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cora

why does the church excommunicate or discipline members?

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i have heard there are people called to do disciplinary hearings who decide whether you should be excommunicated.

i struggle with this because Christ wants us to come closer to Him when we are lost. He will go out of His way to find us and embrace us when we repent and come to Him.

when a group of people wanted to cast the adulterous woman out or stone her, He chastised them in a way and brought her close and forgave her, for He knew her heart.

in John...

"8:10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?

8:11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more."

additionally, are these people really that far gone that they cannot change or be worthy of the sacrament unless they choose to be rebaptized? what about disfellowship? can they really not be trusted to simply lead a class in prayer or hold a calling? they can't renew their baptismal convenants by taking the sacrament?

don't we want people to be with Heavenly Father, even if they have sinned? that is when they should be even closer. that is when Jesus wants us to come to Him.

any insight?

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We are all sinners! Certain sins need to be confessed to the Bishop and he will desided if it needs to go further if so he will talk to the stake pres. and if desided their will be a court case ...it is really done out of love for the sinner, each case is different if the person is disfellowship or excommunicate even though it might be a very hard thing for the person going thru this, probably cause of pride,afraid of what others might think of you.or whatever...and of course...Satan...and his followers want us to fail, they will also be after us .even more they dont want us back in the church.. but its really a blessing...if disfellowship or excommunication takes place hopefully that person will have hope and faith to hold on still go to church, still repent, meet with their leaders and work hard to get back. And what a blessing that will be....

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Excommunication is part of repentance.

Repentance is all about turning away from your sins and becoming a more Christ-like person. For some people this can happen over-night but for most of the rest of us this is a gradual process that takes time and effort.

The Church is all about helping people repent and return. For serious sins like adultery if the church knows about it it can't ignore it or otherwise it sends the message that sinning is ok... So the Church has to take some kind of action.

Every action in the Church's arsenal to deal with this is designed to send the message that such actions are not ok but there is a way back, repentance is possible. But such repentance takes effort, requires desire, on the part of the one trying to repent.

The person who has been disfellowshiped or excommuncated are put in a position where they can show by their actions that they have changed that they truly desire to return. If such person has no desire to change then they are removed from the burden of something they clearly do not want.

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Excommunication is part of repentance.

Repentance is all about turning away from your sins and becoming a more Christ-like person. For some people this can happen over-night but for most of the rest of us this is a gradual process that takes time and effort.

The Church is all about helping people repent and return. For serious sins like adultery if the church knows about it it can't ignore it or otherwise it sends the message that sinning is ok... So the Church has to take some kind of action.

Every action in the Church's arsenal to deal with this is designed to send the message that such actions are not ok but there is a way back, repentance is possible. But such repentance takes effort, requires desire, on the part of the one trying to repent.

The person who has been disfellowshiped or excommuncated are put in a position where they can show by their actions that they have changed that they truly desire to return. If such person has no desire to change then they are removed from the burden of something they clearly do not want.

thank you so much for your response. i need help understanding how it would send the message that sinning is okay. i really understand the repentance process and i think it's great. Christ died for our sins so we come to Him with a softened heart.

i feel like in the story of the adulterous woman, Christ did away with all other punishments and focused on the woman's softened heart and repentant spirit and forgave her.

am i misreading this?

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In the story of the Adulterous woman Christ directly addressed the sin in front of the Congregation... No one would get the idea that what she did was ok... What they got was that it was being handled by the one that had the authority to handle it... Once they left then Christ taking in the whole of the woman circumstance and attitude handled it in the way he thought was best and gave her further instructions on what she needed to do (sin no more)

This is one example of Christ rendering a judgement on a person's sin. But please also note his driving out of the money changers in the temple and his strong denunciation of the Hypocritical leaders of the Jews these are other judgements rendered by Christ and they are not nearly as nice.

It appears you are taking only one example of Christ rendering a judgement and demanding that all of Christ's judgements came down with the same verdict. This idea is clearly not supported by any comprehensive review of the judgements that the scriptures tell us that Christ did make or that he will make. Only thing is that is constant is that Christ will consider everything and be both fair, just, and merciful. After all not everyone has a softened heart and repentant spirit.

For the Church the local leaders have been granted the authority/responsibly to lead the church in his name and in some ways do what he would do if he were here. (which is why having the spirit is critical so that they will know what that is). In the case of sin they are to consider everything they can and then take what steps are needed to help the person repent.

Now lets look at what would happen if the church did nothing. The church teaches against sin and warns of the dangers of it. But not everyone is to the point where they can stand on their own. One of the big purposes of the church is to support and help uplift each other, but examples for each other. When it comes to examples actions speak louder then words. If the church says one thing but then doesn't do it or does something else, then their actions will speak louder then their words. Thus with out acting the Church's leaders lack of action would send a very loud and clear message that people can ignore their words because nothing will happen.

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Excommunication

D&C 134:10

10 We believe that all religious societies have a right to deal with their members for disorderly conduct, according to the rules and regulations of such societies; provided that such dealings be for fellowship and good standing;

[...]

They can only excommunicate them from their society, and withdraw from them their fellowship.

Ex-communication has another benefit besides helping the repentant (or unrepentant) which is to protect the membership of the Church from "wolves in sheep's clothing".

Members who are violating their covenants should not be in a position to lead or teach others... to be used as an example of the believers. "Well, Brother Whatshisface does it... and he teaches Gospel Doctrine every Sunday" would end up being a rationalization and excuse for violating one's covenants.

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Excommunication has three aspects. Helping the sinner return to Christ, protecting Christ's flock, and preserving the good name of the church.

I once gave information on someone who had been sentenced to 5-life for aggrivated sexual abuse of a child. He was unrepentant. He had multiple victims. Christ wouldn't let such a wolf run free among his flock, and neither did the church. Imagine what people would think of a church that claims to be Christ's church, yet gave unrepentant pedophiles callings and embraced them in full fellowship. Imagine the good reasons they'd have to think it.

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i struggle with this because Christ wants us to come closer to Him when we are lost. He will go out of His way to find us and embrace us when we repent and come to Him.

Yes he will. Please explain how this is incompatible with excommunication.

The Savior had this to say about excommunication:

26 And now it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words, he turned his eyes again upon the disciples whom he had chosen, and said unto them:

27 Behold verily, verily, I say unto you, I give unto you another commandment, and then I must go unto my Father that I may fulfil other commandments which he hath given me.

28 And now behold, this is the commandment which I give unto you, that ye shall not suffer any one knowingly to partake of my flesh and blood unworthily, when ye shall minister it;

29 For whoso eateth and drinketh my flesh and blood unworthily eateth and drinketh damnation to his soul; therefore if ye know that a man is unworthy to eat and drink of my flesh and blood ye shall forbid him.

30 Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out from among you, but ye shall minister unto him and shall pray for him unto the Father, in my name; and if it so be that he repenteth and is baptized in my name, then shall ye receive him, and shall minister unto him of my flesh and blood.

31 But if he repent not he shall not be numbered among my people, that he may not destroy my people, for behold I know my sheep, and they are numbered.

32 Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out of your synagogues, or your places of worship, for unto such shall ye continue to minister; for ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them; and ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them.

Note that the call to come unto Christ does not end with excommunication.

additionally, are these people really that far gone that they cannot change or be worthy of the sacrament unless they choose to be rebaptized? what about disfellowship? can they really not be trusted to simply lead a class in prayer or hold a calling? they can't renew their baptismal convenants by taking the sacrament?

I know I quoted it but I'm going to specifically highlight it here:

29 For whoso eateth and drinketh my flesh and blood unworthily eateth and drinketh damnation to his soul; therefore if ye know that a man is unworthy to eat and drink of my flesh and blood ye shall forbid him.

What you seem to cast as harshly preventing someone from renewing their covenants is actually an act of mercy in preventing them from drinking damnation to their souls.

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From my outsider viewpoint, excommunication is always painful, often a one-way ticket, but can be necessary. In 1 Corinthians 5 there is a man in the church who is having a sexual relationship with his stepmother. When outsiders ask about it, the church says, "Grace! Grace!" The Apostle Paul hears about this and declares: kick the immoral brother out! Perhaps by turning him over to Satan he may come to his senses. (My loose paraphrase)

The practice is very counter-culture today. "Who's to judge?" is the great refrain of our generation. Quite frankly, too many are convinced that even God is not to judge. And that. is. heresy.

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Most denominations practice excommunication. As prisonchaplain said, if there is an unrepentant church member excommunication can help them see their sin and lead them to repentance. It also can be used to keep a devisive person or one with heretical views from corrupting the church. It isn't a pretty or painless process, but it is Biblical (1 Cor 5, Matt 18).

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Can a person be excommunicated without their knowledge? For example, what if I am an inactive member. Inactive for years and living a low life. If I commit a crime against a person, let's say mowing down a bunch of school kids, could I be excommunicated by church authorities?

If not, it seems that excommunication is for people who are part of the Church, know they've done wrong, admit it, repent for it, and want to come back. Is this the case?

Otherwise, if I'm not active, why should I care what the authorities do or why should I cooperate in excommunicating myself?

In a related matter - I've been wanting to ask this for the longest - who is in the jails in Utah? Non-LDS? Do Utah LDS commit crimes? I think it's one thing to go inactive, but a whole 'nother ball of wax to go inactive and become a criminal.

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Can a person be excommunicated without their knowledge?

The church makes reasonable effort to contact the person, wanting to give them every opportunity to take part in the proceedings, give evidence, work with the church, etc. So yes, someone can, if they just refuse to be contacted.

who is in the jails in Utah? Non-LDS? Do Utah LDS commit crimes? I think it's one thing to go inactive, but a whole 'nother ball of wax to go inactive and become a criminal.

There are a lot of LDS money-making schemers incarcerated in Utah. For whatever reason, some of Utah/LDS culture just tends to fall for smooth-talking people who flash their temple recommend, and say they used to be a zone leader, and they were made High Priest at age 29, and they've got the most foolproof investment vehicle you'll ever encounter! Lots of elderly fraud.

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There are a lot of LDS money-making schemers incarcerated in Utah. For whatever reason, some of Utah/LDS culture just tends to fall for smooth-talking people who flash their temple recommend, and say they used to be a zone leader, and they were made High Priest at age 29, and they've got the most foolproof investment vehicle you'll ever encounter! Lots of elderly fraud.

Interesting. This happens also with black 'investment counselors' who go into black groups and churches and scam money because the people want to support one of their own and often don't have the education to understand or research what the fraudster is selling.

Personally, I'm such a cynic, if someone said 'you should invest in this because you're LDS,' I'd tell them to take a hike, 'cause I'd be sure they were up to no good.

All this said - these people can't be active LDS, are they? Are they actually going to church every Sunday and scamming during the week? It just seems to take so much effort to be LDS, you'd think most active folk wouldn't have time for crime. :D

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Madoff was also guilty of Affinity Fraud - those in his Jewish Synagogue/temple were also scammed.

Affinity fraud - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Here are some articles relating directly to LDS Affinity Fraud. If you're determined, you can find the time.

SEC Charges Three In $16 Million Ponzi Scheme Aimed At Mormons

SEC Says Utah Family Used Mormon Ties For $220 Million Fraud

Advisor Who Faked Suicide Gets 7 Years For Fraud

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All this said - these people can't be active LDS, are they? Are they actually going to church every Sunday and scamming during the week? It just seems to take so much effort to be LDS, you'd think most active folk wouldn't have time for crime. :D

I was called to be an LDS Chaplin at a local prison for a while (best calling I ever had).

There are indeed active members that end up in prison, we had a tax evader, a ponsie scheme and insurance fraud just to name a few.

Strange thing is that I was called to replace someone who had not gone to the prison in quite a while and these same men kept the class going every week with no outside assistance.

It really was the most spirit filled calling I have ever had, unfortunately we ended up moving due to my job and I had to give up the calling when we moved.

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I was called to be an LDS Chaplin at a local prison for a while (best calling I ever had).

There are indeed active members that end up in prison, we had a tax evader.

Not a crime. Obviously a political prisoner. :D

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In a related matter - I've been wanting to ask this for the longest - who is in the jails in Utah? Non-LDS? Do Utah LDS commit crimes? I think it's one thing to go inactive, but a whole 'nother ball of wax to go inactive and become a criminal.

Dahlia, this goes to one fundamental and inescapable truth about the Church (which far too many people forget):

"The Church is a hospital for the fallen, not a resort for the perfected."

We, as Latter-day Saints, are every bit as fallible, foolish, fallen, and flawed as any other person.

The only difference is that we have "taken hold of the iron rod" and are struggling (in varying degrees and varying levels of effort) to attain forgiveness, redemption, and perfection.

None of us here have reached it- and none of the wise among us truly expect to in this lifetime.

It really is more a matter of direction and movement than of destination.

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While none of us is perfect, I'd like to think I was safe in assuming that an active member would not be a criminal. Inactive, yeah, who knows what they might get up to. Active and a criminal - I still find it interesting that both behaviors could be embodied in the same person.

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While none of us is perfect, I'd like to think I was safe in assuming that an active member would not be a criminal. Inactive, yeah, who knows what they might get up to. Active and a criminal - I still find it interesting that both behaviors could be embodied in the same person.

One example I could see is the spouse or parent who behind closed doors is abusive but still actively attends church. Depending on the type of abuse could be criminal activity. We know that happens even with members of the church.

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While none of us is perfect, I'd like to think I was safe in assuming that an active member would not be a criminal. Inactive, yeah, who knows what they might get up to. Active and a criminal - I still find it interesting that both behaviors could be embodied in the same person.

As someone else has in their tag line, "Going to Church doesn't make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you a car".

"Active" is a very broad category- the only qualification is having one's butt in a pew two Sundays out of four...

...but you're quite right; one should expect a certain decorum, a certain level of integrity and of character from those who profess to take upon them the name of Christ.

...until one considers that Christ himself was betrayed by those disciples closest to him: betrayed by Judas, denied by Peter, and doubted by Thomas.

Even as Latter-day Saints, we are still fallen and imperfect. We WILL fall short of the glory of God, and we WILL disappoint, wound, and even betray those closest to us.

Our only hope lies not in our attaining perfection- but in struggling towards redemption.

God does not EXPECT me to be perfect: but he DOES expect me to TRY.

If you look at the Gospel as a whole, there is no provision for those who keep the law perfectly.

Neither the Law, nor the Atonement, nor Mercy have any claim on such a person. He or she is alien to the reality in which we dwell.

The Gospel of Christ, the Atonement, Our entire faith is geared towards those who have- and who will- fall short of the perfection demanded by Eternal Law.

I would wager that none of those Latter-day Saints who are now incarcerated awoke one morning with the intent to do evil.

I sincerely doubt that any of them took a single leap from "Saint" to "sinner"- their corruption was invariably slow and incremental- like rust or mold. It started small, and inch-by-inch, finger-by-finger, compromise-by-compromise, they slowly loosened their grip on the iron rod.

Once they found themselves "in the hole" they kept digging in the hopes of digging themselves out- until the pit collapsed on them.

Even this, of course, is a mercy. Having ripened in iniquity- and having been called to atone for their crimes- they now have the opportunity to truly repent and forsake their sins.

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I would wager that none of those Latter-day Saints who are now incarcerated awoke one morning with the intent to do evil.

I agree. We talked about something similar in church - how it is easy to start lying, to start telling half truths, to be dishonest in our dealings, etc., little by little, telling ourselves 'it won't matter this time' or that it's not a big deal. Just something like not telling the truth becomes a slippery slope toward so much more bad behavior.

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