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Speaking of Ordination

My son had the opportunity to attend his first Temple trip with the youth recently. He was nervously anticipating this next step in his cultural indoctrination. Our branch has a chasm between he and the other youth as far as age, so he was not among “friends”. The long drive (90-120 min. traffic dependent) did not offer opportunity for social interaction, as he spent the entire time watching everyone on their electronic device of choice. He was anticipating conversation and brought a game along in hopes of calming nerves but could find no takers.

Upon arrival, the leaders went one direction and the youth went another to have a meeting with the Temple staff. After the prayer there was a question, “Are there any young men in the group that have not been ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood?” My son raised his hand. Cue crickets and popping eyeballs. 

He sat in the waiting room for the next two hours by himself wondering why he couldn’t participate even though he passed the temple recommend interview. All of his leadership acted as though his participation was expected and certain. Our previous BP was in attendance and had never heard this question before. Needless to say the current BP was also completely unaware, as were all the leaders. Would have been nice to get that memo.

No harm done, but it got me to thinking. What is so magical about 12 anyway? Can’t a person decide he is not ready for that commitment but still be worthy to participate in baptisms for the dead? My son didn’t, and has since been ordained. It was simply a timing issue. But couldn’t a person?

I am not sure I believe in mandatory priesthood ordination in order to attend baptisms for the dead.

{ 29 comments… add one }

  • Dave K April 8, 2013, 7:33 am

    So sorry to hear this happened. Per the Church Handbook, men are required to receive the priesthood in order to participate in temple ordinances. Baptisms require at least the AP. Higher ordinances require the MP. The interviewing authority should have verified that your son was ordained prior to sending him on the trip. There is a check box on the group recommend form to help leaders remember this requirement.

    Unfortunately, the priesthoood requirement can sometimes create timing issues – most common where a new convert is invited to participate in baptisms at the temple, but has not yet been ordained – but also in situations with new 12-year old boys such as your son. I’m glad to hear there are no lasting hurt feelings. I’m sure it was an honest mistake. Similar mistakes can happen with women too. For instance, some temples have excluded YW from baptism if they are in the middle of their period.

    On the issue of men who decline the priesthood, that is a very important issue to me. I see a number of men and young men who are pressured into receiving the priesthood before they are ready. Part of this pressure comes because they must receive the priesthood to participate in temple ordinances. Part of it stems from our theology that men’s sanctification cannot fully happen without priesthood service.

  • Proud Daughter of Eve April 8, 2013, 9:45 am

    That can’t be right. All you have to do for the ordinances is to have gone through that ordinance yourself, at least as far as I know.

  • Angie Gardner April 8, 2013, 9:55 am

    That’s what I thought too. Girls obviously aren’t ordained, so it doesn’t really make sense to me as long as they’ve been interviewed and found worthy. Not sure what it is about the age of 12 other than that’s probably what the handbook says. Would be interesting to see if it says something different about the boys.

  • Amira April 8, 2013, 10:19 am

    If they’re going to require this and check on it at the temple, it has to be better known because it isn’t well known now.

    My son turned 12 a few months ago and had to be ordained at home that night so he could go on the ward temple trip two days later. Our bishop wasn’t sure if that was the rule when we asked about it, but that’s the way it is.

    The only reason we got my son’s ordination taken care of is because we’ve learned to ask and ask again about anything that might be in the handbook that we don’t know about, if it affects our children (personally, I generally think ignorance is bliss regarding the handbook- I don’t want to know all the rules). That is not something we would have learned by living in the US all our lives and we had to go through quite a process just to get my oldest ordained and to the temple the first time for baptisms.

  • Karl Nordgren April 8, 2013, 10:24 am

    One of the most confusing things about this topic is in D&C 107. In D&C 107: 40-52 it talks about the ages that people received the Melchizedek priesthood. Mahalaleel was a 496-year-old (and 7 days) when he received the priesthood and Noah was a 10-years-old. Why the scriptures have this point of no standard age and we are so rigid about it I don’t fully understand.

  • Dave K April 8, 2013, 10:25 am

    Proud Daughter – I can’t find the instruction in CHI 2 (the publicly available one), so it must be in CHI 1. Ask a member of your bishopric to show you. They could also show you the group recommend form. The group form has two large columns for names. One is for females and just has lines under it for names. The other is for males. It has lines for names, but also a check box next to each line to indicate the person is a priesthood holder. That is meant to help ensure that errors like the OP do not happen. Right or not, it is church policy that no male may perform baptisms for the dead without first being ordained to at least the AP. It’s a requirement.

  • MB April 8, 2013, 10:28 am

    Yes, priesthood ordination for boys and men who wish to be temple patrons is a requirement. Had a similar thing happen in a ward I was in. Sometimes bishops and YM leaders don’t read handbooks. grrr.
    I wish your bishop had been aware and interviewed him for the priesthood so that ordination could have happened first.

    My last ward had a firm, no electronic devices guideline for temple trips just for the reason you mentioned. The youth leaders wanted the kids interacting with each other or adults in positive ways instead of off in their own electronic worlds. Some leader/drivers brought LDS youth-focused CDs to pass the time. My kids liked the difference those guidelines made.

  • Rod April 8, 2013, 10:33 am

    Ordination to the higher priesthood is also required for brethren to participate in higher ordinances. Brethren must be endowed to perform temple baptisms and confirmations as well.

  • Kari April 8, 2013, 10:56 am

    Remembering some of the emotionally painful experiences of my youth with regards to baptisms for the dead. My heart goes out to your son.

  • Amy Lockhart April 8, 2013, 10:57 am

    MB: He had been interviewed by the Branch President and found worthy to receive the priesthood on the Sunday prior to his birthday. Due to Stake Conference the following week, there was not a Sunday between his birthday and the temple trip in which for him to receive the ordination. If it is necessary for ordination before temple attendance I would think there would be some measure taken, other than pouring over the pages of the handbook, to ensure that it doesn’t get missed. As much as I appreciate the handbook it must be easy to miss things with all those words!

    Love the electronic device guideline! Maybe I’ll start a revolution in my branch :)
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  • Dave K April 8, 2013, 11:56 am

    Amy, that is why there is a “priesthood” checkbox on the group recommend form. It’s to focus the bishop/branch president’s attention to the fact that all YM need to be ordained. In this instance, if I were his leader, I would have ordained him prior to presenting him for a sustaining vote. While a sustaining vote is necessary, and it is recommended to happen before ordination, it is not a requirement. Routinely men who are called into bishoprics are ordained as HPs months in advance of a sustaining vote (which occurs during stake conference). Same thing could have happened here if the leaders thought about it. Also, since he’d already been interviewed, in theory the boy could have been ordained at the temple and then allowed entrance.

  • mike April 8, 2013, 12:10 pm

    I’m not sure I believe in mandatory priesthood ordination for boys to participate in baptisms either. I’m sorry this happened to your son.

    Still, it boggles the imagination that both your previous and current bishops were unaware of this requirement — part of their job is to read the handbooks, and the requirement that males hold the priesthood is right there with their other instructions for issuing recommends for baptisms. I know, bishops are imperfect, but this definitely could have been handled better.

  • Angie Gardner April 8, 2013, 12:36 pm

    Bummer. I asked the husband and he said the same as MB. Must be ordained. I wouldn’t have known either, and there is so much to read and remember in the handbook that I’m not surprised it was overlooked. Too bad for your sweet son.

    Totally agree on the electronics!

  • Angie Gardner April 8, 2013, 12:44 pm

    He also said they always ask the question when a youth group comes to the temple. I wonder if that’s something new (the asking).

  • Amy Lockhart April 8, 2013, 4:41 pm

    Mike: As I mentioned there is quite a chasm in the YM program of our branch. There has not been a 12 year old move from primary into YM for years. It is odd that someone hasn’t heard it or didn’t catch it, but there was no harm meant. That handbook is a beast :)

    Angie: It must be at least a bit new around our area because not a single person in our branch was aware of it being asked before. Although, it is probable that it has been being asked, there was just no reason to pay attention before.

    Dave K: Interesting that a check box didn’t alert someone. I suppose one could reasonable assume that being worthy was enough even if not ordained. Again, the chasm and my son being the “pioneer” played a role. Blessedly he is a wonderful person and holds no grudge. His biggest beef was being supremely bored and wasting a Saturday with driving and sitting.

    Amira: Thanks for sharing. I guess I’ll be doing a lot more footwork of my own.
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  • Amy Lockhart April 8, 2013, 4:59 pm

    Dave K: “I see a number of men and young men who are pressured into receiving the priesthood before they are ready. Part of this pressure comes because they must receive the priesthood to participate in temple ordinances. Part of it stems from our theology that men’s sanctification cannot fully happen without priesthood service.”

    This is concerning to me as I see the same thing. It seems more like a formality or “next step” than the conferring of a sacred power oftentimes. My husband joined the church in his late twenties. When it “came time” for him to receive the priesthood he had no idea what was going on. He felt unworthy and unprepared for such a sacred experience. It was being thrown on his shoulders with little to no preparation and he felt he had no choice. Of course, he could have refused, but there was pressure involved as it was the next step and he had accepted the gospel. He took the leap of faith and has grown in his role as a priesthood holder, but all don’t fair so well and it seems there could be better preparation or consideration of the necessity of ordination at a certain age in order to participate in youth programs.

    I guess I see where it’s coming from and really haven’t ever pondered about it or studied about it before. It’s opened a door full of questions for me.
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  • Left Field April 8, 2013, 7:01 pm

    I heard this recently happened in our ward, and they simply ordained the young man at the temple, and went ahead.

  • Amy Lockhart April 8, 2013, 7:15 pm

    Left Field and Dave K: If this is an option I wonder why it wasn’t offered to my son.
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  • Rod April 8, 2013, 7:40 pm

    #8

    Should read – brethren must be endowed to OFFICIATE in temple baptisms and confirmations.

  • Angie Gardner April 8, 2013, 9:15 pm

    Amy, just curious…if it had been offered, would you have been disappointed that your son was ordained without you being there?

  • Amy Lockhart April 9, 2013, 6:20 am

    Angie: I don’t know. I wasn’t able to be there anyway because we never even thought to ask to have him ordained at home. Hindsight is a lovely friend often laced with regret.

    I don’t think it would have bothered me because the overriding factor would have been him getting to participate at the temple. I think my greatest concern would have been him feeling like he really had a choice in the matter had it happened that way.
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  • Angie Gardner April 9, 2013, 9:46 am

    You are much more understanding than I would be. :) As you know, I have no sons..but if I missed their ordination or if it wasn’t done by my husband I’d be really upset. I guess if they’d call me or something maybe we could work it out, but if my kid came home and told me he’d been ordained at the temple by a brother in the ward or a temple worker I would not be a happy momma!

  • Alison Moore Smith April 9, 2013, 10:23 am

    Still, it boggles the imagination that both your previous and current bishops were unaware of this requirement — part of their job is to read the handbooks, and the requirement that males hold the priesthood is right there with their other instructions for issuing recommends for baptisms.

    Mike, I’m afraid reading the handbook tends to be low on the priority totem pole for far too many leaders. Honestly, they often seem to assume they know all about it — I mean who would call a bishop who didn’t know all about it? :/

    The whole women praying in meetings debacle could have been resolved in the mid-90s instead of last Sunday, if people would just read and follow the handbook.

    For DECADES I argued that ALL members should have one so we can all know what official policy is. The funny thing is that when the new handbook came out (January 2012?) they had a leadership meeting discussing it, telling all leaders NOT to disseminate or copy it. Two days later it was on the internet.

    OK, let me rephrase. It was unofficially on the internet before the meeting happened. It was officially on LDS.org two days after they told everyone not to disseminate it. I guess they saw the futility in the efforts and decided that if it was going to be on the internet anyway, they might as well be the source.

    FTR, the handbooks (both, not just one) have been on the internet for 20+ years. I say knowledge is power.

    As for the handbooks being “a beast”… what? I love them. They aren’t hard reads and answer most of the logistical questions about running the church. If leaders took the time to (re)read the current handbooks and make sure they were following them, an enormous number of problems would be averted.

    A number of years ago when I wrote for Meridian, we were asked yet another policy question. My answer included about two sentences from the (then unpublished) handbook that completely answered the question at hand. I was forbidden to use the quote. Instead, we had to go back and forth debating the issue that policy clearly dictated. It was beyond inane.
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  • Amy Lockhart April 9, 2013, 11:39 am

    Alison: “As for the handbooks being “a beast”… what? I love them. They aren’t hard reads and answer most of the logistical questions about running the church. If leaders took the time to (re)read the current handbooks and make sure they were following them, an enormous number of problems would be averted.”

    I agree Alison. What I meant by beast was simply the size, nothing negative about the contents. Also, a little nod to the leadership that do put so much effort into their callings and feel badwhen things are missed. Completely true that if it were first and foremost to read, study, and refer often to the handbook, we would have a lot less to fix.
    Amy Lockhart recently posted…Below The SurfaceMy Profile

  • barbj April 9, 2013, 1:25 pm

    I don’t know how to do that linking thing but the handbook 2 is less than 200 pages. I tried to link to it but got an error thing. I just pasted the web site address. ???

  • jennycherie April 9, 2013, 2:24 pm

    “The funny thing is that when the new handbook came out (January 2012?) they had a leadership meeting discussing it, telling all leaders NOT to disseminate or copy it. Two days later it was on the internet.”

    It makes no sense to try to limit circulation and then release it on the internet, so I took it as they didn’t want us wasting the paper/copy machines when it was going to be available online. I think it is essential to have it online and easily accessible to all.

  • Amy Lockhart April 9, 2013, 3:25 pm

    barbj: Thanks for trying to publish the link and paste the website. Sorry it didn’t work, I have no clue why.

    Alison, barbj, jennycherie, really anyone!: I was under the impression that there was still an unpublished version, as in only for Bishops, BPs, and up. Does anyone know if that’s true?

    Is the internet published version a part of resources at lds.org, published online by the church, or was it “leaked”?

    Does anyone know if there is a copy in the library at each unit? Not that it’s the easiest way to get at it verses the internet, just wondering if it’s been made available that way as well. It’s always felt very Top Secret and untouchable in my church experience. I am ready to get my hands on it!
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  • Amy Lockhart April 9, 2013, 3:30 pm

    Sorry, I rambled. I found my own answers :)
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  • Angie Gardner April 9, 2013, 4:51 pm

    Book 2 is provided by the church online (I also tried to link it but it gave me an error). I would doubt it’s in libraries, but it’s possible.

    I had the same impression jennycherie did about the reason we were asked not to copy it. If it’s going to be available to anyone online no need to pirate it.

    Book 1 is available in hard copy or online (with a password) to bishoprics and stake presidencies. Unfortunately, a quick google search found this has indeed been pirated and is out there for anyone who wants to look for it. Actually, almost everything in the church is available online (temple ceremony, garments for sale and pictures of garments, etc.)

    It’s sad that people feel the need to do that but it’s out there so I guess we just deal with it.

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