High Priests – Holding the Right Belonging to the Fathers

By Christopher Cooper

ex_highpriestIs it wrong to aspire to positions of leadership, or request advancements within the priesthood if you feel you have been overlooked? Active, worthy, gay members of the Church may readily advance through the mechanical steps of Deacon, Teacher, Priest, and Elder when they arrive at the stipulated ages, but the invitation to become a High Priest is one that may forever elude most active, worthy, gay LDS men because of reasons which may never be fully explained, or are even doctrinally justified.

Active and single LDS gay members are largely excluded from being invited to be High Priests due mostly to the fact that the invitation comes by peer-election from those men already within that group – men who may not be inclined to invite someone “queer” to join with them. The Church’s current discretionary process of invitations and recommendations for Elders to be High Priests presents an added degree of subtle discrimination to active gay Elders commonly overlooked for High Priest advancement.

Many Elders assume the invitation to become a High Priest comes at the time of receiving a call to be on a Bishopric or Stake High Council – both of which require the individual to be married, which is correct, but in addition to this, High Priests who wish to invite another brother to join with them – even if unmarried – can initiate recommendations at any time. There are no stated qualifications to do with age, marital status, maturity or any such thing other than to already hold the Melchizedek Priesthood. A worthy single elder has the right to claim priesthood leadership ranks up until Elder, but the next and highest rank of High Priest may forever elude him if the other brothers do not wish him to join with them for whatever unstated reason.

Is it wrong to want for something noble that you do not already have? The feeling is that it is wrong to aspire to this High Priesthood, and especially wrong to ever request it, yet Abraham taught us differently when he wrote of his aspirations for the very same – “I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same… and desiring instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers.”

So while the current handbook of instructions states that becoming a High Priest is determined by the stake president with the bishop usually initiating the recommendation for these ordinations, our scriptures teach us that Abraham actively petitioned for this right that was his, and he claimed it and became a “rightful heir”. Might we therefore suggest that LDS gay men and other single men who are constantly being excluded from being invited to join with their other brothers as High Priests therefore speak up about this, question why, and petition for this as Abraham once did?

Each Sunday LDS men witness the charade where they combine at first together, and then the men who have been invited to be High Priests are excused from the main body to meet in separation. The same lessons are fundamentally taught from the same lesson manuals as the Elders Quorum, which prompts the question why such a separation is ever required, if not for reasons of exclusionism, separatism, or elitism?

In our pre-mortal life, many were foreordained to priesthood offices (Alma 13:3, Abraham 3:23). Joseph Smith taught that anyone who receives a priesthood office in this life was foreordained to such in the pre-existence. Clearly, before September 1978, there were men living on the earth who were foreordained to hold priesthood offices, but they were denied this because of what Elder Bruce R. McConkie describes as the “limited understanding” of the time. It is surely the case that there are thousands of active gay brethren today who are fore-ordained to hold the priesthood, and even that of High Priest, and their hearts yearn for this, yet they are currently overlooked because of the “limited understanding” of the rest of their brethren who do not want them there, and therefore have not invited them.

The Church affirms that God is “no respecter of persons” and emphatically declares that anyone who is righteous is favored of Him. In 2 Nephi we read “[The Lord] denieth none that cometh unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; . . . all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.”

May we as LDS work harder to ‘denieth none’ and to be no ‘respector of persons’, and to be of ‘one heart and one mind’, especially as it concerns our gay brothers and sisters.

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! – Psalms 133:1


6 comments for “High Priests – Holding the Right Belonging to the Fathers

  1. April 3, 2014 at 7:52 am

    An interesting discussion. I feel among my peers with the Elder’s, and not wishing to hang out with the High Priests, but agree that a faithful gay member should be as welcome there as anyone else.
    Did I misunderstand the statement about which callings require a man to be married? Being married is not a requirement for serving as a member of a bishopric or on a high council. Only the bishop himself is required to be married. Outside the US, where the church is young, it is very common for single people to serve in those callings.

  2. EteU Spencer
    April 3, 2014 at 8:02 am

    I have been at odds that there are any qualifications to priesthood offices of leadership i.e bishop, high council etc.

    • Alan
      April 3, 2014 at 7:15 pm

      When reading this article, Well, I agree that there are likely many “gay Elders commonly overlooked for High Priest advancement.” but the examples/causes are ones that are inaccurate. Unless the church is vastly different from the places in the USA where I have lived. I won’t hit every point but here are few.

      1. “invitation comes by peer-election from those men already within that group” I have never in 50 years heard of a there being a peer-election to grant a man the office of High Priest. The most common way that someone becomes a High Priest is by getting a calling that requires it. Some callings don’t technically require it, but Wards and Stakes also often ordain them to be High Priest, for example Ward/Stake Clerk, Executive Secretaries. I was ordained a High Priest when I was called to be Ward Clerk. The job did not require someone to be married. And by the way, the role of Stake High Council does NOT require one to be married either. I know 2 gay men on Stake High Councils.

      2. “Is it wrong to want for something noble that you do not already have?” I agree with you, it is not. But is also is not necessary for one’s eternal reward.

      3. Regarding “the charade where they combine at first together, and then the men who have been invited to be High Priests are excused from the main body to meet in separation”. For many years the entire body met together for Sunday and then separated into classes based on age and such. Why would Priesthood meetings be a “charade” for doing the same? Yes the quorums teach pretty much the same stuff, but the high priests generally don’t have small children at home to they tend to skip or minimize lessons on such things. Also assignments are given more appropriate to the age group, so 80 year old men are not being pushed to help a new family move in, for example.

      4. In wards I have been in on the East and West coasts, the men were separated by age (this age is adjusted based on the numbers) so that the older men go to the High Priest quorum and the younger men to the Elders Quorum, regardless of what priesthood they hold. A man who is older and attends the High Priests quorum can (and I think should) approach the Bishop and tell him that he feels he should be ordained a High Priest. All such ordinations are approved by the Stake President of course.

      So basically I agree there are issues, but I would hope that we can give accurate descriptions of the issues, or else others will dismiss the important issues.

    • Alan
      April 3, 2014 at 7:19 pm

      Regarding the requirement, that in general, a Bishop should be married, we can look to the Bible 1st Timothy 3:2 “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife”. But as others have said, when such a person is not available a single man can be called.

  3. Chris Cooper
    April 7, 2014 at 6:51 am

    Thanks for the comments here. It is an interesting discussion, and it does reveal that the process of becoming a high priest is often not understood well. Some here have speculated on the process, age and calling requirements etc. Any male holding the Melchizedek Priesthood (age 18) can become a High Priest. Let’s turn to the policy in the official source – Official Policy – Church Handbook of Instructions –
    From – https://www.lds.org/…/handboo…/melchizedek-priesthood…

    Brethren are ordained high priests when they are called to a stake presidency, high council, or bishopric or when otherwise determined by the stake president. The rights and responsibilities of high priests are to preside and to hold all the authority of elders (see D&C 107:10).
    The stake president oversees the conferral of the Melchizedek Priesthood and ordinations to the offices of elder and high priest. However, the bishop usually initiates recommendations for these ordinations. Instructions for recommending, interviewing, and presenting these brethren for a sustaining vote are outlined in Handbook 1, 16.7.1
    Brethren in districts are not ordained to the office of high priest.

  4. Chris Cooper
    April 7, 2014 at 6:53 am

    In 1986, all stake quorums of the seventy were discontinued. The church encouraged local leaders to have ordained seventies meet with the local elders quorum or to ordain them as high priests. Such a change has been made before. Wouldn’t it be good to make such a change once again such that there is just one body of the priesthood united in purpose, and without division or class structure? We have just witnessed the sisters make a similar move of consolidation, and their rationale seems consistent with why this might be a good change for the men as well.

    “Sister Burton said she is excited for the meeting because “there is power in gathering. … We elevate each other in a way when we are together that is absolutely remarkable… It is unity. It is seamless in spirit and purpose. We are together.” http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865595897/Mormon-leaders-announce-effort-to-unite-LDS-women-across-the-globe.html?pg=all

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