Duties of an LDS Bishop
Bishops in the LDS Church are called the “judge in Israel” for the wards and branches of the Church (Gospel Principles: Priesthood Organization, Chapter 14). They have many responsibilities throughout the Church, aside from conducting meetings. The Bishop and his counselors are over the different organizations in the Church, such as: the Young Men’s, Priesthood Quorum, Sunday school class, and Primary, as well as the organizations for the women, the Relief Society, and Young Women’s. In addition to all that they are to make sure that the leadership positions in these organizations are filled.
When you are “called” to a position in the Church, it is said that the Lord wants you to be in this position, this calling (The Latter-day Saint Woman, Part B Lesson 28, Serving in the Church). You are expected to accept this position. If you choose not to accept, it’s frowned upon. After all, are you going to say “no” to the Lord? (Dallin H. Oaks, November 2002, Ensign)
In my old ward there was a couple my husband and I were close to. The wife, “Jennifer” was dying of cancer; while this was happening, her husband “Tim” was called to be a Stake Missionary. This calling requires the person called to invest much of their free time away from home, going out with the missionaries to their appointments, and giving new members, the “new member” discussions. When I asked why Tim would be given such a calling when it seemed that his wife needed him more, I was told that it’s what the Lord wanted. I couldn’t believe for one second that the Lord would want him to be away from his wife when she needed him the most.
Another duty of a Bishop is to interview the people for the temple recommends. As of July 2000, there is a list of 15 questions the Bishop asks the member. Remember these men are considered the “judge” of these people, they represent God. The questions are as follows: (The Bishops Manual)
1 Do you have faith in and a testimony of God the Eternal Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost?
2 Do you have a testimony of the Atonement of Christ and of His role as Savior and Redeemer?
3 Do you have a testimony of the restoration of the gospel in these the latter days?
4 Do you sustain the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator and as the only person on the earth who possesses and is authorized to exercise all priesthood keys? Do you sustain members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators? Do you sustain the other General Authorities and local authorities of the Church?
5 Do you live the law of chastity?
6 Is there anything in your conduct relating to members of your family that is not in harmony with the teachings of the Church?
7 Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
8 Do you strive to keep the covenants you have made, to attend your sacrament and other meetings, and to keep your life in harmony with the laws and commandments of the gospel?
9 Are you honest in your dealings with your fellowmen?
10 Are you a full-tithe payer?
11 Do your keep the Word of Wisdom?
12 Do you have financial or other obligations to a former spouse or children? If yes, are you current in meeting those obligations?
13 If you have previously received your temple endowment:
Do you keep the covenants that you made in the temple?
Do you wear the garment both night and day as instructed in the endowment and in accordance with the covenant you made in the temple?
14 Have there been any sins or misdeeds in your life that should have been resolved with priesthood authorities but have not been?
15 Do you consider yourself worthy to enter the Lord’s house and participate in temple ordinances?
As you can see, some of these questions are very personal, what business is it of anyone, what you drink, if you pay a full tithe, or what kind of underwear you have on? In the LDS Church the Bishop is your judge, in a November 2003 Ensign, President Gordon B. Hinckley tells the priesthood at General Conference the areas in which the Bishop judges the church members:
“You cannot compromise your qualifications to sit as a common judge in Israel. It is a fearsome and awesome responsibility to stand as a judge of the people. You must be their judge in some instances as to worthiness to hold membership in the Church, worthiness to enter the house of the Lord, worthiness to be baptized, worthiness to receive the priesthood, worthiness to serve missions, worthiness to teach and to serve as officers in the organizations. You must be the judge of their eligibility in times of distress to receive help from the fast offerings of the people and commodities from the storehouse of the Lord. None for whom you are responsible must go hungry or without clothing or shelter though they be reluctant to ask. You must know something of the circumstances of all of the flock over whom you preside.”
Jesus is our judge, our authority, our Savior. How could a mortal man, who is full of sin himself judge another worthy of the things mentioned in the quote above? Such questions on chastity, tithing and family matters should be between you and God, unless YOU choose to discuss it with you church leader. Jesus is the one who puts it on your heart to serve; no one can look inside your heart to see if you are “worthy” enough to serve.
Jesus has authority over us, given to him by God. He suffered and died for us, he paid for our sins on the cross, so we might have eternal life. I would rather stand in judgment before Jesus Christ who was and is perfect in every way versus a mortal man who is no better than me. Colossians 2:16:17 tells us not to let any man judge us, even what we eat or drink we only answer to Christ, no one else.
When a member commits a serious sin they must confess it to their Bishop. He then helps them through the repentance process. During this time the member may not be allowed to hold church callings, take the sacrament or participate in any class discussions. If needed he presides over any disciplinary council or “Court of Love” as it’s sometimes called, the person on “trial” so to speak, can be disfellowshipped or excommunicated. All this depends on how bad the sin is and how remorseful the church member is; in the end the Bishop will tell the member when their repentance process is complete.
As President Hinckley stated above they are to judge who needs financial help and who doesn’t. The LDS members are encouraged to not accepted assistance from the government (D&C 78:13-14). They want the members to come to the Bishop if they are in need of financial help. The Church asks members to pay a “fast” offering in addition to the tithing. The “fast” offering comes from when the members who fast once a month give a “generous” fast offering.
“In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, members are encouraged to fast whenever their faith needs special fortification and to fast regularly once each month on fast day. On that day, we go without eating or drinking for two consecutive meals, commune with our Heavenly Father, and contribute a fast offering to help the poor. The offering should be at least equal to the value of the food that would have been eaten. Typically, the first Sunday of each month is designated as fast Sunday. On that day, members who are physically able are encouraged to fast, pray, bear witness to the truthfulness of the gospel, and pay a generous fast offering.” Joseph B. Wirthlin, July 2001 Liahona
In exchange for the finiancial help, church the members if able, are asked to help with cleaning the church, the church grounds or the Bishop;s storehouse if they live near one (I have a question, March Ensign 1978). Wanting its members to come to them for help isn’t in its self a bad thing. My concern is what happens if someone becomes dependant on the Church for assistance and they discover the church isn’t what it claims to be. What if the Lord wants to lead them out of the LDS church? Members would feel like they couldn’t leave the Church “after all the Church has done for them”. It creates this false sense of loyalty, that no matter what, they have to stay active members of the church, because they owe the Church so much.
As I said before Jesus is our judge. He is the only one who can judge us justly, and fairly. I wish that the LDS could know the freedom that comes from knowing the Jesus of the Bible. There is liberty in Christ. Galatians 5:1 reads, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage”.
Melissa Grimes, firstname.lastname@example.org