Journey through the Book of Mormon: 3 Nephi 18 (Forbid Not)

In 3 Nephi 18, the Savior teaches two principles that in the modern conscience are in tension with each other. First, we have an obligation to welcome all to our church meetings so that we can reflect the light of Christ to others. But second, we must prevent indiviudals from partaking in the ordinances of Christ unworthily.

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“22 And behold, ye shall meet together oft; and ye shall not forbid any man from coming unto you when ye shall meet together, but suffer them that they may come unto you and forbid them not;

23 But ye shall pray for them, and shall not cast them out; and if it so be that they come unto you oft ye shall pray for them unto the Father, in my name.

24 Therefore, hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up–that which ye have seen me do. Behold ye see that I have prayed unto the Father, and ye all have witnessed.”
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“28 And now behold, this is the commandment which I give unto you, that ye shall not suffer any one knowingly to partake of my flesh and blood unworthily, when ye shall minister it;

29 For whoso eateth and drinketh my flesh and blood unworthily eateth and drinketh damnation to his soul; therefore if ye know that a man is unworthy to eat and drink of my flesh and blood ye shall forbid him.

30 Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out from among you, but ye shall minister unto him and shall pray for him unto the Father, in my name; and if it so be that he repenteth and is baptized in my name, then shall ye receive him, and shall minister unto him of my flesh and blood.”

These two seemingly conflicting principles underly the controversial policy issues last year with regard to baptism of children raised by gay and lesbian parents. There is an obligation to welcome, invite, nurture, and love. But there is also a need to protect, and ensure that those who partake of ordinances understand the sacred covenants they are making. We are not perfect at balancing those concerns, but we are making our best efforts at striking the proper balance.

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