Monday, February 16, 2009

Inspiration vs. Imposition: Inclusion vs. Exclusion

Elder Faust once told leaders not to let the handbook and general guidelines keep them from receiving the inspiration to which they are entitled and which they need. We need to be able to recognize exceptional circumstances and act properly therein, since those exceptions are meant to include good people who otherwise might be excluded.

However, I also think that imposing a general standard or practice not required by the handbook and general guidelines (like requiring every single young man to have a missionary haircut in order to be ordained a Priest or pass the sacrament) is not seeking inspiration outside of the handbook for unique cases. It is a systematic and practical change to the handbook - and I discourage that without exception, since doing so automatically excludes good people who otherwise might be included.

That's a major difference, and I believe recognizing that difference is an important part of charity.


Mormon Heretic said...

Ya know, I agree wholeheartedly.

I'm the membership clerk in my ward, so I talk to the bishop quite a bit. I think my bishop would be more liberal on things if he could. It seems to me the stake president really loves the Bishop's Handbook.

For example, a woman came into the clerk's office. She wanted to bless their child in another ward. That ward bishop told her she needed to have her home ward bishop fill out a form, and have the bishop sign it. So, she asked me for the form, and I happily filled it out in the computer and printed it out. Just then, the bishop came by, and she asked him to sign it.

The bishop was really cool, and signed it, but told her that the Bishop's handbook says the baby blessing should happen in the home ward. He said that if the stake president knew about it, he wouldn't approve it, but the bishop was going to sign it anyway, but wanted her to know the policy.

I know of several instances where my bishop refers to the official policy, but will ignore it on occasion. However, the stake president is much more "by the book", and I have heard him tell the priesthood not to ignore the inspired bishop's handbook.

I can't help but think how silly this particular situation is. A baby blessing is not an ordinance like baptism, or sealing, or something like that. To impose official rules seems odd to me.

Anonymous said...


Sometimes I wish I were living in the US and sometimes I am glad I don't.
I have seen good young priesthood holders with hair down their shoulders. It was clean cut, they wore a suit and honored their priesthood.
Now that I think of it I remember that during about the same time there was a young man in the district (not even a stake) who was much concern for everyone. His hair was missionary short but he was badly addicted.
This is cliché I know and I understand the clean cut thing but and the idea behind it. Because if we really start measuring the worthiness to the length of their hair we might as well ask them to go bald!