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Surprised no one raised a then young Elder Nelson on the topic. "Is it necessary to take the sacrament with one’s right hand?"

I personally don't think it matters too much, but if we look to the ancient world then it was a big symbolic deal. In fact the word "sinister" originally meant left by because of ancient views had come to have the connotation of evil or unlikely. That then became the English word. This (frankly ultimately silly) bias against left handed people was still huge in the 20th century. My grandmother (non-member) was left handed but in school they forced her to use her right hand for everything. 

Now even though there's clearly a lot of symbolism to the right hand, particularly in the Judaic/Christian tradition, I think it's trappings that could easily be thrown out. Still even in a contemporary LDS context, given the place of the right hand in various rituals, it makes sense why people might was Deacons to use it as well. 

Other than Nelson's talk (which is more about taking the sacrament) there's nothing at lds.org on the issue. That includes in the priesthood ordinances chapters.

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The issue of right versus left hand has existed for a very long time in many cultures. Left handedness was sometimes considered evil (or the person was possessed) or it was simply an issue of cleanliness and hygiene (based on what the left hand was generally used for in the bathroom) etc. So I agree that symbolism rises out of culture and tradition but that doesn't really relate to God's will.

If only we had a way of knowing when prophets and apostles were sharing God's will instead of the philosophies of man.

51748964_2066599896755891_13310019468944

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was taught to take the sacrament with my right hand when I was a child. What I often wonder is when and where it became gospel that one has to be wearing a white shirt and tie to administer the sacrament. I don’t think I even owned a white shirt when I was a young man in the 70s, and I rarely wore a tie to church until I was about 17.  For years I resented the implication that I had been disrespectful or irreverent as an AP holder when I’d passed or blessed the sacrament tieless in a colored shirt. Even now I regard the custom as pharisiacal and excessively prescriptive.

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1 hour ago, clarkgoble said:

Surprised no one raised a then young Elder Nelson on the topic. "Is it necessary to take the sacrament with one’s right hand?"

I did, back on page 1.

Quote

An interesting instruction from then-Regional Representative Russell Nelson::

https://www.lds.org/ensign/1983/03/i-have-a-question/is-it-necessary-to-take-the-sacrament-with-ones-right-hand?lang=eng

The hand used in partaking of the sacrament would logically be the same hand used in making any other sacred oath. For most of us, that would be the right hand. However, sacramental covenants—and other eternal covenants as well—can be and are made by those who have lost the use of the right hand, or who have no hands at all. Much more important than concern over which hand is used in partaking of the sacrament is that the sacrament be partaken with a deep realization of the atoning sacrifice that the sacrament represents.” 

Let the parsing begin. 

The parsing has been wonderful.

I'm surprised no one has pointed to this as evidence of the unleashing of President Nelson's long-held agenda and the obvious fact that he has empowered his assistants to go forth and bring to heel all the errant deacons out there. 

Edited by Bernard Gui

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48 minutes ago, esodije said:

was taught to take the sacrament with my right hand when I was a child. What I often wonder is when and where it became gospel that one has to be wearing a white shirt and tie to administer the sacrament. I don’t think I even owned a white shirt when I was a young man in the 70s, and I rarely wore a tie to church until I was about 17.  For years I resented the implication that I had been disrespectful or irreverent as an AP holder when I’d passed or blessed the sacrament tieless in a colored shirt. Even now I regard the custom as pharisiacal and excessively prescriptive.

When I was a deacon in 1959, the priests and deacons wore suits, white shirts, and ties. That's when my folks bought me my first suit.

It was the usual way men dressed for church and public events back then. Men wore hats (not baseball caps), too.

Edited by Bernard Gui

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President George Albert Smith said:
"Our people have been taught to take the sacrament with the right hand; we believe that is appropriate, and proper, and acceptable to our Father. The sacrament should not be accepted with a gloved hand; nobody should receive it in that irreverent manner. We should partake of it in humility, with preparation of clean hands and pure hearts, and with a desire to be acceptable to our Father; then we will receive it worthily, and rejoice in the blessing that comes to us by reason of it." (Conference Report, April 1908, p.36)

So take off those gloves before you take it with your right hand !  

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1 hour ago, HappyJackWagon said:

The issue of right versus left hand has existed for a very long time in many cultures. Left handedness was sometimes considered evil (or the person was possessed) or it was simply an issue of cleanliness and hygiene (based on what the left hand was generally used for in the bathroom) etc. So I agree that symbolism rises out of culture and tradition but that doesn't really relate to God's will.

If only we had a way of knowing when prophets and apostles were sharing God's will instead of the philosophies of man.

51748964_2066599896755891_13310019468944

Which, of course, ignores the symbolic significance of the right hand in many of our ordinances and scriptures that have nothing to do with sinister bathroom practices.

Edited by Bernard Gui

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7 minutes ago, pogi said:

Really interesting article about the history of white shirt and ties (used to be bow ties) here on Excessive Formalities in the Mormon Sacrament 1928-1940.  Published in the Intermountain West Journal of Religoius Studies. 

https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1021&context=imwjournal

This article delves a little into the history of the right hand issue as well.

It looks like it all started in the depression era when the highest attendance in deacon's quorum across the whole church was only 32% (that was the highest attendance!) and "sluggish" in their dress and duties (some things never change!).   As a way to get the young men to take the sacrament and their roles in the priesthood seriously, local leaders started implementing certain formalities around the sacrament...and it worked.  It got out of control though.  Wards had identical uniforms that were required, white shirt and black bow ties (great picture in the article), there was strict posture required and invariability in walk, or march, and stance.  Some wards assigned their boys based on height, some went as far as to ban crust from the sacrament bread and made sure they were all uniform in color and size when broken.  This all became known as the "military order" of administering the sacrament.

Here is one interesting account as to how out of control all these formalities got:

Joseph Fielding Smith warned against formalism in the sacrament when he said: 

Yet, these formalities still exist as requirements in some wards today.  I can understand encouraging appropriate and respectful attire, but making it a requirement to wear a white shirt takes it too far.  

Again, really interesting article on the history and worth a read. 

 

Sounds kind of like "what you are doing when I'm not around" gone wild. I remember having to hold my left hand behind my back.

Interesting how Joseph Fielding Smith's words are revered when they support our positions and despised when they don't. Kind of like President Benson and Elder Packer. Looks like Elder Oaks has ascended into that position in the Church hierarchy.

 

Edited by Bernard Gui

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13 minutes ago, JAHS said:

President George Albert Smith said:
"Our people have been taught to take the sacrament with the right hand; we believe that is appropriate, and proper, and acceptable to our Father. The sacrament should not be accepted with a gloved hand; nobody should receive it in that irreverent manner. We should partake of it in humility, with preparation of clean hands and pure hearts, and with a desire to be acceptable to our Father; then we will receive it worthily, and rejoice in the blessing that comes to us by reason of it." (Conference Report, April 1908, p.36)

So take off those gloves before you take it with your right hand !  

Interesting quote from President Smith. Thanks for finding it. Do you use the General Conference corpus?

I'm reminded of the instruction for ushers in my grandfather's 1947 Handbook of Instructions not to ask ladies to remove their hats in sacrament meeting and the men not to wear hip boots or waders while performing baptisms. Such instructions always mean someone must have been doing it.....or lots of someones.

Edited by Bernard Gui

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20 minutes ago, pogi said:

Joseph Fielding Smith warned against formalism in the sacrament when he said: 

Quote

“If we are not careful, we will find ourselves traveling the road that brought the Church of Jesus Christ in the first centuries into disrepute and paved the way for the apostasy.”

Yet, these formalities still exist as requirements in some wards today.  I can understand encouraging appropriate and respectful attire, but making it a requirement to wear a white shirt takes it too far.  I live in a fairly poor ward.  We were overjoyed when a young deacon showed up to church (inactive) and wanted to pass the sacrament.  He was dressed in bluejeans and a button up shirt (not white) - that was the dressiest clothes he owned.  After he started passing regularly, some ward members donated some nicer clothes for him to wear, which was nice, but not necessary.  We were happy to have him participate. 

Again, really interesting article on the history and worth a read. 

In the same article the author explains that a decade later Joseph Fielding Smith had changed his mind. When he said:

Quote

Smith insisted the sacrament be taken and passed by the right hand only—the right hand being “a symbol of righteousness.” He said, “The right hand or side is called the dexter and the left the sinister. Dexter connotes something favorable; sinister, something unfavorable or unfortunate. It is a well-established practice in the church to partake of the sacrament with the right hand and also to anoint with the right hand, according to the custom which the scriptures indicate is, and always was, approved by divine injunction.

This helps explain a lot about Nehor.

I wonder which words of President Smith we are supposed to revere?

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11 minutes ago, Bernard Gui said:

Interesting how Joseph Fielding Smith's words are revered when they support our positions and despised when they don't. Kind of like President Benson and Elder Packer. Looks like Elder Oaks has ascended into that position in the Church hierarchy.

I think "despise" is an overly strong word.  I would use "disagree with" instead.  When GA's clearly disagree with each other and change their own position and opinions from time to time on different subjects, we are inclined to form our own opinions.  Naturally we are going to revere words more that speak to our spiritual sensibilities then those that don't, especially when they are not supported by our scriptures and require speculation and inference.

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3 minutes ago, CA Steve said:

In the same article the author explains that a decade later Joseph Fielding Smith had changed his mind. When he said:

This helps explain a lot about Nehor.

I wonder which words of President Smith we are supposed to revere?

He said, “The right hand or side is called the dexter and the left the sinister. Dexter connotes something favorable; sinister, something unfavorable or unfortunate. It is a well-established practice in the church to partake of the sacrament with the right hand and also to anoint with the right hand, according to the custom which the scriptures indicate is, and always was, approved by divine injunction.

I'm wondering, does the church teach men to anoint with the right hand?  I've never heard of that (but I'm not sure I would) and I've never paid attention to see which hand men use.   As I said before, I've never been taught to take the sacrament with my right hand.  I've read things that were taught to other people (like the OP) but I've never personally been taught it.

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23 minutes ago, CA Steve said:

In the same article the author explains that a decade later Joseph Fielding Smith had changed his mind. When he said:

This helps explain a lot about Nehor.

I wonder which words of President Smith we are supposed to revere?

Yep, I noticed that.  Kind of interesting how he changed his position over a decade.  Which kind of highlights the unclear and speculative nature of the issue.  All support for the use of the right hand is based on inference and tradition "established practice" rather than divine injunction.  The question is, when did it become an established practice and why?  The use of the right hand was first publicized in 1930 from an article by the Granite Stake with the only explanation being "it is not proper" to use the left hand.  This was a bottom up tradition, not top down.  So, if indeed the sacrament is invalidated by using the left hand and needs to be repeated, why isn't it being enforced today, like the sacrament prayer?  Most young people have probably never even heard of this idea - but yet they know they have to say the sacramental prayer perfectly.  

In answer to your question, we should revere the words that the spirit testifies of. 

Edited by pogi
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1 minute ago, bluebell said:

He said, “The right hand or side is called the dexter and the left the sinister. Dexter connotes something favorable; sinister, something unfavorable or unfortunate. It is a well-established practice in the church to partake of the sacrament with the right hand and also to anoint with the right hand, according to the custom which the scriptures indicate is, and always was, approved by divine injunction.

I'm wondering, does the church teach men to anoint with the right hand?  I've never heard of that (but I'm not sure I would) and I've never paid attention to see which hand men use.   As I said before, I've never been taught to take the sacrament with my right hand.  I've read things that were taught to other people (like the OP) but I've never personally been taught it.

TBH, this is an age thing. Were President Oaks just a little bit older, as a deacon he could have heard a similar admonition from another apostle about the importance of using a communal cup to take the sacrament instead of individual cups, which, up until the early 20th century, was how the sacrament was passed. It wasn't until 1923 that instructions were issued to start using individual cups.

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18 minutes ago, pogi said:

I think "despise" is an overly strong word.  I would use "disagree with" instead.  When GA's clearly disagree with each other and change their own position and opinions from time to time on different subjects, we are inclined to form our own opinions.  Naturally we are going to revere words more that speak to our spiritual sensibilities then those that don't, especially when they are not supported by our scriptures and require speculation and inference.

Surely you’ve heard the extreme disrespect of Elders Smith, Benson, Packer, and now Oaks here and elsewhere? 

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6 minutes ago, pogi said:

Yep, I noticed that.  Kind of interesting how he changed his position over a decade.  Which kind of highlights the unclear and speculative nature of the issue.  All support for the use of the right hand is based on inference and tradition "established practice" rather than divine injunction.  The question is, when did it become an established practice and why?  The use of the right hand was first publicized in 1930 from an article by the Granite Stake with the only explanation being "it is not proper" to use the left hand.  This was a bottom up tradition, not top down.  So, if indeed the sacrament is invalidated by using the left hand and needs to be repeated, why isn't it being enforced today, like the sacrament prayer?  Most young people have probably never even heard of this idea - but yet they know they have to say the sacramental prayer perfectly.  

In answer to your question, we should revere the words that the spirit testifies of. 

Who has said it is invalidated and must be repeated? I must have missed that. 

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7 hours ago, CA Steve said:

It is my understanding that in the lost 116 pages not only were the faithful Nephites described as "white and delightsome" they were also all right-handed.

Part of my life has been spent living in societies where literally everyone is right-handed because the alternative is simply not allowed.

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9 minutes ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

Part of my life has been spent living in societies where literally everyone is right-handed because the alternative is simply not allowed.

In these societies, were the people any better?  Was the spirit stronger? Is there any evidence that using one’s right hand for an activity is objectively ‘better’ than the left-handed alternative?

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I always use my right hand to partake of the sacrament -- and I don't buck the tradition just to say I'm not bound by a mere tradition.  But while I would advise another to use the right hand (if present), I would not make a big deal out of it.  

I also don't see the utility of praying using King James Version English, even though I almost always pray like that.  I've heard from that some GAs consider that prayer needs a particular "prayer language", but in other languages there is no such thing.  I am sort-of fluent in German and can pray in that language without a problem -- and there is no equivalent to "thou" "thee" "thine" and so on.  German prayers are spoken in the contemporary standard language, and in addressing Deity the familiar form of you, your is used -- because God's your father, and you don't use formal language with a parent.  I believe the same is true for Spanish.  So I don't get bothered if someone prays in a public meeting using "you" and "your" when speaking to God.

It's like the big deal about being married in the temple, instead of being married civilly and getting sealed afterwards.  You can't be married in the temple in some countries, for example the UK, because by law marriages must be solemnized in public.  So there's no sanction in the church in the UK with being married civilly and getting immediately sealed in the temple afterwards.  But in the US they make you wait a year after a civil marriage.  Even if you both have temple recommends.  

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3 hours ago, HappyJackWagon said:

The issue of right versus left hand has existed for a very long time in many cultures. Left handedness was sometimes considered evil (or the person was possessed) or it was simply an issue of cleanliness and hygiene (based on what the left hand was generally used for in the bathroom) etc. So I agree that symbolism rises out of culture and tradition but that doesn't really relate to God's will.

If only we had a way of knowing when prophets and apostles were sharing God's will instead of the philosophies of man.

51748964_2066599896755891_13310019468944

Bishop Jack, you annoy me sometimes I confess, but I had to laugh heartily at this image.  Perhaps such a marquee could be useful.  With a button on the podium.  LOL.

[Removed something that revealed I didn't read the entire post!]

Edited by Stargazer

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Perhaps someone could explain the difference between taking the sacrament with the right hand and the Pharisees' limitation on the number of steps taken on the Sabbath?

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15 minutes ago, SouthernMo said:

In these societies, were the people any better?  Was the spirit stronger? Is there any evidence that using one’s right hand for an activity is objectively ‘better’ than the left-handed alternative?

Ha! You're asking the wrong person. My preference for right-handedness begins and ends with its utility in writing using the Latin alphabet.

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2 minutes ago, ttribe said:

Perhaps someone could explain the difference between taking the sacrament with the right hand and the Pharisees' limitation on the number of steps taken on the Sabbath?

The only difference between whether or not something is a commandment or a 'hedge'  depends on whether or not it comes from God.  It doesn't matter how strict it is or how lenient; that's not the dividing line between pharisaical or of God.  The line is whether it's a creation of man or of God.  And people disagree on that with this topic.

 

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10 minutes ago, ttribe said:

Perhaps someone could explain the difference between taking the sacrament with the right hand and the Pharisees' limitation on the number of steps taken on the Sabbath?

The difference is HUGE. Let me explain:

When other people are hung up on ceremony and form, they are acting as the Pharisees.  When we Mormons do something that requires ceremony and form, it is acting in accordance with God’s exact prescribed will.*

 

 

*Please note that God’s exact and eternal will may change from time to time - please do not study history to make comparisons with today’s practices.

Edited by SouthernMo
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