I was going to write a short post on Facebook about some recent issues. It turned out to be much longer than I expected, and I’m reposting it here so I can find it in the future:
Somehow this turned into an essay. Sorry. If you’re reading, read to the end before becoming offended, please.
You may have heard about the recent events surrounding Kate Kelly and her excommunication from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Ms. Kelly started an organization that demanded that women be ordained to the priesthood.
This is a tough issue, and I won’t pretend to know all the answers. Latter-day Saints (Mormons) believe that our church is directed by revelation from Christ. Changes in doctrine or fundamental practices are not made whimsically. And doctrine is pretty important to our faith; we don’t go to church just to sing songs and feel good – we go to teach and learn what we claim is the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. That’s a big claim.
So when somebody in the church preaches something that doesn’t line up with revelation, it’s the duty of bishops and other leaders to set the record straight. One Lord, one faith, one baptism.
When a church member continues to teach ideas that are contrary to the doctrines of the church, he or she may be subject to church discipline, which can include excommunication.
I’m not a bishop, but I’ve known a lot of them. I know that excommunication is the last thing they want to do. I know that they have very solemn feelings about that process.
And in the case of Kate Kelly, they took this step because they felt it was necessary. Her bishop wrote, in part: “The problem is that you have persisted in an aggressive effort to persuade other church members to your point of view and that your course of action has threatened to erode the faith of others…You are entitled to your views, but you are not entitled to promote them and proselyte others to them while remaining in full fellowship in the church…”
I don’t know whether God will at some time reveal that women should be ordained to the priesthood. But I do know that if that change does one day occur, it will not be because God saw that people signed a petition. It will not be because God saw people carrying signs in protest. If it happens, it will be because God, knowing all, gives the revelation.
And the part that upsets me personally about the entire series of events (especially with the extremely heavy media coverage) is that has taken the focus away from Jesus Christ. The point of the church is to lead people to Him.
The media has become enthralled with Ms. Kelly’s excommunication because it prompts strong emotions (and big readership) from all sides of the issue. But excommunication is a very small part of the procedures of the church. The church is about Jesus Christ and his mission to save us.
What would Jesus do? Love and serve others, and teach them the truth. When we deviate from that, we place a wedge between ourselves and God, no matter what issue we are passionately defending.