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Prince’s Research Excerpts: Priesthood & Mormonism – 1978

Below you will find Prince’s research excerpts titled, “Priesthood, 1978.” You can view other years here.

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1978:    1 Mar.:  Redefinition of incest.

[Revised since Supplement Number 2]  “Incest (grounds for mandatory excommunication).  When the term incest is used by the Church, it refers to sexual intercourse between a parent and child, including a parent with an adopted, foster, or step child.  There may be other instances, however, that constitute incest.  If there is any question concerning such instances, the First Presidency should be contacted by letter explaining the circumstances.  When a young child is involved, disciplinary action will not be taken against the child.”  (General Handbook of Instructions, 1976, #21, Supplement Number 3, 1 Mar., 1978; p. 14)

1 Mar.:  Restoration of blessings is divorce clearance.

[New material]  “Restoration of blessings constitutes a divorce clearance so that the bishop and stake president can then issue a temple recommend if in the interview the person is found to be worthy.”  (General Handbook of Instructions, 1976, #21, Supplement Number 3, 1 Mar., 1978; p. 15)

Mar.:  Annual Guidelines, 1978-1979.

“The purpose of annual guidelines is to specify areas of priesthood work to be emphasized by the quorums during a particular year.  The emphasis changes each year so that over a period of a few years all areas of priesthood work receive concentrated attention.  No area of priesthood work, however, should be neglected during any year. . . .

The quorum president (group leader) is responsible for working to the end that all eligible male members are ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood, magnify their callings, and enjoy the spirit of quorum brotherhood.  Quorum leaders are to preside over their quorum members in righteousness, ‘to sit in council with them, and to teach them according to the covenants.’  (D&C 107:89.) . . .


[No specific role for 70’s mentioned this year with respect to missionary work, although 1 1/2 pages are devoted to missionary work.]

Every quorum leader is responsible for teaching and helping quorum members to do their duties, including their missionary duties. . . .


Priesthood genealogy and temple work is a Melchizedek Priesthood function. . . . As the presidency of the high priests quorum, the stake presidency should see that the high priests provide leadership in all aspects of genealogy and temple work. . . .

The high priests group leader gives positive leadership to the group and instructs other quorums and ward members as requested.”

(“Annual Guidelines, 1978-79:  The Melchizedek Priesthood,” PXMP0437, 3/78)

30 Sep.:  Emeritus General Authorities.

“The very rapid growth of the Church across the world, with the attendant increase in travel and responsibility, has made it necessary to consider a change in the status for some of the Brethren of the General Authorities.  Some of our associates have served for many years with complete and unselfish dedication, and they deserve every honor and recognition for such devoted service.  It is felt addvisable at this time to reduce somewhat the load of responsibility that they carry.

After a long period of prayerful consideration and counsel, extending, indeed, over several years, we announce a new and specific status to be given from time to time to Brethren of our associates in the General Authorities.  We announce that some Brethren have been designated as emeritus members of the First Quorum of the Seventy.  These Brethren are not being released but will be excused from active service.  It is out of consideration for the personal well-being of the individuals, and with deep appreciation for their devoted service, that this designation will be given from time to time to designated members of the General Authorities.”  (N. Eldon Tanner, 30 Sep., 1978; CR Oct., 1978, p. 23)

30 Sep.:  Format for worthiness interviews.

“With all this evil present in the world today, it is most important that those who are responsible conduct proper interviews.

Let us always remember that our main purpose, assignment, and responsibility is to save souls.  It is important that those we interview realize that they are spirit children of God and that we love them, and let them know that we love them and are interested in their welfare and in helping them succeed in life.

It is a great responsibility for a bishop or a stake president to conduct a worthiness interview. There is equal responsibility, however, upon the member who is interviewed.  Careful, searching interviews need to be conducted always individually and privately.

When you interview a young man for a mission, determine through discussion with him what the Lord would want as an ambassador to represent him and his church.  Let him explain, for instance, what the Lord would want in a missionary with regard to the Word of Wisdom, with regard to morality, honesty, dependability, tithing, obedience, devotion, etc.

Tell the young man that you are interviewing him on behalf of the Lord.  The statements he makes will be commitments to the Lord.

Let him interview himself along with you.  Would the Lord want him as a representative?  Does he measure up in every way?  Remind him that the Lord knows, and the Lord will not be mocked.

Let him know that if there is something amiss in his life, there are ways to straighten it out.  There is a great cleansing power of repentance.

He should know that it is much better to postpone a mission for a period that to go unworthily.  In almost every case he can repent and prepare himself for a mission.

Where there has been serious transgression, he must be referred to a General Authority for clearance, but not until both the bishop and the stake president, in searching interviews, are thoroughly satisfied that he has fully repented and is now completely worthy.

You must know also that an appointment is not to be made until the stake president has discussed the case with the General Authority to determine whether or not he feels it is time to conduct the interview.

If a young man has made a mistake, he should see his friend, the bishop, on his own, without waiting to be interviewed.

It is a time to rejoice when a young man who has made mistakes clears his life and can start anew, clean and worthy to be an ambassador for the Lord.

Remember, the interview is based on consideration, on sympathy and love.  This is so important.  Let the people know we love them and are only trying to help them.

You bishops and stake presidents might approach an interview for a temple recommend something like this:

You have come to me for a recommend to enter the temple.  I have the responsibility of representing the Lord in interviewing you.  At the conclusion of the interview there is a provision for me to sign your recommend; but mine is not the only important signature on your recommend.  Before the recommend is valid, you must sign it yourself.

When you sign your recommend, you make a commitment to the Lord that you are worthy of the privileges granted to those who hold such a recommend.  There are several standard questions that I will ask {because you are instructed to do that}.  You are to respond honestly to each one.

An associate of mine mentioned that some years ago, when he held a position in his ward, he went to the bishop for a temple recommend.

The bishop was busy, and said,

Now, I know you very well, and I will not have to ask you the questions before signing your recommend.

This member responded:

Bishop, don’t you have the responsibility to ask those questions?  It is my privilege to answer them.  I need to answer those questions to you and to the Lord and would appreciate your putting each question to me.

And so it is.  The Lord gives the privilege to members of the Church to respond to those questions in such interviews.  Then if there is something amiss, the member can get his life in order so that he may qualify for the priesthood advancement, for a mission, or for a temple recommend.

Now, after you have put those required questions to the applicant, you may wish to add something like this:

One who goes into the house of the Lord must be free from any unclean, unholy, impure, or unnatural practice.

Brethren, we who lead the Church are responsible to see that you are taught in plainness.  I, therefore, must make reference to a matter that otherwise I would not present in a meeting such as this.

There are evil and degrading practices which, in the world, are not only condoned but encouraged.  Sometimes married couples in their intimate expression of love to one another are drawn into practices that are unholy, unworthy, and unnatural.  We receive letters from time to time asking for a definition of ‘unnatural’ or ‘unworthy.’  Brethren, you know the answer to that.  If in doubt at all, do not do it.

Surely no holder of the priesthood would feel worthy to accept advancement in the priesthood or sign his temple recommend if any impure practice were a part of his life.

If, perchance, one of you has been drawn into any degrading conduct, cast it away from you so that when you are subject to a worthiness interview you can answer to yourself, and to the Lord, and to the interviewing priesthood officer that you are worthy.

Remember, you who conduct worthiness interviews are representatives of the Lord and you must conduct the interviews as the Lord himself would conducte them.

That is, there must be nothing immodest or degrading in your interview.  Our interviews are not to be indelicate, or offensive, or pornographic in any way.

May I say here that occasionally we receive reports that a bishop or a stake president has been very indiscreet or indelicate in an interview, especially of married members.

It is not in order for a priesthood leader to list in detail ugly, deviant, or bestial practices and then cross-examine a member of the Church as to whether or not such things are practiced.

One of the General Authorities once interviewed a young man who had gone into the mission home who had made confession of a transgression which disqualified him from missionary service.

The General Authority was amazed at the sordid nature of what the young man had done and asked, ‘Where on earth did you get the idea to do things like this?’  He was shocked when the young man answered, ‘From my bishop.’

During a preliminary interview for the young man’s mission, the bishop had said, ‘Have you ever done this?  Have you ever done that?’ describing every unworthy and depraved act he could think of.  Such things had never before entered the young man’s mind, but they were in his mind now!  The adversary put in his way the opportunity and the temptation–and he fell!

Brethren, our interviews must be conducted in love, in modesty.  Ofttimes things can be corrected if you ask: Would there be a reason you may feel uncomfortable or perhaps even dishonest to the Lord if you were to sign your own temple recommend?’

Would you like a little time to get some very personal things in order before you sign it?  Remember, the Lord knows all things and will not be mocked.  We are trying to help you.  Never lie to try to obtain a call, a recommend, or a blessing from the Lord.

If you approach the matter as outined above, the members has the responsibility to interview himself.  The bishop ro stake president has the right to the power of discernment.  He will know whether or not there is something amiss that ought to be settled before a recommend is issued.

How blessed we are to have the gift of discernment available to us as officers in the priesthood!

On occasion a bishop or a stake president will receive a confession from a member of the Church concerning a transgression that took place many, many years ago.  That individual should have made confession long since but did not and, therefore, has suffered unnecessarily.

It is not always necessary to conduct a court in such cases.  That is up to the bishop.  You are entitled to inspiration and guidance, particularly if the individual has demonstrated through his conduct over the years that that mistake is not characteristic of his life.

How marvelous that inspiration and revelation may accompany us in our duties!  Brethren, be worthy of that.

We frequently hear accounts of how bishops and stake presidents, motivated by consideration and love, have been inspired in conducting interviews and have been able, where problems were present, to help members of the Church correct their course of life so that they became completely worthy to fulfill missions, to be advanced in the priesthood, or to enter the house of the Lord.  And that’s what we are trying to do–help these young men, through love and understanding and interest, to do those things which are necessary in their lives for them to enjoy the blessings of the faithful.

Again I say, what a blessing that we have discernment and revelation and inspiration to guide us in our main purpose, which is to save souls, yes, even our own, and to help prepare our members to understand the purpose of their mission here upon the earth, and to prepare themselves to go back into the presence of our Heavenly Father!”  (N. Eldon Tanner, 30 Sep., 1978; CR Oct., 1978, pp. 59-62)