Luke

Should we encourage little children to take the sacrament?

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I have searched many times for an answer to this question but never found any official church statements on this.  So I was excited when just this morning I came across an article on lds.org entitled “Little Children and The Sacrament.” (https://www.lds.org/liahona/2016/10/little-children-and-the-sacrament?lang=eng)…but was disappointed to find the article was more of an editorial by a member rather than an official statement or clarification by a church leader.  It didn’t even have any quotes from church leaders.

And the rational used in the article seemed like quite a stretch.  Here are some quotes from the article:
    •    Jesus commanded His disciples to “give [the sacrament] unto the multitude.”  That multitude included “little ones.”
    •    When priesthood holders today pronounce the sacrament prayers, they ask Heavenly Father to bless and sanctify the bread and the water “to the souls of all those” who partake. All. Each person who partakes—including each little child.

There simply isn’t enough detail in the story to know whether the sacrament was given to small children.  And to imply that the “all” in the sacrament prayer includes small children….again, I don’t see how you can draw that conclusion.

Given who strongly God condemns the baptizing of little children (Moroni 😎 and given that taking the sacrament is to help us repent and renew our baptismal covenants (neither of which applies to small children)…it would seem to me the best thing would be for little children not to partake of the sacrament, but rather emphasize to the adults our need for the sacrament so that we can repent and become pure and innocent again like little children.

Thoughts?  Has anyone ever found anything official from the church on this topic?  Should or should we not give the sacrament to children before they are baptized?

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32 minutes ago, Luke said:

I have searched many times for an answer to this question but never found any official church statements on this.  So I was excited when just this morning I came across an article on lds.org entitled “Little Children and The Sacrament.” (https://www.lds.org/liahona/2016/10/little-children-and-the-sacrament?lang=eng)…but was disappointed to find the article was more of an editorial by a member rather than an official statement or clarification by a church leader.  It didn’t even have any quotes from church leaders.

And the rational used in the article seemed like quite a stretch.  Here are some quotes from the article:
    •    Jesus commanded His disciples to “give [the sacrament] unto the multitude.”  That multitude included “little ones.”
    •    When priesthood holders today pronounce the sacrament prayers, they ask Heavenly Father to bless and sanctify the bread and the water “to the souls of all those” who partake. All. Each person who partakes—including each little child.

There simply isn’t enough detail in the story to know whether the sacrament was given to small children.  And to imply that the “all” in the sacrament prayer includes small children….again, I don’t see how you can draw that conclusion.

Given who strongly God condemns the baptizing of little children (Moroni 😎 and given that taking the sacrament is to help us repent and renew our baptismal covenants (neither of which applies to small children)…it would seem to me the best thing would be for little children not to partake of the sacrament, but rather emphasize to the adults our need for the sacrament so that we can repent and become pure and innocent again like little children.

Thoughts?  Has anyone ever found anything official from the church on this topic?  Should or should we not give the sacrament to children before they are baptized?

I encourage my little ones to take the sacrament. To sit reverently and think about Jesus during the silence. To show their support for the young priesthood. My daughters take one piece each and whisper thank you. It is a learning opportunity to ingrain in them the importance of the sacrament.  Do they need the cleansing power of the sacrament right now? Nope. But it also isn't going to hurt them.

Do I have to be commanded in all things? I try not to be but if it is brought up to me by my leaders then I guess I just adjust my family practices.

Hope this helps

Edited by Overwatch
*

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49 minutes ago, Luke said:

Thoughts?  Has anyone ever found anything official from the church on this topic?  Should or should we not give the sacrament to children before they are baptized?

I take D&C 83:4 to include spiritual things: "All children have claim upon their parents for their maintenance until they are of age." Parents are also to teach their children "the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old..." (D&C 68:25). So I think it is a parental decision that needs to be respected, as also what and how the parents teach their children. Personally I think encouraging (whatever that means -- let's say allowing and showing them) them to reverently partake is perfectly fine; it is certainly better than discouraging them!

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7 hours ago, Luke said:

Given how strongly God condemns the baptizing of little children and given that taking the sacrament is to help us repent and renew our baptismal covenants (neither of which applies to small children)

 

Given how clearly we are told of that condemnation, and how widespread the practice of having young children take the sacrament is, I believe if it were a problem, He would have His prophets let us know.

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Hi Luke,

I believe this question is a question every new parent will ask themselves (my personal opinion). One might look at this as a preparation to be baptized, habitual learning. Here is a quote from L. Tom Perry, "Parents, now is the time to teach our children to be examples of the believers by attending sacrament meeting. When Sunday morning arrives, help them to be well rested, properly dressed, and spiritually prepared to partake of the emblems of the sacrament and receive the enlightening, edifying, ennobling power of the Holy Ghost. Let your family be filled with love as you honor the Sabbath all day long and experience its spiritual blessings throughout the week. Invite your sons and daughters to “arise and shine forth” by keeping the Sabbath day holy, that “[their] light may be a standard for the nations." (Source)

Elder Eyring provides the following thought, "

Satan’s use of the mists of darkness to hide the path to return home is blocked. In those precious years the Lord helps families by calling Primary workers to help strengthen children spiritually. He also provides holders of the Aaronic Priesthood to offer the sacrament. In those sacramental prayers, the children hear the promise that they may someday receive the Holy Ghost as a guide if they are obedient to God’s commandments. As a result, they are fortified to resist temptation when it comes and then, sometime in the future, to go to the rescue of others. (Source)

These are some good sources, and you are left with principles by which you can govern yourself. As for me, I like having my children partake allowing them to think upon Christ.

 

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A valid question, but I wouldn't be too concerned about this. Remember Matthew 19:13-14:

"13 ¶ Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them.
 14 But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven."

While little children have no covenants to renew, God loves little children and I am positive He doesn't condemn them or their parents for participating in this ordinance. Especially when you consider his command in D&C 93:40:

"40 But I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth."

What better way to raise up your children in righteousness, then by explaining the purpose and meaning of the Sacrament, and encouraging them to participate?

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On 6/6/2018 at 6:02 AM, Luke said:

 

😎)…it would seem to me the best thing would be for little children not to partake of the sacrament, but rather emphasize to the adults our need for the sacrament so that we can repent and become pure and innocent again like little children.

 

Either you don't have children or as not as involved in coraling them during sacrament as you could be 😂 Other wise you would have noticed that children will SCREAM BLOODY MURDER if they don't get a crumb of bread. This taking away the Spirit (; So yes so think they should

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Hi,

I have been vexed by this question for some time.

The only scriptural references are in 3rd Nephi 18: 1-14 and D&C 20 : 68-71.

I have noted that although 3rd Nephi has been quoted, no one has got to the verses that state, if those who are baptised partake of the sacrament, they are built upon His rock.  If we do "more or less" than this, we are not built upon His rock and, ultimately, the jaws of hell are open to receive us!

Giving the sacrament to those who are not baptised is absolutely forbidden.

D&C 20: 68 states, the duty of members after they are received into the church by baptism:- The Elders or Priests are to expound the doctrines of the church PREVIOUS to their partaking of the sacrament.

Verse 71 says no one may be received into the church (i.e. baptised) until they have reached the age of accountability and are capable of repentence.

Giving the sacrament to those who are not baptised is absolutely forbidden.

I initially wrote to President (then Elder Nelson) in May 2017, having had a discussion with my Stake President, who informed me of a speech given by Elder Nelson in 2010 where he quoted

from Bruce R. McConkie's "Mormon Doctrine", stating that, though the sacrament is for members to renew their baptismal covenants, children should take it to prefigure the time when they actually are baptised. 

I am sure we do not practise ordinances before we actually perform them.

My Stake President then had a letter from the secretary to the First Presidency, asking him to meet with me.  I read the letter which mentioned Elder McConkie's opinion and also had a quote from "Handbook 2" stating that bishops should not prevent anyone (non-church member or child or whoever wanted to) from taking the sacrament.

It has often been stated that the sacrament is the most holy ordinance in the church.  We are commanded as to what we can eat and drink and must not deviate one word as to the blessing of the emblems of our Saviour's atonement, yet, without any scripural reference, we allow the sacrament to be given to those to whom it is absolutely forbidden.

We have witnessed the priesthood becoming universal, the lowering age for missionaries, the re-organising of the priesthood and the introduction of Ministering, all by prophetic announcement.

When and by whom was the revelation or proclamation or declaration made that annuled the Lord's specific commandment given in the scriptures?

We are just following some tradition which has no validity, yet no one in the General Leadership of the church is prepared to give a doctrinal answer as to why we are allowing ourselves to come under the condemnation of having the gates of hell open to receive us!

I would love to have an absolute answer so that I can stop thinking about this topic, which, it would seem, also troubles a lot of us.

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Welcome, @David Thompson!

FWIW: https://askgramps.org/wrong-partake-sacrament-baptized/

...which references: https://askgramps.org/wrong-partake-sacrament-baptized/

2 hours ago, David Thompson said:

It has often been stated that the sacrament is the most holy ordinance in the church.

Do you have a reference for this?  Given that it is not salvific, I'm not sure whether that statement is accurate (nor the context in which it may have been given).

2 hours ago, David Thompson said:

I read the letter which mentioned Elder McConkie's opinion and also had a quote from "Handbook 2" stating that bishops should not prevent anyone (non-church member or child or whoever wanted to) from taking the sacrament.

For the curious, HB2, from the end of 20.4.1:

Quote

Although the sacrament is for Church members, the bishopric should not announce that it will be passed to members only, and nothing should be done to prevent nonmembers from partaking of it.

The following is not intended to argue with you so much as to point out a logic issue.  D&C 20:68-74 speaks of new members and baptism.  You cite verse 68 (emphasis mine):

Quote

68 The duty of the members after they are received by baptism—The elders or priests are to have a sufficient time to expound all things concerning the church of Christ to their understanding, previous to their partaking of the sacrament and being confirmed by the laying on of the hands of the elders, so that all things may be done in order.

So, after baptism, but before partaking of the sacrament and being confirmed, elders or priests are to expound all relevant things to the new member's understanding.  Not a lot of detail there on what exactly is included in this expounding, but the purpose of the sacrament seems like a safe assumption (but it is an assumption).

You also cite verse 71, which gives a well-known and understood Church rule that children aren't baptized until 8 (or older):

Quote

71 No one can be received into the church of Christ unless he has arrived unto the years of accountability before God, and is capable of repentance.

You then draw a conclusion from these two facts that no one who has not yet been baptized (including little children) should partake of the sacrament.

I understand how you got there, but I'm not convinced the logic follows.  First, it says that between baptism and partaking of the sacrament for the first time after baptism, one should be instructed concerning the church of Christ.  Nothing is said (in these verses) about before baptism.  One can make assumptions and draw inference, but there's nothing explicit.  The only thing explicit is what should happen after baptism.

That said, no verse of scripture stands alone, nor should they be treated as if they do or can, thus, I see this as not conclusive either way.  Since I haven't done a thorough study and search for all scriptures regarding partaking of the sacrament to see if there's anything explicit (or more strongly implicit) regarding doing so before baptism, I am open to further understanding in either direction.  (If this question had direct impact for me, I would be motivated to dedicate time to it immediately, but it doesn't.)

2 hours ago, David Thompson said:

When and by whom was the revelation or proclamation or declaration made that annuled the Lord's specific commandment given in the scriptures?

Where is the explicit scriptural statement from the Lord that no one may partake of the sacrament prior to baptism?  If you think D&C 20 is it, see above -- I don't find that to be explicit.  I find the scriptures referenced by that AskGramps article to be much more explicit.  (That article pretty much parallels my thoughts on the topic at the moment.)

And we cannot simply dismiss prophetic understanding and guidance.  The idea that they don't know how the Lord wants the sacrament administered strikes me as incredible and potentially dangerous.

One final thing specific to little children partaking of the sacrament.  The scriptures make it perfectly clear that they cannot sin prior to the age of accountability.  Thus, even if little children should not partake of the sacrament, it is not a sin for them to do so (ETA: In other words, they are not sinning by doing so).  Obviously this logic doesn't hold for older converts.

(Yes, one could make a case that the adults who allow little children or non-members to partake are committing a sin, if one chose that interpretation.  Lots of variables in this logic would have to be explored - stewardship, keys, and authority all would have to come into play, along with logistics such as how said person(s) could ensure enforcement and be aware of violation.  I'm thinking that's a rabbit hole best left unexplored given the lack of explicit requirement to address such problems.)

Edited by zil

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On ‎6‎/‎6‎/‎2018 at 6:02 AM, Luke said:

....

Thoughts?  Has anyone ever found anything official from the church on this topic?  Should or should we not give the sacrament to children before they are baptized?

 

It is my impression that if it was important enough for an official declaration (one way or the other) that there would be several.  I use the term several because this is the economy of G-d -- to provide plural witness concerning things he is bringing about and plans to happen.

 

The Traveler

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Thank you all for your comments in relation to my observations.

I have not yet found a specific quote in relation to the sacrament's place in order of priority but am still searching.

I think the explicit references for which you may be looking are found in 3rd Nephi 18.

The Saviour declares that the one who will be given authority to administer the sacrament must only give the bread to those who "believe and are baptised", the wine, likewise, must only be given to those who "repent and are baptised".

If we do this, He says, we are built upon His rock.  If we do "more or less"than this (I am sure that giving the sacrament to those who are not baptised is doing more) we are not built upon His rock and "the gates of hell" are open to receive us.

The Atonement is the central doctrine of the church and is celebrated by the sacrament.  The commandments in relation to its administration are absolute so I think the Saviour's command regarding eligibility would also be paramount.

All I am seeking is an explanation as to when and by whom the traditon of giving the sacrament to anyone who wants it was started.

Regards,

David

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HI,

To continue the discussion about sacrament eligibility.

I stated that the sacrament is regarded as the most holy ordinance in the church but without any authoritative evidence.

In "Teachings of Presidents of the Church- David O. McKay" page 34, third paragraph up, it states "No more sacred ordinance is administered in the Church of Christ than the administration of the sacrament."

I think that should suffice to endorse my statement.

I found this quote having looked through all the "President" manuals but not one of them has a word regarding eligibility.  I think that is strange.

Any thoughts?

David Thompson

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5 hours ago, Sunday21 said:

We have prophets so it is not always necessary to have scriptural references for everything. 

Don’t you just love that? :)

Edited by Fether

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I would just like to mention something to parents shepherding many small children during sacrament. If someone offers to take one or more of your children during the meeting, this does not imply that your children are annoying or otherwise offensive. We are just bored or tired and trying to stay awake!

Edited by Sunday21

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The fact that we have prophets is the reason for my observations.

I cannot find any proclamation from any of the prophets, that annuls the Saviour's direct commandment in 3rd Nephi 18, stating that the sacrament must only be given to those who believe, repent and are baptised.

I appreciate the fundamental change that would be required to reverse the current practise but it seems this has grown out of tradition rather than revelation.

"By My own voice or the voice of My servants, it is the same".  I just wish there was something from the servants that would resolve this issue, which has a number of us confused.

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‘Cannot find any proclamation from any of the prophets, that annuls the Saviour's direct commandment in 3rd Nephi 18, stating that the sacrament must only be given to those who believe, repent and are baptized.’

@David Thompson I remember reading an account of one of the quorum of the 12 being interviewed by a reporter. The reporter asked ‘When did you last receive revelation from God?’ The apostle replied ‘Last Thursday’. 

The prophet receives ongoing revelation. If the Lord disagreed with a common practice, He would let us know.

Why not follow Bro Utchdorf on Facebook? 

 

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Thanks to all for the incisive responses in the quest to resolve this(to many of us) perplexing issue.

As an observation, I am wondering what you consider to be the definition of a commandment?

It is, surely, an instruction which, if we obey, we gain a blessing and, if we transgress, there is a penalty.

We are not permitted to add our own caviat, to make it more acceptable e.g Thou shalt not steal (unless it is something you really like) or Thou shalt not commit adultary ( unless you find someone really attractive).

So, with reference to the commandment that the sacrament is only for those who have been baptised:-

3rd Nephi :12 states "And I give unto you a commandment that ye shall do these things. And if ye shall always do these things blessed are ye, for ye are built upon my rock." (My emphisis) Here we have the commandment, the period for which it is to be in effect, and the attendant blessing.

Verse 13 states, "But whoso among you shall do more or less than these are not built upon my rock, but are built upon a sandy foundation; and when the rain descends, and the floods come , and the winds blow, and beat upon them, they shall fall, and the gates of hell are ready open to receive them."

This is the transgression of not keeping the commandment with its  attendant consequence. Apart from D&C 20:68-71, there are, to my knowledge, no other scriptures or doctrines that deal with eligibility.

We are not given leave change the Saviour's  commandment to :- The sacrament is only for those who are baptised (unless you have children who haven't reached the age of accountability or you bring an investigator).

Does anyone know how to bring this discussion to the attention of those who are in authority, so that we can have a difinitive answer?

I await your comments and thank you for the trouble you are taking to help me.

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7 minutes ago, David Thompson said:

Does anyone know how to bring this discussion to the attention of those who are in authority, so that we can have a difinitive answer?

I think if you were to dive into the gospel library looking for more understanding on this topic, you would find that the general authorities of the church have already spoken heavily on his.

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On ‎6‎/‎20‎/‎2018 at 6:44 AM, David Thompson said:

Hi,

I have been vexed by this question for some time.

The only scriptural references are in 3rd Nephi 18: 1-14 and D&C 20 : 68-71.

I have noted that although 3rd Nephi has been quoted, no one has got to the verses that state, if those who are baptised partake of the sacrament, they are built upon His rock.  If we do "more or less" than this, we are not built upon His rock and, ultimately, the jaws of hell are open to receive us!

Giving the sacrament to those who are not baptised is absolutely forbidden.

D&C 20: 68 states, the duty of members after they are received into the church by baptism:- The Elders or Priests are to expound the doctrines of the church PREVIOUS to their partaking of the sacrament.

Verse 71 says no one may be received into the church (i.e. baptised) until they have reached the age of accountability and are capable of repentence.

Giving the sacrament to those who are not baptised is absolutely forbidden.

 

What you state is absolutely correct.  The order of ordinances go FIRST...Baptism.  Second the Gift of the Holy Ghost.

Sacrament comes AFTER those ordinances. 

Theologically, little children should not take the sacrament. 

So...why do we have little children take the Sacrament?

You have the answer already from a CULTURAL VIEWPOINT (and yes, it is MORE cultural then doctrinal, doctrinally, the children should not partake of it as they should be baptized first).

Quote

from Bruce R. McConkie's "Mormon Doctrine", stating that, though the sacrament is for members to renew their baptismal covenants, children should take it to prefigure the time when they actually are baptised. 

I am sure we do not practise ordinances before we actually perform them.

It is thus why many in the church do so.

It is to get children in the habit of taking the sacrament and finding the reason to do so.

Little children, being redeemed by the atonement, have no need to partake of the sacrament in the first place in and of themselves.

However, because of this same effect, they are also under NO CONDEMNATION for partaking of the sacrament either.  In fact, as they are made perfect already, they can in no wise be held accountable or guilty for partaking of the sacrament.

Hence, having them partake as they learn the ordinance is of not particular harm to them.

On the other hand, one (an adult) who knowingly partakes of it when they know they are not supposed to may have other consequences.

For little children it is for them to get into the habit (which they do) and to prepare them for what is to come and the workings of the ordinance itself.  However, for some children it may be better for them not to partake and look forward to the day that they can.  Unfortunately, due to the nature of Mormon culture in many areas, this may be more of a hindrance to their spiritual increase rather than an aid as other children can be cruel if they notice this.

It is up to each parent to decide what is the best route for their children to take.  Neither is the wrong way, as children are clean as per the words of our Lord and the scriptures in the Book of Mormon in how they inform us.

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On 6/29/2018 at 6:10 PM, Sunday21 said:

 

The prophet receives ongoing revelation. If the Lord disagreed with a common practice, He would let us know.

Agreed, but sometimes it takes decades before it is cleared up.  Think about our cultural acceptance of title "Mormon" to refer to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint and the recent revelation from Pres. Nelson.  

I also agree that since little children can't sin, it is not a sin for them to take the sacrament.  But perhaps it is a sin for the parents to encourage them to take the sacrament....but I honestly don't know the answer.  I do think that the scriptures and church doctrine seem to align more with the idea that all non-members (including little children) should refrain from taking the sacrament.

Also, I think that teaching little children to wait until after baptism helps to create more respect for both ordinances and more anticipation for their baptism.

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1 hour ago, Luke said:

Agreed, but sometimes it takes decades before it is cleared up.  Think about our cultural acceptance of title "Mormon" to refer to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint and the recent revelation from Pres. Nelson. 

I think there is a difference between the acceptance of the use of a nickname by people who are not of our faith (something that we have little control over) vs. something we do as a practice completely in-house.

And BTW, Nelson was not the first prophet to weigh in on this issue.  Many have commented on it.  We just didn't pay attention.

Edited by Guest

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On 10/29/2018 at 6:23 AM, Carborendum said:

I think there is a difference between the acceptance of the use of a nickname by people who are not of our faith (something that we have little control over) vs. something we do as a practice completely in-house.

And BTW, Nelson was not the first prophet to weigh in on this issue.  Many have commented on it.  We just didn't pay attention.

Church changes policy all the time.  A few examples:

  • The temple ordinance wording has changed. 
  • At one time blacks could not receive the priesthood, now they can. 
  • At one time polygamy was allowed, now it is not.

These were all significant changes.  So, I think it is entirely possible that at some future date the church clarifies (or reminds) that sacrament is only intended for baptized members.  

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57 minutes ago, Luke said:

Church changes policy all the time.  A few examples:

  • The temple ordinance wording has changed. 
  • At one time blacks could not receive the priesthood, now they can. 
  • At one time polygamy was allowed, now it is not.

These were all significant changes.  So, I think it is entirely possible that at some future date the church clarifies (or reminds) that sacrament is only intended for baptized members.  

I think you missed the point of my post.  Let's review.

  • Sunday had stated that such a thing would have been corrected by now if it were really wrong.
  • Your response was that the "change" in the use of the appellation "Mormon" took a LONG time to change.  Therefore, by comparison, the change for children taking the sacrament may as well.
  • I indicated that those two points in particular are not good comparisons because of the factors I mentioned (not apples to apples).
  • You have now rebutted that the Church changes policy all the time.

That rebuttal did not follow the point I made.  I was stating the initial comparison you made was not a reasonable one (apples and oranges).  I said nothing about changes in Church policy being unheard of.  Just look at the last year, duh.  And I never denied that the policy about children taking the sacrament would never change.  I personally don't feel it matters enough to change - even if it should be.  But, sure, I could be wrong.

NOW.  To address the three points you made.

Temple Ordinances: This is a better comparison than the "Mormon" thing.  So, it does help your argument.  Fun fact: We do not know the initial wording of the temple ceremony as revealed to Joseph Smith because it was never written until many years later.  So, because of the likelihood of oral history being flawed as it is, we don't know what the inspired wording was.  So, each change has occurred by decisions by the brethren about what is doctrinal and what is not.  And it will probably undergo many more changes as time progresses.  We can argue whether such decisions are inspired or not.  But what we can know is that whatever changes are allowed (and continue) will be acceptable to the Lord, or he will correct it.  And that is the point that Sunday made (which I agree with).

Priesthood ban: Because the Lord provided revelation to both begin and end it.  -- Not helping your point.

Polygamy: Because the Lord provided revelation to both begin and end it.  -- Not helping your point.

My logic is thus:

  • We begin with the promise that the Lord has stated that he will never allow the Prophet to lead us astray. 
  • I interpret this to mean that the Prophet may be wrong about this or that.  But whatever he reveals that has the potential to lead us away from the Lord will be corrected.
  • Anything else that is "incorrect" that doesn't have the potential to lead us astray is usually acceptable before the Lord.  He can't handhold us every single step of the way.  He's going to let us do somethings that aren't exactly relevant or worth wasting his breath on.
  • I therefore conclude that having children take the sacrament is really up to the individual families to decide.  It really doesn't matter much.
  • If I'm wrong, I'm sure the Lord will correct me -- either through personal revelation or a change in Church policy.  Until either of those happens, I'll make the decision that is best for my family.

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