Friday, May 4, 2012

Name Removal Policy

I've been perusing the Church Handbook of Instructions for Bishops and Stake Presidents.  I've learned some interesting things about church policy.

Apparently, if you decide to have your name removed from the church records, it nullifies any baptism, priesthood or temple blessings you may have received.  That part makes sense.  But the bizarre part is that, according the Handbook of Instructions, if you rescind your request for name removal within thirty days, you can keep your membership, and, ostensibly, all the blessings you were this close to throwing away.  I guess everyone is entitled to a crisis of faith, so long as that crisis persists for an amount of time not exceeding one month.
That seems like a wholly administrative, businesslike way of handling the situation instead of a spiritual way.  The language used in this section of the handbook seems to imply that it is the act of removing the name from the church records--as opposed to the act of denying your faith and deciding to separate yourself from God's church--that cancels out all the blessings.  In a true church, the problem is not that someone wants his name off the books, it's that someone has decided to disbelieve the doctrine that will bring him eternal happiness.  But in the LDS Church, the problem is addressed as a number that wishes to multiply itself by zero.

Some disaffected, doubting member should experiment with this.  He needs to submit a formal, signed letter of resignation requesting the removal of his name from the church records.  Then, two weeks later, he should submit a formal, signed letter reversing his decision and requesting that his name not be removed.  Would he then be treated as a normal member in good standing?  Considering his blessings haven't been officially revoked, that seems to be what the church claims it would do.  But it's the doubting and forsaking, not the submitting of the proper paperwork, that should revoke the blessings.  So perhaps his bishop would string him along through a lengthy repentance process before considering him fit to partake in the blessings he'd been promised.  It would be an interesting experiment.

I realize that the Handbook of Instructions is an administrative document and thus has an administrative tone to it, but the treatment of this issue (among others) comes off as singularly cold and sterile.  If the church were true, it would be an administration of love, but it appears to be an administration of business objectives.  Beyond that, the described execution of certain policies (this, among others such as disciplinary actions) brings up bizarre gaps in doctrine that are illogical and false.  

Removing your name shouldn't be the crime.  Abandoning the truth should be the crime.  But the church doesn't seem to recognize that.  And that doesn't seem right to me.

No comments:

Post a Comment