Last Sunday I watched someone else confer my oldest son to the Melchizedek Priesthood. I was “allowed” to stand in the circle but not speak the ordination. The reason I couldn’t ordain him was that I didn’t have a temple recommend, and the reason I didn’t have a recommend was that I was honest with the bishop and told him that I was a skeptic. It’s been over a year since I had a recommend.
I talked to the bishop about an hour before the ordination. He recanted a little and said that he would give me a recommend, but I had to start going back to church and start paying a full tithe again. If I was willing to do that, we could wait a week, get everything in order, and that I then would be able to ordain him.
I only had a few seconds to make that decision. A lot goes through one’s mind when presented with an out like that. All I had to do was to recommit my time and money to the church; I could still remain a skeptic – that was OK with him (he did remind me, however, that I needed to get past the stake president).
I didn’t even hesitate to tell him that we would proceed with the ordination as planned. I felt jubilant that I had stood my ground, but at the same time I felt very sad. This would only be the first of many opportunities that I would miss due to my beliefs: future ordinations, endowments, and temple marriages.
An extremely difficult circumstance and annoying to me for the reason that I had faced that choice prior to leaving the church years ago.
These are choices we will constantly have to make so long as our families are involved in the Church … and that of course comes with the territory.
Annoying to me in another way in that each of us validate our spirit sense of self by our spiritual practice. Any church claiming to be and have the ultimate truth ought to – by definition – teach and make available the way of how God wants humans “to be” … the way of being with God.
Further implication is that being with God in heart, mind and spirit would cover a wide range of mortal venues and the learning of God-desired attributes, one of which would be compassion and generosity.
All the attributes of a “true church” member ought to be emphasized. You know, faith, hope, charity, love, and so forth. Yet with the Church the is undue and repetitious emphasis on tithing. It seems that where ever one turns on any given Sunday, in one form or another the Church has its hand out almost demanding payment.
The irony is that the supposed spiritual satisfaction you must “purchase” with your tithe is something that in truth the Church cannot deliver and the brethren cannot provide or withhold … and I believe that they know this.
Priesthood is not a “Jedi Force” and is not turned on and off based on payment like your cable service. So long as you think it is you are subject to a false threat of withholding something they think that you think you need.
I hope you hang on to your integrity for which you have and will continue to make sincere installment payments as you build a life of self-respect for yourself … beholding to no man and acting without so much as anyone’s “by your leave, sire.”