Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Priesthood worthiness

In order to help myself be more forgiving and calm of others regarding their judgments on worthiness to use the priesthood, I decided maybe I should research it a bit further. I have mentioned a couple of times in recent blog posts that I continue to ask Scott for blessings on occasion,  and I have not felt it wrong to do so, and he has not hesitated to proceed. In fact, you might remember that I pointed out one of the recent conference talks about the priesthood during which I felt the spirit testify to me that Scott is still the priesthood leader in our home and that it is still completely appropriate for him to bless me and the children.

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!


Bravone said...

Scott is your husband, the father of your children, and holds the priesthood. He has the right and responsibility to give priesthood blessings in your home.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree with Bravone.

Sophrosyne said...

I really love this perspective on it. Most of my life I've always been very black and white on things -- "if he's not attending every week, wearing a white shirt, he's not worthy!" Your thoughts are a lot more reasonable. I love the idea of a faithful man being able to bless his family regardless of religious standing. I think that "you're not worthy" is forced on the men too much.

Beck said...

Absolutely no doubt about it... Scott is worthy! I totally agree with Bravone. You keep seeking those priesthood blessings from him!

As for the rules of blessings, I've always been taught that it requires three things: 1) the proper priesthood authority (and as far as I understand it, Scott has the authority), 2) the combined faith of the individual and faith of others, and 3) the Lord's will. It talkes all three. Nothing in this says anything about a person's political views, lack of attendance in church, struggles with church leaders etc.

Nor does it say that any of the parties in items 1 and 2 above must be "perfect" or "worthy". If we wait until we are either worthy enough or perfect enough, we'll never ever get there...

My $0.02...

Sarah said...

Okay, thanks for your comments and opinions. Like I said, I have no problem with asking him for a blessing for me or the children. But what about for extended family, like a father-in-law, etc.? If anyone else participating in the blessing disapproves, is it best for him to just not be involved?

Beck said...

For what it's worth, Dallin Oaks' talk in this last conference (Priesthood Session) spoke on this subject.

As for extended family, my take would be if Scott were requested to give a blessing or participate in a priesthood blessing he most certainly should.

For me, if the person were not comfortable with me being there, then I probably wouldn't want to be there either. No need for contention in such situations no matter what the reason.

Bravone said...

I agree with Beck.

Gail said...

I think in the church we often forget what the priesthood is. Often as church members we call the men in the church the priesthood. We are in no way the priesthood. We more often look at the ecclesiastical callings in the church such as priest or elder as the priesthood. These are not the priesthood either. The ecclesiastical callings are how the church is governed on earth using the priesthood. The earthly church has a need to control this form of government. The ecclesiastical leadership needs to control who will baptize, who administers the sacrament, and even those who home teach, all ecclesiastical ways of governing the church.

Remember the Priesthood is the power to act in Gods name. Who and when is this power exercised? When a mother is directed by the spirit to say or do something for her children she exercises the power of the priesthood. When anyone is directed by the spirit to act within their calling they exercise the power of the priesthood. Sarah, when you and Scott work in the calling God gave you as parents you exercise the power of the priesthood. Any time either of you are directed by the spirit, by God, to do what he has called you to do you exercise the power of the priesthood. Any thing you do with in your family with the power to act in Gods name you only need to be right with God. God has called no one to approve the actions you and Scott do in your home. The ecclesiastical authority of the church has no power over you authority with in your home. Even if the church leadership chooses to take Scott’s membership and/or his ecclesiastical calling as an Elder or High Priest, Scott can still act in the name of God as a Father, Husband, and a Friend, all of which are callings that God himself has given Scott without working though the ecclesiastical authority of the church, and Scott will still have the right and the privilege when he or you is moved upon by the spirit of God to act in his name and exercise the power of the priesthood with in these callings with out anyone’s approval but God’s.

Anonymous said...


In the priesthood session of this last conference there was a talk given by Elder Oaks on priesthood blessings. It was very informative and I think it will help you out.


David Head

Quiet Song said...

Yes, absolutely to Braveone's comment.

Jeff in Colorado said...


Regarding this question: Are opinions on gay rights that are contrary to statements made by the church an issue?

I can tell you my experience. I am still in the closet to everyone but Earlier this year, I told my Bishop (in an interview with him) that I believed the church's position on homosexuality and gay marriage was wrong.

He politely responded stating his belief that God only wants marriage to be between a man and a woman.

But, he did not take it any further than that. He didn't ask me to reconsider my position. He didn't tell me I needed to repent and follow the prophet. He didn't threaten to take away my recommend. And he did not remove me from my calling as a young men's advisor.

A few months later, he came to my son's baptism and stood in the circle with me as I confirmed him.

So, I guess my point is this... at least for my Bishop, you don't have to agree with everything or have a testimony of everything to be a worthy priesthood holder.