The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced a policy change this week. The policy change involves who can stand as witnesses necessary for performing ordinances, both live and proxy. They are:
- Any baptized member of the Church may serve as a witness of the baptism of a living person. This change pertains to all baptisms outside the temple.
- A proxy baptism for a deceased person may be witnessed by anyone holding a current temple recommend, including a limited-use recommend.
- Any endowed member with a current temple recommend may serve as a witness to sealing ordinances, living and proxy.
The responses have been varied on social media. Most have been positive, but a good amount has also been filled with sorrow and resentment and anger. Many feel like this is “long overdue” or is even just throwing a “crumb” to the sisters when they “deserve” a full meal. I honestly understand where some of these feelings are coming from, and it saddens me to see so many people apparently hurt by things beyond their control. I would like to offer an alternative point of view for all members to consider regarding this policy change.
Since President Nelson was called to be prophet and president of the Church, he has repeated multiple times the Lord is hastening His work on the Earth NOW. He talks of battalions, time running out, and an increase in the number of temples being built around the world.
This policy change has nothing to do with social priorities. Identity politics are not a part of the universal church and I can guarantee it wasn’t a factor in the revelation the prophet received for this policy update. To assume political correctness and western standards of gender equality have any influence on Church policy is to deny who is really in charge. (See Elder Soares’ Face-to-Face broadcast for reference that all policy change comes from none other than Christ Jesus).
The change in policy on who can stand as a necessary witness for ordinances is a sign the Lord truly is hastening his work. In most nations throughout the world, member women outnumber the men. It is often difficult, especially in more remote areas, to find enough worthy priesthood holders to volunteer as witnesses in the temple. This policy will allow for entire families to do most of the work when they perform baptisms for the dead. It will allow for places that have more sister volunteers to fill in the necessary roles needed that cannot be filled by priesthood holders. There will be less waiting and more efficiency in completing saving ordinances.
THAT is why I think this is so cool.
I also personally think it is pretty cool for sister missionaries to act as witnesses for the converts they help direct to baptism. Mothers can participate in the ordinance for their children’s baptisms and sealings. A child, who joined the church before their parents, could stand as a witness at their own parent’s baptism.
This policy helps unify families and will help to quicken the work.
And here’s the thing: The policy before wasn’t wrong, either.
President Nelson stated, “Adjustments allow for covenants to be planted in the hearts of people living in different times and circumstances.”
Could the policy have been made earlier? Maybe.
Is it wise to criticize the Lord’s timing?
I recommend for any who are hurting to please seek for peace and hope this weekend as we watch General Conference. I know what it is like to have a policy change that you feel should have been changed earlier. I do not have the answers to why some things don’t happen when we think they should. But I do know that we get absolutely nowhere by dwelling on our pain and continuously bringing it up. Be grateful for change. Give your sorrows to Christ. He already paid for them, you don’t need to hang onto them. Give thanks to the Lord for leading His church.
And get your butt to the temple. We need all hands on deck. There is no time to lose.
- “Wanted: Hands and Hearts to Hasten to Work” -Sister Linda K. Burton, April 2014
- “The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood” -Elder Dallin H. Oaks, April 2014
- “Put Your Trust in the Lord” -Elder M. Russell Ballard, October 2013