Yesterday, it was announced that a member of the 1st Quorum of the Seventy (the third highest quorum in the Church) was excommunicated from the Church for unspecified reasons.
It is unusual for someone in one of the senior quorums of leadership to find himself/herself in this circumstance. For members of the Church, having a trusted leader lose his/her membership can be jolting. There is an expectation that when a person reaches that level of leadership they are immune to the temptations that result in such drastic consequences.
Obviously, that is not true!
Generally, in such situations there is no mention of the offense committed by the participant but the Church (and this can only be done with the permission of the individual) felt it was important to know that this was not a case of apostasy or losing his testimony of the faith.
Sadly, the need to clarify is a symptom of the Internet age we are experiencing. So much speculation and projection takes place in these circumstances that the Church (and most likely the brother) wanted it understood that loss of faith was not the reason for the action.
That doesn’t mean that there STILL won’t be many who choose to trumpet this as exactly that!!
AHH!!, don’t we love Internet trolls!
It would be very easy to begin to come up with scenarios for why someone would lose their membership. My experience in these cases has taught me to be sensitive to the tender feelings of those who find themselves working through their quest for forgiveness.
Each of us has failings and it is not unusual to look back and say,
“How did I get here?”
Jesus taught us, “Judge not unrighteously that ye be not judged.” (JST Matt. 7:1-2) And Mormon expanded on the Savior’s words to teach us a bit more about judgment:
|Mormon recording and compiling|
For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night.
(Notice that it is not wrong to judge. But it IS wrong to judge unrighteously. So how do you do that? Here it comes.)
For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.
(The gift Mormon is teaching about is called the Light of Christ – also known as a conscience. We are all born with it – a little piece of the Divine – and as we listen to its promptings, it can guide us to make better choices – including judging correctly)
But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.
(Despite what some may say, it is pretty easy to discern good from evil. Our help comes from that spark of divinity Mormon identifies as the Light of Christ. The challenge is listening and making the correct choice in times of pressure.)
And now, my brethren, seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged. (Moroni 7:15-18)
And isn’t that the challenge?
Making righteous judgment while still living as a mortal being, full of prejudices and weaknesses of our own is TOUGH.
So, when we recognize that someone has faltered in their journey through this temporal experience or we know of a person who is steeped in ‘sinfulness’, might it not be best to have compassion rather than condemnation for their challenges. Each of us has a similar path to trod and at some time we are going to need help to get through difficult times. It will be much easier to find comfort from others when we have given the same to them.
My hope for this good brother is that he will do all that is necessary to receive forgiveness for whatever misstep he has made. He is still relatively young and can find new strength through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The Savior is all about forgiveness – not one is ever exempted from His influence.
AND, may we all have a prayer in our hearts and compassion for this circumstance, along with others we may know, as they navigate the road of repentance.
Don’t forget what Paul taught the Romans about our individual trek through this fallen world:
For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. (Romans 7:19)
This particular sin (judging unrighteously) is a continuing issue for me. I am working to eliminate this annoying habit from my own life. Postings like this are probably more for me than anyone else. My hope is to be less “unrighteously judgmental” when I stand before the bar of Christ. 😊