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Kayvex

Church's Stance on Disfellowship and Excommunciation

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. By the way, the youth ended up in juvie and from what I understand, one or more of the other youth parents filed the charges - possibly the Bishopric (I really don't know, I'm just guessing) because 2 of them have kids in YM/YW program that were in that activity.

 

 

That pretty much brings us back to JAG's comments, about the legal issues being the most likely factor... even if those legal issues were initiated by a Church leader

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lol, yes, nice point. But then we are still left with the seemingly odd situation where breaching some temple covenants can result in an excommunication, and breaching other covenants seemingly has not impact on the breaker's church standing. And yes, while its true that these covenants are only implicit, strictly speaking, I only covenanted not to have sexual relations with anybody except my lawfully wedded wife, but that term "sexual relations" seems to have been expanded to include a lot of actions that are only implicit. 

 

It has not been expanded. It was ALWAYS expanded. It has always included relations of any sorts.

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That pretty much brings us back to JAG's comments, about the legal issues being the most likely factor... even if those legal issues were initiated by a Church leader

Sure. But that still falls within the bounds of my answer that... Use of Pornography can get you sent to a disciplinary council.

Omega also said something about drinking coffee. Not finding anything wrong with drinking coffee... you can't get baptized with that. But for those baptized and then developed the thinking that there's nothing wrong with coffee, then drinks it... that could lead to the bishop having a talk. Then you start encouraging others to have coffee with you... I can see that going to disciplinary council if the person persists.

Of course, I'm just logically perusing these things. I don't hold the priesthood so I really just leave all that to those who may have to hold those keys.

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Not allowed to come back to church at all?

 

This is his parents restricting him right? not his priesthood leaders I hope

 

Purposefully exposing (other) minors to pornography is akin to molestation or other sexual abuse. No adult who has ever done any such thing, whether they are repentant or not, would ever be placed in a Primary or Youth calling. An unrepentant youth absolutely should be prevented from associating with those he attempted to harm.

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To my knowledge you cannot be brought before a disciplinary council for a porn addiction, someone please correct me if I'm mistaken.

 

You are correct.

 

anatess---you wrote: "Sure. But that still falls within the bounds of my answer that... Use of Pornography can get you sent to a disciplinary council."

 

Personal addiction and use of pornography will not result in a disciplinary council. However, it may very well result in informal Church discipline such as restrictions on partaking the Sacrament, holding a Church position, exercising the Priesthood, etc.

 

You also wrote: Omega also said something about drinking coffee. Not finding anything wrong with drinking coffee... you can't get baptized with that. But for those baptized and then developed the thinking that there's nothing wrong with coffee, then drinks it... that could lead to the bishop having a talk. Then you start encouraging others to have coffee with you... I can see that going to disciplinary council if the person persists.

 

WOW violations  will not result in a disciplinary council either. I suppose if someone opposed the restrictions and actively encouraged other members to violate them it could result in a disciplinary council, but the case would then fall under the definition of apostasy.

 

askandanswer wrote: "But then we are still left with the seemingly odd situation where breaching some temple covenants can result in an excommunication, and breaching other covenants seemingly has not impact on the breaker's church standing."

 

Regarding disciplinary councils I think you're overly fixated on temple covenants (particularly the sealing covenants), which are in no way the be-all and end-all when it comes to Church discipline. 

 

Remember, the three-fold purpose of Church discipline is to:

Save the Souls of Transgressors

Protect the Innocent

Safeguard the Integrity of the Church.

 

In regards to two people deciding they no longer wish to be married (absent sins that could get one or both excommunicated) it's difficult to argue that excommunication or other punishment would satisfy any of the three. 

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askandanswer wrote: "But then we are still left with the seemingly odd situation where breaching some temple covenants can result in an excommunication, and breaching other covenants seemingly has not impact on the breaker's church standing."

 

Regarding disciplinary councils I think you're overly fixated on temple covenants (particularly the sealing covenants), which are in no way the be-all and end-all when it comes to Church discipline. 

 

Remember, the three-fold purpose of Church discipline is to:

Save the Souls of Transgressors

Protect the Innocent

Safeguard the Integrity of the Church.

 

In regards to two people deciding they no longer wish to be married (absent sins that could get one or both excommunicated) it's difficult to argue that excommunication or other punishment would satisfy any of the three. 

Thanks, that makes good sense. Question answered.

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Leaders are instructed not to hold disciplinary councils for pornography, word of wisdom, or self-abuse (incl. masturbation) issues. Handbook.

No disciplinary council = no form of formal discipline

 

I don't disagree with you but I think we need to make something clear for those who might misunderstand your post. It could lead someone to assume that unless a disciplinary council is held there will be NO discipline at all.
 
There's a difference between "formal" discipline and "informal" discipline. 
 
Formal discipline occurs after a disciplinary council is held and the bishop or the stake president decides that some form of discipline should be meted out.
 
Informal discipline occurs when an individual meets with a bishop and confesses to some infraction that doesn't require a disciplinary council (e.g. use of pornography, self abuse, word of wisdom violation, etc.)
While no disciplinary council is necessary for these infractions, the bishop has the right to confer "informal" discipline (e.g. restrictions on preparing, passing or partaking the Sacrament, holding a church calling, speaking in Church, exercising the priesthood, etc.)
 
Just thought we should make that clear.  :)

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Leaders are instructed not to hold disciplinary councils for pornography, word of wisdom, or self-abuse (incl. masturbation) issues. Handbook.

No disciplinary council = no form of formal discipline

I can as a Bishop put someone on a Bishops Probation for those issues. As a Bishop you always speak with your Stake President regarding worthiness issues within the Ward.

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Yep the Bishop can still place restrictions on those struggling with such worthiness issues - informal probation. Just no form of formal probation (disc. council + official record of the probation/discipline, etc.)

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Wow! Then I hereby rescind all net neutrality rules and decree that Al Gore may no longer use my web. :D

It shall be done.

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Wow! Then I hereby rescind all net neutrality rules and decree that Al Gore may no longer use my web. :D

It shall be done.

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It's already been said that excommunication is not a form of punishment, and should not be compared to anything punitive. If anyone insists on comparing excommunication something worldly, it can be compared to bankruptcy.

 

Let's take a legal description of bankruptcy and adjust it for explaining excommunication: 'A legal proceeding involving a person that is unable to live up to his covenants and thereby incurred spiritual debt that he alone is unable to pay. The excommunication process begins with a petition filed by a judge of Israel (most common) or on behalf of a member (less common). All of the member's spiritual assets are measured and evaluated, whereupon it is recognized that the member is incapable of paying said outstanding debt, due to violation of his sacred covenants. Upon the successful completion of excommunication proceedings, the debtor is relieved of the covenant obligations incurred prior to filing for excommunication.'

 

Excommunication is actually an act of immense love, on the part of our Savior. He has provided the means by which a "debtor" is allowed to step out from under the crushing debt of sin and broken covenants, set his life back in order, repent of those sins, reapply for baptism and the renewal of temple and priesthood blessings, thus being welcomed back into full fellowship in the kingdom of God on earth. What could be more loving than that!? How is that punitive?

 

If you want to talk about punishment, think about the "debtor" being without the way and means to get out of such debt and being forced to suffer the consequences. That would be punishment; that would be punitive!

 

Remember, it is the work and glory of the Savior "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man," and in some instances that process will require excommunication.

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You know, JayGlad, I'm still not sure I agree with the notion of excommunication relieving us of our covenants.  But I've never thought about it in the way you suggest--comparing it to a bankruptcy proceeding--and I thank you for the insight.  :)

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You know, JayGlad, I'm still not sure I agree with the notion of excommunication relieving us of our covenants.  But I've never thought about it in the way you suggest--comparing it to a bankruptcy proceeding--and I thank you for the insight.  :)

 

If it doesn't release one from the covenants, what does it do?

Edited by JayGlad

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If it doesn't release one from the covenants, what does it do?

 

Well, certainly it does what the Church says it does:

 

To help the individual repent and return

Repentance brings peace when we place our lives in harmony with the teachings of Jesus Christ. Church discipline is a process that helps the individual feel that change of heart and change of behavior necessary to bring full forgiveness and peace. Someone who has fulfilled the requirements of Church discipline can be completely forgiven and return to full participation in the Church.

To protect the innocent

When someone poses a physical threat to others or a spiritual threat to other members, Church discipline is conducted to provide protection to potential victims. This includes predatory practices, physical harm, abuse, fraud and apostasy (see below).

To protect the integrity of the Church

The Church teaches its members to follow the example of Jesus Christ in leading moral, faith-centered lives. Anyone who does not meet these standards and significantly harms the integrity of the Church by their actions may face Church discipline.

 

Beyond that, though:  At the last judgment, if the Lord says "JAG, you made baptismal covenants, and you failed to keep them"; I don't think I can come back and say "Nuh-UH, God!  I was excommunicated, so those covenants never happened and You can't hold me accountable for breaking them--nanny, nanny, boo boo!"  That sort of scenario just doesn't resonate with me. 

 

If there's an authoritative statement from a GA to the contrary, naturally I'll have to reconsider my position; but thus far I don't remember seeing such a statement and I'm reluctant to accept the proposition that I can walk away from my covenants scot-free merely by getting myself excommunicated.

Edited by Just_A_Guy

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Even if we accepted the idea that one is fully released from their covenants via excommunication (which, as JaG said, I don't believe this is fully the case either. A promise made is a promise made. There is no backing out.) I cannot fathom how anyone could ever view this as a good thing.

 

Covenants are a blessing, to say the least. To be released from them is a terrible thing. 

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It's already been said that excommunication is not a form of punishment, and should not be compared to anything punitive.

 

Easy to say. Saying something doesn't make it so.

 

It's easy to tell a child that they're not being punished as you take away their toys, send them to their room, ground them, or whip their backsides. But they all know better in spite of what you say. So I will know better if I'm ever excommunicated.

 

Obviously, the punitive nature of it is not the complete nature of it. But to deny the obvious reality, plain-as-the-nose-on-your-face, matter-of-fact nature of it is a real head-in-the-sand thing.

 

it is recognized that the member is incapable of paying said outstanding debt, due to violation of his sacred covenants

 

The above bolded word is inaccurate and destroys the validity of everything else you're proposing, as it is key to the thinking behind it.

 

First, none of us are capable of paying our outstanding debts. That is what the atonement is for. Excommunication is irrelevant to that.

 

Secondly, the implication is that those excommunicated are incapable of repentance (doing their part so the Savior pays their debt) without excommunication. Whereas this may, sometimes, be the case, it is, without doubt, not always the case. Many who are excommunicated do not need to be if they would simply repent instead.

 

the debtor is relieved of the covenant obligations incurred prior to filing for excommunication.

 

No. Absolutely not!

 

Our obligations to God are contingent on one thing and one thing alone. Our KNOWLEDGE. With knowledge, we are accountable.

 

Excommunication is actually an act of immense love

 

Excommunication is not an act of love. It is an act we exercise with love. But the act itself is not "of" love. It is "of" justice. It is "of" law. It is "of" obedience. No one would ever excommunicate another, or should, if they were not commanded to do so, both scripturally, and in the moment through the guidance of the Spirit.

 

....on the part of our Savior. He has provided the means by which a "debtor" is allowed to step out from under the crushing debt of sin and broken covenants, set his life back in order, repent of those sins, reapply for baptism and the renewal of temple and priesthood blessings, thus being welcomed back into full fellowship in the kingdom of God on earth. What could be more loving than that!?

 

This is not a description of excommunication. It is a description of repentance and the Atonement. It is true that the Atonement is the pinnacle of love. We all have access to the atonement though. Not just those excommunicated. We also have the full right to re-qualify for all of our baptismal and temple covenants through a variety of means, primarily repentance, that do not require re-baptizing ourselves. Re-baptism is a necessary step for those who have fallen too far, and whereas it is a loving thing that God does indeed allow us back into His kingdom if we repent (that part of excommunication is, indeed, loving), that does not translate to the fact that excommunication is some sort of blessing to us. 

 

How is that punitive?

 

Because the removal of the Gift of the Holy Ghost is a BIG DEAL! The removal of other blessings that are associated with membership and temple ordinances are a BIG DEAL! Having these things taken from you is a BIG DEAL!

 

Once again, take away your child's favorite "gift" from last Christmas because of their behavior and choices and try and convince them it isn't a punishment.

 

It IS. Obviously, to anyone who turns on their brains and actually thinks about it. Someone does something bad and so they have something taken away from them as a consequence.

 

But that's not a punishment? :huh:

 

Okay...keep telling your kid that. I'm sure they'll believe you if you repeat it often enough.  <_<

 

If you want to talk about punishment, think about the "debtor" being without the way and means to get out of such debt and being forced to suffer the consequences. That would be punishment; that would be punitive!

 

The means to having the debt paid is the Atonement through repentance. This does not require excommunication in most circumstances.

 

Remember, it is the work and glory of the Savior "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man," and in some instances that process will require excommunication.

 

Lest you think I'm only being contrary, I do agree that excommunication is a cog in the machine of God's work. And certainly, as we've noted, one purpose of it is to help the person find salvation.

 

But I find the reason behind your interpretation of how this works faulty. The act of excommunicating someone helps them towards salvation because it is punitive. Because it is shocking. Because it is meant to kick them in the pants so they will turn around and get back on track. It is, indeed, done in love. But so should all punitive measures, including punishing a child for misbehavior, because we are meant to act in love in all that we do, and consider only the will of God (which is the eternal life of His children) in our actions, even the punitive ones.

Edited by The Folk Prophet

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Secondly, the implication is that those excommunicated are incapable of repentance (doing their part so the Savior pays their debt) without excommunication. Whereas this may, sometimes, be the case, it is, without doubt, not always the case. Many who are excommunicated do not need to be if they would simply repent instead.

 

 

TFP, very well said.

 

Many are excommunicated simply because they refuse to repent.  If the sinner is humble and repentant, very often they will not be excommunicated.  I have seen this with family and acquaintances.

 

 

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Easy to say. Saying something doesn't make it so.

 

That's an ironic statement.

 

So you're saying that even though a member who has been excommunicated (removed from the covenant), and who is no longer a member of the covenant, is still under covenant. Is that correct?

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That's an ironic statement.

 

This isn't of much use. 

 

Let me be more clear, as you seem to be missing the logic behind my point here.

 

Your point, as best I understand it, and the point of others who seem to hold the same view, is that excommunication cannot be punitive because it is an act of love. As in: "What could be more loving than that!? How is that punitive?"

 

I call a major logical disconnect therein. Since when does love disallow punishment? God has sworn, again and again, that He will punish us if we sin and do not repent. It's a rather consistent theme in the scriptures. So, following this logic, either God isn't really loving, or punishment is not about love and/or the lack thereof.

 

And going back to the child example -- why do we punish our children? Because we hate them? Of course not. We punish our children because we love them.

 

So it's one thing to say excommunication is not punitive. I don't think that should just be accepted because you or others say so, ironic or not.

 

I, on the other hand, am using the logic that taking away something precious from someone who has done something bad is, by it's very nature, punitive. If you disagree with that logic, explain yourself. Just claiming irony doesn't move anything forward.

 

It should also be understood (which it is plainly not by many) that punishment is, for the most part, in the eye of the receiver. (I'll reference Brer Rabbit "Don't throw me into the briar patch" here as an example).

 

Certainly there are those who feel getting excommunicated is the best thing that ever happened to them. Certainly there are those who it is the worst thing that ever happened to them. Their perception and response to it makes the difference. A blanket statement that something is or is not punitive does not deal with this side of the matter at all. It's a non-thinking, liberal, hold-hands-and-sing-kumbaya sort of point. It disregards the reality of human emotion and motivation.

 

At best one might be able to say that excommunication should not be viewed as punitive by the receiver of it. But even that, I question as entirely valid and oversimplified.

 

So you're saying that even though a member who has been excommunicated (removed from the covenant), and who is no longer a member of the covenant, is still under covenant. Is that correct?

 

That's word play. What I'm saying is that he/she who does not repent loses their exaltation. Being "under the covenant" isn't the only deciding factor in our exaltation. However, being "under the covenant" is a requirement for receiving exaltation. Not being "under the covenant" ensures that we lose our exaltation.

 

Your point seems to imply (as so many do) that having the covenant removed is some sort of good thing, some sort of blessing or mercy. It is not. The covenant is both a requirement for exaltation and a blessing to us in this life. Having it removed is taking both of those things away. Sure, God can use it as a means to turn people around. He also uses flood, famine, war, and disease to do the same.

 

Whether someone is "under the covenant" isn't relative to my point. Whether someone humbles themselves and repents is the point. And he/she who is under the covenant or not under the covenant has the same responsibility to humble themselves and repent. Removing the covenant only makes that more difficult. How is it, may I ask, that you believe that losing the Gift of the Holy Ghost will help us draw closer to God?

 

But, yes. I am also saying that an excommunicated person is still obligated to their covenants. By virtue of what you're implying, said person could freely go and reveal everything in the temple they've covenanted to not reveal with no eternal repercussions. Said person could freely disobey the commandments, freely be selfish, freely ignore the law of Chastity, etc., etc., and not be held accountable.

 

Is this really what you believe?

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