Monday Mid-day Theological Question: Priesthood efficacy edition

If a priesthood holder is unworthy, does that affect the efficacy of an ordinance he performs?

Please state your reasons for your answers below.

Comments

  1. Based on the voting so far(8 no’s, no yes’s), why not?

  2. Benjamin O says:

    Poll options insufficient for question asked, but since I’m firmly in the camp of ‘not necessarily’, I have to say ‘no’, but that’s not entirely accurate.

    Look, I’ll not disagree that it CAN affect the efficacy of an ordinance performed, because it certainly CAN, but I think the worthiness of the priesthood holder can easily be overridden by the faith of the person receiving the ordinance. Easily.

    Now there are cases where the person receiving the ordinance is incapable of exercising faith on their own, or where their faith is irrelevant, or where no other person is involved, in which case, the answer is likely Yes.

    I’d also further argue that it’s a simplistic view of ordinances and priesthood power that completely misses the point. After all priesthood ordinances and blessings are, just like prayer, not to change, reorder or even undo, the will of God, but to enact the will of God and in many cases make it known to man. The question then becomes one of whether or not the unworthy bearer of the priesthood will be able to fully understand the blessings that are available to the receiver of a blessing or ordinance at the time it is performed or given. I would argue that he is not, but that the worthy receiver who has faith may still be able to access those blessings despite this.

    Even if the answer is no, I’d argue that performing the ordinances while unworthy is a bad idea, since it makes it difficult to understand the blessings and will of God and one may stand in the way of additional blessings for a person, which could be considered a further sin. Best to ask forgiveness and repent early (and often). That’s my feeling.

  3. I should note that the yes/no thing was a deliberate choice; there were originally more options but they were chucked in the hopes that dissatisfied commenters would feel a need to comment more.

  4. I’m going to define ordinances as the set of all activities that involve a prayer invoking the Priesthood.

    There is a clearly a spectrum of efficacy. For example, the apostles couldn’t cast out the evil spirits from the man outside the gates of the temple (or city?) because they hadn’t prayed and fasted.

    Additionally, if one requires the Spirit to receive revelation and revelation is required to give an effective blessing, that blessing isn’t going to be effective.

    Finally, why are bishops required to check recommends of priesthood holders before they perform an ordinance if they aren’t ward members? To ensure worthiness and efficacy of the ordinance.

    On the other hand, I remember an Ensign article where a bishop told one of his members to give his son a blessing, even though the dad was an alcoholic.

    So, the question becomes, what’s the definition of unworthy?

  5. Benjamin O says:

    Gee thanks…but I almost didn’t vote at all because of it!

  6. In salvation ordinances such as baptism and temple ordinances, the worthiness of the priesthood holder seems irrelevant to the efficacy of the ordinance.

    In other ordinances, a priesthood holder’s worthiness could affect his faith and the faith of those participating, and his ability to be prompted by the Holy Ghost, so it could make a difference to the efficacy of the ordinance.

  7. Let’s separate a blessing into two parts: the annointing and the sealing of the annointing. If the priesthood holder doing the annointing is unworthy but the second one is, is there an impact?

  8. I voted “yes” because it seems futile to say it doesn’t matter. We might as well ask, “If the person performing the ordinance has _no_ input, why bother at all?”

    Of course, I can’t say what kind of input there might be.

    And yeah, I’m thinking more about blessings for the sick than about, say, the sacrament prayers.

  9. John Hamer says:

    This is one of those ideas that seems nice on the surface, but proves impossible in practice. The problem is that baptism and ordination are priesthood ordinances. Let’s say the man who baptized you was perfectly worthy, but the man who had ordained him to the priesthood was (unknown to everyone else) unworthy. If the ordinance is not efficacious, the man who baptized you is not actually a priesthood holder, and you are not actually a member. Multiply this uncertainty across all the chains of baptisms and ordinations in the church, and you’d soon have a situation where you would have no idea who was truly a member and who truly could perform ordinances. This heresy, known as Donatism in the church in late antiquity, leads to total confusion.

  10. Nope,

    Simple operational reasons. There would be lots of techinically unbaptized/unordained people and no way to tell who was who if this is the standard.

    I would suspect that a signifigant % of the time when priests bless the Sac they are to a degree unworthy. Less so for Elders and HP with other ordinances.

  11. Maybe. ..bruce..

  12. Benjamin O says:

    M (#4), That’s exactly why I muddled around a bit in my post (#2).

    Okay, if we take the broad definition of ordinances that you use we encompass things like blessing the sacrament, baptism, all the way to healing the sick, giving father’s blessings, blessings of comfort, etc.

    All along the spectrum I think there are areas where personal worthiness makes a larger difference than others. For instance, while I think that it’s a bad idea to bless the sacrament if a kid has been out the night before drinking, I seriously doubt that it would invalidate the ordinance for an entire congregation. So that’s a case where I would say ‘no’. Okay, so what about baptism? That’s tricky, but that could be seen either way, and frankly if someone found out that the person who baptized them had been in the middle of an adulterous affair at that time, and wanted to be re-baptized because they were concerned that their baptism might not be valid, I’d guess that the church would assure them that they didn’t need to worry about it (but maybe if pressed it would be allowed to happen–I don’t know!). But I doubt the church would REQUIRE the re-baptism! So there’s another (probable) check in the ‘no’ box.

    But blessings…well, let’s see. As I said previously, I think that yes it requires revelation, and that requires the spirit. So generally it would require the man to be worthy. But if the person receiving the blessing had faith that the blessing was going to be effective, perhaps the Lord’s intended blessings would come through into the receiver’s heart despite the unworthiness of the blesser. Or not–I’m really not certain. Again this is all very murky territory!

    Finally, in the instance where revelation is required but no recipient is present–say the dedication of a temple, the casting out of a devil, the dedication of a home, grave, or other site, or similar ordinance–I’d argue that personal worthiness is of great importance, and cannot be set aside.

    Then again, the question of what it mean’s to be unworthy does spring to mind. Consider this: http://scriptures.lds.org/en/ezek/18 (Especially verses 18+), which I essentially interpret as saying that the righteous are those who are repenting, while the wicked are those who stop repenting–it’s a very distilled interpretation, but that’s just my take on it). If you take that definition, then worthiness is no longer defined by behavior on a specific day, but behavioral trends and patterns over time coupled with cognitive patterns. That is–your behavior plus your intentions to do better are what make you righteous. If you don’t have the intentions to do better and your behavioral pattern over time isn’t supportive of that intention, then it becomes harder to say that you are righteous. Intentional improvement–however incremental, is the metric I would use to define worthiness and righteousness.

  13. define unworthy. Lacking faith? Sinful? Prideful? short temper? reactive? manipulative? Many adn diverse are the sins of man.

  14. It doesn’t impact the efficacy of the ordinance, but it sure impacts the degree to which he (the unworthy ordinance-doer) is damning himself to hell.

  15. Depends on what type of ordinance. Baptism, the Lord’s Supper or Temple rituals require mechanics and have a fixed liturgy. The priesthood holder is authorized by the Church to participate and, from a legal perspective, until his authority is removed by the Church, the ordinances are valid.

    Now, there rituals where the liturgy is not set and the administrant is required to receive a gift of the spirit, either prophecy, revelation or healing. In such a case, if the person is in sin and does not have the gifts of the spirit, the words pronounced in the healing or patriarchal or other blessing is neither valid nor efficacious.

  16. Latter-day Guy says:

    Hmmm. I would say, generally, no—particulary where it concerns ordinances of salvation.

    On the other hand, if it is a blessing in which divine counsel is to be given, I think unworthiness would affect the PH holder’s ability to receive inspiration, thus lessening the efficacy of the words of counsel or promise therein.

    Though, I suppose God can do what he wants, and worthiness is not a binary attribute; perhaps there are more shades of grey (read: mercy) than we are usually comfortable admitting.

  17. John Mansfield says:

    From February 20, 1834 (History of the Church, vol II):

    Minutes of the High Council

    The president opened the Council by prayer.

    At a church meeting, held in Pennsylvania, Erie county, and Springfield township, by Orson Pratt and Lyman E. Johnson, High Priests, some of the members of that church refused to partake of the Sacrament because the Elder administering it did not observe the Word of Wisdom to obey it. Elder Johnson argued that they were justified in so doing, because the Elder was in transgression. Elder Pratt argued that the church was bound to receive the Supper under the administration of an Elder, so long as he retained his office or license. Voted that six Councilors should speak upon the subject.

  18. molly bennion says:

    So I’d better interrogate any PH before requesting a blessing of him? Hope he tells the truth. Otherwise God will withhold the blessing from me, however believing and faithful I may be? Does the injustice of that scenario bother anyone else? Surely the Spirit sees the faith of the seeker as far, far more important than that of the medium. With a little more thought, I might agree the worthiness of the PH could help but I would never agree it could hurt.

  19. molly, I believe that someone seeking a healing blessing could indeed be healed according to their faith in spite the administrators unworthiness. Still, I don’t see how the words of the blessing could be valid.

  20. If it has no effect, how do you reconcile D&C 121?

  21. Mark Brown says:

    J.,

    What if a stake patriarch were found to have been having an adulterous affair over a period of years. Do you think the church would require that the people that he blessed during that time would need to seek new blessings? I’m just trying to think this through.

  22. D&C 121:34-37

    34 Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen?
    35 Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson—
    36 That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.
    37 That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens ewithdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.

  23. The bishop that sent me on my mission was having an affair for years before abandoning his wife and children. One of the guys that regularly blessed the sacrament, and later baptized his little sister admitted he had been sleeping with girls since he was 14. An Elder on my mission was sneaking out at night to hook up with a local member’s daughter.

    There are too many ordinances that are not valid if their validity is based on the righteousness of the priesthood holder. If someone that believes I’m worthy asks me for a blessing, and has nobody else to turn to, would God really deny them blessings because they don’t know of my sin?

  24. Mark (21) I doubt that they would, though I do know of cases where blessing were reissued. Even if they didn’t, I’d be not particularly surprised that the blessings weren’t all that inspired.

  25. As others have said, the logical implications of “amen to the priesthood of that man” are too absurd to contemplate. Does God really care more about whether a single word is misplaced in the Sacrament prayer than if the priest has been fornicating the night before? Because He has certainly set in place a system to detect the former but not the latter.

    Of course, this could also lead to questions regarding our claims of apostasy, authority, ordinances, and priesthood power to begin with, so maybe it’s best not to think about these things…

  26. I think, as others have pointed out above, this question is more about priesthood blessings than say a baptism or sacrament blessing. For me to heal someone via a priesthood blessing, my faith is required. This is not neccesarily the case when I bless the sacrament.

  27. What if the “unworthiness” is he never really held the Priesthood, he lied.
    Is the recipient’s baptism still good?

  28. Adam Greenwood says:

    I hold that a sinful priest can perform ordinances that are still formally valid, but the amount of spiritual transformation wrought by the ordinance or experienced by the recipients of the ordinance can be affected by the faith or worthiness of the performer.

  29. I know of one case on my mission that deals with this issue. We had a missionary that had given blessings etc. in the first month or so of his mission, when his companion noticed that he wasn’t wearing garments. Turns out, this missionary had not been to the temple. On top of that, it turns out that he had never been ordained an Elder. I was told that he had to have all the ordinances that he had performed while not ordained “approved”. I’m not %100 sure who did the approving, but, with the number of missionaries that are sent out, I can’t believe that this is the first time this has happened. Surely there is some sort of rule in place to deal with this.

  30. Wow Ian, how does something like that slip through the cracks?

  31. My uncle, when he was the bishop of a BYU ward, received a call from Church HQ asking whether a certain missionary from my Uncle’s ward had been ordained an Elder. There was no record of the ordination, the elder couldn’t remember being ordained, yet he had been through the temple and performed several blessings and confirmations while a missionary.

    After scrambling to talk to anyone who might have info, no one could remember his ordination, so he probably had done all these without receiving proper authority. He was then ordained on the mission and the First Presidency ratified everything he had done to him or by him that required the higher priesthood. Nobody needed to have the ordinances he had participated in performed over again.

    The principles seems to be that an ordinance is valid if the Lord says it’s valid, and the person receiving the ordinance does so in good faith. The legal side can be taken care of after the fact when necessary. (Proxy work follows the same principle — making official that which was previously done by those acting in good faith.)

    A person performing a baptism or blessing the sacrament is acting under the bishop’s authority — the unworthy priesthood holder may have no legitimate authority to act, but to the congregation it’s valid because the bishop had considered it valid at the time.

    As far as those who knowingly perform ordinances and act in their callings unworthily or without authority, I think they’re the only ones who suffer any true penalty.

  32. StillConfused says:

    I say it doesn’t matter if the guy is worthy or not because the blessing is for the benefit of the person getting the blessing not the person getting it. Plus it would really suck to get a blessing from someone and then find out you weren’t getting better because the dude who did the blessing was a slime ball.

  33. I do not have the NT with me, but I recall that Paul ran into this during his ministry. As I recall, didn’t Paul realize that certain members had not heard of the gift of the Holy Ghost subsequent to their baptism? Did he then re-baptize these folks – with the assumption that any one who had not been taught about the gift of the HG was not baptized with the right authority?

    Earl

  34. Mark Brown says:

    J., (24)

    Let’s see if I am understanding you correctly. If a man who unworthily bestowed priesthood office on another man, the bestowal of priesthood would be efficacious, but any further words of blessing would probably be seen as uninspired. Is that right? That does make sense to me, in a roundabout way.

  35. StillConfused says:

    p.s. I am not sure I have ever met anyone who was truly worthy to give blessings.

  36. #35 – I’ve met thousands of people who were about to ascertain the will of God through the Spirit and/or pronounce the words they felt inspired to say. That’s pretty much the only requirement of a blessing, imo.

    I think there are two sticking points, above and beyond what has been said already:

    1) How would we define “worthy” in differing situations where no official disciplinary action has been taken?

    2) Is the person’s unworthiness known to the recipient of the ordinance? That changes everything, imo.

  37. “able to ascertain”

  38. Funny. I find myself in substantial agreement with John Hamer (9) and Adam Greenwood (28). How’s that for an unlikely alliance.

    In fact, I taught this basic principle to my Priest’s quorum recently with this sequence of questions/ideas:

    1. Read: 121’s reference “amen to the priesthood”
    2. Ask: If I engage in unrighteous dominion before I perform a priesthood ordinance, is the ordinance valid? (general responses: of course it is)
    3. Ask: If the sealer who married my wife and me twenty-some-odd years ago had been engaging in unrighteous dominion, are my wife and I living in adultery? (general response: crickets chirping)

    As a practical matter, it seems important to distinguish between actions assigned to priesthood holders as a matter of authority, and actions assigned to priesthood holders for other reasons.

    When I do that analytic exercise, I find in the first category all salvific ordinances required by LDS teaching (baptism, confirmation, conferral of priesthood, washings/annointings, endowment, sealing). I find in the second category a handful of actions that can, in my probably heretical belief structure, be performed without reference to priesthood by anyone, male or female, member or nonmember. Mind you, I don’t have any problems with the second category of actions being performed under the auspices of the priesthood (i.e., Church official authorization/sanction), but I don’t think that such authority is necessary to the act. And as a practical matter, I find it easier to exercise faith in my wife’s prayer for my health than in the ritualized annointing and prayer of two well-meaning, but priesthood bearing, strangers.

  39. That last post should have omitted the “but” from the last sentence.

  40. I make a distinction between power and authority. I think most ordinances must be done by someone with authority, but require little power (preparing the sacrament, for example). However, inspiration, power to bless, power to heal, power to communicate by the spirit are a function of power through the priesthood, which is a function of worthiness.

    Of course a person may be healed by virtue of their faith in a blessing which was administered by someone unworthy, just as a person may be healed through prayer without any connection to priesthood. I think the purpose of priesthood is in one aspect largely structural. It provides a “chain of command” for a large organization. It provides order and structure where one is needed. It is still very important for that reason even if we assume (as I do) that God honors baptisms from time to time where the person officiating was totally unworthy of his office.

  41. As an aside, I’m confused by the phrase “amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.”

    Normally, “amen” is an indication of affirmation or agreement. But I doubt from context that the phrase means “that man’s authority is affirmed.” Also, “amen” traditionally appears at the end of prayers, so perhaps by analogy it means “that man’s authority has come to an end.” But that’s an odd usage, and I’m not aware of any other examples of this meaning for the word “amen,” nor do I find any support for that usage in online dictionaries or wikipedia.

    Usually when we say “amen to that!” we mean “I agree with that!”, not “that’s the end of that!” Even in prayer, the “amen” is supposed to mean something like “yea verily,” not “that’s all folks.”

  42. Mmmmm, forbidden donatism.

  43. Just to throw out another wrinkle:

    I have heard (and like) the idea that a child is better off being blessed by a non-priesthood holding father (through the authority of his fatherhood) than by a priesthood holding HT (through the authority of his priesthood) – as long as the father is sincerely living according to the dictates of his own conscience. That would apply to a mother, as well, since no priesthood is being invoked.

    I think we conflate “worthy” with “priesthood holder” WAY too much in many situations.

  44. Mark (34), yeah, that is what I would argue.

  45. @Jacob J (#40) – interesting point. The Church requires that a blessing be performed by the authority, not the power. You can say power, but if you fail to say authority, the ordinance is supposed to be re-done.

    Given that, it seems the validity of the ordinance must stem from the authority vested in a given person, authority affirmed by God. The question becomes, if you’ve been conferred the priesthood, does that mean you always have that authority or that you only have it when you’re acting in God’s will?

    If it’s only when it’s God’s will, that would seem to indicate that not only (for example) do blessings only count when you’re “worthy” (whatever that means) but also only when you’re doing/saying what God wills you to say at that time. So, I guess the definition of worthy becomes, doing God’s will, which I think is an excellent definition.

    For example, if you’re saying something in a blessing that’s not God’s will, you don’t have the assurance that it will come to pass.

    Also, consider the entire reason we tell people baptized in another church why they have to be baptized again. Because the priest, although he was sincere and the person had faith he was sincere, lacked the authority. Therefore, it had to be re-done.

    I also personally believe this stuff will have to be worked out in the millennium when our records are perfected.

  46. I make a distinction between power and authority.

    I think this is key.

  47. #45 The Church requires that a blessing be performed by the authority, not the power. You can say power, but if you fail to say authority, the ordinance is supposed to be re-done.

    I have never heard this. Where is this specified? And to which ordinances does this apply?

  48. @dug (#47) – The handbook (p. 29) says that ordinances are performed by the authority of the priesthood. It also says that priesthood leaders only quietly correct ordinances if an essential element is missing. That’s why it’s okay to say “power and authority” but not just “power”.

  49. molly bennion says:

    I’m reluctant to place limits on God, even when considering something as specific as PH. Should He choose to speak to a petitioner through a PH blessing administered by a man in serious sin, He could and most likely does more often than He would prefer. I also think an errant PH holder can humble himself sufficiently to serve another with God’s blessing even when he is in denial or in insufficient repentance regarding his own worthiness. And that belief gives me more comfort than my sure knowledge of a PH blessing by a worthy PH holder promising an extension of life in this world when death quickly followed (btw, sending said PH holder into a tragic crisis of faith). We religious are forever torn between justice and mercy; on this issue, mercy rules for me. The innocent petitioner is God’s first concern.

  50. m, I don’t mean to pick at nits, but I’m not sure, unless you’re leaving out the convincing wording, that I would agree with your assessment. Does it actually say “if one fails to say ‘authority’ the ordinance must be re-done” or are you inferring that, since since ordinances are DONE by the authority of the priesthood, then one must SAY “authority” in the ordinance?

    I have been involved in my fair share of ordinances. Not once have I seen an ordinance re-done because someone said “power” instead of “authority.” Nor have I heard anybody, in authority or without, indicate that it SHOULD be re-done under those circumstances.

    end threadjack. end nitpicking.

  51. Living by faith is illustrated by our actions or our worthiness. While a priesthood holder may perform an ordinance unworthily and the Lord may accept the efficacy of the ordinance on behalf of the person or persons that it being performed for — such as a priest blessing the sacrament or an elder bestowing a blessing of healing –, the priesthood holder gains nothing. Look at it as putting the cart before the horse. What is important is not necessarily the efficacy of the ordinance because it is the Lord’s to choose. The importance is the priesthood holder’s individual standing with the Lord.

  52. I think the separation of saving ordinances and other ordinances is important here.

    But this made me think:

    “Still, I don’t see how the words of the blessing could be valid.”

    I just can’t help but wonder if God can even work through an unworthy person, for the sake of the faith of the person.

    I think of how the adversary played a key role in the plan of salvation in the Garden of Eden, because he “knew not the mind of God.” It’s almost comical to me how the enemy of all righteousness, trying in his deliberate might to destroy the plan, not only didn’t destroy it, but in a very real sense was pivotal in setting it in motion.

    So I’d have to even say a ‘no’ on the non-saving ordinances, only because God is more powerful than any weakness we may have.

  53. I hadn’t read all the comments — 49 sort of summed up my thoughts.

  54. I said “no” because of how I’ve felt on some occasions receiving a blessing or ordinance. When I was baptized, I felt fine, good, and happy, but when I was confirmed by a different Elder, one through whom I felt a tremendous spiritual power… I don’t know how to describe it other than to say he was honest, virtuous, and taught from the heart … I felt so connected. I felt almost this buzz or this light that filled me and empowered me for days afterward. I don’t have any reason to believe the first guy was unworthy in any way, but for whatever reason, I felt a lot more power from the other guy.

    I don’t have any feeling that my baptism was not effective, though. Surely it must have been for my confirmation to be so powerful. But if the way it feels, which seems to be a complicated function of our worthiness and how we’re all feeling that day, and of God’s will, means anything, then yes, quite definitely, some priesthood blessings feel like they have more power than others. Do others not have that experience?

  55. The verses in 121 are issuing a warning to the priesthood holder, not to those whom the priesthood holder provides ordinances to. The warning is that the priesthood holder’s right to enter God’s presence and to know the mysteries of God will be terminated as a consequence of unrighteous dominion.

  56. I think it is important in the quoted scripture above to have a good understanding of what the Priesthood is. The Priesthood, simplified, is the authority to act in God’s name. Therefore, when a person is unrighteous or unworthy through the things described in that scripture, their priesthood is at an end.

    So, when is that priesthood at an end? It could be that it ends at the time of unworthiness, or at death, or any time in between.

    I am more inclined to believe that the priesthood is at an end because it is finite in that man. It is not a matter of when the priesthood is no longer in that man, it is a matter of limits to it. He no longer has the authority to act in God’s name, but that does not mean that God will not honor ordinances or blessings administered by that man for the sake of the faith of the ones receiving those ordinances and blessings.

    Therefore, he cannot call down the powers of heaven, but that does not stop God from choosing to grant blessings and ordinances anyways to certain people who are ignorant of the situation.

    In my mind, the priesthood is far more than “ascertain[ing] the will of God through the Spirit and/or pronounc[ing] the words they felt inspired to say.” That is nothing that prayer and speaking by the Spirit cannot do. The priesthood, when it is truly being wielded, is the literal ability to call down blessings from heaven—part of which is to bind in heaven as well as on earth. This is why it is so vital that the person doing so be righteous. They must be in tune with the will of God so that at least during the blessing, they and God are one. The blessings that are pronounced using righteous and worthy priesthood not only grant blessings, they literally bind earth and heaven.

  57. I seem to remember a story from President Kimball’s biography when his wife was injured from a car accident…a passerby approached, President Kimball asked the man if he held the priesthood, the man answered that he did. President Kimball asked if he would help administer a blessing. As they began the ordinance the man hesitated and confessed that he did not obey the Word of Wisdom. President Kimball allowed the ordinance to continue with the man’s assistance nonetheless.

    Am I remembering that right?

  58. I voted no because while it is unfortunate that a priesthood holder would unworthily perform an ordinance, it is ultimately a matter of the faith of the person receiving the ordinance and love and mercy of our Heavenly Father.

  59. m (#45),

    Yes, my point is that you always have the authority of the office to which you’ve been ordained (unless you’ve had it taken away by excommunication or whatever). As to our not accepting baptisms from other religions, this makes good sense with my position since the other religion does not have authority but the unworthy priesthood holder DOES have authority. As I said, I think that priesthood largely functions as the structure to give order to a large organization. Such order does not require a divine manifestation of power to be effectual.

  60. J. Stapley said (#15), and further comments dealt with (#21 &#24)

    Now, there rituals where the liturgy is not set and the administrant is required to receive a gift of the spirit, either prophecy, revelation or healing. In such a case, if the person is in sin and does not have the gifts of the spirit, the words pronounced in the healing or patriarchal or other blessing is neither valid nor efficacious

    In the stake of my youth, the patriarch was molesting his daughters, and then his grand-daughters, during the whole time he was patriarch. When it was discovered he was excommunicated and also sent to jail. The official position taken by the church was that anyone who wanted their patriarchal blessings repeated could do so, but that it wasn’t necessary, the blessings were valid and efficacious.

    I had chosen to have my PB while away at college. I’ve always wondered what I would have done if I had received my PB from my Stake Patriarch.

  61. Another point, is this quote from JS (from Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.193):

    I referred to the curse of Ham for laughing at Noah, while in his wine, but doing no harm. Noah was righteous man, and yet he drank wine and became intoxicated; the Lord did not forsake him in consequence thereof, for he retained all the power of his Priesthood, and when he was accused by Canaan, he cursed him by the Priesthood which he held, and the Lord had respect to his word, and the Priesthood which he held, notwithstanding he was drunk, and the curse remains upon the posterity of Canaan until the present day.

    So it would seem that Joseph Smith believed, and taught, that while I can’t be trusted to drive a car or operate machinery when inebriated, God will honor my priesthood curses when so impaired (assuming of course that I am otherwise a “righteous man”).

  62. Bob Durtschi says:

    When does anyone feel completely worthy when offering a blessing. We all sin it’s just a matter of one being a few inches higher than another in a mile-deep hole.

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