Looking for suppport regarding priesthood ordination

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Looking for suppport regarding priesthood ordination

Post by DoubtingTom » 21 Dec 2018, 11:46

Hey Stay LDSers. I’m looking for some support and alternate perspectives on the upcoming ordination of my current 11 year old. I knew this was coming but thought I had until next October to get ready and now am finding myself unprepared mentally and emotionally to deal with this next month.

For those who don’t know me, I’m currently a non-believer with a very believing spouse whom I try to fully support. I currently identify as a “soft” atheist (“I’m not convinced God exists” versus “I am convinced God does NOT exist”) and have stepped away from activity for now.

While comfortable personally with my own beliefs and activity level, there are unavoidable consequences, namely participation in church ordinances. I don’t think I could comfortably participate in my son’s ordination unless the Bishop gave his blessing knowing fully my current beliefs, which is quite unlikely to happen. Simply put, I don’t feel comfortable “nuancing” my way to be allowed to participate as it feels disingenuous and dishonest for me. Furthermore, I am convinced the priesthood is not real and have serious qualms about claiming there is any God-given authority behind it. So it would feel weird “giving” my son something I don’t even believe exists.

So what am I looking for here? Perspectives from you insightful souls. I feel the loss of probably not being able to participate unless I again jump through disingenuous hoops like I did for my son’s baptism over a year ago. I don’t regret that but I don’t think I could do it again. I want to support my son but at the same time I feel this is one more step towards an inevitable rift between us. Is this imagined? We are close now, but will his progression in the church just lead him farther away from his “apostate” dad? Should I jump through hoops anyway to participate?

Ugh! This stuff is hard. Any advice or personal experience is appreciated.

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Re: Looking for suppport regarding priesthood ordination

Post by IT_Veteran » 21 Dec 2018, 12:18

This is something I was really worried about when I was going through my faith crisis. I'm in a similar spot, belief-wise, and didn't want to participate in things I didn't believe in. I spent the first ten minutes of every sacrament meeting that I attended hiding in the bathroom so the young men wouldn't locate me and ask me to assist with sacrament.

At the time, my son was a year or two away from mission age and I wondered how I could support them through everything. How would I go about sending him on a mission for something I didn't believe in, not be able to ordain him, etc.. I imaged that I would have to rely on my dad (who lives four hours away) and the local leaders that clearly cared about my kid.

In all honesty, I kind of lucked out. When I told my wife I was done with the church, I told her I would support their beliefs (hers and the kids), but that I couldn't participate in blessings anymore. I wouldn't attend weekly church, but I'd be there for milestones.

Part of the pain of leaving the church, for me, was recognizing that I couldn't do those things anymore. Others can - there's a member of my wife's ward we recently learned hasn't believed in decades, but he's sent all his kids on missions and he participates fully in that process. For me, it just wasn't an option.

My son has also recently left the church. He waited several months after I came out to tell us that he was done too. Turns out he hadn't believed for several years, but didn't want anyone to think he left just because I did. He never told us before that because he just assumed that he'd have to keep quiet until he was 18. My relationship is better with him now that we aren't battling normal teenager stuff (because now we recognize it as normal teenager stuff).

My 13yo is still figuring out what her beliefs are, but my disaffection from church and shift to acceptance of LGBTQ+ (which I wasn't doing as a believer) has improved my relationship with her as well.

I guess I say all that to say that sometimes we fear the worst, only to find out that sometimes we were not giving enough credit to those we care about. It's entirely possible (maybe even likely?) that your son will stay a believer and remain in the church. That doesn't mean you can't have a stronger and more meaningful relationship with him anyway.

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Re: Looking for suppport regarding priesthood ordination

Post by DarkJedi » 21 Dec 2018, 13:27

I'll try to keep this short, and I have to include that "good" kind of leadership roulette played into all this.

My beliefs are not all that different from yours DT, especially in the earlier stages of the following story. I was what I call "nearly atheist" and I'm still pretty much agnostic except I do believe there is a Creator God of some sort, but not the kind of personal God with a body in LDS theology. Admittedly there are some things I can't explain. Likewise I do believe the gospel brings hope, and it brings me hope. I don't believe the CoJCoLDS is the one true church nor do I believe the priesthood is "real" (that is, I don't believe it is God given, the power of God, or any power at all). That out of the way, here's the story.

In 2013 I was inactive and had not been to church in about 10 years. My wife remained faithful/active and took the kids by herself all of those years. My oldest son wanted to serve a mission and I was supportive of that because he wanted to do it. I felt bad that I could not ordain him, not because I believe in the priesthood but because it's a rite of passage and a father/son bonding time. The SP at the time did invite me to stand in the circle and I refused, mostly because if I wasn't going to do it I didn't want anything to do with it (and I didn't want to do it anyway). I also did not attend his missionary setting apart, etc. While he was on his mission I came here and eventually rejoined activity in the church (on my terms). I did ordain the second son prior to his mission and baptized and ordained the third son prior to his. This is where the leadership roulette part came in - the SP and bishop (and the SP was the spearhead/leader) allowed these things knowing full well I was not a full believer and not a TR holder at the time. I recognize this was "lucky" on my part.

Here's the thing: my non-participation in the earlier rites of passage are my biggest regret. I love my kids (I also have a daughter) and I have a good relationship with each of them. But there is no doubt that even with the inactive one our relationship suffered by my lack of participation. Your mileage may vary, but if I had it to do over again I'd suck it up (again keeping in mind I was fortunate in leadership roulette and wasn't being told I couldn't).
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Re: Looking for suppport regarding priesthood ordination

Post by Curt Sunshine » 21 Dec 2018, 13:33

You pledged to support your wife and kids.

Do it.

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P.S. What happens down the road, happens down the road. Deal with it then, whatever it is.

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Re: Looking for suppport regarding priesthood ordination

Post by Holy Cow » 21 Dec 2018, 14:58

I can definitely relate! However, I think before giving a real answer, I would have to ask a question. You're asking whether or not you 'should' ordain your son, but you don't say whether or not you WANT to ordain him. Or, whether or not he WANTS to be ordained. I think that makes a big difference. My son will be 14 in a few months, and when he was 12 I made sure he knew that the decision to get the priesthood was completely up to him. He made the decision not to get the priesthood, and still hasn't to this point. At that time, I told him that I wanted him to be able to tell me why he didn't want it. He said that he felt like the priesthood is sexist. He has also said that kids at school are more friendly, swear less, and are more ethical that the other boys in YM, so if boys with the priesthood act like that then why would he want to get the priesthood. I'm completely fine with him not getting the priesthood, as it sounds you would be, but I don't know what your sons stance on it would be.
Also, if my son decided tomorrow that he wants to get the priesthood, I would be completely supportive of that. I would ask my father to ordain him, and would not feel like I was missing out in any way. I don't believe I need to be the one actually ordaining him to be supportive. I would still be right there, sitting next to my wife, while my father ordained him. You don't have to lay your hands on his head to be supportive.
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Re: Looking for suppport regarding priesthood ordination

Post by DoubtingTom » 21 Dec 2018, 15:20

Holy Cow wrote:
21 Dec 2018, 14:58
I can definitely relate! However, I think before giving a real answer, I would have to ask a question. You're asking whether or not you 'should' ordain your son, but you don't say whether or not you WANT to ordain him. Or, whether or not he WANTS to be ordained. I think that makes a big difference.
My son wants to be ordained. He has been excited and I think it’s an important rite of passage for him. We haven’t spoken about who he wants to ordain him as that is a conversation I was hoping to be able to have sometime next year rather than next month. Also, my beliefs are not spoken of in the home much. My kids have a vague sense that dad believes differently so doesn’t participate in the church the same way mom does, but my wife has requested I don’t speak specifically about why I believe differently as she doesn’t want me to sway them as a way of supporting her. I have qualms with this but honestly my faith transition has been incredibly hard on her and is still very raw for her so I haven’t pushed back on this point.

I’m assuming my son would want me to ordain him, but I don’t know how he would feel about someone else doing it. We don’t have any family close by. As for me, my only reason for wanting to be the one to ordain him would be his own desire, since I don’t believe in the Priesthood anyway. Would my son still want me ordaining him if he knew the full extent of my disbelief? I’m not sure, since that’s not a conversation my wife is comfortable with me having with my son. Also, I wouldn’t want this type of conversation to taint my son’s experience. “Son, I don’t believe the Priesthood is real and I think it’s sexist to exclude women, but I support you in getting it.” Seems like this would put a damper on his own excitement and experience.

Maybe I’m making this more complicated than it needs to be. I simply wasn’t expecting to have to even think about this for many months.

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Re: Looking for suppport regarding priesthood ordination

Post by Roy » 21 Dec 2018, 16:11

I am an expert on me and my situation. I hope that my sharing may prove somewhat useful.

I also have a son that just turned 11. We will soon be looking at ordination. For me I very much want to be part of my son's priesthood line of authority. I do not think that the priesthood is actual divine power or authority. However, I believe priesthood to be helpful. Priesthood represents a birth rite passed down from father to son. It is membership in a brotherhood of service. It is a call and a responsibility to be involved in the community. I believe that these things will help my son to develop a sense of heritage, belonging, and confidence to grow into a healthy, well adjusted, and community service minded man that is better prepared to become a good husband and father.

That above underlined is my goal. I look at the LDS priesthood as a guide pole or dumbo's feather. Yes, my son can achieve his full potential without it and yes, there are other ways to provide my son with this support. If we were Jewish we would have a bar mitzvah. If we were Native American we would go to the sweat lodge or celebrate my son's first hunt/kill. It just so happens that we are Mormons and priesthood ordination is our way.
DoubtingTom wrote:
21 Dec 2018, 11:46
I don’t think I could comfortably participate in my son’s ordination unless the Bishop gave his blessing knowing fully my current beliefs
I am a strong believer in taking an active role with my kids. I get to decide how to raise my kids. That means that I do not want it to be the bishop's call whether or not I am able to ordain my son. Don't get me wrong, the bishop is the ultimate gatekeeper but I get to decide if I want to step through the gate (or barring that, who I might pick to act in my place). I do not like the idea of laying it out for the bishop and then saying essentially, "You tell me bishop, should I ordain my kid or not?" That just does not feel right to me - like abdicating my parental role. So I take what I feel is a more active and affirmative approach. If I misread your position in any way, I apologize.
DoubtingTom wrote:
21 Dec 2018, 11:46
We are close now, but will his progression in the church just lead him farther away from his “apostate” dad?
I have a bigger footprint in my kids life than the church does. I will be his dad today, tomorrow, and forever. It is possible that as my kid grows other people will take a larger role. This is normal and to be desired. It is part of growing up. Ultimately my son needs to come to the realization that dad does not have all the answers. My son will have to create his own answers. If HIS answers follow a traditional LDS lifestyle and theology, that is fine by me. It is not a bad way to live. I will gladly become the "apostate" grandfather that loves fiercely but does not force my opinions on others.
To recap: The church is a support but can never supplant me as a father. It is up to me to manage the boundaries and relationship with the church to help it succeed in its supportive role but also to ensure that it does not overstep into parental territory. I believe that most church leaders would be in agreement with those last two sentences. For me personally, approaching church with a willingness to give faith and hope the benefit of the doubt, to nuance my belief in order to build bridges and provide less than full disclosure of my unbelief - that is how I manage the relationship with the church in order to help it succeed in its supporting role for my family's benefit. The church is not in the driver's seat - I am. The church is one of the tools in my toolbelt to help me raise my kids.

All that being said, I do not have all the answers and am doing my best to move forward one day at a time.
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Re: Looking for suppport regarding priesthood ordination

Post by dande48 » 21 Dec 2018, 16:28

It's a tough spot to be in, Tom. I feel much in the same way. Just because I feel the Church doesn't shoot straight with me, even though I don't trust them, doesn't make it right for me not to be straight with them. I'm not going to give the Bishop a false impression to get what I want, even if it means I have to make sacrifices. It's still a hard sacrifice to have to make.

Here's a quick scripture, from Peter, that comes to mind:
Peter 2:12 (ESV) wrote:"Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation."
I don't believe there is a God, but I still try to conduct my life in a way that would make Him proud.
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Re: Looking for suppport regarding priesthood ordination

Post by Heber13 » 21 Dec 2018, 21:19

Don't over think it or put your own meaning and faith journey too much into it unnecessarily. We have more options for handling some of these things than we may think, if we open our minds to it, be honest and genuous, but accept it is what it is.

For example...Omni...chapter 1:2-3
I of myself am a wicked man, and I have not kept the statutes and the commandments of the Lord as I ought to have done.
.... I had kept these plates according to the commandments of my fathers; and I conferred them upon my son Amaron. And I make an end

He is no Nephi or Mosiah, and not trying to nuance it to be what it is not...but he is still a dude, fulfilling his duty to his family. He can do this one thing, pass it on to his kid. And God is cool with it. Not everyone has to be TBM and literal to it all and write chapters. Some people have different roles to play in the story, and they are valid and legit roles.

Especially if you don't believe God cares about these things or even if there is a god...then these things don't matter to anyone except ourselves and families and social groups... symbolically it can have meaning. It doesn't have to be dishonest to do it respectfully and honorably or dutifully, even if we doubt. We can let go of literal meanings to these things and just try our best to bless our children. It matters not if others think about it differently than we do or we think we should know it all 100% to do anything.

Just something to consider. Don't pass up opportunities to bond with your kids and pass on traditions and the family priesthood lineage, like Omni...you can do a small part matter of factly and without fanfare. But still do it.

I find in talking with leaders I am vague and express hope to do these things and keep wanting it to be meaningful, and leave at that. They hope it will be good for us. When there is hope, it doesn't all have to be perfect. It can just be a good thing. Especially for kids.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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Re: Looking for suppport regarding priesthood ordination

Post by nibbler » 26 Dec 2018, 17:19

I don't think my comment will help much as my situation is completely different. The main difference being that you stated you were uncomfortable participating in the ordinance; uncomfortable in the sense that you feel like you need your bishop's approval where your bishop is fully informed about your current beliefs.

Take a person that doesn't believe in the church's claim to exclusive divine authority (aka the priesthood). A person that doesn't believe the church is True. A person that may not even believe in God. I don't see any problem whatsoever with such a person participating in an ordinance, even being the voice of the ordinance.

For me it has nothing to do with nuance and everything to do with faith.
And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.
I see participation in an ordinance as the mustard seed of faith, even for the participant that identifies as a 100% unbeliever. Falling under the umbrella of faith being "a principle of action." The participating father may not believe up to someone else's standard but in my opinion their participation in spite of that fact is the way they cry out, "help thou mine unbelief."

This is not the answer. If participation makes people uncomfortable it's my opinion that it's best to work towards moving away from things that make us uncomfortable.
Cure sometimes, treat often, comfort always.
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