I understand that when it comes to church-recorded blessings, such as baby blessings, confirmations, and priesthood ordinances, that perhaps the rules are a bit more strict, and perhaps that is appropriate, and my research today on the internet confirms that fact. I found this website that mentions which types of blessings and ordinances require priesthood leader approval.
Priesthood ordinances and blessings
It really did not mention any restrictions for personal and private blessings, like father's blessings, or those for healing and comfort.
As Scott and I talked last night about recent events in my family that have brought this topic to mind, his comment was that he feels priesthood blessings to be much more about the faith of the one receiving the blessing and less about the worthiness of the one administering. He said that there are pioneer stories from early days of the church when women were known to have placed their hands on someone's head and pronounced a blessing with miraculous results. How does that fit in with what we believe about worthy men and priesthood blessings?
As I continued on my search, I found a talk from President Hinkley in 2002 on the subject. Here are the specific things that he mentioned would make someone unworthy of using their priesthood. He starts with a scripture:
“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.
“That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man” (D&C 121:36–37).
He goes on to say...
"You cannot be immoral in any sense. You cannot be dishonest. You cannot cheat or lie. You cannot take the name of God in vain or use filthy language and still have the right to the ministering of angels.
I do not want you to be self-righteous. I want you to be manly, to be vibrant and strong and happy. To those who are athletically inclined, I want you to be good athletes and strive to become champions. But in doing so, you do not have to indulge in unseemly behavior or profane or filthy language."
(I'm sure that ALL worthy priesthood holders are PERFECT in all of the above items, right?)
Of course there was mention of the law of chastity. And then the focus went to abuse:
"How tragic and utterly disgusting a phenomenon is wife abuse. Any man in this Church who abuses his wife, who demeans her, who insults her, who exercises unrighteous dominion over her is unworthy to hold the priesthood. Though he may have been ordained, the heavens will withdraw, the Spirit of the Lord will be grieved, and it will be amen to the authority of the priesthood of that man.
Any man who engages in this practice is unworthy to hold a temple recommend."
(Interesting comment--even when the Bishop and stake president refused to sign a temple recommend for either Scott or I, the stake president was still willing to let the bishop know that Scott could ordain our son to the office of a deacon.)
"I mention another type of abuse. It is of the elderly..."
"Now I wish to mention another form of abuse that has been much publicized in the media. It is the sordid and evil abuse of children by adults, usually men..."
"I quote from our Church Handbook of Instructions: “The Church’s position is that abuse cannot be tolerated in any form. Those who abuse … are subject to Church discipline. They should not be given Church callings and may not have a temple recommend..."
"Now brethren, I suppose that I have sounded negative as I have spoken to you this evening. I do not wish to. But I do wish to raise a warning voice to the priesthood of this Church throughout the world.
God has bestowed upon us a gift most precious and wonderful. It carries with it the authority to govern the Church, to administer in its affairs, to speak with authority in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, to act as His dedicated servants, to bless the sick, to bless our families and many others. It serves as a guide by which to live our lives. In its fulness, its authority reaches beyond the veil of death into the eternities that lie ahead.
There is nothing else to compare with it in all this world. Safeguard it, cherish it, love it, live worthy of it."
So, I guess his talk was mostly focusing on abuse, and how that would make a man unworthy of his priesthood.
I don't have a lot of time to spend researching this subject, and I know that amongst my readers there are current and former church leaders, such as bishops, stake presidents and high councilman.
What do you feel makes a man worthy or unworthy to administer a blessing of healing to a family member? Is inactivity in the church for 6 months an issue? Are opinions on gay rights that are contrary to statements made by the church an issue? Where is the dividing line, when a man is mostly honest (other than maybe a bit of pirated music or software), swears less than I do (and probably has only learned to swear because of my bad example), monogamous and faithful to his wife, does not abuse anyone nor have any history of abuse, engages in prayer and scripture reading with his family, enjoys reading old church books and journals, like Joseph Smith's journal, is an outstanding example of exhibiting love and service toward his fellow men (mostly the gay ones, of course).
I realize that opening this up for comments may result in some painful proof that he really is not worthy, as someone in my family strongly believes. But I am open to learning and understanding what the doctrine really is on this issue.
Thanks for your help!