Unauthorized Practices and Other Selected Highlights From the Leadership Training Meeting

November 14, 2010 | 58 comments
By

Things happen fast around here these days. Last night when I retired for the evening, nothing about yesterday’s Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting had yet been posted online. Now that I am home from church today and are sitting here at my computer, the video is publicly posted for all to read and discuss; Handbook 2 (or “H2″) is likewise publicly posted; and several Bloggernacle posts are up (here, here, here, here, here, and here). But I still think my notes have a few things to add to the discussion.

In his short pre-recorded introductory remarks, President Monson stated that reading, understanding, and following the Handbook would further the goal of avoiding what he termed unauthorized practices. As an example, he recounted a personal experience where a high councilor thought it proper to turn the chair of a young man receiving the priesthood toward the local LDS temple. I’m aware of a visiting general authority who recently advised local leaders that women should not offer the invocation in sacrament meetings (this is now expressly corrected in H2, section 18.5: “Men and women may offer both opening and closing prayers in Church meetings”).

While the persistence of these sorts of problems is often laid at the feet of the general membership, these examples remind us that it is generally local leaders and even general leaders — the people that members listen to and follow — that perpetuate doctrinal folklore and unauthorized practices, not the rank and file of the Church. The solution (in place now for less than 24 hours) is to put the Handbook in the hands of members. This bottom-up approach to identifying and rejecting unauthorized practices is a small revolution in LDS church governance.

Elder Oaks referred to H2 as principle-based, and pointed to chapter 17, “Uniformity and Adaptation,” as an example. That chapter identifies some aspects of LDS practice that cannot be changed by local leaders (e.g., the Sunday meeting schedule, the directions on how to conduct disciplinary councils, the details of how to perform ordinances) but also identifies some features of LDS practice that can be modified to better serve the local membership (e.g., modifing the staffing and program of auxiliaries, curtailing stake meetings where travel is long or difficult, combining youth classes when numbers are small).

Elder Cook, who along with Elder Oaks and Elder Bruce D. Porter had the task of directing the revision of the Handbook, reviewed some of the substantive changes in H2: Welfare Committee gone; recommendation to invite RS President to downgraded PEC; more responsibility to Ward Council members; increased attention given to young single adults.

But he really emphasized section 20.1.2 of H2, “Worthiness to Participate in an Ordinance or Blessing,” by reading all three paragraphs verbatim. This is the section that restricts some priesthood actions (acting as voice in performing confirmations, conferring the Melchizedek Priesthood, and setting apart a person for a calling) to temple recommend holders. This is a real zinger. God bless those many local leaders who will have to use “discernment that must be righteously exercised” (Elder Cook’s words) in determining which less active fathers will be allowed to confirm their children, which can stand in the circle, and which will just sit on the front row and watch. The word of God is sharper than a two-edged sword, and for some fathers this word is going to cut deep. Time to ante up a little righteousness if you want to stay in the game.

Next was a role play by an ethnically diverse Ward Council, then a panel discussion led by Elder Ballard and featuring Elder Holland, Elder Bednar, Elder Gonzalez of the Presidency of the Seventy, and President Beck. The highlight of the panel discussion was by Elder Gonzalez, who remarked that there’s a saying in organizations that if you want to keep something secret, put it in a handbook.

Concluding remarks were offered by Elder Packer. From a leader who is often considered to be at the far conservative end of the LDS spectrum comes this statement that should warm the heart of any liberal Mormon: “Too often families are regarded as instruments to staff the organizations and complete all of the activities listed as possibilities. Priesthood officers must prayerfully consider what not to do, and strive to reduce substantially the requirements upon the families.” Amen.

58 Responses to Unauthorized Practices and Other Selected Highlights From the Leadership Training Meeting

  1. grego on November 14, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    “Worthiness to Participate in an Ordinance or Blessing,”…

    Wow. And this soon after Pres. Packer’s conference talk on “battlefield commissions”, less-active fathers ordaining sons, etc.

  2. Julie M. Smith on November 14, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    Can someone spell out in concrete terms what the old policy re non-TR-holding fathers was and what the new one is? I’m seeing conflicting and incomplete reports and I’m not sure whether the change is more restrictive or less restrictive.

  3. Aaron T. on November 14, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    Yeah, wow indeed. Grego, how does one deal with the disparity in the spirit of EP’s “Battlefield Commissions” message (which I felt was that ordinations, baptisms, confirmations, etc., was the FATHER’s role), and this new message?

    Really? If a MP father isn’t a full tithe payer, or is otherwise one off in any aspect of the TR interview, but he still holds the MP, and he is not committing any major sin, he can’t confirm his 8 year old son? Wow…..wow, wow. That tithing is a must to perform this ordinance for one’s own son or daughter is especially troubling to me. Extortion is a strong word, but…….

  4. Dan on November 14, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    I thought the whole point of the priesthood was to use it more often, not less often…

  5. Aaron T. on November 14, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    Julie, I’ll check, but I think it was simply “worthy MP holders” may perform x, y, z.

  6. Starfoxy on November 14, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    Julie- from what I understand the policy was different everywhere you went. For my local area the new policy is less restrictive than it was previously.

  7. Julie M. Smith on November 14, 2010 at 8:19 pm

    Well, Starfoxy, at least that explains my confusion!

  8. Aaron on November 14, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    From the former CHI…..

    “A priesthood leader who oversees an ordinance or blessing ensures that the person who performs it has the necessary priesthood authority, is worthy, and knows and follows the proper procedures. Leaders also seek to make the ordinance or blessing a reverent and spiritual experience……”

    Participation in Ordinances and Blessings

    “Only brethren who hold the necessary priesthood and are worthy may perform an ordinance or blessing or stand in the circle. Those who participate are usually limited to priesthood leaders, close family members and close associates such as home teachers.”

    I guess what “worthy” meant from one ward to another was much different.

    This was not a good change, in my view.

  9. Nanochron on November 14, 2010 at 9:02 pm

    I like that the church has posted H2 on the church website. I believe it will serve to strengthen the church. I don’t know why the church didn’t post H1 but maybe there are sacred things in there that shouldn’t be paraded before the world but I don’t recall any from the old H1.

  10. Dave on November 14, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    Thanks for the comments, everyone. As is evident from comment #8, the new wording is not really a departure from the prior policy, but it does spell it out more clearly what the policy is in objective terms. That’s an observation for all of H2 — it generally says what it is trying to say in much clearer terms. I suppose some might respond that clarity is not always a blessing, but clarity will reduce variation in practice across stakes and regions, certainly a positive development I think.

  11. floridagirl on November 14, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    I really like the fact that counselors get a full handbook, and that it is online as well. I remember making mistakes and having someone say, “that’s not allowed in the handbook,” and thinking, well how in the world am I supposed to know what’s allowed or not allowed if I’m never allowed to see it?

  12. Cynthia L. on November 14, 2010 at 11:52 pm

    No handbooks for secretaries though! As Primary secretary I was instructed that my attendance at the meeting was required, but then I didn’t get a book, alas! (Actually I would much rather just check online than lug around a dead-tree copy anyway.) Evidently each presidency gets strictly 3 copies–one for the president and one for each counselor. No more.

  13. KLC on November 15, 2010 at 11:08 am

    grego points out the mixed messages we receive. I see another confusing message. I agree with Elder Packer’s comment you quote at the end of your post. But how can we reconcile this with the new decision to dismantle the ward activities committee and place ward activities under the ward council? Instead of having a group of members who are specifically tasked with ward activities, often in my experience members who can’t or wont’ take on the responsibility of leadership of weekly teaching but who want to contribute, we now have an overworked and overtasked group given the extra burden of managing ward activities. If church leaders are genuinely concerned about substantially reducing requirements on families shouldn’t we be spreading the work as much as we can rather than concentrating it on the members of the ward council?

  14. Lorin on November 15, 2010 at 11:09 am

    I took the change in the handbook to be less restrictive. I’ll have to go back and read them, but the way it came across to me during the meeting was that the new guidelines specifically state that a father who is ordained but who isn’t worthy of a temple recommend can still ordain his son or baptize or bless his child (or at least stand in the circle), according to the discernment of the bishop.

  15. Adam Greenwood on November 15, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    My bishop told me that H1 was ‘answers to questions nobody asks.’

  16. Kari on November 15, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    With regards to the whole “worthiness” issue, in my opinion this policy likely came about for two reasons.

    1 – To avoid different standards in different wards/stakes. The church doesn’t want to hear, “but my brother-in-law in Idaho, who’s not a TR holder was able to ordain his son, why can’t I?”

    2 – To take a burden from local leaders in determining worthiness. Now it’s simply easy to ask “Do you have a TR? No? Then you can’t participate.” The thinking has been done. If you don’t have a TR, for whatever reason, you’re not worthy. No more discernment needed by the “common judge in Israel”.

  17. jjohnsen on November 15, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    I know the policy on men using their Priesthood probably hasn’t been changed, but just clarified. It still makes me sad. My brother-in-law was less active for four years before the bishop of his ward actually recommended he bless his newborn. After that he quickly returned to full activity dragging his son and wife along with him. I like to think that bishop was inspired to ask this priesthood holder who hadn’t paid tithing in years to perform that blessing, which in turn has brought other blessings to my extended family.

  18. Lorin on November 15, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    I checked: The policy is LESS restrictive:

    Here’s how those three paragraphs read. Especially read the last two paragraphs. for the below, emphasis is mine:

    SUBJECT: Worthiness to Participate in an Ordinance or Blessing

    Only a Melchizedek Priesthood holder who is worthy to hold a temple recommend may ACT AS VOICE in confirming a person a member of the Church, conferring the Melchizedek Priesthood, ordaining a person to an office in that priesthood, or setting apart a person to serve in a Church calling.

    As guided by the Spirit and the instructions in the next paragraph, BISHOPS AND STAKE PRESIDENTS HAVE DISCRETION TO ALLOW PRIESTHOOD HOLDERS WHO ARE NOT FULLY TEMPLE WORTHY TO PERFORM OR PARTICIPATE IN SOME ORDINANCES AND BLESSINGS. However, presiding officers should not allow such participation if a priesthood holder has unresolved serious sins.

    A bishop may allow a father who holds the Melchizedek Priesthood to NAME AND BLESS HIS CHILDREN even if the father is not fully temple worthy. Likewise, a bishop may allow a father who is a priest or Melchizedek Priesthood holder to BAPTIZE HIS CHILDREN or to ORDAIN HIS SONS to offices in the Aaronic Priesthood. A Melchizedek Priesthood holder in similar circumstances may be allowed to stand in the circle for the confirmation of his children, for the conferral of the Melchizedek Priesthood on his sons, or for the setting apart of his wife or children. However, he may not act as voice.

  19. Aaron T. on November 15, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    Lorin, the policy is less restrictive than what?

    “Worthiness” was the threshold in the old policy. In my ward, “worthiness” was not the same thing as temple recommend holding….. i.e., my bishop would have allowed, and encouraged a non TR MP father to be voice in his child’s confirmation, ordination to the MP, etc. In some wards, there may have been a bishop who restricted fathers from some ordinances if that father didn’t wear a white shirt. While it’s true that the policy is very clear now, I think it’s a mistake to say the policy is “less restrictive.”

    Additionally, if you’re comparing the new policy to Elder Packer’s conference talk last April, the new policy is certainly NOT less restrictive.

  20. Crick on November 15, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    As always I support any initiatives by the brethren, but I do think “battlefield commissions” have been useful in the past. In fact, in “To the Rescue” I have read of President Monson’s inviting a long-time inactive man to participate in priesthood ordinances (tho’ not as voice). That surprised me–so maybe the official policy is less restrictive than unofficial impressions like mine but not necessarily officialy less restrictive.

    Also..I don’t have time to for all the citations…but I feel that one who has read and remembers President Packers talks over the year will know that his teachings are some of the most merciful that I have ever heard–particularly to those who struggle with temptations. But he is also an advocate of ordinary members. It seems the talk he gave years ago to the Regional Reps cemented the “hardliner” perception but I don’t think its true.

  21. barcelo on November 15, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    “Time to ante up a little righteousness if you want to stay in the game.”

    Argh! 15 words that sum up everything I fear about this change.

    Did/does the broadcast or handbook clarify if the requirement is for a current, physical TR or is it simply a requirement to be worthy of one?

  22. Aaron T. on November 15, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    “But I feel that one who has read and remembers President Packers talks over the year will know that his teachings are some of the most merciful that I have ever heard–particularly to those who struggle with temptations.”

    I agree. I loved his April talk. To me, EP’s battlefield commission talk captured what are to me the most important facets of the Savior’s message – mercy, grace, and a loving father in heaven who knows how to prompt his “not quite there yet” children through inspired invitations such as the one EP described.

  23. Dave on November 15, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    I said the new wording clarifies the prior policy, but it also specifies what was, in the earlier policy, left undefined under the general term “worthiness.” The new policy fills in the blank by suggesting that if one does not hold a temple recommend, one is not worthy to speak as voice when confirming or confer the Melchizedek Priesthood. That interpretation is what is going to wrankle people. On the other hand, one excluded from being voice is nevertheless often deemed worthy to stand in the circle. The guy is deemed 70% worthy, I guess. At 50% worthy you can attend but just watch; at 20% worthy all you get is an audio feed. I jest a bit, but you can only slice righteousness into so many pieces before the process loses credibility.

    Here’s a way around the problem. Just have bishops confirm (as voice) every child who is baptized. That will comply with the manual, but avoid singling out non-TR fathers for special embarrassment.

  24. tracy on November 15, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    <>

    Dave, I don’t know if you are jesting with the above part of your comment or not, but I will respond anyway.

    The confirmations my husband gives to our children are some of the most sacred experiences he has. I can’t imagine having that privilege taken away from temple worthy priesthood holders in order to not offend non-temple worthy priesthood holders.

  25. Mark D. on November 16, 2010 at 7:18 am

    This is the section that restricts some priesthood actions (acting as voice in performing confirmations, conferring the Melchizedek Priesthood, and setting apart a person for a calling) to temple recommend holders.

    I think this is an excellent change, strictly on the grounds that all members who are convinced of the fidelity of the Church’s fundamental truth claims shouldn’t have a serious problem doing what is necessary to obtain a temple recommend.

    One has to meet this standard of worthiness to go on a mission, why not to act as voice in these three critical ordinance/actions? And if someone is less convinced, for some reason, is it some extraordinary loss to only be able to participate or even (horror of horrors) to watch?

  26. grego on November 16, 2010 at 9:42 am

    barcelo wrote: “Did/does the broadcast or handbook clarify if the requirement is for a current, physical TR or is it simply a requirement to be worthy of one?”
    Good question! “worthy to hold a temple recommend”–not “hold a temple recommend”.
    One could be either and not the other.
    Or am I just splitting hairs here? No, I don’t think so, because I’ve got a feeling this will come up and be a point of contention. Which is a big reason for having the CHI–to avoid contention…

    As a note of introduction after that statement, I had just reread that talk last week and it was more powerful than the first time I read it (Spirit-wise). I was going to say, if the CHI says that vs. what Pres. Packer said, go with the new, out with the old. Of course, being an apostle, he very well could do all the things he talked about, eh? :) (I don’t mean that in a bad way.) Bishops will likely have to be more discerning.

    Now if we can get the worthy brethren to actually say, “We *bless* you…” instead of just reminding, lecturing, instructing, encouraging, etc.

    Adam wrote: “My bishop told me that H1 was ‘answers to questions nobody asks.’”
    I’d say it’s the answers that nobody wants to know.

  27. Aaron T. on November 16, 2010 at 10:52 am

    “The confirmations my husband gives to our children are some of the most sacred experiences he has. I can’t imagine having that privilege taken away from temple worthy priesthood holders in order to not offend non-temple worthy priesthood holders.”

    Agreed. My question is why does any father who holds the MP and is not involved in a major transgression (or has not repented from such) have to be excluded from having the same privilege? Having a temporary hang-up with tithing, or crisis of faith in re the church’s restorational/historical claims, or a specific problem with supporting church leaders relative to something like Prop 8 is for many just that – A TEMPORARY HANG UP. If someone is not fully TR worthy now, but is hanging around, going to meetings, trying to figure stuff out – i.e. working things through, why not allow full participation? That a kid’s father did not confirm them, or ordain them is something that can’t be changed…..even though a father’s testimony, or faithfullness, often does change as they work through problems (and their kids get older). Kids will never forget that….and it seems harsh and uneccessary. It’s obviously not an issue of the ordinance not being valid, because if that were the case, baptism and other limited participation would be out as well.

    “I think this is an excellent change, strictly on the grounds that all members who are convinced of the fidelity of the Church’s fundamental truth claims shouldn’t have a serious problem doing what is necessary to obtain a temple recommend.”

    It’s not always that easy.

  28. jjohnsen on November 16, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    “And if someone is less convinced, for some reason, is it some extraordinary loss to only be able to participate or even (horror of horrors) to watch?”
    Ask Tracy in #24

  29. Mark D. on November 16, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    Tracy in #24 is referring to having the bishop perform all confirmations, which is different. The basic problem here with confirmation and Melchizedek priesthood conferral both is that if temple worthiness is not required, the person at the receiving end is being held to a higher standard than the person doing the speaking.

    When that is actually the case with regard to something like tithing, and the recipient knows it, it sets an unusually bad example. The Church teaches that the full blessings of church membership cannot come unless someone is temple worthy. It makes perfect sense that the person acting on behalf of the Lord himself be held to the same standard as the person being called, ordained, or confirmed.

  30. O on November 16, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    Well, great. My husband is struggling right now, but not ready to throw in the towel. I’m going to guess this will be the last nail in the coffin. Way to make a good guy, husband, father and worthy priesthood holder feel like crap and marginalized simply because he feels like he can’t honestly renew his temple recommend (and not because he is committing any sins, or not paying tithing…just because he doesn’t “know” for a fact what he believes). The hope I had for him to come through is pretty much gone. I know this is going to hurt him deeply.

  31. Dave on November 16, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    O, you’re not the only one in that situation. I’m sure most bishops will be thinking very hard about how to actually apply the new guidance, since it seems likely to have an effect that will undermine much of the effort that has been directed over the last few years to reach out to less active or marginal Saints.

  32. JT on November 16, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    Just to clarify, the new worthiness standard for participating in priesthood ordinances is definitely a less restrictive standard than the previous one. I believe that President Packer’s talk last April and this new policy are connected. O, this should give your husband hope, not hurt. Whereas he most likely would not have been able to name, bless, baptize, ordain (to the AP) his children, he now can.

  33. JT on November 16, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    I would imagine that the reason the relaxed restrictions on worthiness for ordinance participation does not apply to confirmations, MP conferrals & ordinations, and by extension, temple ordinances, is because they are “saving” ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood. There is a scriptural oath and covenant associated with this priesthood which can’t exactly be cast aside.

  34. barcelo on November 16, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    What Aaron said in #27.

    the handbook now defines what was previously undefined. (“worthiness” = TR holder). This has the advantage of uniformity across the church and no more discrepancies between wards and stakes. Thats fine I guess, but I still prefer it undefined and this is why:

    With a more generic phrase of ‘worthiness’ it is left for the agent to assess himself, maybe in consultation with his bishop as to what that means in the context of what they are about to do. I view this as a ‘teach them correct doctrine and let them govern themselves’ kind of issue. (interestingly, a Joseph smith quote most frequently relayed by Elder Packer).

    I can absolutely see, in contrast to Mark D’s #25, that an individual could be in reality worthy to both confirm their child and attend the temple, and yet only FEEL worthy (or willing, or prepared or whatever the best word is) to do the former.

    That’s why the distinction between holding a TR and being worthy to hold one is so important to me. If an individual can lay claim to confirming their child on the basis they can say to their bishop ‘yes I am worthy to hold a TR but no I do not have or intend to have one right now’ then not a whole lot has changed.

    If the actual TR is required, then I can see how conformity may increase, but not righteousness; “Time to ante up a little confomrity if you want to stay in the game.” should have been in the OP.

    Finally I’d make the argument that a TR requirement could actually lead to a less spiritual state. Example 1.Bishop: ‘are you worthy to do this?’ Member: ‘yes, here’s my TR that I got 23 months ago’. Example 2.Bishop: ‘are you worthy to do this?’ Member: ‘yes, well I think so, I’ve been considering the principle of faith…’

    I should also point out that greater minds than mine have made these changes and so we should all be willing to see how they play out, hoping for #32 to prove correct. My fear is that #30 happens, even if not often – I think it would be a real shame.

  35. Aaron T. on November 16, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    Isn’t baptism a “saving ordinance” as well?

    I don’t have the baptismal questions in front of me, but the problem with the argument you present in #29, Mark, is that such things as tithing, testimony of the restoration, etc are also required to be baptized. So, I would imagine that many doing the baptizing, under the new policy, are also above the threshold, in the instances we’re discussing, of the receiver being more worthy than the giver.

  36. It's Not Me on November 16, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    It is unfortunate anytime a priesthood holder is excluded from an ordinance involving family. But when the standard is set and understood, it’s not the Church that is excluding–it’s the individual himself.

  37. MEM on November 16, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    Our stake has required that all participants in any priesthood ordinance be temple recommend holders, and yes, they have to prove it by showing it to the bishop prior to the meeting. I’ve always thought this was ridiculous. I appreciate that a standard ought to be somewhere but I believe it was intrusive for the bishop to be policing individuals that weren’t even in the ward or stake. They also restricted circle sizes to 4 individuals, so if you’ve got 3 worthy grandpas/uncles/brothers/friends, well, pick 2, but that’s another story. So, I’m relieved to see this expounded in the new handbook.

  38. Kari on November 16, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    Just to clarify, the new worthiness standard for participating in priesthood ordinances is definitely a less restrictive standard than the previous one – JT #32

    JT,

    That hasn’t clarified anything. How do you interpret the new policy that requires a temple recommend to be less restrictive than the previous policy in which the only requirement was “worthiness.”

  39. Kari on November 16, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    I essentially agree with Barcelo (#34). The issue of worthiness to participate in priesthood ordinances was discussed a while back at nine-moons. Here’s what I had to say back then:

    I guess I don’t fully understand the real world difference of having a TR and “being worthy to have one.” I’ve personally never met a Mormon who was “worthy” to have a TR who didn’t have one. So, when we speak of folks who don’t have a TR, it would seem to me that implicit in that discussion is that there is something that makes them “unworthy.” Maybe it’s because they don’t pay a full tithe. Maybe it’s because they’re not up to date on child support. Maybe they drink coffee. Maybe it’s because they refuse a TR because they have issues with the temple.

    What makes one “worthy” to officiate in the priesthood? Don asks a similar question in his original post. Who gets to decide that question? If one drinks coffee does that preclude him from performing a baptism? How about doubts about the divinity of Christ or the veracity of the official version of the first vision? What about believing that polygamy wasn’t instituted of God?

    What sins are so great as to preclude one from exercising priesthood?

    My opinion, which many may find heretical, is that once one has been given the priesthood, the question of worthiness should be left up to that person. If he feels worthy, he should be allowed. Ultimately the efficacy of a priesthood ordinance doesn’t depend upon the “worthiness” of the person performing the ordinance. If that was so, the sacrament wouldn’t have efficacy 90% of the time. (Hyperbole, I know, but you get my point.)

    Joseph Smith taught that despite being drunk when he uttered the curse on Ham and his lineage, God upheld that curse because he honored Noah’s priesthood. Is that teaching applicable today?

    A real world example: The stake patriarch in the stake of my youth was convicted of child molestation (of his granddaughters). In the investigation it came out that he had molested his own daughters when they were children. When asked about the efficacy of the patriachal blessings he bestowed during the time he was sexually molesting children, members of the stake were told it was unnecessary to receive another patriachal blessing.

    So if God will honor the curse of a drunken man or the patriachal blessing of a child molester, I can’t imagine a sin that would keep Him from honoring any priesthood ordinance, no matter the “worthiness” of the officiator. And requiring a bishop to ask any question other than “Are you worthy?”, “Are you comfortable with God to perform this ordinance?”, or even simply “Do you hold the priesthood required for this ordinance?” seems pointless.

  40. Kari on November 16, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    That discussion at nine-moons, for anyone interested, can be found at http://www.nine-moons.com/?p=1232

  41. Alison Moore Smith on November 16, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    The confirmations my husband gives to our children are some of the most sacred experiences he has. I can’t imagine having that privilege taken away from temple worthy priesthood holders….

    why does any father who holds the MP and is not involved in a major transgression have to be excluded from having the same privilege?

    It is unfortunate anytime a priesthood holder is excluded from an ordinance involving family

    Just wanted to point something out. Comments like those above are common place. They ooze from lessons about the significance of the priesthood and come out in almost every fast meeting. I tend to agree with them.

    But as soon as someone asks about women being excluded from the priesthood — suddenly it’s not a “privilege.” Instead, it’s just a duty, a burden, nothing-important-really-why-would-you-want-that-anyway-and-why-do-you-aspire-to-be-the-bishop-you-heathen.

    Whether this policy is more or less restrictive, it’s still not remotely as restrictive as the policy toward women, who are never — no matter their recommend status or worthiness — allowed to participate in any of the ordinances mentioned. They are always excluded.

  42. Aaron T. on November 16, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    Kari – Amen.

    Alison Moore Smith – wow. Good point.

  43. Julie M. Smith on November 16, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    Thank you, Alison, for articulating what has been making me grind my teeth re this conversation.

  44. Gerald L Twitchell on November 17, 2010 at 3:04 am

    Keri…D&C 121: 37 states that the authority and priesthood of that “Patriarch” were gone…it doesn’t make sense that no one was required to get a valid blessing…the heavens were withdrawn and the spirit grieved…there are a lot of things wrong with your scenario…Way too little information…

    Also, I would recommend your reading the comment section beginning on Page 256 of “The Pearl of Great Price : A verse by verse commentary” by Richard Draper, S. Kent Brown, and Michael D. Rhodes for an more complete understanding of the Noah curse of Canaan. It was not a drunken curse though a curious incident facilitated it.

  45. Gerald L Twitchell on November 17, 2010 at 10:39 am

    I can never carry a child nor can I nurture even close to the way the daughters of God can…however, I can trust in God and His Christ as I struggle through this life gaining knowledge and understanding through the ministering of the Holy Ghost. God would think me silly for raising my fist to Heaven and complaining about what I cannot possibly ever do…

    History is littered with the failed remnants of those who refuse to lift where they stand and failed to trust in a loving Father who is truly omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent…we are given the knowledge that enables us to return to his presence and enjoy eternal progression…what more can one want?

    We can see the devastation to the children of God who were not raised and nurtured to their divine nature…can that be abdicated for the praise of the world? I think not nor can it be denigrated…there will be many seeking and wishing for the millstone…

  46. Kari on November 17, 2010 at 11:00 am

    Gerald, #44

    I don’t know who Draper, Brown, and Rhodes are, but I do know who Joseph Smith was.

    The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p 193:

    I charged the Saints not to follow the example of the adversary in accusing the brethren, and said, “If you do not accuse each other, God will not accuse you. If you have no accuser you will enter heaven, and if you will follow the revelations and instructions which God gives you through me, I will take you into heaven as my back load. If you will not accuse me, I will not accuse you. If you will throw a cloak of charity over my sins, I will over yours–for charity covereth a multitude of sins. What many people call sin is not sin; I do many things to break down superstition, and I will break it down”; I referred to the curse of Ham for laughing at Noah, while in his wine, but doing no harm. Noah was righteous man, and yet he drank wine and became intoxicated; the Lord did not forsake him in consequence thereof, for he retained all the power of his Priesthood, and when he was accused by Canaan, he cursed him by the Priesthood which he held, and the Lord had respect to his word, and the Priesthood which he held, notwithstanding he was drunk, and the curse remains upon the posterity of Canaan until the present day. (November 7, 1841.) DHC 4:445-446.

  47. JT on November 17, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    Aaron T. (35) – Baptism is a saving ordinance, but can be performed by the Aaronic Priesthood. Thus, it is not one of the “saving ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood” (32).

    Kari (38 & 39) – “Unresolved serious sins” is the wording used in the new handbook, and it has a fairly precise definition in Book 1.

    For those who are still wondering whether the worthiness requirement for the performing of ordinances is more/less restrictive, you may want to read Elder Cook’s comments in introducing this section in the training. He says that he wants to “call attention to some important changes that affect fathers performing priesthood ordinances and blessings.” He then relates the “general principles” by reading the paragraph requiring temple worthiness for certain MP ordinances, and then says: “Now note carefully the next two paragraphs.” These are the paragraphs with the more relaxed standard. Why would he want people to note carefully the status quo?

    He concludes by stating: “Note the two important principles at work in these sections: First, recognition of the eternally significant role of fathers, and second, the discernment that must be righteously exercised by bishops and stake presidents.”

  48. James on November 17, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    Cements my decision to no participate any longer in confirmations and such within our extended family. Feels, again, like lines being drawn to exclude in a time when the church desperately needs to reach and be inclusive.

  49. JT on November 17, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    James – I don’t think excluding certain individuals from performing priesthood ordinances is being done because some group of men want to be elitist. They are kind of bound by scriptural statements such as the oath and covenant of the priesthood and “the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and . . . the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.”

    On the contrary, I believe inclusiveness is actually the reason for the new change.

  50. Aaron T. on November 17, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    JT, I don’t share your theological rationale for distinction in ordinance levels. If confirmation and MP ordination were so distinct and different than baptism and AP ordination, the former should be done in the temple. Then, I could understand the requirement for a TR.

    One of things that bothers me about rules such as these is that once the rules are made, members’ immediately attempt to attach doctrinal and “revelatory” reasoning where there is often nothing more at play than basic principals of organizational management.

  51. Steve on November 17, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    A lot has been said about the probable impact of the bright-line new rule requiring that the person acting as voice in a confirmation or ordination hold a current TR. Most of the criticism has focused on the potential negative impact on non TR-holding priesthood holders. I’m surprised to see so little discussion focusing on the perspective of the person seated in the chair.

    A MP blessing of any kind is expected to contain words of inspiration, for the guidance and benefit of the person being blessed (confirmed, ordained, etc.) I know of no practical litmus test for spiritual sensitivity, but temple worthiness may be the best proxy we have.

    As for sentimentalists to whom the right-of-passage/family tradition/”cherished memory” aspects of these eternally significant ordinances are more important than the words of blessing being delivered by the voice of inspiration, I suggest taking a step back and getting some perspective.

    I know, I know, I’m a monster.

  52. JT on November 17, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    Aaron – I agree with you that there is a danger in developing reasons for the Lord’s commandments or the church’s policies. In fact, I was just reminding someone about this who was sharing their own rationale for women not holding the priesthood. I probably should not have shared my view.

    That said, I don’t believe this to be arbitrary line drawing for organizational management purposes. What in the world would be the organizational management principle being followed here? Cheese off the unworthies?

    “If confirmation and MP ordination were so distinct and different than baptism and AP ordination, the former should be done in the temple.”

    I’m not sure how to respond to this, other than to ask: why? Aren’t the clear distinctions laid out in sections 84 and 107 and the fact that the MP is received by an oath and covenant sufficient to show why the Lord requires more of MP holders?

  53. Aaron T. on November 17, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    I don’t know…..I’m not privy to the meetings or discussions that led to this new rule. But it seems like a classic case of meet in the middle policy making typical of large bureaucracies.

    The more important question is what is the doctrinal principle being followed here? I don’t see a revelation stating that one must have a TR to confirm and ordain to the MP in the sections you mentioned/ Oath and Covenant.

  54. It's Not Me on November 17, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    #41- Well, go ahead and ask me, then.

  55. Alison Moore Smith on November 17, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    Gerald #45:

    God would think me silly for raising my fist to Heaven and complaining about what I cannot possibly ever do…

    Gerald, I have no doubt you would have said the same thing to black men in 1977. But I’ll note that Elder Holland said that he prayed from the time he was a kid for blacks to get the priesthood, and President McKay said he pleaded with God about it for years. You know, something that had already been declared (by general authorities, no less) to be utterly impossible.

    I guess I don’t so much mind hanging out with some of those other silly fist-raising radicals.

  56. JT on November 18, 2010 at 10:53 am

    1. “But it seems like a classic case of meet in the middle policy making typical of large bureaucracies.”

    This explains a lot about your view of the church.

    2. I don’t see anything about temple recommends in the sections on temples either. In sections about MP and temples, however, I do see an increased standard for those participating in each.

    3. All of this misses the point, anyway, because the new policy is a relaxation in requirements for baptisms and blessing/naming children, not an increased requirement for those performing other MP ordinances.

  57. Alison Moore Smith on November 18, 2010 at 11:50 am

    It’s not me #54 — huh?

  58. Mike on November 19, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    I learned how to deal with these sort of problems when about a dozen years ago our Bishop decided to “enforce” some policy (in the handbook?) concerning baptism dates of children. In our small ward most years saw only one or two children baptisms. They were planned by the parents on any convenient date and were among our best activities. The new policy was that all baptisms of children would be performed on the Saturday before the first Sunday after the child turned 8 yers old. No exceptions. I guess this makes sense in Utah where not every church building has a font and hundreds of children in a Stake are baptised every year at the same place. During that year we had over half a dozen children in our ward coming up to test the policy.

    One girl from a less active family left the Bishop’s office in tears followed by her angry father who said to me “it will be a cold day in hell before you see me back here”. Non-member relatives had already purchased plane tickets for the baptism that was being moved. Another boy was baptized during a ward Halloween party with many of his friends in costumes. Very strange. In December the Bishopric sort of forgot about the baptism between Christmas and New Years. This family showed up with relatives from out of state but no program planned and an empty font. They delayed it a whole month. Rules are rules.

    My daughter was baptized during Christmas vacation in Utah. My brother’s Bishop, with amazing grace and empathy helped us plan a wonderful service at our convenience. It was the last time my mother, afflicted with the later stages of Alzheimers dementia, was in a church building and it was her first grandchild to be baptized. This Bishop generally followed the rules but he also thought this was a valid exception. My Bishop back here considered the baptism invalid because he didn’t give his approval and tried to have her baptized again. I refused.

    When the next child came along, I told the Bishop I was going to baptize him in a cold lake in the Uinta mountains after cutting the ice away if necessary. He is the kind of kid that would not surprize you to be the only survivor of a handcart company. My wife wouldn’t let me do that so we had another service at my brother’s ward. When our next Bishop was sustained the “invalid” status of these baptisms was forgotten. We resumed the prior practice of families planning the rare baptisms of children at their convenience.

    I am trying to imagine this scenario. A 19 year old boy sends in his mission papers and is called to the Outback Mission. His dad ordains him to the Mel. Priesthood. But the Bishop wouldn’t allow it to happen at a church meeting. The father and his relatives/friends do it anyway in an empty room or in the back yard. The Bishop says it is not valid because the dad didn’t pay tithing for 15 years. The missionary shows up at the MTC. They have to contend with a new missionary who claims his father did ordain him and a Bishop who says he didn’t allow it. Maybe from 2000 miles away. Will they even notice if the new missionary keeps quiet and the Bishop on the phone gets put on hold? Maybe an Apostle will “reward” the new missionary with a second ordination.

    I recall a LDS missionary in Japan who claimed he had been sent home from his mission twice. The first time was only about a month early because he was too “trunky.” The second time was when he came back to Japan to date and make a general nuisance of himself. The mission president called him in and tried to send him home again and the returned missionary just laughed at him. He was still there “preaching the gospel” on his terms.

    I say if you don’t agree with the rules, don’t follow them. Do what you know is right and find out what happens. You don’t have to put up with unrighteous dominion at church. I have found that the few local leaders who are most prone to this type of social bullying don’t have the backbone to stand up to real integrity when they are wrong and they sort of know it. Christ-centered leaders (in contrast to rule centered leaders) filled with empathy for their flock know when to follow and when to make exception to rules and policies.

WELCOME

Times and Seasons is a place to gather and discuss ideas of interest to faithful Latter-day Saints.