Tag Archives: Priesthood

All in Favor

I grew up in the Anglican Church. I was christened shortly after I was born. My parents took me to church most Sundays. I attended Sunday School. I was confirmed as a teenager. I went to church camp. I found comfort in the rituals and prayers and hymns, in the time spent with family and friends.

And when I was nineteen, I left the church.

I did not rant against the church.

I did not rail against the church.

I did not make church events uncomfortable for other members.

I did not disrupt church proceedings.

I did not encourage others to leave the church.

I simply discovered, after a lengthy conversation with my minister, that I did not believe one of the tenets of the Anglican faith.

And so I left.

There was no fanfare.

There was no press release.

There were no media outlets waiting to report the breaking news.

Given my experiences with my former church and the experiences of the many converts that I have talked to about this, I do not understand why people who do not believe Latter-Day Saint doctrine remain members of the church.

Given my experiences, I find it disturbing that when a few members of the church decide that they are unhappy with one or two or a dozen points of doctrine, that they publicly rant and rail against it.

Given my experiences, I find it selfish and disrespectful when they decide to make church events uncomfortable for others by conspiring to disrupt church proceedings.

Given my experiences, I find it heartbreaking when they encourage others to do the same through the use of formal and informal media campaigns.

Each April and October, the general church membership is asked to sustain the leaders of the church, from the very top global level to the lowliest unit members. This means that “we stand behind them, pray for them, accept assignments and callings from them, obey their counsel, and refrain from criticizing them.”

When members are asked to refrain from disrupting conference proceedings, but do it anyway…

When members are asked to stop encouraging dissent or teaching false doctrine through public means and refuse…

When members organize demonstrations so as to disrupt a worldwide meeting for millions of people…

They are not sustaining church leadership.

That said, sustaining our leadership does not mean that one has to agree with everything they say or everything they do. There are protocols for airing one’s questions and concerns. Sustaining our leadership does not mean that one has to agree with every point of doctrine. There are protocols for seeking answers and clarification on these matters. Sustaining our leaders does not mean that we blindly follow. Indeed, we are taught to frequently seek personal revelation through study and prayer.

Sustaining our church leaders means more than praying and accepting and obeying. In the October 1946 General Conference, George Albert Smith said, “I hope that you will realize, all of you, that this is a sacred privilege. … It will not be just a symbol but it will be an indication that, with the help of the Lord, you will carry your part of the work.”

While this refers to the engagement in and completion of the work that one is asked to do by church leaders in accepting assignments and callings, it also refers to the way in which one conducts oneself as a member. Sustaining our leaders is not just a privilege – it is a sacred privilege, performed with a godly character, that is not common or profane. It is this part of the sustaining process that has led to several changes in recent years.

When women wanted changes in programs for girls, young women and adult sisters, they wrote letters, talked to church leaders, expressed their concerns. The General Women’s Meeting was born out of this process, and the women’s meeting was officially recognized as part of General Conference, just as the Priesthood Session has been. It also resulted in other changes for the women’s auxiliaries in the church.

When homosexual members sought answers to their questions about their place in the church and in church society, a website was created to answer their questions, and the church was instrumental in working towards anti-discrimination laws in Utah.

When members wanted more transparency regarding church history, a series of historical essays was commissioned to give a fuller, broader understanding of these events.

These are just three examples. There are likely dozens more, including the church’s use of technology, access to family history records, and changes to the missionary age. One can publicly sustain church leaders and still disagree with aspects of the church.

It took me six years of learning about the church before I became a member. And as a member, I have sometimes had questions and concerns with church doctrine, church leaders, church history. But by following the protocols, I have been able to have my concerns addressed.

Which is why when the leaders of the church ask for a sustaining vote, I raise my arm with millions of other members and declare “All in Favor”.

And I pray that those who are opposed can find a way to sustain them, too.

Mad Healz

I am a denizen of Middle Earth. What I mean is, I love playing LOTRO, the massively multi-player online role-playing game set in J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy world of Middle Earth. My main character is Bellanoria Bontael, an Elven Champion who is the consummate warrior, unrelenting in battle, excelling at melee combat, able to absorb punishment with her heavy armour.

Or that’s what I am supposed to do, at least. Don’t get me wrong – I love Bella. Super, strong, swinging a sword…. but I do not spend all my time constantly worrying about my next armour upgrade or new weapon capabilities. Though I love playing this character, I am a mediocre champ at best. Truth be told, while I love my champ, I love my Rune-keeper even more.

I did not think I would like being a Rune-keeper. Rune-keepers are one of the two most sought after classes of character, along with Minstrels. They are healing classes, and every good battle needs good healers. The problem is…good healers are hard to come by. As I found out very quickly, I was not a good minstrel, not at all. As in…everyone died. Very quickly. No slow and painful deaths for *my* LOTRO friends! No-sir-ree! wham! bang! dead.

But, I am an awesome Rune-keeper. In Middle Earth slang, I have mad healz, man, mad healz. Whether I am fighting and healing at the same time, or just healing because there are so many heavy tanks whomping everything in sight, I rock at healz.

You know who else rocks at healz? Our priesthood.

Yes, you heard me correctly. Our priesthood, when held by worthy men with proper authority, also has the ability to heal when coupled with true faith in the Lord Jesus Christ on the part of the recipient. I am living proof of the truth of this claim.

In 2001 I was a new member of my church. I also developed severe kidney stones. After meeting with a urologist, it was determined that the stone was too large to pass naturally or to undergo lithotripsy, which at the time meant being immersed in a vat of water as sound waves pummel one’s kidneys until one’s entire back and sides – inside and out – are black and blue. It’s basically the equivalent of being kicked in the kidneys three thousand times. I was devastated as I learned that the only option was surgery. A friend suggested that I ask for a priesthood blessing, which I promptly did. However, my thoughts were , “Yeah, right. Like this is gonna work.” And guess what? Nothing happened, except for getting a phone call from the urologist to come for a pre-operative x-ray in two days as the procedure was going to be performed in three days. The x-ray showed that this huge boulder that was lodged in my kidney hadn’t gone anywhere.

That evening I felt prompted to ask for another priesthood blessing, and so I called the missionaries and my ecclesiastical leader to come over to my house again. This time I was more sincere and fervently prayed that I would not have to have surgery. During the blessing, Bro S said, “We pray that the necessary things will happen so that this too shall pass.” As he said those words, I felt a sharp pain shoot from the top of my head all the way to my toes. As soon as the blessing was over, I ran to the washroom, and quickly and effortlessly and, most importantly, painlessly, passed numerous shards of stone.

The next day, surgery day, I went to the place where the procedure was to be performed. I told the urologist that I didn’t think I needed the surgery anymore. He told me that was highly unlikely and sent me for more x-rays. About an hour later, the x-rays were repeated. And about a half hour after that, he called me into his office, where, with a strange look on his face, he told me that he had never seen anything like this, that in all of his years of practice he had never seen anyone pass a stone as large as mine was.

Fast forward to this year. I was walking my three dogs in the wee hours of a wet and windy Wednesday morning. As usual, I was holding the two little dogs in my right hand and the big 100 pounder in the left. He is so strong that I have to use a harness, much like a horse’s halter, when I walk him. We were approaching the main street of the town where we live, when a passing police car turned on its sirens. All of the dogs were frightened by the sudden sound and lights directly in front of us. The two little dogs ran one way, and the big guy lunged the other way. I heard a popping sound as he did so, but managed to make it back home.

With my arm still throbbing a couple of hours later, I went to see my doctor.  My swollen upper arm was already black and blue. Turned out that I had sprained my bicep, and was told that it would take about six weeks to heal properly, and that I shouldn’t do anything strenuous at all and try to use my arm as little as possible, and to come back to see her in two days. I burst into tears – I had just spent six weeks recovering from a trip in the sidewalk where I had ended up in a wheelchair, and was not looking forward to yet another lengthy recovery period. So, I asked for a blessing that evening.

Two days later I returned to the doctor, who looked at my arm. “Oh,” she said. “I guess I wrote down the wrong arm,” as she examined my left arm. “Nope,” I replied, “You’re looking at the right arm.” “But there’s no bruise!” “Nope.” “I don’t understand,” she said. But I did. The bruise was gone. The swelling was gone. The pain was gone. By Sunday morning I had full range of movement again.

There was only explanation: mad healz.

To learn more about this essential component of my faith, I invite you to read this article.

The Kind of Guy My Husband Is

Shortly before I left Pennsylvania my husband and I were working on a project late one evening. We had come to a part that I could do on my own, and he declared that he thought he should lie down for awhile, not to go to bed but just to rest. An hour or so later, I woke him so that he could complete his portion of the project.

By the time he had finished, he was exhausted. I commented that he looked very tired and that he should go to bed. He was reluctant to do so – there were so many things he could be doing. I replied that he was obviously tired and needed to rest. He began to state that he didn’t know why he was so tired when a light of sudden realization came to him – he had given a blessing that day. “Actually, two blessings,” I smiled. He pondered that for a moment, having forgotten momentarily about the blessing he had given me that morning before my last medical procedure, before commenting that he always felt drained after giving a blessing, so two blessings had literally wiped him out.

You see, that’s the kind of guy my husband is.

He’s the kind of guy that shows up at work to find a member of his previous ward waiting patiently outside his office, hoping that my husband would consent to give him a blessing. There are dozens of other men this brother could have called upon for a blessing, several of whom who would have gone to his house if given a phone call, causing little disruption to his day. Instead, he chose to sit outside my husband’s office and wait just in case he showed up. Why? Because he knew from personal experience that my husband takes his priesthood responsibilities seriously.

You see, that’s the kind of guy my husband is.

He’s the kind of guy who for seventeen years stayed in a marriage where his wife told him outright that she did not love him and under no circumstances wanted any more children. He stayed in that marriage until counselled by those in authority that this was an untenable situation. Even then, he left that ultimate decision up to her. Then, in an effort to ensure that his ex-wife had every opportunity to get her life together and be able to provide for her and their daughter, not only paid off her credit card balance of thousands of dollars but paid 111% more child support than he should have over a two year period. That’s right – 111% more than he should have. In other words, more than double. He even paid a little extra every month because the leaders of our church have encouraged fathers to be generous with child support payments. It was only when he became responsible for a new family that he sought to change these obligations. Why? Because it was in his daughter’s best interest that her mother be afforded every opportunity to find work, get her life together and learn to be a good mother to their daughter, and because he took very seriously the sacred covenants he had made with her and with Heavenly Father when they knelt across the altar in the holy temple.

You see, that’s the kind of guy my husband is.

He’s the kind of guy who worries that he will not be able to be much of a father figure for his new eighteen year old step-daughter. He knows that her experiences of fatherhood both in and out of the church have been less than ideal. He knows that he cannot undo years of hurt and disappointment by others. He knows that now that she is an adult there will be few opportunities for her to experience a loving Latter-day Saint home with parents who work together to support each other and raise their children in righteousness. But he does what he can, inviting her for family prayer and family scripture study, calling her just to chat about things the two of them have in common, sending her interesting news tidbits via email. Why? Because he doesn’t want that branch of our family line to dwindle in unbelief, and he knows how much it means to me that he does these things.

You see, that’s the kind of guy my husband is.

He’s the kind of guy who even before our marriage started showing how much he cares for me by staying with me in the hospital most of the day before our wedding, who immediately added me to his health care benefits as soon as we were married, who made arrangements for me to see doctors this summer and have treatments that would have taken months and months to have performed at home. Even when medication and pain turned me into an ogre he was right there next to me, tending to my every need, and doing little things to cheer me up. Were there rough patches in those first two months? Of course. But he stood by me and stuck with me. Why? Because husbands take care of their wives no matter what.

You see, that’s the kind of guy my husband is.

He’s the kind of guy who takes his spirituality very seriously. So, having decided at age sixteen that he wanted to join our church he respected his parents’ wishes that he wait a little while before doing so, but continued to attend and learn and study. Once baptized, he served a mission where he was made a zone leader because of his abilities. And then, about ten years ago, was appointed president of a small branch overseas where his leadership resulted in a six hundred and fifty percent increase in members. Why? Because once he takes responsibility for something, he sticks with it until he has done the very best he can to fulfil his responsibilities pleasingly and faithfully.

You see, that’s the kind of guy my husband is.

He’s the kind of guy who goes all out in everything he does. It wasn’t enough to write a normal term paper like everyone else in university – he had to write a one hundred fifty page paper on an undeciphered script, which eventually became a major thesis paper that, over the past twenty years or so, has led to major developments in discovering the secrets of this forgotten language. It wasn’t enough to have an intense interest in economics and politics and history – he had to become a writer for a magazine that has published over one hundred eighty of his articles. It wasn’t enough to have a passing interest in beetles – he and his best friend decided to pool their respective collections to form a lending library of the over thirty thousand specimens that the two of them have collected over the years from around the world. Why? Because he knows that the glory of God is intelligence, and the best way to improve one’s intellectual ability is to share it with others.

You see, that’s the kind of guy my husband is.

He’s the kind of guy who seeks not after recognition, preferring instead to be a slightly eccentric nobody. You won’t find his name on many of the articles he has written. You won’t find his name on a fantasy trilogy that he worked on for five years. You won’t find him doing book signings for the non-fiction books he has written. Why? Because he doesn’t want any of the immoral trappings that often come with fame and fortune.

You see, that’s the kind of guy my husband is.

He’s the kind of guy who, having learned just how dysfunctional my previous relationships have been, told me that he thought I had never truly been honoured as a daughter of God, and wanted to be different from every other guy. Hence, while we did hold hands and give quick hugs before we were married, our first kiss was during out wedding ceremony in my parents’ backyard, with our children and parents and other loved ones watching. What a wonderful gift we were able to give our children in a world that worships immorality –the knowledge that our love was pure and chaste until we were husband and wife. Why? Because he knew that no one else in my life has treated me with such respect.

You see, that’s the kind of guy my husband is.

He’s the kind of guy who in his wedding vows promised to uphold his sacred duties as the priesthood holder in our home by presiding over our family in love and righteousness, providing the necessities of life, and protecting our family. He takes these responsibilities very seriously, always trying to better himself, giving me his encouragement in everything I do, working hard to provide for his daughter and for our future, going without so that his loved ones lack for nothing, and taking martial arts. Why? Because for him there is nothing more important than ensuring his family is well-cared for and safe.

Because of the kind of guy my husband is, I had no qualms whatsoever taking him as my lawful wedded husband after a brief courtship, to have and to hold from that day forward as one who honours his priesthood and carries out his responsibilities pleasingly and faithfully. Because of the kind of guy my husband is, I trust him with all my heart and with all my mind. I look forward to the day when we can be sealed together for time and for all eternity in the holy temple. I know he longs for that day to come, too.

You see, that’s the kind of guy my husband is. And I love him for it.