Our semi-regular feature at BCC, in which we answer questions from our readers and then Rank stuff. Have a question you want us to answer? Send us an email!
What would someone have to say during a talk or testimony to get escorted off the stand and not allowed to speak again? I’m not talking blatantly speaking against the church or preaching false doctrine, but here are some hypotheticals: Talking too candidly about their own transgressions; outing another ward member on a serious transgression; direct MLM pitch over the pulpit; threatening to physically harm President Obama (I wonder if this one has occurred and gone unchecked); quoting an R-rated movie … with the attendant R-rated language.
Steve: None of those things would do it. You don’t seem to understand how hard it is to get a permanent ban from speaking. You’d have to basically do something worthy of disfellowship or excommunication from the stand, and you’re already ruling out blatantly speaking against the church or preaching false doctrine. You’re not leaving a lot of options here! Mere weirdness won’t do it. It also depends on your calling at the time. If you’re on the High Council, you could call the bishop the son of a motherless goat and you’d probably still have to convey the love of the Stake Presidency week after week. There’s no hope at all. Fortunately, dear reader, it’s getting easier every day to get excommunicated! Declare your undying love for John Dehlin from the pulpit or speak the praises of Ordain Women, and that might be the ticket. But you never know ’till you try.
Scott: Given that I haven’t spoken in Sacrament meeting for over 4 years (the cycle in my ward is about 18-24 months for everyone else), maybe I should see if I can find the notes from that talk to figure out exactly what went wrong. But Steve is correct–excommunication is the only way to actually avoid this task, for two important reasons: 1) Everyone loves a redemption story and 2) Moving resets the game. As long as you are still on the records of the Church, you are fair game. In fact, the further you “wander” from the Gospel–either in regular life or in what you say in a lesson or talk–the more excited everyone will be to get you back in the ring when you decide to get your house in order. Regardless, penalty box sentences can only last if you stay in the same place. If you move, your membership record goes to a new ward, and you’ll have to go through it all again.
My question deals with excommunication in the LDS Church. When someone is excommunicated, how does that impact their eternal destiny? I understand about temporal impacts, but does the ex-communicant “lose” his or her salvation? Do they still go to heaven, but to a lower level than formerly (of the three)? Does an ex-communicant face the lake of fire? Do they lose their temporal ability to fellowship, enter the temples, etc., but there are no eternal impacts? It seems that in the LDS community, the Church is the vehicle by which salvation is granted (baptism, confirmation, etc.). Is it also the vehicle by which salvation is maintained?
Steve: Lake of fire?? Lighten up. But yeah, if you’re excommunicated, there are two schools of thought in the LDS Church. The first is that excommunication removes all ordinances performed by the Church, including baptism, ordinations, temple sealings, etc., such that it’s as if you were never baptized at all. Under this perspective, if you’re excommunicated you lose the spiritual benefits of those ordinances and your soul is in perdition. Spencer W. Kimball saw it thusly: “This dread action means the total severance of the individual from the Church. The person who is excommunicated loses his membership in the Church and all attendant blessings. As an excommunicant, he is in a worse situation than he was before he joined the Church. He has lost the Holy Ghost, his priesthood, his endowments, his sealings, his privileges and his claim upon eternal life. This is about the saddest thing which could happen to an individual. Better that he suffer poverty, persecution, sickness, and even death. A true Latter-day Saint would far prefer to see a loved one in his bier than excommunicated from the Church. If the one cut off did not have this feeling of desolateness and barrenness and extreme loss, it would be evidence that he did not understand the meaning of excommunication.” Cheery. Most religions don’t view it this way, but Mormons do.
HOWEVER: the second school of thought is similar overall but different on the edges. When people come back into the Church after excommunication, they are rebaptized, but they are not re-sealed. Temple sealings are not cancelled by virtue of excommunication; if an excommunicant’s wife wanted to marry someone else in the temple, the original sealing would still require explicit cancellation. There is a “restoration of blessings” ordinance that is performed, but that is a relatively recent development and is not quite the same as getting sealed de novo. Sooooooooo…. yeah. If you’re excommunicated, you’re damned, but what that means exactly we’re not quite sure, except it’s really bad.
Scott: Steve is over-thinking this. The impact of excommunication on your eternal destiny is pretty straightforward: You get a 10% pay raise and Sundays off in Heaven.
What happens if there’s a freak accident and an adult second-to-be convert drowns mid-baptism-dunk? Do they die a member or a non-member?
Steve: Did any part of their clothing or hair pop up to the surface? Handbook 2 lists this as the last step in performing a baptism: “Helps the person come up out of the water.” No mention of whether the person needs to be actually living at that point – so long as the priesthood holder is the one to haul the corpse out of the font, I guess baptism is complete. HOWEVER: they still die a non-member, because membership in the Church is part of the ordinance of the Gift of the Holy Ghost, not baptism. Thought you were tricky with that question, huh?
Scott: I’m confused. How long does it take to drown? Like more than 2 seconds, right? So how is this even plausible? Why wouldn’t the person in the font just lift them up if they’re drowning? PLEASE KEEP YOUR QUESTIONS REALISTIC, PEOPLE.
How long could a Mormon family (parents + say 3 kids) survive alone in a Costco? Assume running water + electricity + existing plumbing continue, plus full access to all parts of the store, including pharmacy. It’s got to be easily a decade, right?
BCC: Decades. Probably indefinitely, if you have a family with an engineer and the Kirkland Signature Imprisonment occurs during the Spring, when you have the garden stuff + soil there in the store. Plant a garden and thrive, you poor damned souls. You’d better hope that pharmacy is stocked full of antidepressants. If it’s a Utah Costco there’s probably food storage as well, so yeah, decades. Good Lord that sounds like an awful hellscape. An eternity of Costco. It’s like the perfect American hell. I guarantee you there are suicides and the whole thing will spiral into a Flowers in the Attic nightmare, I kid you not. Please don’t do this.
Who was the strongest prophet ever? I mean, the physically strongest, non-divinely aided, at the top of their game while a prophet. Since apostles are called as prophets, seers and revelators we’ll include them too. I’m not counting Bednar during his QB1 days, but he still looks to be doing P90X so he could hold his own as strongest prophet since Wilford Woodruff. I think Moroni wins it: younger than Moroni, a warrior, lugging those plates around.
BCC: Russell Crowe Noah was pretty freaking tough. Does Samson count as a prophet? (probably not, he was an awful person). Joseph Smith loved to wrestle, or so those amazing Truman Madsen tapes told me. Maybe Joseph’s athleticism was just a yarn spun by BIG MISSIONARY TAPE to keep me as a customer-slave forever. Still, Joseph was never a warrior, despite his saber-rattling. There’s no modern prophet that comes close to matching the barbarism and raw power of ancient scripture. Adam was clearly a wiener, though. Noah, Samuel, Moses, Joshua on the OT Team, then Nephi, Moroni, Mormon, Alma on the BoM Team. Complete savage beasts, all of them. Moroni was the youngest of them but he doesn’t seem to have the killer instinct to go full Beast Mode. All of the BoM team members are hard core, no question, but OT guys are living in desert wastelands in a state of total war. I’m going to go with Joshua, who single-handedly carried out a genocidal war in the middle east. Joshua would punch you in the nuts if you looked at him wrong. Don’t mess with Joshua. Moroni ran away to save the plates at the end of the Book of Mormon; Joshua would have killed all those Lamanites himself.
What would be the top 3 things JSJ would say if he came to a modern Sacrament Meeting?
Things Joseph Smith Jr. Would Say If He Came To A Modern Sacrament Meeting, Ranked:
As always, these rankings are authoritative.
- Why does everyone have a seer stone?
- How come the women aren’t doing more?
- No, I don’t have an “active” temple recommend. What of it?
- Excuse me, are you the Deacon’s Quorum President? Do I pass to the back-left pews first, or go straight to the overflow section?
- Bishop, the young man said “water” and trust me–I should know!–the revelation says “wine.”
- So who is this Truman Madsen guy, anyway?
- Yes, that is exactly what I meant at the time, but I did not intend to be quoted in a Minion Meme.
- Is that lady married?
- When do we speak in tongues?
- Guys, that wasn’t actually my “first prayer”. And that high note is impossible to hit.
- Man, you guys sure “know” a lot.
- That was the best Thank-imony I’ve heard since November 1840.
- I hope this bread is gluten-free.
- So just to be clear–we are supposed to Defend the Family, right?
- You guys are taking things WAY too seriously.