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Can one "opt out" of covenants?


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#1 Torostoros

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Posted 29 August 2013 - 11:19 PM

Just a weird thought that randomly came to me while driving back from a meeting. We know people can request their names be removed from Church records, and are therefore no longer a member of the Church. Suppose a Melchizedek Priesthood holder were to request he no longer hold the Priesthood - being well-informed that while relieved of the obligations of the covenant, he would no longer, even when living righteously, receive the blessings (as he would no longer be in the covenant). Let's say in this hypothetical he makes this request because he has decided he is not able to live up to the obligations and therefore does not want the penalties for this failure. He is worthy, wants to remain a member, in good standing, etc., just does not want the Priesthood responsibility anymore, and asks to be "unordained" (or whatever else one could call it in this case). Can it be done? I've never head of such a thing so am wondering what would be the course of action if someone were to make such a request. Additionally, if someone were to have their name removed from Church records, then later decides to rejoin, are they re-baptised? Re-ordained? Is it some other ordinance a la restoration of blessings for excommunicated that return, in order to re-establish the covenants they had entered into at the time of name removal? How is it done?

#2 NightSG

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 09:20 PM

"We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may."

While there may be some discussion and other action depending on your bishop's views, opting out of a given responsibility is between you and the Lord. I don't know that there would be a process to revoke the ordination without further action, but in the end it is down to the "dictates of (y)our own conscience" what you do with it.

#3 Dravin

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 10:09 PM

To the idea of simply opting out of the priesthood, this comes to mind:

33 For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies.

34 They become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham, and the church and kingdom, and the elect of God.

35 And also all they who receive this priesthood receive me, saith the Lord;

36 For he that receiveth my servants receiveth me;

37 And he that receiveth me receiveth my Father;

38 And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him.

39 And this is according to the oath and covenant which belongeth to the priesthood.

40 Therefore, all those who receive the priesthood, receive this oath and covenant of my Father, which he cannot break, neither can it be moved.

41 But whoso breaketh this covenant after he hath received it, and altogether turneth therefrom, shall not have forgiveness of sins in this world nor in the world to come.

42 And wo unto all those who come not unto this priesthood which ye have received, which I now confirm upon you who are present this day, by mine own voice out of the heavens; and even I have given the heavenly hosts and mine angels charge concerning you.


Link: Doctrine and Covenants 84

Admittedly it doesn't address the policy question you are asking, but I feel it addresses the underlying thought you introduced of, "I'll just opt out of the priesthood, give up the blessings for not having the responsibilities. A nice fair trade." To quote the section heading, "Men gain eternal life through the oath and covenant of the priesthood." We're not talking about trading in your allowance so you don't have to wash dishes and mow the lawn, we're talking about trading eternal life.

Edited by Dravin, 30 August 2013 - 10:21 PM.

Hindsight is all well and good... until you trip.

#4 bytebear

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 10:25 PM

As far as I know, you can't take away what you have received, other than through excommunication. And when you rejoin the church, you are rebaptized, and all your covenants are restored, so you are not re-ordained, or re-endowed.

#5 Torostoros

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 01:43 AM

Just posting to clarify I'm not considering it personally ; just interested to see if there was a policy to deal with people that wanted to drop some covenants but not all. :) would be a strange contingency for leadership to deal with

#6 Anddenex

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 07:26 AM

Just think of the temple and one particularly line inquiring about "withdrawing" from the covenant by your own personal choice. Yep, we can withdraw from a covenant and thus remove ourselves from the blessing of the covenant also.

#7 Dravin

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 07:39 AM

Just think of the temple and one particularly line inquiring about "withdrawing" from the covenant by your own personal choice.


That line, if I'm thinking of the same one, is an invitation to leave the session/ordinance before covenants are made. It's not talking about withdrawing from covenants already made. It's basically a warning that we're going to be making covenants and if you aren't willing to make covenants that now is the time to leave.

Edited by Dravin, 31 August 2013 - 07:49 AM.

Hindsight is all well and good... until you trip.

#8 applepansy

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 08:37 AM

When we stop living the commandments and we stop keeping our covenants, aren't we opting out?

#9 Dravin

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 09:12 AM

When we stop living the commandments and we stop keeping our covenants, aren't we opting out?


As far as opting out when not keeping our covenants it depends what connotative definitions one wants to attach to what opting out means. Personally, in this context, opting out carries a connotation of a removal of the requirement and expectation to keep our covenant. While one opts out of the blessings attached to a covenant by not keeping it I don't think one opts out of the requirement to keep it inasmuch as one is capable of meeting that requirement and if one is not capable than a requirement or expectation exists to become capable.

I bring up the whole issue of the expectation and requirement to keep the covenant, or become capable to do so, because the OP says this:

Let's say in this hypothetical he makes this request because he has decided he is not able to live up to the obligations and therefore does not want the penalties for this failure.


It reads to me less, "Can one break your covenants, and lose the blessings associated with them, without being excommunicated." and more, "Is there a way to remove oneself from the requirement of keeping one's covenants by trading blessings for responsibilities." I suppose one could debate if living a Terrestrial law is trading the blessings of a Celestial existence for the responsibilities of a Terrestrial existence but as you can probably gather from my comments above I'm inclined to say the expectation and responsibility of every member of the Church is to live Celestial law with it's attendant responsibilities even if we do so imperfectly.

Edited by Dravin, 31 August 2013 - 09:42 AM.

Hindsight is all well and good... until you trip.

#10 bytebear

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 11:04 AM

Well, I think of it like this. When baptized and confirmed, you are given the gift of the Holy Ghost. You can choose to live a life where you are not receiving or using that gift, but the gift is still given. Same with the blessings of the temple, and priesthood. You have the power, but you can choose not to exercise it. So, you don't need to be re-ordained to reinstate your blessings. You just live your life such that the gifts are active.

#11 pam

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 02:26 PM

Someone like this sounds like a cafeteria Mormon that we've been warned about a couple of times in the last general conferences.

#12 classylady

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 02:52 PM

Would telling the Bishop that you refuse to accept any callings in the ward be opting out?

#13 applepansy

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 03:31 PM

When my son chose to come home early from his mission he asked me to call the Stake President to get released. I called. The Stake President at the time said that he didn't need to be released because he had released himself. Isn't that opting out?

#14 Torostoros

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 10:31 PM

Thanks all for the insights and responses. I guess at the heart of my OP is this: Can one, via request (no disciplinary action involved nor reason for it), become "unordained" from a Priesthood to which they had been previously been ordained, while maintaining Church membership in good standing? Basically undoing the ordination in the same way baptism is undone via name removal. Here's another one: Church Member A has sinned and is pretty much guaranteed excommunication, and knows this. He pre-empts this by completing the process of name removal by request before the disciplinary council is held. Seeing as he is now technically a non-member, and we are not to disallow non-members from taking the Sacrament, is he completely OK to be taking the Sacrament? Should leaders allow him to take it?

Edited by Torostoros, 31 August 2013 - 10:33 PM.


#15 pam

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 11:43 PM

To be honest, I'm not comfortable with a thread that discusses how people can attempt to "beat the system."

Edited by pam, 01 September 2013 - 05:59 AM.


#16 Misshalfway

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 07:58 AM

Thanks all for the insights and responses.
I guess at the heart of my OP is this:

Can one, via request (no disciplinary action involved nor reason for it), become "unordained" from a Priesthood to which they had been previously been ordained, while maintaining Church membership in good standing? Basically undoing the ordination in the same way baptism is undone via name removal.

Here's another one:

Church Member A has sinned and is pretty much guaranteed excommunication, and knows this. He pre-empts this by completing the process of name removal by request before the disciplinary council is held. Seeing as he is now technically a non-member, and we are not to disallow non-members from taking the Sacrament, is he completely OK to be taking the Sacrament? Should leaders allow him to take it?


On the first question...

No. And it's not necessary. My guess is that a question like this originates in trying to dodge or cheat the vulnerability to ease ones conscience without having to do the work of repentance or rebellion. One could certainly "opt out" either by open declaration, decision, or neglect, but one can't opt out of consequences. Covenant making and keeping is serious business. You can't undo the making of the covenant. You can only experience the consequences in either direction.

On the second...

It would be respectful not the take the sacrament. But without a covenant, it's just a piece of bread. What would be the motivation of someone taking the sacrament in this way? And why the question? Do you really think this is a big problem in the church? Excommunicated members demanding to take the sacrament?

Non members have taken the sacrament before. On my bench it was my 5 yr old.

#17 Dravin

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 08:10 AM

It would be respectful not the take the sacrament. But without a covenant, it's just a piece of bread. What would be the motivation of someone taking the sacrament in this way?


Indeed, the only reasoning that makes sense is to thumb your nose at the Church.
Hindsight is all well and good... until you trip.

#18 dahlia

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 02:47 PM

Would telling the Bishop that you refuse to accept any callings in the ward be opting out?


Short of sickness or some major personal catastrophe, I'd vote for yes. There are all kinds of little callings you can do if you can't commit a lot of time. Personally, I think you can refuse A calling - some people just aren't cut out for some callings, or some callings come at the wrong time - but to refuse ANY calling, seems problematic and indicates that you don't want to do anything to support the ward. Just my 2 cents.




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