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Excommunication in the Church


MorningStar

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I was looking up the subject of excommunication today for a friend and found this article by Elder M. Russell Ballard. I had heard before that when you're excommunicated, your tithing is no longer accepted, but had never seen it in writing before. I just thought that was an interesting tidbit since the church is so often accused of being greedy. The whole thing was pretty interesting to read.

One thing my friend wanted to know is whether it's common for people to be excommunicated for spousal abuse and she is wondering if her current situation will lead to her own excommunication. Would any knowledgeable people like to answer questions about church discipline?

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I was looking up the subject of excommunication today for a friend and found this article by Elder M. Russell Ballard. I had heard before that when you're excommunicated, your tithing is no longer accepted, but had never seen it in writing before. I just thought that was an interesting tidbit since the church is so often accused of being greedy. The whole thing was pretty interesting to read.

One thing my friend wanted to know is whether it's common for people to be excommunicated for spousal abuse and she is wondering if her current situation will lead to her own excommunication. Would any knowledgeable people like to answer questions about church discipline?

did she do spousal abuse herself or the recipient? I think its a case by case situation. I can't for the life of me imagine someone who was abused getting exed. I have a "friend" who did spouse abuse but wasn't exed, he was in jail for a bit but not exed-but he didn't put his wife in the hospital or anything, he had charges against him which he has to work out

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I was looking up the subject of excommunication today for a friend and found this article by Elder M. Russell Ballard. I had heard before that when you're excommunicated, your tithing is no longer accepted, but had never seen it in writing before. I just thought that was an interesting tidbit since the church is so often accused of being greedy. The whole thing was pretty interesting to read.

One thing my friend wanted to know is whether it's common for people to be excommunicated for spousal abuse and she is wondering if her current situation will lead to her own excommunication. Would any knowledgeable people like to answer questions about church discipline?

I don't know that there are very many offenses for which excommunication is all that common. If your friend is a victim of abuse, she should not expect to be excommunicated. Although the Church does not officially differentiate between male and female abusers, disciplinary councils are composed of men who have the usual prejudices (man hits woman = evil, woman hits man = how bad can it be?) so if she's the abuser, she may well get an easier ride than had the shoe been on the other foot. OTOH, if there was some "give and take" with the abuse -- which is rather more common in real life than the standard "abuser/victim" model assumes -- it may get rather muddy and difficult to sort out.

Regards,

Pahoran

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No, she was the abused one. She wonders if her soon to be ex-husband will face discipline (bothers her that he hasn't) and during the time she decided to leave the church, she made the choice to start dating with the divorce dragging out for so long. Now that she has been away from the abuse for a while, she's having the desire to go back to church. She's actually not upset at the idea of being excommunicated since she doesn't know what she wants and isn't committed yet to changing. I know there are some things that would lead to a disciplinary council for sure, but I wondered how common it is for spousal abuse. I know there's no exact formula. Some people who commit adultery will be excommunicated and others won't. I'm trying to think if I know of anyone who was exed for beating their spouse.

I loved the story in the article about the restoration of blessings. I think I'll send the link to her so she can better understand the process.

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No, she was the abused one. She wonders if her soon to be ex-husband will face discipline (bothers her that he hasn't) and during the time she decided to leave the church, she made the choice to start dating with the divorce dragging out for so long. Now that she has been away from the abuse for a while, she's having the desire to go back to church. She's actually not upset at the idea of being excommunicated since she doesn't know what she wants and isn't committed yet to changing. I know there are some things that would lead to a disciplinary council for sure, but I wondered how common it is for spousal abuse. I know there's no exact formula. Some people who commit adultery will be excommunicated and others won't. I'm trying to think if I know of anyone who was exed for beating their spouse.

I loved the story in the article about the restoration of blessings. I think I'll send the link to her so she can better understand the process.

iknow a similar situation but no spousal abuse. This guy in my ward was totally inactive and was living common law to his non-member GF. They came to church regularly and took the sacrament as far as I know, he even passed once or tiwce as I recall. The Bishop thought that yes he could be exed for living common law but what good would that do? so they got married, she got baptized and he is now serving in the EQ Pres. so good came form it. So I don't if that helps but there it is!

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Oh, my. Just from my short experience in the Church and one who isn't baptised yet, I have never heard the word "excommunicate." There is one man, for reasons unknown to me, who sits in the back and cannot take the sacrament. But we all talk to him, some hug him, and so I'm not sure what is happening there.

I cannot imagine any Bishop or any of the hierarchy of the Church excommunicating a victim of spousal abuse. This Church, from what I have seen, is sensible, fair, and loving.

I would think the Church would especially be there for her, supportive, and loving...because I think it would be a possibility the victim might give up on God, and that is when she needs the Church the most.

Just my opinion.

Blessings,

Blossom

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iknow a similar situation but no spousal abuse. This guy in my ward was totally inactive and was living common law to his non-member GF. They came to church regularly and took the sacrament as far as I know, he even passed once or tiwce as I recall. The Bishop thought that yes he could be exed for living common law but what good would that do? so they got married, she got baptized and he is now serving in the EQ Pres. so good came form it. So I don't if that helps but there it is!

WE have a couple in the ward, everyone would much rather see them married than excommunicated so that is what is being worked for.

Inactives are unlikely in my opinion to be exed for living together, if someone is active and in a leadership position, temple attender etc. and then decides to live with someone, they risk excommunication imo.

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I was looking up the subject of excommunication today for a friend and found this article by Elder M. Russell Ballard. I had heard before that when you're excommunicated, your tithing is no longer accepted, but had never seen it in writing before. I just thought that was an interesting tidbit since the church is so often accused of being greedy. The whole thing was pretty interesting to read.

One thing my friend wanted to know is whether it's common for people to be excommunicated for spousal abuse and she is wondering if her current situation will lead to her own excommunication. Would any knowledgeable people like to answer questions about church discipline?

I know that abusing ones spouse and children is a very serious transgression, we are taught to cherish and love our family and abuse of spouse and children is not only a violation of our covenants to God but also the laws of the land.

As far a disciplinary actions from the Church goes that would be the decision of the assigned council to make, the big thing with excommunication is repentance. If the abuser is not repentant they very well could face excommunication for abusing there spouse or children. Even if they are repentant they might not be excommunicated but they can still be disfellowshipped which means they lose there priesthood callings, temple recommend, ect but do not lose there membership.

Either action is a possibility since this is a very serious thing, it would have to be brought up to the Bishop though cause only he has the right to determine if a disciplinary council is needed.

On the flip side though, if the victim is now dating while still married that is also a concern for her, she cannot be disciplined for being abused by her husband but she can face a disciplinary council if there is any intimacy in this new relationship.

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WE have a couple in the ward, everyone would much rather see them married than excommunicated so that is what is being worked for.

Inactives are unlikely in my opinion to be exed for living together, if someone is active and in a leadership position, temple attender etc. and then decides to live with someone, they risk excommunication imo.

This is very true, inactive members are far less likely to face disciplinary measures than active members (the last thing you want to do is start bringing punishment on someone your trying to return to activity). I know this personally because I was inactive for several years shortly after I converted. I was living with my wife (then girlfriend) and the missionaries reached out a few times but I wasn't ready to receive them yet. They were never judgmental nor did anyone try and punish me for breaking the law of chastity, last February I married my wife, I became active again last September, my wife was baptized last October, and I am now preparing to be ordained an Elder in March.

Had I become active while living in sin of course I would of faced potential disciplinary actions, but fortunately my situation was corrected, I repented of my transgression, I made things right between my and the Lord and our of transgression a wonderful daughter of God was brought into the fold of the true Church!

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This is very true, inactive members are far less likely to face disciplinary measures than active members (the last thing you want to do is start bringing punishment on someone your trying to return to activity). I know this personally because I was inactive for several years shortly after I converted. I was living with my wife (then girlfriend) and the missionaries reached out a few times but I wasn't ready to receive them yet. They were never judgmental nor did anyone try and punish me for breaking the law of chastity, last February I married my wife, I became active again last September, my wife was baptized last October, and I am now preparing to be ordained an Elder in March.

Had I become active while living in sin of course I would of faced potential disciplinary actions, but fortunately my situation was corrected, I repented of my transgression, I made things right between my and the Lord and our of transgression a wonderful daughter of God was brought into the fold of the true Church!

Awesome, welcome home!!! There are a number of us here who can testify that Lehi's white fruit can taste even better once you have wandered in the mists or gone for a swim in the river and your big brother comes out and gets you.

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WE have a couple in the ward, everyone would much rather see them married than excommunicated so that is what is being worked for.

Inactives are unlikely in my opinion to be exed for living together, if someone is active and in a leadership position, temple attender etc. and then decides to live with someone, they risk excommunication imo.

Yes, and I have seen that twice, two active men living with someone else and neither would move out so it came to getting exed

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From what I understand, you can only be excommunicated if you attend a disciplinary council. If you get summoned but refuse to come, and never request that your name be taken off, I don't think the excommunication can take place.

That is incorrect.

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The purpose of an excommunication is to give the unrepentent an unmistakable sign that they need to change. If you are repentent and on your way towards full activity in the Church you have nothing to fear from Church discipline.

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The purpose of an excommunication is to give the unrepentent an unmistakable sign that they need to change. If you are repentent and on your way towards full activity in the Church you have nothing to fear from Church discipline.

If that were the only reason, we'd never excommunicate penitent people. But we do.

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Blossom:

We don't excommunicate often, but it does happen. More often it is some type lesser disciplinary action. Anyhow the whole purpose is to get the person more committed to Jesus the Christ and his Church.

Other reasons include protecting innocent victims and protecting the good name of the church. So apparently, we also excommunicate for the benefit of people whose sensibilities might be offended by the extension of mercy. You know, like when Christ refused to touch the leper because the Jews around the temple might be offended. Oh wait... that isn't how that happened is it?

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Other reasons include protecting innocent victims and protecting the good name of the church. So apparently, we also excommunicate for the benefit of people whose sensibilities might be offended by the extension of mercy. You know, like when Christ refused to touch the leper because the Jews around the temple might be offended. Oh wait... that isn't how that happened is it?

I would assume that the the church would disagree that such excommunications take place because certain people might be offended by the extention of mercy.

The topic of when mercy should be applied or when justice should be instead seems fairly indepth and complicated. I don't know that it's fair to catagorize every instance of justice being handed out as the result of people who don't want mercy but should if they were going to behave as Christ would in the same situation, as it seems your post is implying.

I could be misunderstanding you though. :P

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I would assume that the the church would disagree that such excommunications take place because certain people might be offended by the extention of mercy.

The topic of when mercy should be applied or when justice should be instead seems fairly indepth and complicated. I don't know that it's fair to catagorize every instance of justice being handed out as the result of people who don't want mercy but should if they were going to behave as Christ would in the same situation, as it seems your post is implying.

I could be misunderstanding you though. :P

The CHI indicates reasons for excommunication. Two of the three I remember have nothing to do with whether a person is penitent. It's that simple.

None of us like to believe that the church makes policy for expediency but the fact is that it does. This is why in the most recent meetings at which the new CHI was distributed statements were made to the effect that some procedures and policies were made for the sake of managing an organization the size of our church but that the Spirit should be the primary guide in the execution of all callings.

edit: Bluebell, after reading your post a couple times, I'm not positive what you think my previous post is implying. So I'm not entirely sure I'm responding to the point here.

My point is quite simply that our efforts are supposed to be to reclaim the sinner. D&C 42, the Law of the Church, is quite clear that reasons for excommuncation are based (except in the case of murder) on whether or not one is penitent. Without fail the words "cast out" are in response to "will not repent". Shouldn't excommunication be solely dependent upon repentance?

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mercyngrace:

I never said people aren't excommunicated. They are.

There are also lesser forms of discipline. Disfellowship, a stern warning by the Stake President, even a not so nice talk with the Bishop are all forms of Church discipline. Some more formal than others.

The reasons for that discipline can/do vary from Murder and outright Apostasy to viewing of porno to serious disagreements with a spouse.

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The CHI indicates reasons for excommunication. Two of the three I remember have nothing to do with whether a person is penitent. It's that simple.

When there is a High Council disciplinary council, there are two sides assigned to be explored. One as the advocate of the accused, one side is the advocate of the Church. Both sides are taken into a consideration. There is no 'prosecutor', or anyone assigned to be 'against' anyone. It is that simple. Both sides are approaching the situation from what would be the best for their assigned responsibility in that council. I have been involved in a few such councils. They have always erred on the side of mercy, have had a great outpouring of love, and take very seriously into consideration the effect of an excommunication on the individual's chances for returning, and on their family. Excommunication is a last resort for the rank-and-file member. Unfortunately, it wasn't always viewed that way. But that is how it's being taught and practiced in the Church today. There are - and will be - far more disfellowshipments than excommunications.

There are occasions, such as when a grievous sin is very widely publicly known and will do widespread damage to the credibility and PR of the Church, or when it is done by an individual with a high and influential Church calling (especially one with close association with youth) that the 1 Nephi 4:13 principle is swiftly put into play in terms of excommunication - but even then only when it is felt it is absolutely necessary.

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That is incorrect.

That is correct.

(That that is incorrect)- everyone totally confused? :P

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If that were the only reason, we'd never excommunicate penitent people. But we do.

Yep, and often penitent people want to be excommunicated.

MorningStar

Under no circumstances would a person who has been abused be excommunicated for being abused. That makes no sense whatsoever.

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When there is a High Council disciplinary council, there are two sides assigned to be explored. One as the advocate of the accused, one side is the advocate of the Church. Both sides are taken into a consideration. There is no 'prosecutor', or anyone assigned to be 'against' anyone. It is that simple. Both sides are approaching the situation from what would be the best for their assigned responsibility in that council. I have been involved in a few such councils. They have always erred on the side of mercy, have had a great outpouring of love, and take very seriously into consideration the effect of an excommunication on the individual's chances for returning, and on their family. Excommunication is a last resort for the rank-and-file member. Unfortunately, it wasn't always viewed that way. But that is how it's being taught and practiced in the Church today. There are - and will be - far more disfellowshipments than excommunications.

There are occasions, such as when a grievous sin is very widely publicly known and will do widespread damage to the credibility and PR of the Church, or when it is done by an individual with a high and influential Church calling (especially one with close association with youth) that the 1 Nephi 4:13 principle is swiftly put into play in terms of excommunication - but even then only when it is felt it is absolutely necessary.

nack,

Though I've never had the experience of being present, I'm familiar with the process based on what D&C 107 (iirc) says and discussions with my husband, father, and brothers, all of whom have served on the high council. Their experiences generally support what you've said here however, they've also each got tales to tell where the process went awry.

It is my opinion that having codified reasons in the CHI for excommunication for any other reason than lack of penitence allows room for travesties. The norm should be codified, rare exceptions should be dealt with individually as situations arise.

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