One thing that has certainly been making the news during my time in Utah is the recent excommunication of Kate Kelly, founder of the Ordain Women movement. As well John Dehlin of Mormon Stories Podcast and Alan Rock Waterman of the Pure Mormonism Blog have been given notice of possible excommunication, outcome pending.
Kate Kelly has very publically spoken out and brought others to speak out against the LDS churches policy on the Priesthood authority being for men alone. She has made it clear that even despite the excommunication her petitioning for this will carry on. While this has caught my interest I have, so far not felt I had anything to add to this, from my perspective the LDS Priesthood authority is redundant, Aaron Shafovaloff of Mormonism Research Ministry put it excellently.
Kate Kelly should call for the excommunication of all Mormon men, since all of them claim to have an Aaronic priesthood that only descendants of Aaron have, and a Melchizedek priesthood that only Jesus Christ has. (See Hebrews 7-10)
The New Testament priesthood duty is to proclaim the excellencies of Jesus, something every Christian can do (1 Peter 2:9). New Testament teachings on church leadership, elders, and authority have nothing to do with Aaron or Melchizedek priesthood. They are partly based on gender design, gender duties, creation order, and the order of the Fall.
Aaronic priesthood was never given by ordination, but rather by birthright. Jesus’ priesthood was of a divine oath and an “indestructible life” (Hebrews 7). Nobody should ask for this priesthood because Jesus fulfilled it, will never die, and can save “to the uttermost” those who draw near to God through him.
From the perspective of the LDS church, Kate has brought others along in her “apostasy”, therefore its hard to argue against them on this. As this has been their policy for many years and has happened time and time again. This is not a quiet disagreement that Kate Kelly has brought to the church, however as she is still a believer I do feel bad for what she will be going through as a result of this, and I am by no means saying I support the decision. I think the public response to this which is already well underway will be interesting to see.
However, I was thinking about an example of an excommunication in the book The Miracle of Forgiveness, which was written by 10th Mormon Prophet Spencer W Kimball when he was an apostle. This has never left me since I first read it.
Years ago, a missionary in South America wrote a long letter of confession. He had broken the law of chastity. No one but the young girl and himself knew of the transgression, but he had promptly gone to his mission president and confessed it in total. This missionary had been a member of the Church but a few months, and his many years of adulthood while “of the world” had produced a weakness hard to overcome. He quoted, “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” He did not excuse himself, nor claim any special immunities, nor rely on extenuating circumstances. He said: “I knew I had to pay the full penalty, I knew that in life or death I had to answer for the sin. I wanted to get it over with and be on my way to eventual forgiveness. I would rather confess, take my punishment, and get back as soon as possible on the road to forgiveness, and I did not want my eternity cluttered with these blemishes.” He was excommunicated from the Church. After what seemed an eternity to him, through his faithfulness and repentance he was baptized and finally his priesthood and temple blessings were restored to him. He found peace through complete repentance of which his total, voluntary confession was a vital part.
I have always found this example as utterly heartbreaking. This young missionary made a mistake, was utterly,
open, sorry and repentant and was punished (yes it says punishment) by the means of excommunication. It makes me think of this story with Christ.
John 8:1-11 Jesus went unto the mount of Olives.
And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
Neither do I condemn thee, Jesus said. You are excommunicated the Mormon Church says, quite a contrast. To be fair some people may not know that there is a Biblical precedence for removing someone from the church. This would appear to be more focused on protecting the church from unrepentant sinners that may cause harm to others. Here it is, apologies for all the quotes.
15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
Where did this happen to that missionary? One mistake and he was out.To say that we need to pay a penalty or be punished for our sins totally undermines the power of the Atonement, He Himself bore our sins (1 Peter 2:24) no church or organization has the power to punish us again for what Christ has already paid the price for. This is something I have been challenging people with when witnessing at Manti, the gospel of the grace of Christ is so removed from the performance based gospel of Mormonism. I hope that Kate Kelly and others come to this gospel of grace.