This Q&A can be found in the January 1971 New Era, found here.

Part one of my commentary can be found here.

Like last time, the questions plus my experiences and opinions plus witty social commentary means this is part 2 of the Q&A! Not as much youth-oriented issues, but plenty of snarkiness to go around!

I’ve read in the Doctrine and Covenants where it says to confess your sins and I’ve been told we’re to do it in fast and testimony meeting. What should we do about confessing our sins in public?

Personally, I can’t find anything in the D&C where it talks about confessing sins in fast and testimony meeting. I might be proven wrong, though. Elder Marion D. Hanks is the person answering this question.

Generally speaking, we do not confess specific serious personal sins in public meetings.

Well that’s that.

It is not the general practice of the Church for individuals to confess explicit sins in fast and testimony meetings. The Lord has said that where many are offended or where an offense is widely known, it may be required of an individual by the appropriate Church officer that he acknowledge a sinful act or condition before the priesthood or the congregation (D&C 42:90–91), but members of the Church are not generally encouraged to discuss their sins or those of others before the body of the Church or otherwise publicly (D&C 42:93).

I’ve never been in a meeting where one has had to confess a sin to a congregation, but all I know is this: When someone gets up and starts ranting and raving in testimony meeting or class or wherever, especially if they are talking about past sins, I get a little uncomfortable. And that’s all I have to say, about that.

What is the place of psychological counseling in the Church? When do you see the bishop, and when do you see a counselor—or can you do both?

This is a question that has been re-examined in later years. I think we understand now that bishops aren’t professional counselors, stake presidents aren’t professional counselors, and while a bishop/stake president can be great to counsel with, they shouldn’t be taken as the final word. From Elder Marvin J. Ashton:

Trained counselors are an essential source of help as they work with the priesthood leaders, and as bishops work through them to help members. It is important that we continue to allow God to direct us in whatever is our assignment, and that we use our talents as required by the Lord.

On a personal note, as a teen, my parents and I were butting heads a lot when I was 17-years old. Constant arguments, constant dissention, and constant conflict. Sheepishly, I can tell you that it was mostly my fault, for being a stubborn teenager juggling the line between my non-LDS friends and my LDS standards. We went to our bishop, a great man, but it didn’t seem like things were working out. He recommended an LDS counselor, and we started going to her. I didn’t have anything wrong with me that would need a professional’s diagnosis, but it was great to be involved with LDS family counseling and see exactly how it works (which it did).

There is a social service task committee in every stake in the Church. This committee is comprised of specifically assigned high councilors who are responsible for the social-emotional needs within a stake.

I believe we still have this in the wards, but it’s brought under the welfare meetings of the ward/branch. I might be wrong, though.

The place of psychological counseling in the Church is under the supervision of the bishop, and one sees a counselor at the suggestion of the bishop.

Again, this was my experience. And I’m glad that it’s been more openly talked about recently, especially with research that has been done about depression, same-gender attraction, and other things that a trained professional might be more specialized to handle.

Natasha Parker is a great example of this. Her site deals mostly with adult issues, and many people ask her questions dealing with intimacy (be warned, she is very respectful but also candid in her responses), but she also blogs about other things. I’ve had email communication with her about random things within the greater bloggernacle, and she’s a treat.

How can I develop enthusiasm to magnify my present church calling when I’m honestly not all that excited about it?

This must be a college student. Student wards are the only place I know that give “interesting” callings – like the backup to the person who hands out the programs. The wonderful Lowell Bennion answers this question:

1. If a calling in Christ’s church is service to him, then surely it should be rendered with heart, mind, and soul.

This includes being very excited about the backup to the person who hands out the programs.

2. A second reason to work whole-souled in a calling is to keep one’s own integrity. … but the significant things of life that we undertake voluntarily ought to be done with full purpose of heart, with conviction, or one’s whole life may be farcical or even hypocritical.

I can’t make a snarky comment about that. I really like that.

There must be one or more reasons why we perform halfheartedly in a church calling. Maybe our love for the gospel, the Church, or people is shallow; or we put too little effort into the job; or we feel incompetent. Perhaps we are caught in the mechanics of the calling and labor without vision or meaning.

Or you realize that being the backup to the person who hands out the programs is just a calling to keep you coming to church? But I digress….

When one gets that vision of his calling, then teaching is not giving a lesson; it is leading John and Mary to greater self-respect, to increased trust in God, and to a deeper concern for others. Blessing the sacrament is not reading a prayer; it is uniting the hearts of all believers in a humble supplication to God. Ushering is more than finding a seat; it is giving a reverent and warm greeting to Sister Jones and leading her to her seat.

Goodness, now I feel like I’m eating a bit of crow…is it hot in here, or are my cheeks bright red because I’m embarrassed?

When church work is viewed as service to individuals for God and Christ, then where we serve is quite incidental. Class president, youth committee representatives, teacher, secretary, bishop, Scout patrol leader, home teacher, baby sitter, organist, Scoutmaster, collector of fast offerings, apostle, custodian—each has an equal but unique opportunity to learn the joy of service.

“And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.” (Matt. 20:27.)

Even the backup to the person who hands out the programs. If you haven’t had a chance to read any of Lowell Bennion’s other work, I highly highly recommend “Do Justly and Love Mercy: Moral Issues for Mormons.

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