Friday, June 12, 2009

She Said: Excommunication

I'm going to make this short and sweet.

In the scriptures the Lord has said that he will cut off those who do not keep the commandments. He has also said that He is our judge and our lawgiver. When humankind are given the ability to judge, it is for the purpose of knowing good from evil (see Moroni 7). We are told:
...seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged.
If our leaders want to hold "courts of love," they should be places where the concerns of both parties are laid on the table. Discussions can be held, compromises can be made, help can be extended, I'd say even warnings could be given. I like to think of a Bishop as a judge in Israel in the sense that Moses put it in Exodus 18:
When they have a matter, they come unto me; and I judge between one and another, and I do make them know the statutes of God, and his laws.

But as for excommunication--as for punishment--cutting someone off from God and the fellowship of believers--

I say we leave that to the Lord and to the individual themselves.


  1. Nicely said. It seems that most excommunicated members don't subsequently return. This makes excommunication as an attempt to help people repent seem problematic indeed.

  2. I've heard from those who sit on those counsels that they are the hardest things they have ever had to do. But they are also some of the most spiritual meetings they have ever been in.

    Excommunication is done not only for the individual, but also for the health of the Church as a whole (3 Nephi 18:31). And it is NEVER done lightly. It is always done with the Spirit present, and according to the scriptures (D&C 20:80) so the Lord is there.

  3. Uncle Mike says, "Extra day off (Sunday), 10% raise, more free time (no calling); sounds good to me!"

  4. Roxie, "never" and "always" are very dangerous words to use.

  5. Roxie, BiV is right. Your generalizations may often hold, but I know from personal experience that they do not always hold.

    Remind me how the church is corrupted by having sinners in it?

  6. It is the most extraordinary thing to do, put humans(who think they have some sort of authority over another human) in a position to even think that something they are doing is going to affect the other person's access to God.

  7. When done righteously, Excommunication is part of the lords plan, but done unrighteously, they are not so good. There are definitely some unrighteous excommunications going on.

  8. When a young member comes forward with a chastity problem, excommunication should not be one of the choices of "love". Too many never make it back, and are left to feel ashamed and shamed. Better to error on the side of leniency than drive them away. God will judge.

  9. Excommunication is not, or at least should not be, shunning. Mormons aren't supposed to shun. All public meetings (those that an investigator can go to) are still open to excommunicants.

    No one who behaves themselves, member, investigator, or excommunicant, is asked to leave the Sunday block of meetings.

    Personal apostasy is not a cause for excommunication. It is when a person advocates the disbelief or sin of another that causes the disciplinary action. Believe what you want, but when someone acts or speaks or publishes something to trip up the faith of others, then it should be natural for them to have their membership in review.

    And a 17 year old who commits sexual sin is not in the same boat as a 17 year old who is a sexual predator.

  10. I have personally known four people, including my own mother, who have been excommunicated and each has returned to the church and been rebaptized. Excommunication is the release of a person from a covenant, or to use a more temporal term, contract, that they no longer wish to keep. The ordinance of baptism represents a willingness to live by the commandments and to represent Christ. It is generous to release one from these covenants and not subject them to further condemnation from the demands of justice.

    In the case of my mother, she accepted her excommunication as the Lord's will, not that of man. She was raised Catholic and converted at age 35, then excommunicated not long after her baptism. Being 10 years old when all of this occurred, I was oblivious to it. We were fortunate to belong to a ward where we were loved and not judged. I was an adult before I realized what had transpired. She was rebaptized some years later feeling that she had served her "penace." Because she had been released from the covenant she was able to enter into again with a new start.

    This is the Lord's church, but it is run by men, who are not perfect. The foundation of any person's testimony should be one's own relationship with Christ, not on the efficiancy with which the church is run. I know that many situations have and will be mishandled because of weakness and ignorance. Any man who misuses his priesthood will be dealt with by the Lord, and even that man should not be judged by his brothers and sisters.

  11. I'm thinking after having read your Hieing to Kolob post this morning that you must have had your friend in mind when you wrote this entry as well.

    I wonder if you'll be revisiting this topic after a bit of time and observation have given you both additional persepective? I would certainly be interested in how living with this extraordinary response to a problem works for the individual involved and for the loved ones who have to resolve two very different worlds.

    Good luck and peace to you and to your friend John.

  12. Anon said it perfectly. You are being released from covenants to be free from further condemnation. Church authorities act on behalf of the "church". They forgive for the "church". I am quite confidant that the Lord forgives most excommunicated members far before the church gets around to it.

    Let me say something else and that is that where I live it is quite difficult to get excommunicated. One must make grevious errors and not be willing to correct them. The GA's want to make sure everything avenue possible is explored before excommunication tatkes place.