Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Reflection and preparation

The bishop called me in a couple of months ago to check on me, to give me a calling, and mostly to let me know that he was ready to give me a temple recommend. He got out his book, all ready to go, but I had to honestly let him know that I was a bit behind on the money I owe to the Lord, so he told me to come back when I was ready.

With the help of some Christmas money from my dad, I made an appointment this week with the bishop.

But since I met with him last, there has been general conference, and stake/regional conference, and I have had some doubt in my mind as to whether or not I will be able to truthfully answer the questions to get my recommend.

As I thought about it last Sunday morning, though, my heart swelled with excitement at the prospect of attending the temple. I had just written a check, and was ready to make an appointment upon seeing the bishop at church that day. I have had moments in the past when I thought I did not want to go to the temple again. A main focus there is eternal marriage, and why would I want to be reminded of that? But this time I did not fear my reaction to that subject. I have become a pretty strong person through everything, and I feel like I am ready to go back.

So now in preparation, I want to explore the questions that have been a problem in the past...

1. Do you sustain the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the prophet, seer, and revelator and as the only person on the earth who possesses and is authorized to exercise all priesthood keys? Do you sustain members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators? Do you sustain the other General Authorities and local authorities of the Church?

2. Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

Here goes...

For the first question, I believe I do and always have sustained my leaders. "Sustain" to me means that I believe that leaders, both general and local, have been called by God Himself to those callings and that they have been set apart and given certain priesthood keys that they are entitled to with those callings. I do not believe that sustaining them means I have to always agree with every little thing they say, but I do believe that God will give them certain revelation on certain topics when the time is right. I know that every leader has people under their jurisdiction that they really connect with and touch, and others that they do not. It is the same for me as a teacher. Some of my students have a great experience with me as their teacher, while others do better to switch to a different class or are grateful when they do not have to endure my teaching any more. I think that is simply called life and personality, and that it is impossible for a person to please everyone regardless of how hard they try or how inspired they try to be. Sometimes personalities and personal ideas and opinions and interpretations get in the way of that. So even when a leader and a member do not always see eye-to-eye, that does not mean to me that the member automatically does not sustain them or does not believe they are called of God.

Does that make any sense?

I don't like the way the second question is worded, because I doubt anyone could answer it honestly. Aren't we all supposed to associate with our neighbors, be-friend them regardless of their religious affiliations or beliefs on values, morals, word of wisdom, etc? Don't most of us have jobs that require us to associate with people whose views may not be in harmony with our own? Just because we associate with them, does that automatically mean that we are going to agree with everything they say or choose to act as they do?

No! The idea is ridiculous.

I associate with many people who do not believe everything exactly as I believe it or exactly as the church teaches it. But that does not mean that I am an apostate for enjoying the time I spend with them, for cherishing the chance to serve them and to listen to and understand their points of view. Yes, a few of my thoughts and feelings do conflict with what the church teaches, so I guess I am in trouble for associating with myself. :) But like I've said before, I don't know all the reasons why I have felt like God wants me to feel the way I do about certain things. Either they really are true, and it's just not time for the Prophet to tell us yet, or I need to believe that they are true so that I can truly empathize with and therefore serve some of God's precious children.

If all people with temple recommends are required to be absolutely perfect all the time with regards to all of the questions, then I think there would be very few people that are actually worthy to have a recommend. I think we are just expected to do the best we can, and God will bless us for our efforts to improve and will tolerate or overlook our imperfections if we truly have a desire to attend and partake of the blessings of the temple.

That is all I have ever done or ever wanted. Truly it is. I hope my leaders can see what is in my heart this time and allow me the opportunity to return to the house of the Lord.

Wish me luck!


Quiet Song said...

Sarah, even if the answer to question 2 is yes, it does not mean that keeps you from the Temple. Some time later today or tomorrow, I'll try to find a post I made over on DOT's blog about my experience answering that question.

Adon said...

I think you have the first question pretty well pegged.

In regard to the second question, "Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?",

You need to take into account the history of why this question is asked in the first place. In the 60's and 70's, apostate groups were flourishing in and around and about the church, The Church of the Firstborn for instance.

Without getting too technical, the members of this group as well as others, felt they had a higher calling than the "mainstream" church and they continued to actively and secretly maintain access to the temples.

Originally this question was worded more generally than it is now. The wording to the recommend interview had to be broadened to cope with these apostates semi-truthful answers.

If you pick the question apart and take it literally, such as:

"Do you support any individual whose practices are contrary to those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?"

Most members members of the church would not measure up. I think you can answer "no" to this question with a clear conscience. You don't have to go into additional details in regard to your thought process with the Bishop. It is between you and the Lord.

Bishops and Stake Presidents are instructed in the Recommend Book not to embellish on the interview by asking detailed questions in addition to the "scripted" interview queries. That's not to say that some won't.

MoHoHawaii said...

The second question has a history. The original version of this question was added in the 1970s to address the issue of FLDS 'infiltration.' It was more narrowly worded to target LDS splinter groups. Over the years, the scope has expanded to the point that (as you mention) if a person took it literally, he or she could never leave the house or have friendships or other relationships with nonmembers. That is, of course, absurd. Nobody takes it to that level. The problem is with the overly broad wording of the question, not with you. I wouldn't let this one be a stumbling block.

Here's a concrete example: the planks of both the Republican and Democratic parties contain positions that are contrary to the LDS Church's position on various issues. For example, the Church now officially supports housing and employment nondiscrimination statutes that protect gays and lesbians. The new Church handbook says that we are to treat gays and lesbians with love and respect. However, the Republican party opposes nondiscrimination ordinances and in various state platforms wants to recriminalize same-sex relationships and fire gay teachers, which is absolutely against what the Church teaches. The Democrats are more liberal than the Church on various social issues such as abortion. And yet, the Church doesn't deny TRs to Democrats and Republicans. The Church has repeatedly said that its members are free to vote their conscience and engage in the political process without fear of punishment by the Church.

William Bradshaw, who is a believing, TR-holding Mormon, spent a full week in 2008 making phone calls against Prop. 8. (See his recent podcast on Mormon

If you were thinking of practicing polygamy or joining another church, you might have troubles with question 2, but that's not at all your situation.

Just my two cents, as always. :- )

Jeff in Colorado said...

I just completed my renewal interview with the Bishop. In answering the question you noted as #1, I just remind myself that there has only been one perfect man and the men that He calls to lead his church are quite fallible. So, I sustain them and I support them whenever they are acting in accordance with what the Holy Spirit testifies to me. I firmly believe that Joseph Smith himself would agree with that sentence.

Regarding the specific concern that was on my mind: President Packer gave no indication in his Oct GC talk that he had received a revelation on the matter. There was nothing in his talk that indicated it was anything other than his personal, fallible opinion. And, as President Smith is quoted to have said, "a prophet is only a prophet when he is acting as such." I think it's safe to insert "apostle" into that quote as well.

I think we all agree that #2 is just too nebulous. So, I give the answer that they expect and that, I believe, satisfies what they really want to know which is: Are you apostate?

Hmmm... maybe I should say "Not yet" and see how they react.

gail said...

Good luck. I too miss the temple, but am unsure if I can answer those same questions honestly. I also am no sure I want to give the church that much power again.

recover and thrive said...

I hesitated once on that question of association and asked my interviewer about it - and he was just called to the bishopric so it was actually his first interview, so he had me talk to one of the stake presidency and I told him I was a part of a club :outlaw" and I asked him what the history was behind the question, and he did not know but could feel the spirit around me, so said I should be fine -I do feel though that that question is really poorly worded like you said, and really has no place and makes no sense and does not seem to be in accordance with church doctrine..

Rebecca said...

hope everything turns out well for you!
i'm excited to come see you soon -we love you!

Sarah said...

Thanks everyone. Got the bishop's signature. But now I have to meet with the stake president, which makes me a nervous wreck. Don't know when my appointment will be--haven't heard.