The focus of this post is to examine the policies established by the CHI for the worthiness interview required for baptism.
Section 16.3.3 covers interviews for convert baptisms. Mission presidents are given the keys for administering baptisms of new members of the church over the age of 8 or for 8 year old children whose parents are not members of the church. The full time mission district or zone leaders are delegated authority by the mission president to perform the worthiness interviews for these baptisms.
Various scriptures mention the need to verify a person is truly repentant prior to being baptized into Christ’s church. The Lord does expect those who are seeking baptism to in someway demonstrate their repentant state. And it is a priesthood function to verify this. The process for this has become the baptismal interview.
This basically places the full time missionaries in the function of a judge “in Israel” or at least at the entrance into Israel. We are taught that certain sins are more grievous than others. Murder specifically has some scriptural precautions attached to it and is treated as a sin which the Lord does not easily forgive.
In my mind there are some real questions about whether the way we are taught about this is the way God views it. In the book of Alma the people of Lamoni were completely forgiven of murderous acts. You might accept that group because perhaps what they did was done under a “legal” cloak. I believe it is a very dangerous thing to think that because a thing is legal under an earthly government it is not murder, enslavement or theft before God. I suggest you read Many are Called But Few Are Chosen by H. Verlan Anderson to understand that. But even if that were true what about those Lamanites who came and began slaughtering thousands of Anti Nephi Lehis who were not even armed nor resisting? They seem to have been truly forgiven that very day.
I will only lightly cover that because it is not the focus of this section of the CHI and I do not feel adequate to treat it thoroughly with all scriptural statements taken into account.
Now to help clarify the CHI requirements for a convert baptismal interview I will break the sins listed into 3 classes. Each class requires a different level of approval before the candidate may be baptized. If this sounds to you a little like the instructions for an income tax form then you should ponder the significance of that. The format here is not from the CHI but the procedures and events listed are.
Class 1 sins are all sins not covered in classes 2 or 3.
Class 1 candidates are approved by the interview of the missionary District or Zone leader.
Class 2 sins are if the candidate :
1. Has submitted to, performed, arranged for, paid for, consented to, or encouraged an abortion.
2. Has been convicted of a serious crime.
3. Has committed a homosexual transgression.
Class 2 events require the mission president to interview or he may on a case by case basis authorize one of his counselors to interview and then the mission president’s approval must be given before the baptism is allowed.
Class 3 requires the mission president himself to conduct the interview and receive approval of the First Presidency before the baptism can take place.
Class 3 sins are if the candidate:
Has committed murder
Has been involved in the practice of plural marriage
Has undergone an elective transsexual operation
Is currently on legal probation or parole
Under murder further instructions are given exempting cases of a police or military killings done in the line of duty. I wonder if that includes CIA employees who torture people or kill them as part of their job. Well surely torture is not murder just a serious crime or no not even a crime since they were obeying the 12th commandment, I mean article of faith because it was done under the laws of the land (What land? Don’t confuse me with details!).
Regarding involvement in plural marriage two more subsections are cited. The first subsection relates to adults who have been involved. The other relates to children whose parents are practicing or did practice plural marriage.
As an adult you have in the eyes of the CHI committed a class 3 sin if you have previously taught, encouraged or practiced plural marriage. Remember this is as a nonmember we are talking about. The mission president must submit a request for approval to the First Presidency and it should include information about the person’s past involvement and his subsequent repentance.
So let me get this straight. A person who learns of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ must repent of having taught what Joseph Smith and every apostle up until 1890 taught and prove repentance for having taught it before he can be baptized? And of course the same applies to having encouraged or practiced it also.
Wow I am sure glad this high standard doesn’t apply to retaining church membership since as someone who has been sealed to two women (both living as if that makes a difference) I am obviously teaching by example and in fact practicing plural marriage. But we will see why I am exempt from any such punishment.
And now let’s look at the class 3 sin of involvement in plural marriage as applied to a child. This occurs when the candidate for baptism is a child of parents who have practiced or are practicing plural marriage contrary to the law. I take that to mean the civil law where the person is living.
The mission president may submit his request for approval to the first presidency when the following requirements are met.
1. The children accept the teachings and doctrines of the church.
Is this not required in the other classes of baptismal approval? (Hey lay off government regulations are notoriously redundant)
2. The children repudiate the teachings upon which their parents based their practice of plural marriage.
So that would be something found in the Bible, Doctrine and Covenants or the journal of discourses? No it could easily be something in Islamic law too! Yeah and as true blue Americans we all know that is all evil especially after 911. Yeah!
3. Minor children are not living in a home where polygamy is being taught or practiced.
Good thing for my children that they were already baptized when I married my second wife in the temple without cancelling the sealing to my first. But obviously that doesn’t matter since it is not against the law of the state. So is that all the CHI is concerned about? You might say no because is says also even if the doctrine is being taught in the home. But in fact this is exactly the language of the Official Declaration 1 which states we aren’t teaching and we aren’t practicing plural marriage.
I think we have to agree that this is all about bowing to the law of man. We can see that the application becomes extreme. Where do the writers of the CHI draw the line regarding teaching the doctrine of plural marriage as an eternal principle? That really doesn’t matter to them because the policy here it is all about bowing to the governments of men.
Now consider this fact. There are only a few nations where sex outside of marriage between adults is a crime. In fact to many people such a law is seen as a “gross human rights violation.” Although I don’t classify Satan as a person (he doesn’t have a body) I am sure he calls laws against extra marital sex as a violation of human rights (see Alma 30:18, 27).
So if a child lives in a home where the parents are not married but simply living together and having sexual relations then there is no restriction on that child being baptized. No letter to the first presidency stating the child repudiates the actions of his parents. And rightfully so. The child’s acceptance of the gospel of Christ is that repudiation.
But I see in this policy an extreme bias against a doctrine which was part of the restoration of all things but which the leadership of the LDS church is now trying to stamp out of existence. And all of this policy is in obedience to governments which outlaw God’s laws and make legal Satan’s laws.
I readily admit there are many things in this policy which could stand some scrutiny and no doubt the comments will explore them. I just picked on a policy which seems to really pick on some innocent little children placing them in the same class with people who have shed innocent blood. And I ask myself and you to what end?