Taking the Sacrament with Your Right Hand

Public forum to discuss questions about Mormon history and doctrine.
Post Reply
User avatar
Katzpur
Posts: 322
Joined: 26 Jul 2009, 08:40
Location: Salt Lake City

Taking the Sacrament with Your Right Hand

Post by Katzpur » 26 May 2015, 20:56

My husband just got back from a High Priests Group Presidency meeting; he is the secretary. We have very few deacons in our ward, and on most Sundays, the sacrament ends up being passed by a couple of deacons and a half dozen or so high priests. When my husband came home after the meeting tonight, he said that one of the counselors in the presidency mentioned that he noticed, while passing the sacrament last week, that quite a few members took it with their LEFT HAND!!!!! :o He said that the members need to be informed how wrong this is. My husband spoke up (I can always count on him ;) ) and said this really isn't doctrine at all. Nowhere have we ever been commanded to take the sacrament with our right hand. Well, I guess they ended up getting into quite a shouting match. :oops: In the end, the group president told the member of the presidency who was going to be conducting in High Priests meeting on Sunday that that he could make an announcement reminding the high priests about this so-called "rule" but that he should bring something of an "official" nature to back up the statement.

Well, when my husband told me this, I just about went ballistic. Sometimes I really hate my lack of self-control, but it is what it is. This kind of legalism just annoys the hell out of me. I told my husband that I'd do my best to find any "official" sources that say it really doesn't matter what hand you take the sacrament with. I thought it would be easier than it's turning out to be. I know that Joseph Fielding Smith said we should take it with our right hand, but I also know that on the lds.org, in the Newsroom article called, "Approaching Mormon Doctrine," it says: •Not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. A single statement made by a single leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, but is not meant to be officially binding for the whole Church. With divine inspiration, the First Presidency (the prophet and his two counselors) and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (the second-highest governing body of the Church) counsel together to establish doctrine that is consistently proclaimed in official Church publications. This doctrine resides in the four “standard works” of scripture (the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price), official declarations and proclamations, and the Articles of Faith.

To me, that's good enough. If it were important which hand we take the Sacrament with, we would find it in the scriptures. It's not there. Period. Furthermore, it's not in the section of the Bishop's Handbook on the Sacrament either. As a matter of fact, the Handbook says: "The passing of the sacrament should be natural and unobtrusive, not rigid or formal. The process of passing the sacrament should not call attention to itself or detract from the purpose of the ordinance." With respect to any "rules" specifically pertaining to the congregation, all it says is: "After a priesthood holder hands a sacrament tray to a member, others may pass the tray from one to another for convenience." There is no mention of which hand is to be used in taking it.

What is our problem when someone passing the sacrament takes it upon himself to be the "right hand police"? Right-handers are going to probably take the sacrament with their right hand without every giving it any thought. Left-handers are going to have to be thinking about not screwing up the whole time, rather than thinking about what they're supposed to be thinking about during the sacrament.

I need help! Can anybody out there give me anything at all by any General Authorities that I could pass on to my husband to bring up when this topic is addressed in high priests meeting next week?
"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself." ~Rudyard Kipling ~

User avatar
hawkgrrrl
Site Admin
Posts: 3393
Joined: 22 Oct 2008, 16:27

Re: Taking the Sacrament with Your Right Hand

Post by hawkgrrrl » 26 May 2015, 21:06

From this blog post: http://mormonnerd.com/do-you-have-to-ta ... ight-hand/
Elder Russell M. Nelson perhaps said it best: “Much more important than concern over which hand is used in partaking of the sacrament is that the sacrament be partaken with a deep realization of the atoning sacrifice that the sacrament represents.”
And even more on point:
President Joseph Fielding Smith warned of customs creeping into commandments. He said:

“These changes and innovations are innocently adopted, but in course of time there is the danger that they will become fixed customs and considered as necessary to the welfare of the Church. 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.”
Although, hey, that pretty much describes how it is now. In fact, I have actually heard the phrase "the uniform of the priesthood" used. In our ward, the boys all wear a white shirt and dark suit jacket, which let me tell you is expensive as a mother of boys. The deacon's jacket isn't the priest's jacket, and there's about a foot of growing in between!

There are cultures that consider the left hand the "unclean" hand because it's the hand used to wash oneself after going to the bathroom. So think of that the next time you are passing the sacrament tray.

Ann
Posts: 2568
Joined: 09 Sep 2012, 02:17

Re: Taking the Sacrament with Your Right Hand

Post by Ann » 27 May 2015, 01:59

From a 1988 David B. Haight talk:
Avoiding Formalism. Since the administration of President Heber J. Grant, the First Presidency has emphasized the precaution through the General Handbook of Instructions to avoid any formalism, or uniformity in procedures. These instructions apply to the dress of Aaronic Priesthood youth who pass the sacrament. Boys should be neat and clean, but not required to dress uniformly. It also refers to any formalism, such as Aaronic Priesthood young men walking with one arm behind their back, or standing with arms folded, or priests raising their arm to the square when blessing the sacrament.
"Preachers err by trying to talk people into belief; better they reveal the radiance of their own discovery." - Joseph Campbell

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust

"Therefore they said unto him, How were thine eyes opened? He answered and said unto them, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes...." - John 9:10-11

User avatar
LookingHard
Posts: 2821
Joined: 20 Oct 2014, 12:11

Re: Taking the Sacrament with Your Right Hand

Post by LookingHard » 27 May 2015, 03:30

This is one that I would get before the bishop and first ask him, "If someone was about to declare something as solid doctrine that was not according to the Q12, would you want to know about it and nip it in the bud?" I am sure he is going to say yes. Then pass on what you have heard along with the quotes provided here and let him handle it.

I do know that the bishop's copy of the church handbook of instructions no long says that you no longer ask to "raise the RIGHT hand", it just says "raised hand." So you might ask the Bishop to check that to also mention that you can indicate your sustaining with the left hand if you want (I do every time to nudge the issue).

User avatar
DarkJedi
Posts: 5850
Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: Taking the Sacrament with Your Right Hand

Post by DarkJedi » 27 May 2015, 04:04

I'm with LH on this one, I would bring it to the attention of the bishop. OTOH, our previous namby pamby bishop wouldn't have done anything anyway, I'm not sure about the current one (although one of his counselors certainly would). The sacrament is one of those areas where it is particularly easy to become Pharisaical.

Our ward is good, we don't have enough AP to do the sacrament and boys and men often wear shirts that aren't white - in fact I'd go as far as to say there's never a week where they all wear white shirts. I do take the sacrament with my right hand, but I do that because I'm right handed.

Love those quotes, Hawkgrrrl.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 15932
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: Taking the Sacrament with Your Right Hand

Post by Curt Sunshine » 27 May 2015, 05:26

My father-in-law believed strongly that the sacrament was a right-hand ordinance.

I loved him, anyway. :smile:

I also would bring it to the attention of my Bishop or Stake Presidency. It simply is wrong - and anyone who really thinks about its implications would understand.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

User avatar
Katzpur
Posts: 322
Joined: 26 Jul 2009, 08:40
Location: Salt Lake City

Re: Taking the Sacrament with Your Right Hand

Post by Katzpur » 27 May 2015, 08:07

You guys are great! Thanks for all of the answers I've got so far. I think I am going to suggest to my husband that he talk to the bishop and give him a heads up that this "doctrine" is about to be declared to the high priests group. Knowing my bishop, he'd want to know.

If there are any more comments from General Authorities, please post them!
"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself." ~Rudyard Kipling ~

User avatar
LookingHard
Posts: 2821
Joined: 20 Oct 2014, 12:11

Re: Taking the Sacrament with Your Right Hand

Post by LookingHard » 27 May 2015, 08:18

Ray DeGraw wrote:My father-in-law believed strongly that the sacrament was a right-hand ordinance.

I loved him, anyway. :smile:
If someone feels it is important for them, go for it. I hope it helps them feel closer to God.

But it is quite a big leap from that to telling everyone else that it MUST BE THIS WAY.

Roy
Posts: 4888
Joined: 07 Oct 2010, 14:16
Location: Pacific Northwest

Re: Taking the Sacrament with Your Right Hand

Post by Roy » 27 May 2015, 08:41

hawkgrrrl wrote:There are cultures that consider the left hand the "unclean" hand because it's the hand used to wash oneself after going to the bathroom. So think of that the next time you are passing the sacrament tray.
The following is from wikipedia
Historically, the left side, and subsequently left-handedness, was considered negative. The word "left" itself derives from the Anglo-Saxon word lyft, "weak".[4] In Ancient Greek both words meaning "left" were euphemisms: the word ἀριστερός, aristerós (the standard word in Modern Greek as well) is derived from ἂριστος, áristos, "best", and the word εὺώνυμος, euōnymos, "of good name", is another euphemism used in lieu of "ill-named". The Latin adjective sinister/sinistra/sinistrum originally meant "left" but took on meanings of "evil" or "unlucky" by the Classical Latin era, and this double meaning survives in European derivatives of Latin, and in the English word "sinister". Alternatively, sinister comes from the Latin word sinus meaning "pocket": a traditional Roman toga had only one pocket, located on the left side. The right hand has historically been associated with skill: the Latin word for right-handed is dexter, as in "dexterity", meaning manual skill. Even the word "ambidexterity" reflects the bias. Its intended meaning is "skillful on both sides". However, since it keeps the Latin root dexter, which means "right", it ends up conveying the idea of being "right-handed on both sides". This bias is also apparent in the lesser-known antonym "ambisinistrous", which means "left-handed [i.e., clumsy] on both sides".[5] In more technical contexts, "sinistral" may be used in place of "left-handed" and "sinistrality" in place of "left-handedness".[6] In both Ancient Greek and Roman religion, auspices (usually the flight paths of birds, as observed by a bird-diviner, or augur) were thought to be unfavorable if appearing on the diviner's left-hand side and favorable if on the right: an ancient custom mentioned in Homer's Iliad and of apparently Middle Eastern origin (as attested in the Amarna correspondence, in which a king of Alashiya, i.e. Cyprus, requests an eagle-diviner from the Pharaoh of Egypt).

Meanings gradually developed from use of these terms in the ancient languages. In many modern European languages, including English, the word for the direction "right" also means "correct" or "proper", and also stands for authority and justice.

In Sanskrit, the word "वाम" (waama) stands for both "left" and "wicked."

In most Slavic languages the root prav (right) is used in words carrying meanings of correctness or justice. In colloquial Russian the word левый (levyĭ) 'left' means unofficial, counterfeit, strange.

In French, droit(e) (cognate to English direct) means both "right" and "straight", as well as "law" and the legal sense of "right", while gauche means "left" and is also a synonym of maladroit, literally "not right", meaning "clumsy". Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and German have similar constructs. The Spanish term diestro and the Italian term destro mean both "right-handed" and "skillful". The contemporary Italian word sinistra has both meanings of sinister and left (the masculine adjective for sinister being sinistro), and maldestro means "clumsy". The Spanish siniestra has both, too, although the "left" meaning is less common and is usually expressed by izquierda,[7] a Basque word that made its way into Portuguese as well. In some Spanish-speaking countries, to do something por izquierda means to engage in corrupt conduct or employ illegitimate means, whereas por derecha or a derechas means to do it the right (legitimate) way.[8] Also, in Spanish, to tell someone "Eres tan zurdo" means that they are being clumsy, though the literal meaning is "You're so lefty." In Portuguese, the most common word for left-handed person, canhoto, was once used to identify the devil, and canhestro, a related word, means "clumsy".
We use the right hand out of tradition and because it is comfortable for 90% of the population. This has the effect of being passively discriminatory against left handed people.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

User avatar
DarkJedi
Posts: 5850
Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: Taking the Sacrament with Your Right Hand

Post by DarkJedi » 27 May 2015, 09:02

This one is more general and does not directly address the issue but I love this quote by Pres. Uchtdorf from General Conference Oct. 2009:
...there are so many “shoulds” and “should nots” that merely keeping track of them can be a challenge. Sometimes, well-meaning amplifications of divine principles—many coming from uninspired sources—complicate matters further, diluting the purity of divine truth with man-made addenda. One person’s good idea—something that may work for him or her—takes root and becomes an expectation. And gradually, eternal principles can get lost within the labyrinth of “good ideas.”

This was one of the Savior’s criticisms of the religious “experts” of His day, whom He chastised for attending to the hundreds of minor details of the law while neglecting the weightier matters.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

Post Reply