org/training/worldwide-leadership/video/2010/11?lang=eng&vid=666072576001

  32. Tom D on November 14, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    I was also at the training broadcast too. I wasn’t too happy to be there considering how busy our schedule was with many family activities and stake conference, but I got over my grumpiness pretty fast after the meeting started. I felt the Spirit very strongly in the meeting and can bare witness that the new handbook is both good and of God. What a privilege it is to be led by inspiration!

    My only worry coming out of the meeting is that I could be too lazy to learn and use it properly. We were told repeatedly that the vast majority of questions and problems that come before the First Presidency and the Twelve are answered in the handbook.

    By the way, President Monson told about how in the 1970s he was asked to memorize the handbook so that he could reproduce it inside East Germany. The Church (presumably the then current president) was concerned that the East German government would confiscate the handbook at the border, but they were still anxious to get the book to the local leaders of the church. Elder Monson did his best to memorize it, though he was less than certain about reproducing it all. Once in East Germany he asked a local church leader for a room with a typewriter and a ream of paper. He then set out to type it all out from memory. After about an hour of typing he got up to stretch, turned around, and was amazed to see a current copy of the very same handbook! Somebody had smuggled the book in already.

    I had hear a faith-promoting-rumor about this years ago, but the rumor didn’t include the last bit about the book already being there. President Monson was just reputed to have a phenomenal memory.

  33. Stephen M (Ethesis) on November 14, 2010 at 8:26 pm
  34. Clair on November 14, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    Tom D, I had the same feeling going to the meeting. I was planning to grab a copy of the book and leave to read it later. Fortunately, I stayed.

  35. R. Gary on November 14, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    This is probably just another orthodox wrench tossed into another broad minded discussion. Nevertheless.

    Julie, in the last paragraph of your OP:

    “Note that this is the first time this counsel has been directly available to Church members. (The Church ‘strongly discourages surgical sterilization’ in the older version, but members did not have access to it.)”

    As Prophet, Spencer W. Kimball reported in general conference that Church leaders were “aghast” that young men would, with parental encouragement, surgically limit their future families. This straightforward counsel has long been directly available to Church members via the Ensign and Conference Reports, and more recently via LDS.org and the Church Magazines CD.

    The new Handbook confirms that Kimball spoke for the Lord and that his counsel has not been changed.

  36. Keryn on November 14, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    Steven E., I think that comment form is more for suggestions about the new LDS.org beta website, not for commenting on the handbook itself.

    One change I noticed (mostly because it is in my area of responsibility) has to do with RS chorister. Under this topic, in the new book, there are two sentences about the music leaders and pianists (section 9.2.5). In the old handbook, there were seven paragraphs. The “five minute music period” in Sunday meetings (which has usually devolved into a practice hymn, although we were trying to implement actual music education and instruction in our ward) is no longer mentioned.

  37. Ben on November 14, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    “The new Handbook confirms that Kimball spoke for the Lord and that his counsel has not been changed.”

    Logically speaking, the handbook can only confirm the second one ;)

  38. Oatmeal on November 14, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    So… it’s O.K. for women to be sterilized but not men?

  39. DavidC on November 14, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    #32, it’s “bear witness”, not “bare witness”.

  40. Paul on November 14, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    I enjoyed the meeting yesterday, and have enjoyed flipping through the new Book 2 that I have. I also enjoyed the fact that we didn’t have PEC this morning…

    I was impressed by the focus on ward councils and how they should operate. I also noted that NONE of that counsel was new; Elder Ballard plowed that ground over ten years ago with two consecutive conference addresses and his book Counseling With Our Councils, but it was good to get the instruction anyway, since the message hasn’t quite gotten through. And I enjoyed particularly Sister Beck’s observation that counseling in the way the church recommends it is counter-cultural almost everywhere in the world.

  41. Oatmeal on November 14, 2010 at 9:24 pm

    By raise of hands, how many men and women actually approached their Bishops about this personal medical issue?

  42. Aaron T. on November 14, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    I had it done before the new manual was rolled out……so am I grandfathered in (no pun intended) or do I need to see my bishop post-vasectum?

  43. Stephanie on November 14, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    The “five minute music period” in Sunday meetings (which has usually devolved into a practice hymn, although we were trying to implement actual music education and instruction in our ward) is no longer mentioned.

    Thank goodness. That is one of the hardest parts of RS for me. I have been so glad that our new RS President keeps saying, “Oops. We don’t have time for a practice hymn today. On to the lesson!”

  44. Oatmeal on November 14, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    Aaron T.,

    You just gave me a real good laugh. Thank you.

  45. Cameron on November 14, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    What I wish for is what callings you have to be married for. I am not married but have told that I can’t do this or that or others singles can’t do this or that but I have never ever seen anything written down that actually says that.

  46. anon on November 14, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    I think the sterilization issue should just be folded in with birth control. The only difference between surgical sterilization and taking pills or having an IUD for 20 years, when you know you’re done having kids, is the method of contraception. And I would never dream of consulting my bishop about that.
    Given our various health issues, it was the obvious choice and i had a strong confirmation from the Spirit that it was right for us.

  47. willf on November 14, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    It looks like publishing notes of speeches given by church officials is against church policy now without permissions from the speaker (if it wasn’t before): http://new.lds.org/handbook/handbook-2-administering-the-church/selected-church-policies?lang=eng#21.1.39

    No more GC live blogging?

  48. Carl on November 14, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    No mention of masturbation in H2. Decriminalized?

  49. Mike D. on November 14, 2010 at 10:57 pm

    Willf, There has been a policy against publishing notes or summaries of meetings with general authorities for some time.

  50. willf on November 14, 2010 at 11:07 pm

    Mike D. – ok, thanks for clarifying that – I guess I figured it was new because I figured people would be following it otherwise – bad assumption to make I guess.

    The fundraising guidelines are interesting – sounds like it will now be hard to justify selling popcorn (the Standard Boy Scouts of America fundraiser). It reads like there is only supposed to be one fundraising activity per year per unit.

  51. Alex T. Valencic on November 14, 2010 at 11:13 pm

    Well, here’s another blow to the UOT:

    “Ties and white shirts are recommended because they add to the dignity of the ordinance. However, they should not be required as a mandatory prerequisite for a priesthood holder to participate.” 20.4.1

    Wonder how long it’ll take for someone in my ward to bless and/or pass the sacrament in a blue shirt…

  52. Mike D. on November 14, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    Forgive my ignorance … but “UOT?”

  53. Cameron on November 14, 2010 at 11:39 pm

    We had a boy last week pass sacrament in a blue shirt and I don’t think anyone really cared, for him it is probably the best his family has

  54. Julie M. Smith on November 15, 2010 at 12:03 am
  55. Mike D. on November 15, 2010 at 12:06 am

    Julie, thanks.

  56. makakona on November 15, 2010 at 12:08 am

    we had a major blow-up over the shirt thing several months ago. the poor kid hasn’t been back to church since, so i’m VERY glad to see this change.

    the sterilization thing came up in primary presidency meeting today. two sisters who are past the age of planning families said they didn’t think it was anyone’s business besides the couple and didn’t understand it. the other sister of child-bearing age said it wouldn’t dissuade her. i am still in the middle of the pause it gave me.

    if other forms of birth control are acceptable, i don’t understand why this isn’t an option. i understand it shouldn’t be entered into lightly, but why isn’t that the guideline? to realize the gravity of permanent sterilization and to proceed prayerfully? what reasons do tptb have for wording the guideline this way? (this has really thrown me for a loop!)

  57. Cameron on November 15, 2010 at 12:12 am

    I am at a loss as to why any couple or man thinking about getting a vasectomy would even consult the bishop about it. Some things aren’t any of his business and it seems like the Church now is trying to steer members to solve their own problems and not to go to the bishop with everything

  58. Ardis E. Parshall on November 15, 2010 at 12:34 am

    The Church strongly discourages surgical sterilization as an elective form of birth control. Surgical sterilization should be considered only if (1) medical conditions seriously jeopardize life or health or (2) birth defects or serious trauma have rendered a person mentally incompetent and not responsible for his or her actions. Such conditions must be determined by competent medical judgment and in accordance with law. Even then, the persons responsible for this decision should consult with each other and with their bishop and should receive divine confirmation of their decision through prayer.

    The wording of this would seem to call for consultation in cases of “such conditions,” the antecedent of which is condition (1) or (2). It doesn’t seem to call for consultation in cases that don’t meet condition (1) or (2), which are simply “strongly discouraged.”

  59. Ardis E. Parshall on November 15, 2010 at 12:39 am

    I mean, it wouldn’t make sense to read this as “It’s discouraged, but let’s talk.” It could make sense to suggest a consultation for procedures that could be sanctioned rather than discouraged.

  60. makakona on November 15, 2010 at 12:41 am

    “should be considered only if” seems to supersede the “strongly discouraged.”

  61. Ray on November 15, 2010 at 1:07 am

    If a woman or a man has reached an age or is in a physical condition where pregnancy would increase greatly the likelihood that major complications and/or serious health problems would occur, that would fall under the first stated exception.

  62. Alison Moore Smith on November 15, 2010 at 1:38 am

    To those other who noticed the (this time very specific) prayer instruction:

    Men and women may offer both opening and closing prayers in Church meetings

    This was (as you may have guessed) the very first thing I looked for. And it’s the first line in the instruction on prayer. Woot! But unfortunately, Mike Parker (#27), it may not end “a persistent and unnecessary local practice.”

    Our Palm Beach stake was specifically given this counsel in 1999, by Elder Monte J. Brough of the first quorum of the 70. The practice still persisted when *certain* people conducted. And the practice has been in place in every ward I’ve lived in since. (My current ward is almost an exception. We’ve had almost a handful of opening prayers by women in the past two years.)

    Still, I’m very pleased that the policy (that was in the last handbook in a way that SHOULD have been clear enough) is more specific.

    I have to say, however, that it would probably help the cause if JUST ONCE a woman gave the opening prayer in General Conference or any other general meeting that wasn’t specifically for women only.

    As for putting it online FINALLY — three cheers! They’ve been online for a decade anyway. Might as well come from us.

  63. Mike D. on November 15, 2010 at 1:47 am

    I must say that this thread has been enlightening. I never knew that it was ever verbotten for females to give an opening prayer. I’m a life long member, and closer to 40 than 30, but I’ve never experienced that. I have called on women to give opening prayers in all sorts of meetings and have never been called on it. I kinda wish someone would have tried. :)

  64. Alison Moore Smith on November 15, 2010 at 1:51 am

    willf #50
    It reads like there is only supposed to be one fundraising activity per year per unit.

    That council has been in place for at least ten years, from back in the day I was ward/stake camp director. What I was told then was that this applies to wards, but NOT to scout troops which — conveniently — were suddenly (apparently) completely disconnected from the ward.

    Ties and white shirts are recommended because they add to the dignity of the ordinance. However, they should not be required as a mandatory prerequisite for a priesthood holder to participate

    Woohoo! One point for men with fashion sense!!!

    If a woman or a man has reached an age or is in a physical condition where pregnancy would increase greatly the likelihood that major complications and/or serious health problems…

    Is there an *age* where *men* are at risk while fathering children? Someone tell Hugh Hefner stat.

  65. Mark B. on November 15, 2010 at 7:19 am

    Yes. If I were to father a child at my age, my wife would shoot me. That’s a pretty serious health complication.

  66. Senile Old Fart on November 15, 2010 at 7:59 am

    So, are we undergoing a virtual revelatory experience constantly in the Bloggernacle? Do we have a presiding authority to OK the revelations?

    Carl – If I recall correctly, masturbation has always been subsumed under the UOT, so far as the handbooks were concerned. Perhaps one of the “unauthorized practices” alluded to by President Monson?

  67. Paul on November 15, 2010 at 9:04 am

    65: LOL. (Well, unless your wife really shoots you, then not so funny.)

    The parsing of the language of the vasectomy discussion is precisely what Clair (correctly in my view) bemoaned in #3. As has been pointed out, the “policy” has been in place for years. Apparently many members never thought to discuss the matter with their bishops, and in future, many probably still won’t. Elsewhere we’re taught plainly that family planning decisions are for the couple to make.

    If I were a bishop and someone were to come to me with the question, I’d read them the policy and encourage them to pray and make their own decision, and I’d encourage them to get competent medical advice (and counseling if they wanted it).

    As for prayers in meetings — no change from the prior handbook, really. Those who advocated otherwise were, as President Monson taught, perhaps well-meaning, but wrong.

  68. Paul on November 15, 2010 at 9:07 am

    Hmm. A further thought on the “counsel with the bishop” issue on sterilization (and any other matter). Elder Bednar taught the principle well when he said the bishop is not the single conduit of inspiration in a ward. He also suggested that council meetings are opportunities for revelatory experiences. I would assume meeting with a bishop on a personal matter would be a similar event (I’ve always felt this way, by the way, including when I was a bishop) — so a member comes to counsel with the bishop, hopefully in the course of that conversation the spirit guides the conversation to a conclusion that the petitioner feels is inspired and helpful. Or the member gets enough guidance to figure out how to make his or her own decision.

  69. Rameumptom on November 15, 2010 at 9:37 am

    I think it is an excellent idea for the Church to publish it online. Given that 80% of questions sent to SLC are found in the manual, this should greatly reduce that problem, as members can look it up for themselves. It will also allow members to understand how Councils work in the Church, so they can apply it in their own families.

    It also keeps the hard copies from disappearing, as they were wont to be lent out previously, and then misplaced.

    I’m glad to see the Church is getting very focused on families. In the past, I held several big callings at one time in Alabama. Between it, college, and work, I didn’t have much time for my own kids and wife at times. We need to refocus in this manner.

    Also, we no longer focus on numbers as before. We use HT/VT primarily to focus on those who need it most in smaller units, etc. Great!

  70. Steve Hardy on November 15, 2010 at 10:44 am

    Ardis Parshall: “But it is reassuring to me to read over and over that the purpose of the church is ‘to bless individuals and families,’ and variations of that theme.”

    I agree with and wish to echo Ardis’ comment, and I have a few things to add:

    I have been active throughout my life (now in my 50s) and I have attended wards in SLC (many) and many in the northeast of the US,and more recently a large ward in Europe. The units I have attended include married student wards, YSA wards, small struggling branches, and very large wards with 300 plus members and over 60 youth, and wards with large diverse populations across a metropolitan area. In almost all of these units, I have served in leadership positions; I have attended “PEC” almost continuously over the last 25 years. Yeesh, that means about 1,250 PEC or similar stake (high council, etc) meetings attended. I have told my wife that Mormons appreciate meetings the way that the French appreciate wine. We partake regularly, and we know a good one when we experience one.

    So, I look forward to this new handbook with interest and some anxiety. Here are a few of my un-asked-for thoughts:

    1. I am currently not in a leadership position that would put me in touch with a copy of “Handbook 1″; I wonder if my most unfavorite policy is still there: That of forbidding members who are HIV positive from full-time missionary work. I hope that this policy no longer stands, or I hope that other similar medical problems are now also listed as being a barrier to full-time missionary service: leukemia, lymphoma, Crohn’s disease, lupus, seizures,… that is, other medical conditions which have a similar impact on people’s lives, require ongoing medical treatments, and pose no serious risk to others. I have truly hated the missionary HIV policy and I have been ashamed of it. It might have made sense in 1990, when there was no effective treatment, and the epidemiology of the disease was not understood. It makes no sense today. Does anyone know? Was this policy continued or abandoned? I read the paragraphs in “Handbook 2″ on HIV/AIDS. There was nothing there on qualifications for missionary work. It would be in the section on full-time missionaries.

    2. Church leaders now need to get ready to be regularly wacked on the head by the handbook. Obviously in those 1200 or so PECs that I have attended, I have had the opportunity to observe those leader’s management skills and priorities. There have been a few church leaders who seems to feel that their job is to make sure that every “jot and tittle” in the handbook is followed. But the VAST majority of church leaders have been (in my opinion) inspiring and inspired leaders who seem to believe that the handbook is a guide to helping church leaders be effective, efficient, sympathetic, and at least not-very-destructive as they try to “build the kingdom.”

    I have observed many “minor” breaches of policy, always in the name of individual needs or situations. Tiny branches, diverse branches, wards with HUGH geographical areas, profound personal needs (such as profound illness, depression, or divorce, or drug addictions) have resulted in stretching certain rules or omitting certain issues entirely.

    The thing to remember is that the gospel is made up of principles, while the “Handbook” represents applications of those principles. Sometimes individual needs arise which seem to be at odds with some policy, but a look at the principle(s) involved with either the individual’s circumstance, or the church policy makes it clear that a slavish devotion to church policy would, in that particular instance, be destructive.

    I believe that this is why the church has, in the past, resisted making the “Handbook” public. By publishing it, ward/stake leaders will not only have to justify their decisions with their Priesthood Leaders (who, in my experience, are bright, caring, flexible, and understanding,) but now with any member who takes the trouble to read the policy. Believe me, there are plenty of church members who will see no distinction between the Gospel of Mark, and Policy # 21.1.5 of the handbook (just a policy taken at random.) There is nothing worse than someone who is half informed of a person’s circumstance, while being fully informed of a church policy. When I was bishop, I had plenty of ward members patiently explain to me why so-and-so does not deserve to have a temple recommend. They usually were very poorly informed, but not short of righteous indignation.

    I sort of feel sorry for all the church leaders who will now have to endure the criticism of ward/stake members who will surely complain to each-other and to any un-suspecting GA who happends to be visiting or within ear-shot of the unhappy, but now better informed, members.

    I will now return to my usual lurking. I will also carefully read this over once or twice before I post it. Then will notice all of the typos and errors.

  71. Julie M. Smith on November 15, 2010 at 11:13 am

    “There is nothing worse than someone who is half informed of a person’s circumstance, while being fully informed of a church policy. ”

    That’s a great line.

    On the other hand, people no longer can no longer claim that, for example, their idiosyncratic view of the Word of Wisdom is “official.” Yay, chocolate!

  72. WillF on November 15, 2010 at 11:42 am

    Having it online does make we worry we might become like the Sadducees. It might lead some people to become like Mash’s Frank Burns, constantly referencing the handbook and calling each other on infractions all the time. I still think the transparency is worth the risk though.

  73. Senile Old Fart on November 15, 2010 at 11:44 am

    Steve –

    HIV is a mission disqualifier. Book 1, section 4.4

  74. Randy B. on November 15, 2010 at 11:46 am

    Steve, great comment, particularly the line Julie pulled.

    To answer your question, CHI 2010 Section 4.4:

    “Members are not eligible to serve missions if they . . . [a]re HIV positive.”

  75. Steve Hardy on November 15, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    Well. I am sad to see that the policy (re HIV status and full-time missioary service) didn’t change. I don’t understand it. If only it were included among a number of other medical disqualifiers, then I might feel a tiny bit better. Like I said, it is a policy which, for me, makes no sense.

  76. Michelle Glauser on November 15, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    Wow, there are some things I could have shown bishops in past situations. But some rules I would like to overrule, so I’ll refrain in the future . . .

  77. Mike Parker on November 15, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    I admit that this is pure speculation, but the HIV/mission ban may have to do with the fact that the primary methods of contracting HIV remain male homosexual sex with an HIV infected person (55% of 2008 cases), heterosexual sex with an HIV infected person (32%) and intravenous drug use (10%), all of which are pretty serious moral issues where the Church is concerned.

  78. Mike Parker on November 15, 2010 at 12:40 pm
  79. John Taber on November 15, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    WillF: “Having it online does make we worry we might become like the Sadducees. It might lead some people to become like Mash’s Frank Burns, constantly referencing the handbook and calling each other on infractions all the time. I still think the transparency is worth the risk though.”

    I did reference the online handbook this weekend with my bishop – over something that had crept into my ward that never seemed quite right. That doesn’t mean I’m going to go through the whole thing so I can blow the whistle on every little thing in the ward or stake.

  80. Thom on November 15, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    Count me in the camp that believe the increased transparency is worth the added hassle. In fact, I doubt this will lead to more cases of “ward members patiently explain to [a leader] why so-and-so does not deserve to have a temple recommend.” I think all the people inclined to file such complaints are already doing so. Having the handbook online may change the language of the complaints, but I don’t think it will change the number.

    On the other hand, in my time in a bishopric and on a high council, I found the many bishops were not particularly familiar with the handbook and were not likely to turn to it when questions arose. While it’s certainly desirably to have leaders who let the Spirit be their primary guide, I’ve need to use the handbook on several occasions to correct long out-of-favor attitudes held by bishops, including about the Church’s stance on adoption. (For example, women and their families are not encouraged to care for an unplanned child as a condition of repentance.) Having this resource available to all members allows them to investigate the church’s position on their own, giving them more information when making their own decisions and consulting with the Spirit and their leaders, as appropriate.

  81. Alex T. Valencic on November 15, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    I am at a loss as to why any couple or man thinking about getting a vasectomy would even consult the bishop about it. Some things aren’t any of his business and it seems like the Church now is trying to steer members to solve their own problems and not to go to the bishop with everything.

    A part of me is wondering if the fact that members were going to bishops about such issues led to the formation of an official policy. As both an educator and as a business owner, I found myself regularly creating policies because students or employees asked enough that it became easier to make it official rather than handling it on a case-by-case basis. In other words, couples go to the bishop to seek his input. He doesn’t know, and the Handbook doesn’t say, so he calls Salt Lake. They offer a recommendation. Another scenario would be the members who circumvent local leadership and call Salt Lake directly. Now the calls are eliminated because it has been published. It is an administrative shortcut to deal with those who wish to be compelled in (almost) all things.

  82. Cameron on November 15, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    #81- I can see it from that angle thanks! My now but soon to be released Bishop is an architect and it wouldn’t even cross my mind to consult him on vasectomies, child bearing issues, any medical stuff but if I needed a new house built then yeah!

  83. Starfoxy on November 15, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    A part of me is wondering if the fact that members were going to bishops about such issues led to the formation of an official policy.

    I also suspect that the ‘strongly discouraged’ aspect is due to the permanence of the procedure. Something so permanent shouldn’t be entered into just cause the bishop said it’s okay. If you are uncertain enough to be consulting the bishop about it, than the answer is probably no.

  84. Crick on November 15, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    Ben: Its only a blow to the UOT if the UOT weighed in on invocations and benedictions but I have never thought so (but I realize if you have been in a ward where it has only been done one way, you might think so).

    Steven Hardy: Very good points. If we believe the kingdom of God is not a democracy, we should be merciful to inspired Church leaders and not try to twist their arms with Handbook references.

  85. Fred on November 15, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    Seems to me that the vasectomy stance is inconsistent with the other birth control statement, namely “The decision as to how many children to have and when to have them is extremely intimate and private and should be left between the couple and the Lord.” Is the Bishop included in that statement? Also to be consistent, why are hysterectomies not mentioned? There certainly are a large contingent of senior male members who have had vasectomies. Should they get reversals?

  86. Tracy on November 16, 2010 at 1:08 am

    Perhaps because the decision as to how many children to have and when to have them is a decision to be made by the father, the mother, and Heavenly Father BUT there are approved ways of preventing the birth of more children and they do not include surgical sterilization or any other forms of birth control. The prophets have been quite clear in the past that the only acceptable approach to preventing the birth of children is abstaining from intercourse when a woman is fertile.

    I believe that we as a people do not fully understand and appreciate what it means to be co-creators with God. I know I am still learning!

    Here is an interesting quote by John A Widtsoe

    Birth control when necessary should be accomplished in nature’s way, which does not injure the man or the woman. A careful recognition of the fertile and sterile periods of woman would prove effective in the great majority of cases. Recent knowledge of woman’s physiology reveals “the natural method for controlling birth.” This method “violates no principle of nature.

    Birth control as generally understood implies the use of physical or chemical
    means to prevent conception. A large number of these devices, known as contraceptives, are on the market. None of them is certain to accomplish the purpose desired. Besides, any contraceptive is unnatural and interferes in one way or another with the physiological processes of life. All of them are in varying degrees injurious to those who use them, especially to women. That may be safely contended. The ill effects may not be felt at once, but in time will overtake the parents to their detriment.

    Elder John A. Widtsoe

    Evidences and Reconciliations, Pg. 310-14

    Having said all that…and fully believing it as well…I don’t believe for one minute that anyone should think twice (or once, for that matter!) about how many children a couple has. No one, outside of Heavenly Father, has any idea why a couple has the number of children they do. The counsel given is for us to learn the ways of God, not to cast stones (or words, arched eyebrows, or condescending tones) at anyone else.

    We currently have four very spaced out children and have received quite a few comments over the years for our lack of children and the large spaces in between them. People have no idea that we have had ten miscarriages.

  87. Alison Moore Smith on November 16, 2010 at 4:22 am

    Mark B. (#65), you make an excellent point.

    WillF (#72):

    Having it online does make we worry we might become like the Sadducees. It might lead some people to become like Mash’s Frank Burns, constantly referencing the handbook and calling each other on infractions all the time.

    Those of us like that already found a way to get access anyway. >:->

  88. Julie M. Smith on November 16, 2010 at 9:48 am

    Tracy, I think “in the past” are the operative words in your comment, because what you quote in #86 is out of harmony with newer teachings.

  89. Paul on November 16, 2010 at 10:16 am

    86 Tracy: Your comment: “BUT there are approved ways of preventing the birth of more children and they do not include surgical sterilization or any other forms of birth control” is simply out of step with present church teaching and practice.

    In 1979, the Ensign published a response to a question about family planning, including this quote: “the method of spacing children—discounting possible medical or physical effects—makes little difference. Abstinence, of course, is also a form of contraception, and like any other method it has side effects, some of which are harmful to the marriage relationship” (Homer Ellsworth wrote the response; he was then a member of the Melchizedek PH committee and later served in the SL Temple presidency.)

    (The whole article is here: http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?hideNav=1&locale=0&sourceId=26cc615b01a6b010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD

    Of course the present handbook is silent on the matter of the correctness or incorrectness of birth control, but teaches that couples should prayerfully make those decisions for themselves, and also clarifies that physical intimacy in marriage is for more than procreation (consistent with Dr. Ellworth’s statement quoted above).

  90. Kari on November 16, 2010 at 10:50 am

    #51, #56, and #64 re: white shirts

    This is not a change in church policy. It’s identical to the wording, often ignored, in the previous CHI.

    So why are you celebrating a perceived change?

  91. Kari on November 16, 2010 at 11:29 am

    I admit that this is pure speculation, but the HIV/mission ban may have to do with the fact that the primary methods of contracting HIV remain male homosexual sex with an HIV infected person (55% of 2008 cases), heterosexual sex with an HIV infected person (32%) and intravenous drug use (10%), all of which are pretty serious moral issues where the Church is concerned. – Mike Parker, #77

    While this may be true with regards to all HIV+ individuals in the US, do you really think that these are the top three ways HIV is contracted by a teenage boy who wants to serve a mission for the LDS Church? All those moral issues are already disqualifying for a mission by themselves, so why have a separate policy for HIV? And if you’re not going to prevent an epileptic from serving a mission (who requires daily medication to control his disease) why discriminate against a young person who may have contracted the disease from a blood transfusion?

  92. Jim Donaldson on November 16, 2010 at 11:46 am

    “#51, #56, and #64 re: white shirts
    This is not a change in church policy. It’s identical to the wording, often ignored, in the previous CHI. So why are you celebrating a perceived change?”

    The handbook has perhaps been consistent (I don’t know either way), but the practice of emphasizing white shirts took new life, at least in our ward, after Elder Oaks’ talk a couple of conferences ago, which was often perceived as making white shirts mandatory. It is one of those things (and there are quite a few) where the appearance of things is more important than the substance of things. It is regrettable but all around us in the church.

    Perhaps, with more people reading the handbook anew, the balance will be restored.

  93. Tracy on November 16, 2010 at 11:57 am

    Paul,

    Yes, the Ensign did publish that article, but it says right at the top of it:

    <>

    Brother Ellsworth’s response does not constitute Church policy. He is correct in saying that abstinence is a form of birth control, but he is not fully correct in saying that it matters not what kind of birth control a couple practices. Numerous prophets and apostles have said it does matter.

    If a couple is practicing birth control in any form from a place of selfishness, than yes, he is correct, it doesn’t really matter how you prevent children from coming because your reason for why you are preventing children from coming are all wrong.

    If your reasons for preventing the birth of children are good and pure, than it does matter which way you do it.

    Abstinence from intercourse during the few days a month a woman is fertile is not the same as abstinence from marital intimacy, nor is it the same as prolonged abstinence which surely could have a negative effect on the marriage.

    People assume that when they read the words “It is between the husband, the wife, and the Lord” that the church is saying birth control is okay. No where in those words does it say that.

  94. Tracy on November 16, 2010 at 11:58 am

    Sorry, it left out the quote up above.

    Should have said:

    Questions of general gospel interest answered for guidance, not as official statements of Church policy.

  95. Julie M. Smith on November 16, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    Tracy, you might be interested in learning the ‘back story’ to the Ellsworth Ensign piece from the new Pres. Kimball bio–there’s a lot more to it than what you present.

    And, I believe you are flat wrong if you are suggesting that your personal feelings on this matter are normative for other people. If this is what you feel you have been led to in your own marriage, more power to ya. But it is not the official position of the Church.

  96. Rameumptom on November 16, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    Pres Packer and other talks on the broadcast were intent on letting us understand that there are some uniform things, and then some flexible things. Pres Packer stated that if we are too regimented, then there is no room for revelation to guide us. I hope all leaders keep that in mind as they use the handbooks.

    My current calling is high counselor and service missionary in our Spanish Branch. The goal is to transform them into a ward. Beginning this assignemnt in July, I’ve found that one can have the membership and priesthood required to be a ward, and not be ready to be a ward. I’ve found few organizations with any organization in the branch. Receiving these new handbooks at this time is a God send. Already I’ve used it a couple times in Sunday meetings (Branch Presidency, Council) to give us guidance, when issues discussed were going in the wrong direction. Of course, I was still pleased with the meetings, as they were the first actual, semi-organized meetings the branch has held. In setting up the meetings with the BP over the last few weeks, we had scheduled a Welfare meeting, which will now be a second Council meeting every month (1st/3rd PEC, 2nd/4th Council). The RS President will be invited to attend virtually all the PECs, as we get this off the ground.

    Know what one of the biggest long term problems will be? Finding legal residents to hold positions in Scouting….

  97. Tim on November 16, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    From the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, referenced directly from the church’s website:
    “Church members are taught to study the question of family planning, including such important aspects as the physical and mental health of the mother and father and their capacity to provide the basic necessities of life. If, for personal reasons, a couple prayerfully decides that having another child immediately is unwise, birth control may be appropriate.”
    http://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Birth_Control

    It might be helpful to remember that when much of the anti-birth control advice was given, birth control was more dangerous, women experienced more miscarriages, more children died while young, more people lived in agricultural communities (making large families more feasible), etc. We have modern-day prophets so that such advice can change as circumstances change. Hence, for a variety of reasons, birth control is appropriate.

  98. Tim on November 16, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    Rameumpton,
    You have to be a legal resident in order to hold a Scouting position? Do you have to be a legal resident in order to be a scout? One more reason for the church to get rid of the scouting program.

    Also, I’m curious as to how a determination is made, given enough High Priests/priesthood holders, whether a unit qualifies as a ward or a branch.

  99. Mike Parker on November 16, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    Tracy #93: If the statement in the Ensign doesn’t constitute Church policy, then why are you quoting Widtsoe’s Evidences and Reconciliations — a privately-published work — as if it does?

    Of all the methods of preventing pregnancy, the rhythm method is the least reliable, with a failure rate of 5 to 25% per year. It is most unreliable when used with women whose menstrual cycle is inconsistent. (Two of my three children were conceived when my wife and I thought she was “safe.”)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calendar-based_contraceptive_methods#Types_and_effectiveness

    If the intent of a couple is to prevent the conception of a child, then it should make no difference, doctrinally, how they go about it. For the sake of the marriage relationship, they should choose the method that is most reliable and meets their long-term family planning goals.

  100. Rameumptom on November 16, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    Tim #98,

    Scouting is a terrific program, and so I would never knock it. However, because of the need to do background checks, they need to have adults who they can trace. This means they have to have legal status: Social Security Number, Green Card/immigration papers, etc. It is an issue of protecting kids, not bureaucracy.

    Boys do not have to be legal residents to be Scouts.

    To become a ward, there are certain specifics: number attending Sacrament meeting, number of active Melchizedek Priesthood, number paying Tithes. Then there are the unwritten things judged by the stake president: how well organized is the branch? Are the leaders experienced enough to manage the extra changes involved in moving to ward status? HT/VT stats?

    I’m thinking our branch will be ready to be a ward within a year, barring any unforeseen major issues.

  101. Tim on November 16, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    #100–That makes sense (although the consequences are unfortunate).

    I’m more curious about what it would take for a shrinking ward to be downsized to a branch–our Sacrament meeting numbers have always been quite small, and they’ve dropped in half in the past couple of years due to move-outs and deaths; a number of callings such as Executive Secretary and Sunday School President go unfilled because of the lack of people. Most organizations don’t have full presidencies. I know the stake would be reluctant to change us into a branch, especially since theoretically our numbers could skyrocket up to 70 or 80 at any time. I don’t expect a change any time soon, but it would be nice to know what the exact guidelines are.

  102. Paul on November 16, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    93: “People assume that when they read the words “It is between the husband, the wife, and the Lord” that the church is saying birth control is okay. No where in those words does it say that.” Nor does it say that “natural” birth control is the only option, so please do not represent that as the position of the church.

    So points of my own experience:

    1. in 1980, as a BYU student I was required by my stake president to attend a pre-marital fireside in which we were instructed on the church’s position on birth control, and we were encouraged to consider prayerfully whether we should practice birth control.

    2. Dr. Ellsworth was my wife’s doctor prior to our marriage and he discussed his article with us and his conversations with the brethren before its publication.

    3. Dr. Ellsworth’s article makes the same point about selfishness that you do — and so did President Kimball in the same year in a separate article in the Ensign. You are right: these decisions should not be selfish ones.

    3. “Natural” birth control in the form of the rhythm method is highly unreliable in the case of women who have irregular cycles. Do you believe that those couples should simply stop having sex? Especially given the counsel that procreation is not the only reason for sex in a marriage?

    You are welcome to practice what you believe is best, but you are not free to preach it as church policy any more than someone is free to teach that caffienated soft drinks are against the word of wisdom.

  103. Alison Moore Smith on November 16, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    Tracy #93:

    If your reasons for preventing the birth of children are good and pure, than it does matter which way you do it…Abstinence from intercourse during the few days a month a woman is fertile is not the same as abstinence from marital intimacy

    No, but abstinence during those few days has the same *result*. If you have chosen to prevent pregnancy, you are preventing pregnancy. Abstinence IS birth control. What evidence do you have that God (or the church) cares whether you prevent that by staying on the other side of the room, by a barrier, or by any other means?

    People assume that when they read the words “It is between the husband, the wife, and the Lord” that the church is saying birth control is okay. No where in those words does it say that.

    I think the problem is that you are assuming that “between husband, wife, and Lord” cannot include other-than-abstinence birth control. No where in those words does is say THAT either.

    Thanks for the quote, Tim (#97).

    BTW, for a short time after I was married (1985) the church still had in place more “rules and regulations” with regard to marital intimacy. (No oral sex, etc.) A short time after we married, our bishop made some statement about how the church was no longer getting involved in such things. Just be respectful of each other.

    I never saw the handbook on such issues, so don’t know how official it all was.

  104. Jax on November 16, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    How about we let the official 1st Presidency message talk for church policy about birth control?

    “We seriously regret that there should exist a sentiment or feeling among any members of the church to curtail the birth of their children. We have been commanded to multiply and replenish the earth that we may have joy and rejoicing in our posterity.

    “Where husband and wife enjoy health and vigor and are free from impurities that would be entailed upon their posterity, it is contrary to the teachings of the Church to artificially curtail or prevent the birth of children. We believe that those who practice birth control will reap disappointment by and by.”
    – 1st Presidency Statement

    Or some from the Presidents of the Church:

    Seeking the pleasures of conjugality without a willingness to assume the responsibilities of rearing a family is one of the onslaughts that now batter at the structure of the American home. Intelligence and mutual consideration should be ever-present factors in determining the coming of children to the household. When the husband and wife are healthy, and free from inherited weaknesses and diseases that might be transmitted with injury to their offspring, the use of contraceptives is to be condemned. – David McKay

    or

    There are multitudes of pure and holy spirits waiting to take tabernacles, now what is our duty? To prepare tabernacles for them; to take a course that will not tend to drive those spirits into the families of the wicked, where they will be trained in wickedness, debauchery, and every species of crime. It is the duty of every righteous man and woman to prepare tabernacles for all the spirits they can. – Brigham Young

    Pres. Smith then comments:

    If these iniquitous practices find their place in our hearts and we are guilty, then when we arrive on the other side – and discover that we have deprived ourselves of eternal blessings and are accused by those who were assigned to come to us, because, as President Young has said, they were forced to take bodies in the families of the wicked – how will we feel? Moreover, may we not lose our own salvation if we violate this divine law?

    and this is one of my favorites by Harold Lee:

    “Those who refuse as husbands and wives to have children are proving themselves already too small for the infinitude of God’s creative powers.”

    One from Joseph F. Smith:

    I believe that where people undertake to curtail or prevent the birth of their children that they are going to reap disappointment by and by. I have no hesitancy in saying that I believe that is one of the greatest crimes of the world today, this evil practice.

    When young people marry and refuse to fulfill this commandment given in the beginning of the world – and just as much in force today – they rob themselves of the greatest eternal blessing. If the love of the world and the wicked practices of the world mean more to a man and a woman than to keep the commandment of the Lord in this respect, then they shut themselves off from the eternal blessing of increase. Those who willfully and maliciously design to break this important commandment shall be damned. They cannot have the Spirit of the Lord.

    And since some don’t like the numerous anti-birth control quotes given by the dead prophets here are some from a current apostle

    “You should know, without having to have the church deliver a statement on it, you should know what the Lord’s position is on abortion, or cloning, or same-gender marriage, or birth control. All of those things, they’re built in as a part of what we know, and what we are.” – Boyd Packer

    Notice the things that birth control are related to?

    We are here to strive to become like our Father in Heaven. He is a creator and life-giver. The desire to destroy that possibility in ourselves is not a holy one and needs a change of heart. Satan is impotent and will never have offspring. To have a surgery that makes yourself more like Satan and less like our Father is a VERY serious thing and is in complete contradiction with the purposes or mortality!

    Whether by His own voice or the voice of his prophets it is the same. Too many think that ‘between the couple and the Lord’ means they make the decision themselves and the don’t realize the that Lord has made his opinion very clear, over and over and over!

  105. martin harris on November 16, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    Re: 104, “Too many think that ‘between the couple and the Lord’ means they make the decision themselves and the don’t realize the that Lord has made his opinion very clear, over and over and over!”

    Yes, but when asking it’s important to remember two principles.
    1. If at first you don’t succeed, ask, ask again.
    2. It’ easier to apologize than ask permission.

  106. Jax on November 16, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    Martin Harris:

    But when asking for forgiveness from the Lord you should remember that it always comes with suffering. Always! It might be easier to apologize, but it isn’t better!

  107. Julie M. Smith on November 16, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    Jax, I feel that your #104 is in violation of the current and official counsel re birth control, which you can see in the new online handbook, in that you sound as if you are judging others regarding choices that are supposed to be between them and the Lord.

    Not to mention that this thread has run its course. Thanks for the comments, all.