Won't let me baptize my son... I might be done

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DoubtingTom
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Won't let me baptize my son... I might be done

Post by DoubtingTom » 28 Aug 2017, 05:47

For those who don't my history, a quick update. I had doubts, shared thise doubts with BP and SP. SP was initially supportive but ultimately released me from my calling and told me I couldn't teach or pray in church.

So I went in to meet with BP about my son's upcoming baptism. He asked where I was at with my faith, and I kept things as vague and positive as possible without being dishonest. Basically I said I had hope that these things might be true and was willing to act accordingly. As far as I know, that's the very definition of faith laid out in the scriptures. I said it is very important to my son and wife that I baptize him. I actually had a conversation with my son about who baptizes him - me or grandpa, and even though he didn't understand why I was talking about this with him, he wants very badly for his dad to be the one.

So I shared all this with my BP along with my hopes. I have been willing to be completely orthoprax (other than tithing which won't come up until tithing settlement so they don't know about that) to try and keep the possibility of baptizing my son. BP told me he's already talked to SP and SP said no, including standing in the confirmation circle. He asked me if anything has changed since I last spoke with SP, and again I tried to express the most positive hopeful version of my lack of faith. He said he would talk to SP again and see if he would meet with me about it again, but he said he is not hopeful, as SP is a very stubborn jack-ass (although he didn't use that word).

I asked what he thought about it, and he would not express a different personal opinion. SP is called of God, so his inspired decisions are from God. So I was just quietly fuming at this point. Who are these men to tell me what the will of God is for me and my family? I suppose there may be another meeting with my SP in the future, but I don't know what more to say. I won't lie, but I honestly thought "hope + action" would be enough.

Then BP asked if I would serve in a new calling, almost as an afterthought. I was so upset by this point. In my mind I'm thinking, "are you &#%*ing kidding me?!?" but just said I would think about it but had too much on my mind to decide right then.

I am feeling so done right now. This might be the last straw for me. I may need some time to step away from this church for a while. I know you guys all said "don't say anything!!" But by the time I got that advice the cat was already out of the bag. I am fuming. I'm sad and angry and hurt and just feeling so done. Thanks for all your support.

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SilentDawning
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Re: Won't let me baptize my son... I might be done

Post by SilentDawning » 28 Aug 2017, 06:13

Sorry to hear this. I really am. Your use of the colloquial version of the word "donkey" is completely appropriate given these circumstances. You went into them with sincerity to share your doubts for support reasons, and informal discipline instead. Then when you asked to baptize your son, showing faith, the BP didn't support you (I partly understand), and locked you out of that experience. And then, had the gall to ask you if you would accept a calling after the SP prevented you from being able to teach in the Ward. What a confusing message! How egocentric of these guys!!!! They are suffering from egocentric spiritual blindness in my view and for me, borders on leadership abuse.

How to proceed? These guys have created an awful situation for themselves.

I have a few questions if you don't mind....the problem is your SP...

1) How far is he into his term? In Mormon populated areas, where there is choice in leadership, they normally serve for about five years. If you can wait it out, and not baptize your son, then that is one alternative.

2) What is your situation with your spouses' commitment to the church? How does she feel about all this?

3) Are you son and family willing to delay baptism until you are allowed to do it?

4) What was the absolute worst thing you said in your meetings with the SP and BP that likely spawned this approach they are taking with you? I don't blame you for what you said, but it will help me understand why they are being so hard nosed with you.

Assuming that your family are fully supportive of anything you want to do, and that what you said about your doubts didn't sound blatantly anti-Mormon, here is some advice, which could change based on your answers to the questions above.

1. Ask for a meeting with your Bishop and the Stake President together. Go in there and share your feelings. That you came for support, and that you feel that rather than being treated with love, you were basically punished for seeking help. Explain how you felt -- punished for being honest and turning to priesthood leaders for guidance. Explain how their behavior makes you feel. Explain that you feel completely unsupported, and if it were not for you glimmer of testimony, you wonder if you should even bother attending. That your glimmer of testimony is the only thing keeping you going right now.

I would even bring Uchdorft's talk about how there are shades of belief and there is room for everyone in the church. Could they help you reconcile Uchodrfts comment with what you are currently experiencing with their approach to your situation?

Give your definition of faith and how what you are doing is faith and that there are degrees of it. In fact, the scriptures make Faith a first principle, not perfect knowledge as they seem to be requiring. Their reaction will flesh out their concerns so you can address them at some point..

2. I would as what the repentance plan is. At this point, you believe this is a flat-out rejection of you as a member of the church, with confusing messages, and no plan in place for you to get "right" with the church so you can baptize your son. Ask them -- what is the repentance plan???

3. They know you aren't paying tithing even though the recommend interview isn't on the table yet. All they have to do is check and I believe the probably did. If you can stomach it, consider paying it before you go in for this suggested meeting.

Anyway, don't do or say anything until you feel better and have time to reflect.

Really interested in your thoughts on this. As well as the thoughts of others on how to handle this.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

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nibbler
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Re: Won't let me baptize my son... I might be done

Post by nibbler » 28 Aug 2017, 07:46

That stinks.

Any chance of playing hardball? Force the SP's hand by deciding to wait as a family to do your son's baptism until you've had a chance to go through whatever 'repentance' process your SP feels like you should go through, even if you have to hold out for a few years?

I'd hate to put your son in the middle of those types of political games. Still, my bet is that the SP would feel worse about a kid not being baptized at the 'proper' age than whatever grudge he's holding against you for not believing 100% the way members are expected to believe. What member does?
Cure sometimes, treat often, comfort always.
— Hippocrates

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On Own Now
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Re: Won't let me baptize my son... I might be done

Post by On Own Now » 28 Aug 2017, 08:07

Sorry to hear that. I was able to perform ordinances under a couple of bishops, but not under another, even though I was the same person. First bishop to talk about it said I hadn't done anything wrong, and I still held the priesthood, so...

From a technical standpoint, the SP doesn't handle the AP, that's the bishop. I would be tempted to go back to the BP and explain that you have the AP and haven't done anything to have it removed. If still not getting through, you can ask if you have been disfellowshipped. If 'no', then ask again why you can't participate in AP ordinances having not sinned. If the BP isn't willing to contradict the SP, then I'd start over with the SP, but first thing I would do is ask the SP to let you work it out with the BP, since this is an AP matter.

It's possible that the SP views this differently from you for some reason, and it might be good to get clarification from him anyway. I mean, not allowing you to pray or teach in Church seems deeper-seated than simple faith issues.
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SilentDawning
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Re: Won't let me baptize my son... I might be done

Post by SilentDawning » 28 Aug 2017, 08:53

On Own Now wrote:
28 Aug 2017, 08:07
I would be tempted to go back to the BP and explain that you have the AP and haven't done anything to have it removed. If still not getting through, you can ask if you have been disfellowshipped. If 'no', then ask again why you can't participate in AP ordinances having not sinned. If the BP isn't willing to contradict the SP, then I'd start over with the SP, but first thing I would do is ask the SP to let you work it out with the BP, since this is an AP matter.

It's possible that the SP views this differently from you for some reason, and it might be good to get clarification from him anyway. I mean, not allowing you to pray or teach in Church seems deeper-seated than simple faith issues.
The reason I didn't recommend the part in bold is because the BP already deferred to the Stake President. He's not going to go against what the SP has to say, or he would have indicated this in a previous meeting with Doubting Tom. If you go to the SP and ask if it can be worked out with the BP, that might work, although you'll probably find the BP will tow the line the SP lays out for him anyway.

Rather than prolongue this with a Bishop who is likely a parrot for his SP, I think a meeting with SP AND the BP s in order, and finding out exactly what your standing is in the church is important as OON suggests. The SP is obviously afraid of what you might say at church given the doubts shared by you, Doubting Thomas -- that's why he won't let you pray or speak, and I assume do home teaching. I am not trying to lay fault there, just trying to understand why a SP would behave this way.

I also think the SP might consider this a MP issue because you hold the Melchizedek Priesthood -- is that right DT? So, although the ordinance is an AP ordinance, there is verbiage in the Church Handbook of Instructions that it's up to the priesthood leaders whether a person who is not fully Tr-holding whether the person can perform AP ordinances. Since you hold the MP, he is treating this as a MP issue.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

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SilentDawning
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Re: Won't let me baptize my son... I might be done

Post by SilentDawning » 28 Aug 2017, 08:57

nibbler wrote:
28 Aug 2017, 07:46
That stinks.

Any chance of playing hardball? Force the SP's hand by deciding to wait as a family to do your son's baptism until you've had a chance to go through whatever 'repentance' process your SP feels like you should go through, even if you have to hold out for a few years?

I'd hate to put your son in the middle of those types of political games. Still, my bet is that the SP would feel worse about a kid not being baptized at the 'proper' age than whatever grudge he's holding against you for not believing 100% the way members are expected to believe. What member does?
This was the fall back position I was implying. If persuasion of the SP doesn't work, then go for the repentence plan and put them in a position where they are halting the progress of a child for baptism while a father gets ready. They hate to see us lose full families as it hurts the metrics, and is saddening as a whole. The church, for all its hard nosed policies, does have compassion for youth and primary children. There will be some social management to do as everyone wonders why your 8 year old son is not baptized, but we can discuss how to handle this. I had one 8 year old blurt out that he couldn't get baptized yet because his father is still smoking, so your son may spill the beans unless coached. But those things can be handled if you know there is a repentence process in place.

Whatever you do, don't confront them and tell them they are all wrong and should let you do it. I do think sharing how their punitive, mixed message approach is affecting you -- particularly if you can carry the Spirit as you say it -- is appropriate. But it has to be done humbly with expressions of desire to be fully believing again. Humility and submissiveness speaks to priesthood leaders if they believe it is sincere.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

DoubtingTom
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Re: Won't let me baptize my son... I might be done

Post by DoubtingTom » 28 Aug 2017, 09:50

Thanks for the supportive responses so far. I'll try to address a few clarifying questions but am doing this on my phone at work so I apologize for typos.

SD, you asked a few questions.
1) My SP is 5 years into what will probably be a 9 year term based on history in our non-Utah location. My BP is nearing the end of his term.
2) My spouse is fully TBM but is saddened by their decisions. She also really wants me to be the one to baptize. She knows exactly where I stand with faith and is as supportive as she can be for a very traditional conservative TBM.
3) The biggest issue with delay is social stigma. Family members and ward members will all wonder why. I don't like that.
4) The "worst" things I have said to my SP was that I don't think the BoM is literal history, I'm not sure about God but hope he exists, and that I have a hard time trusting emotions/spirit because to me it is unreliable and should not be relied on to refute overwhelming evidence. I think not trusting the spirit bothered him the most. He's one of those who feels extremely strongly that he is constantly guided by the spirit. He will say things like "God wants you to know...", and "the spirit told me to tell you that..." He probably sincerely feels that his decision not to allow me to baptize my son is God's will, and who am I to question God's will?

I don't know that playing hardball will work with this SP. Because he so firmly believes his actions are inspired, he is very unlikely to reconsider that. The spirit has spoken and no need to question God.

My BP talked about baptism being an AP ordinance but since I hold the MP, the SP has the keys to determine if I am allowed to use it or not.

So you say not to confront them, to be humble, not to call them out that I think they're wrong, but this is where I need time to cool down, because I strongly feel THEY ARE WRONG!!! I could bring up quote after quote from leaders that would support my view point. Someone who is willing to play by the rules should be allowed to play the game, even if they don't fully believe the game has any eternal significance. Modern day prophets and apostles are clear on this. I can't (right now in this state of mind) just humbly go before this man with my tail between my legs and submit to his authority. What's that scripture about exercising unrighteous dominion?...I think that would be apt here.

Also, there is no path to repentance here. What am I supposed to repent from? From having doubts, from asking questions? Is the end point of my "repentance" believing again?

I spoke with a friend who suggested I email my SP asking clarification on his stance in light of my doubts and cc my general area authority. He said most likely the area authority will side with the brethren on not punishing those who have doubts.

But right now my mind is reeling and I need a few days to process and decompress. Best not to send any emails or meet with any leaders for now. I will undoubtedly hurt my position.

But what kind of a church is this where I can't express my doubts and concerns without fear of being penalized? What kind of a church where I am marginalized and ostracized and forbidden to participate for being my honest and authentic self? There is a strong part of me that just wants to hang it up right now. This is not a community I want to be a part of. This is not a safe place for me to continue to grow spiritually. I don't want to continue to associate with people that can look me in the eye and tell me they are being inspired as they make these hurtful decisions.

Can we form a ward full of members from Stay LDS please?

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LookingHard
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Re: Won't let me baptize my son... I might be done

Post by LookingHard » 28 Aug 2017, 10:13

So so sorry to hear this. This and weddings are the two points that are hard to deal with.

You have been given some good advice and options.

If it were me, I would worry about getting too emotional if I discussed it face to face. I would probably do the email route with a humble tone and emphasize that you came for help from your leaders, you are trying (can you say "I have been a full tithe payer for XX years"?), you don't know what to do to "repent", and this is going to crush your son to have to put off his baptism - and you can't even explain to your son WHY the Bishop, SP are saying NO. I personally wouldn't say it as an option - more of a statement of something THEY are responsible for. CC'ing the Area authority, I am 50/50 on if that helps or not.

Best of luck.

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nibbler
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Re: Won't let me baptize my son... I might be done

Post by nibbler » 28 Aug 2017, 10:15

DoubtingTom wrote:
28 Aug 2017, 09:50
But what kind of a church is this where I can't express my doubts and concerns without fear of being penalized? What kind of a church where I am marginalized and ostracized and forbidden to participate for being my honest and authentic self?
An increasingly fundamentalist church. :(
DoubtingTom wrote:
28 Aug 2017, 09:50
There is a strong part of me that just wants to hang it up right now. This is not a community I want to be a part of. This is not a safe place for me to continue to grow spiritually. I don't want to continue to associate with people that can look me in the eye and tell me they are being inspired as they make these hurtful decisions.
That's completely understandable. That's one of the toughest things that I struggle with. When people see their own actions as being loving towards others but fail to see how their actions display a complete lack of empathy.

This won't help you deal with your local leaders but the way I frame someone performing ordinances in cases where more fundamentalist members would try to block them due to a lack of faith and/or belief...

The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.

Faith is a principle of action. We may not believe in a literal BoM, a literal priesthood power, whatever your circumstances may be... but the very act of being willing to baptize, being willing to ordain, being willing to bless the sacrament. That is our mustard seed. Why else would we be doing it if not for some minuscule amount of faith on our part. That minuscule amount is more than enough to perform an ordinance.
Cure sometimes, treat often, comfort always.
— Hippocrates

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SilentDawning
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Re: Won't let me baptize my son... I might be done

Post by SilentDawning » 28 Aug 2017, 10:42

Based on what you said, the literal history thing and not trusting the Spirit might have made you out to be a non-believer.

I agree you shouldn't do anything until you have time to reflect. I would be upset too. I too am heavily influenced by emotion at first but get out of it after time passes and I can think about it. Posting here is a very rational thing to do.

Ix-Nay on writing to the SP and copying the Area Representative. That will just tick off the SP -- no one likes having their boss copied on issues affecting their jurisdiction. Go over his head head only after he's had every reasonable opportunity to reconsider, and refused. And don't tell him you are going over his head or he'll run to the Area Presidency first and taint your case.

Regarding going in there and being humble -- i get it - they are clearly in the wrong here, in my view. And extreme in the wrong here. But they have all the power. And many leaders love to wield it -- TR's, blessings, advancements, baptisms -- Your objective is to baptize your son -- and so do whatever it takes. I normally wouldn't be explicit like this, but I partly consider these things a bit of a game of cat and mouse. When my heart is in the right place, and the church leaders are clearly being abusive, egocentric, or just plain wrong, I don't mind seeing this as a strategy exercise in addition to an administrative problem. I take a certain pride in navigating the waters successfully without losing my integrity. It is art, and a challenge. It also seems to blunt the hurt and emotion when I look at it as a game of chess where I try to promote my pawn to a queen without breaking any rules, being untruthful etcetera.

Waiting is going to mean a long time as this Bishop has another 4 years if your estimate is correct. Not sure if it's a good solution for that reason.

You will have a lot of family wondering and that bothers you. My situation is different -- I have a temple marriage happening in less than 2 months. And I'm not going through the temple. I'll be out on the steps waiting. People will wonder what my issue is....But I have crossed a line where I don't care about what the local members think, or my immediate family. And its a good line. I am independent of the church in my current circumstances and my father in law could ordain my son and I wouldn't care. It took years to get here, but that is where I'm at.

Given that factor, I think a desireable way to handle it is to change the mind of your SP. But I'm not sure how other than what I have suggested. I do know that humility, after some heart changing, with carrying the Spirit can work. Look at it as if you are Abraham making a sacrifice out of trust even though it seems wrong. If this guy trusts the Spirit, and you can make him feel it, it could help your case. I have done it before. But it takes a certain degree of sincerity and actually speaking the truth.

Also, you may think for the long-term -- other people who think what this guy has done is a good idea when they are in leadership. This might not help you now, but it influenced a former Bishop. Back when I was more foolish, we convinced our Bishop to bring up VT and HT in TR interviews. As a component of the supporting local leaders question. Our Bishop told us he did it with one sister and refused her a TR over no VT. He then said "she left crying" and refused to do it anymore. I don't know if he ever restored her TR, but the experience, the reaction of the member changed his mind. You could try again and then at the end, let him have it in a professional kind of way where you indicate you are very surprised that a church that is supposed to help bring us to Christ is so punitive when people come in with a sincere desire for support, and leave feeling ostractized, punished, and with no plan for how to right the situation.

I think that after the SP gets reasonable, controlled, reasoning and heartfelt desire to get on a repentance plan, and he's stubborn about it, letting him see the impact of his actions might be in order...it might change his mind.

Could you share this highly questionable decision with your family? Could they set appointments with him and express their concern that his approach is far more punitive than they would recommend? Could you share what happened with those family members, so when they see your son baptized by his grandfather, they realize you are sitting that one out due to an unreasonable SP and no unworthiness problem on your part?

Come out to them and say you have faith, but you have these issues...

If you can actually take a calling, this will help further the image of unreasonableness of your stake president.

Anyway, I say take a deep breath, and reflect. Don't let this turn into bitterness -- look at it as a significant challenge to overcome -- a strategic exercise -- I have only begun to think about your situation and will be dedicating more time to it. I believe you can come out of this baptizing your son in spite of your stubborn and abusive Stake President. I had one like that who wouldn't let me serve a mission due to financial problems in the Stake -- even after I found a donor outside the stake who would pay it all. Long story short, I left on my mission anyway.

There is an answer - wait for it it. It will come.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

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