right or left handed sacrament
Posted 22 July 2008 - 06:00 AM
Posted 22 July 2008 - 06:38 AM
...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. (Conference Report, April 1908)
And secondly, from Elder Joseph Fielding Smith:
It is the custom to extend the right hand in token of fellowship. The right hand is called the dexter, and the left, the sinister; dexter means right and sinister means left. Dexter, or right, means favorable or propitious. Sinister is associated with evil, rather than good, Sinister means perverse. We take the sacrament with the right hand. We sustain the authorities with the right hand. We make acknowledgment with the right hand raised. (Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.3, p.108)
Both of these references seem odd to me, however. In the first, it's almost mentioned in passing, in the middle of a paragraph discussing reverence during the Sacrament, and a need for humility. Yet, there it is. Then in the second, it's almost like the reason for which hand to use is a Sophist exercise. The left hand is associated with evil so we shouldn't let it touch anything good! So sorry for all you right-arm amputees.
The other thing that jumps out at me with these references is there is no discussion of origin. No scriptural discussion, no mention of how it was decided that we believe this is acceptable before God. Who was we? Throw in the following from Joseph Fielding Smith about children partaking the sacrament:
There is no reason why any member of the Church should be concerned over the fact that little children may partake of the sacrament. The most important thing is to be sure that we who are grown to full maturity keep ourselves worthy of this sacred ordinance. (Answers to Gospel Questions, Vol.2, p.90)
So, what's more important, that we are worthy of the sacrament, or that we use the right hand?
1) This issue has been discussed twice in 178 years of Church History.
2) No substantive reason was given in either instance.
3) The right hand was given preference, but the left hand was for from forbidden.
4) The issue is of marginal importance anyway.
If anyone really wants to get caught up in the issue, he or she had better be so far spiritually matured that the need to repent before partaking the Sacrament is a rare occurrence.
Posted 22 July 2008 - 07:21 AM
Question: "We have been taught in the Church that we should partake of the sacrament with the right hand. Why is this necessary? In our discussions we do not seem to be able to find anything telling us why this is so. Why is it wrong to partake of the sacrament with the left hand?"
Answer: Questions of this nature are occasionally received. In one case we are informed that some brethren were advocating the partaking of the sacrament with either hand. Moreover, in one stake it was the custom to confirm and ordain persons by the officiators standing in a circle, raising their right hands, and placing their left hands on the heads of candidates to be blessed and ordained. Therefore, it is expedient that something be said about the use of the right hand in performing ordinations and partaking of the sacrament.
The performing of ordinances with the right hand in preference to the left is a well-established custom universally and is not confined to the Church. In various governments where oaths are administered, the candidate for office is asked to raise his right hand. There are occasions when he is sworn to give truthful testimony by placing his right hand on a copy of the Bible. This custom has come down from the beginning, and from many scriptural passages we gather that it has always received divine sanction. When Abraham sent his servant to his kindred to find a wife for Isaac, he had the servant place his right hand under Abraham's thigh and swear to him that he would accomplish this mission.(Genesis 24:2. ) There are other occasions of similar import. One of the earliest incidents recorded is the blessing Jacob gave his grandsons, Manasseh and Ephraim. Manasseh was the elder, and as Joseph presented his sons to their grandfather, he presented Manasseh towards Jacob's right hand and Ephraim towards his left hand. The record states that Jacob "guiding his hands wittingly" placed his right hand on the head of Ephraim and his left hand on the head of Manasseh. Joseph protested, saying, "Not so, my father: for this is the firstborn; put thy right hand upon his head." "I know it, my son, I know it:" said Jacob, "he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations."(Ibid., 48:13-19. )
When the Egyptians were destroyed in the Red Sea, Israel sang: "Thy right hand, O Lord, is becoming glorious in power: thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy . . .";(Exodus 15:6.) and when Israel entered the land of their inheritance, the Lord instructed Moses in offering sacrifice to take the blood of the ram, "and put it upon the tip of the right ear of Aaron, and upon the tip of the right ear of his sons, and upon the thumb of their right hand, and upon the great toe of their right foot, and sprinkle the blood upon the altar round about." With this ordinance and the sprinkling of the blood and anointing oil upon the altar, Aaron and his sons were "hallowed before the Lord."(See Ibid., 29:20-21.)
REVEALED FROM HEAVEN
The showing favor to the right hand or side is not something invented by man but was revealed from the heavens in the beginning. To Isaiah the Lord said:
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee: yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. . . .
For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.(Isaiah 41:10, 13.)
Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am the first, I am also the last.
Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together.(Ibid., 48: 12-13.)
The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.(Psalm 110:1; Matthew 22:44.)
When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left.
For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.(Matthew 25:31-46.)
There are numerous passages in the scriptures referring to the right hand, indicating that it is a symbol of righteousness and was used in the making of covenants. When the Savior was taken before the high priest, scribes, and elders, the high priest said unto him: "I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God." In reply to this edict, Jesus said to him:
Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.(Ibid., 26:63-64.)
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.
Answers to Gospel Questions, vol. 1, The Right Hand, by Joseph Fielding Smith
Posted 22 July 2008 - 08:25 AM
Nevertheless, all kidding aside, since Joseph Fielding seems to be the only written reference about this, I wouldn't dare go against it now. So I appreciate the advice. But I do wonder, although I know the right hand is important in priesthood ordinances and such, but if it's so important and fundamental for taking the sacrament, why don't the missionaries teach this since they do so well at teaching all the other fundamental things, or why don't we hear about this in our priesthood meetings (or manual), or other meetings etc.... I mean, I think if it is that important, others should know--think of it, I took the sacrament left-handed for nearly 15 years without a clue.
Posted 22 July 2008 - 08:57 AM
It is not just Joseph Fileding Smith merely answered it, it is what is done in the walls of the temple - the right hand is used extensively. A representation of the symbol of Christ who sits on the right hand of GOD.
We are slaves of our culture. Symbology is dependent on culture. The use of the right hand as a symbol is ancient and is probably rooted in the fact that most humans are born with right hand dominance. When strangers met, a free right hand was a symbol of peace because most people used the right hand to wield a weapon. Left handed people were evil because they could have the right hand emty and still wield a weapon. In northern cultures, the sun rose in what we call east and north was to the left of sunrise. The bitter winds and cold of winter began and came from the north. All of these have imbeded a cultural bias toward right handedness. Although the symbology is important for our spiritual understanding, we should not forget that the Church is implementing policies both in and out of the temple to bring better understanding and support for the handicapped. Not that left handers are handicapped, they just have to buy special made scissors. When persons can not use the right hand, for what ever reason, it is appropriate and correct to perform the ordinance or ritual with the left hand both in the temple and out.
Posted 22 July 2008 - 09:36 AM
Posted 22 July 2008 - 09:41 AM
Posted 22 July 2008 - 10:03 AM
The right hand is the covenant hand. Thus it's ideally used to take the sacrament, and it should also be used when passing the Sacrament.
As our understanding of the covenant and Christ grows, I believe we'll recognize this and treated as more than micro-managing and make that decision ourselves.
And now, O man, remember, and perish not.
Posted 22 July 2008 - 10:07 AM
Symbolism in the Sacrament
Joseph Fielding Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation, Vol 1, p.103
It is a very interesting study to discover how ordinances and doctrines became changed in the first centuries of the Christian era. These changes date back even to the days of the apostles. Paul frequently had to rebuke, warn and counsel with the members in the several branches which he was instrumental in organizing when on his missionary journeys. He severely rebuked the saints at Corinth for desecrating the holy ordinance of the Sacrament and turning it into a feast where the Spirit of the Lord could not be present.
The first changes that came, evidently came innocently because some enterprising bishop or other officer endeavored to introduce into his meetings, or among his congregation something new—just a little different, in advancement of that which was practiced elsewhere. This tendency is very apparent in the wards and stakes of the Church today.
For example, let us consider the ordinance of the Sacrament. It became the custom in many wards throughout the church to have the young men who passed the Sacrament all dressed alike with dark coats, white shirts and uniform ties. This could in time lead to the established custom of dressing them in uniform, such as we see done in some sectarian and other churches. Then again as they passed the Sacrament they had to stand with their left hand plastered on their backs in a most awkward manner. The priests or elders who administered these holy emblems had to stand in a certain way as the one officiating in the prayer knelt at the table. In some instances the Bishop stood in the pulpit with raised hands in an attitude of benediction. Other customs among the quorums and in the services of the wards were introduced. Members of the Church were instructed that they must not touch the trays containing the bread and the water with their left hand, but must take it in their right hand after partaking as their neighbor held the tray in his or her right hand. In the Priesthood in the wards, we now have "supervisors" directing the activities of the deacons and the priests. How long will it take before these supervisors are considered as a regular part of the Priesthood and it will be necessary to set them apart or ordain them to this office? So we see that we, if we are not careful, 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.
And maybe have a seat by the Eastern wall.
And I'd discuss the holy books with the learned men, several hours every day.
That would be the sweetest thing of all.
If I were a rich man...
Posted 22 July 2008 - 10:13 AM
Question, and I am not trying to start a fight but point to a fact. Are we not told to help each other along the path of Christ, in following all doctrines of the gospel?? Which hand we use to take the sacrament has never been address other then in passing but the comments made by Hemi and others is, I think, right on the point. Most if not all thing pertaining to ordinance work or conformation is done with the right hand. It is there in the scriptures time and time again!!! We are not telling these people they are bad or evil or anything else, just trying to help them understand and follow or stay on the path.
Answer me this: For the sake of arguement pretend I keep all my covenants and am basically Celestial Kingdom bound. Does taking the sacrament with the wrong hand keep me from receiving that glory?
I realize that it is a ritualistic performance and that it may be appropriate but if God allows people to be born with deformaties that prevent using their right hand I am pretty sure that it isn't as big a deal as we are making it out to be.
Just so you know I do take the sacrament with my right hand but there have been times where I have taken it with my left hand. I don't believe that I should be corrected or looked down on for this most miniscule of "mistakes."
Posted 22 July 2008 - 10:17 AM
It's okay to have these discussions. It shows we love and are interested in the gospel, I've enjoyed seeing everyone's opinion.
This sure is an active board. So glad I stopped by.
Posted 22 July 2008 - 10:18 AM
I am sorry that you disagree, and I hope that you are Celestial Kingdom bound, and no I don't think that you'd be held up... but again thats MY opinion and luckily I'm in the US and can express it...
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