Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Inclusion vs. Exclusion: Some Things Make Me Want to Scream

I have a friend who told me recently that her Bishop has decided that anyone who is not in the chapel during the administration of the sacrament will not have the sacrament taken to them - that the sacrament will be passed only to people who are in the chapel. 

Some. Things. Make. Me. Want. to. Scream!

My rule for all interaction with anyone is to choose, consciously, to err on the side of charity and inclusion and not on the side of judging and exclusion.  I know I will make mistakes in how I interact with people (and that I will fail to follow my own rule on occasion), and I know others will do the same.  I know that others will make mistakes in how they interact with me.  I accept the simple fact that none of us are infallible - that all will "come short of the glory of God" in this life, and that social, interpersonal relationships are a prime example of how we all fall short.  

However, I also believe deeply that tenderness always is a better reaction than harshness - even when harshness is warranted and even, ultimately, unavoidable.  I believe strongly that it is better - much better - to include rather than exclude.  Sometimes, exclusion becomes necessary - but I believe we tend to exclude too quickly.  I believe that excluding reflexively, broadly and/or collectively, instead of carefully, thoughtfully and/or individually is a natural (wo)man tendency and flat-out wrong - and it is contrary to everything I understand about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Generally, I can see reasons why Bishops and other church leaders might make decisions with which I personally don't agree, and, generally, I can support those leaders even when I disagree with their decisions.  However, denying the sacrament to someone who has made the effort to attend church but is not sitting in the chapel crosses a line that I cannot accept or support.  Not only is it in direct opposition to the standard practice throughout the LDS Church, but it simply is wrong at the most basic, fundamental level. 

I hope my friend's Bishop, who probably is a good, sincere person trying to do the best he can, recognizes the error of his decision and changes this particular decision - and I hope others do not make the same mistake. 


Glenn Thigpen said...

"I hope my friend's Bishop, who probably is a good, sincere person trying to do the best he can, recognizes the error of his decision and changes this particular decision - and I hope others do not make the same mistake."

And maybe the Bishop did not make a mistake. In the branch, now a ward, where I began to grow up, the Chapel doors were closed during Sacrament. It really hlped the reverence not to have people coming in during the blessing and passing of the Sacrament or heard talking in the outer limits.

Papa D said...

I understand that reasoning, Glenn - but I still believe, personally, that such a decision is a mistake.

Just to use stark examples, a parent of young children struggling to get them to church by herself/himself - or a widow(er) - or someone driving straight to church after an all-might shift - or anyone else for whom arriving on time is a real difficulty simply ought not be "punished" for arriving later than the start of Sacrament Meeting but in time for the administration of the sacrament.

I can't think of any reasons whatsoever that such a person should be deprived of the sacrament if they made the effort to attend church.

Kevin said...

Wow. I've never heard of that policy. I've been in alot of different wards as a youth and an adult. The deacons have always given the sacrament to members waiting in the foyer. As a Young Men's leader, I've always instructed the deacons to visit the foyers.

Sounds like the Bishop is doing his will instead of HIS will.

Richard Alger said...


Anonymous said...

While I don't agree with the Bishop's choice I'm willing to believe that there might be more to the story than we know. These kinds of stories about what this-or-that Bishop has done are all around us. Without knowing the particulars it is a little dangerous to pass unilateral judgement.

Anonymous said...

Although I should add that the main purpose of the post... Inclusion over exclusion... Is one I completely agree with.

Papa D said...

Anonymous, I know I got only one side of the story - but this is a trusted friend who kept it really simple, focusing only on the fact that only those in the chapel were allowed to partake. I didn't get into reasons, since, as I said to Glenn, I can't think of any reason that I believe is justified.

Also, thanks for your follow-up comment. I appreciate the fact that you would take the time to leave it, as well.