Since creating this blog I have received a lot of feedback. While most have been positive there are those who accuse me of being unjust in the way in which I perform my duties. Some think I am too controlling or restricitive in my counsel and discipline. The basic question I ask myself (and that you may ask) is whether my actions are approved of the Lord. The below scenario addresses this issue.
One of my toughest responsibilities in the church has been in deciding whether a couple should be allowed to marry or not. A few years ago when I was a Bishop a young man came to me asking for a temple recommend as he wanted to get married. This young man had served an honorable two year mission for the Lord and was from a good family, but I had not seen him at church for a long time. He said he had been attending his future wife’s ward. This I found to be unacceptable. I explained to him that we do not go to church to socialize. We go to serve the Lord and since members can only receive callings in their own wards we should seldom visit other wards. I noticed on his records too that he had not paid tithes in a few months. I asked him to attend his ward, accept a calling and start paying tithes. In six months we could talk about a temple recommend and marriage. This was very difficult for the couple and was especially hard on me as the bishop. Two adults do not have the right to marry just because they fall in love; marriage has to be earned.
Wondering whether my decision was approved of the Lord, I prayed and asked the Lord to tell me whether I had done the right thing.
The Lord responded in a miraculous and unexpected way. On November 4th 2007 Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke to the young people in a CES fireside that was broadcast throughout the world. In his address he talked about this same young man mentioned above and my decision to withhold a temple recommend. Here the Lord was not only endorsing my actions but was answering my prayer.
For interested readers the talk by Elder Oaks can still be read on the official church website at this URL (scroll to about 3 quarters of the way down into the talk):
For your convenience I will quote below the part of the talk where I am mentioned: “Don’t be in the position of a young man who recently asked for an urgent appointment with his bishop because he wanted to be married in the temple the following week. The bishop said: “Who are you? I have your membership record, and I know your parents, but I haven’t seen you since you came off your mission. I have no record of your paying tithing. I know that you have not been serving the Lord in a calling. I cannot give you a recommend. Come back to your ward. Serve here and pay your tithing here and let your bishop feel your spirit here. Then, in a few months, we can talk about a recommend.” When the temple wedding did not occur on schedule, it was hard for everyone, especially the bishop. But the bishop was right.”
Tears still well in my eyes when I read those words from a prophet of the Lord and know that my service is acceptable unto him. I pray that I can continue to serve the Lord honorably as a stake president. To my readers; I want you to know that I appreciate all your love, support and devotion.