Any opposed?


A couple of weeks ago, my ward held a joint meeting for the Relief Society and the Priesthood. Given the fact that my ward is only RS and Priesthood, we met in the chapel. This made the session feel much like another sacrament meeting, sans the ordinance, natch. We had two speakers and the topic was service. Like all good committees in singles wards (of which you'd think the scripture read, "groups without number have I created"), the service committee is headed by one sister and one brother.

The sister (we'll call her M.) went first and did a fairly good job. Granted, she stayed a little too close to traditional definitions of service (raking widows' yards, feeding the sick, calling up friends when prompted, etc), but it was presented adequately. She was, however, noticeably nervous. At one point, she even lost her earring (it flew off when a gesture, possibly inexplicable, went a little awry). She bore a nice testimony about the value of service and, all in all, was about what was expected.

Then, the brother got up. He started out by saying, "All those in favor of sustaining M. as hottie of the week, please make it manifest." His arm was raised to the square and a few others here and there joined in. Some people laughed. I was dumbfounded. I could not believe how inappropriate this was. He gave the rest of his prepared talk, even soliciting comments, a feat made tricky in the chapel, but I was having none of it. Now, I can't decide if I like this guy or he if just irritates me (he's the bloke of "are you an intellectual?" fame).

Regardless of my personal feelings towards him, what he did was wildly offensive to me, as a Saint. Not only did it call undue attention to someone uncomfortable with the spotlight to begin with, which makes it quite uncharitable, I found it profane, blasphemous and taking way too many liberties with something very, very central to the Church and its mission.

A lot of folks probably don't think much of the weekly sustainings and releases. Some might think it's a nice way to be informed of changes in the ward. Still others might just think we're raising our hands to show that we support those called. Both of these are probably true and the second one is definitely a crucial part of the act (though, the language there is not strong enough and I'd go so far as to say we're vowing to support them in their church duties). However, what's really at play here is common consent. We have this straight from the Lord when he said "For all things must be in order, and by common consent in the church, by the prayer of faith." (D&C 28.13)

In essence, common consent is what makes us a church and, more pressingly, a ward. Our vote is necessary for any person to be placed into any position of service, be it Relief Society President or hymn book organizer. Nor is this voting just pro forma; people can oppose, and have. Usually, granted, their worries are insubstantial enough to be placated by authorities (except in rare, terrible cases where genuine concerns went unheard). To make light of the very glue that holds us together as an ecclesiastical unit is much, much more distressing than even teaching false doctrine across the pulpit.

At the heart of my frustration here is that so much of Church instruction and focus is given over to what we must do personally to reach salvation. This, I agree, is important and we need to be taught to live the commandments. But, we're not just here to save ourselves. We're here to build the kingdom of God. To do this, we practice common consent. We home teach (and, fyi, YSA EQ Presidencies the Church over, the brethren need home teachers just as much as the sisters do). We visit teach. We commune with the Saints and help them in meaningful ways. Mormonism used to be so-community oriented, it's a little sad to see that go. I understand that insularity is not the best state, but the push towards the overly personal isn't the right direction, either.

As always, I don't really have a solution. I just hope that others are equally repelled by the flippant use of common consent. And I just needed to voice some frustration over its misuse.


Petra said...

My jaw is still dropped.

Shaun R. said...

I'm always surprised at what you consider irreverent and what you don't consider irreverent. This time I have to agree. Definitely in poor taste.

librarianite said...

Wow! I'd have to agree with your sentiments here. I wonder if anyone talked to that brother...

On another point, for someone who doesn't believe in evangelism statements like this: "But, we're not just here to save ourselves. We're here to build the kingdom of God." are a little odd. Don't you think?

Perhaps we'll find you in the mission field someday afterall. You still have what... 3 yrs to put in those papers?

Seagulljaap said...

I was indeed present at this meeting and have to say that I also was rather offended. Not quite as much as the author but still rather flabbergasted that he would actually do that in the presence of the Bishop.

thefinitemonkey said...

Okay, so given that the bishop was there for the comment, I've just got to ask...

Did he raise his hand?


alea said...

librarianite, there's a difference between evangelicalism and building Zion. The first requires you to get others to buy in, the second just means you're bolstering the already converted. Please, you'll see me behind a black name tag only if there's an actual theophany.

yes, the bishop did raise his hand. I'd be more saddened if I didn't love my bishop (hey, he approved of the "looking to Skor?" I'm using to welcome new folks in the ward with.

Seagulljaap said...

I raise objection to that alea. I do not believe he did raise his hand, I believe he merely laughed.

Crow's View said...

Your first point was what stuck with me. When Sunday school is held in the chapel and then they have a joint meeting we don't get to get up for three hours. Thats just unfair. And wrong.

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