Q&A: Questions and Answers


Answers are intended for help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine

I know that a member of the priests quorum drinks. Every Sunday he blesses the sacrament. Should I tell my adviser or the bishop about it?

New Era

When someone is having trouble and you are in a position to do something to help, you should do it. The bishop is the logical one to talk to when one of the priests in his quorum is in trouble. Besides being concerned with every member of his ward, the bishop has a special calling as the president of the priests quorum. He meets with the priests quorum on Sundays and is often involved in the lessons and principles taught.

We asked several former bishops if they would want to know about a priest who is involved in drinking. All of them said that they would appreciate being told about a priest’s drinking so they could do something to help. They all agreed that they would like to be told directly by the person who is aware of the problem and would, of course, keep all discussions confidential.

As far as the validity of his blessing the sacrament is concerned, the Lord recognizes ordinances done by the power of the priesthood. The sacrament blessings are valid for the members of the congregation who are participating worthily even if the priest is not. However, that priest is doing damage to his own spiritual well-being. In 3 Nephi 18:29, it says, “For whoso eateth and drinketh my flesh and blood unworthily eateth and drinketh damnation to his soul.”

In verse 30 it goes on to say, “Ye shall not cast him out from among you, but ye shall minister unto him and shall pray for him.” [3 Ne. 18:29–30] One of the most important people besides his friends and family that should be involved in helping a young man is the bishop.

Because of his actions, he may also be creating a distraction from the sacredness of the sacrament. Mandi Rader of the West Palm Beach Florida Stake said, “During the sacrament I might be thinking about his drinking. I would see him there and think, What’s he doing? How can he say something so sacred and then go out and drink on Saturday night? I would be thinking about that, and it would take away from the things I should be thinking about such as the sacrifice Christ made for us.”

Several readers wrote in concerned about betraying the confidence of a friend. They suggested talking to him privately and telling him that he should go talk to the bishop. However, they all felt that their responsibility did not end there. If he doesn’t take care of his problem, they all said they would then talk to the bishop themselves.

When someone, particularly a friend, is in trouble, you should help if you can. If you are worried or unsure about this, ask your parents for their help and advice about what you should do. The only thing that may truly help is to talk to the people who are in a position to make a difference.

Readers

Too often blessing the sacrament is seen as an assigned job rather than as a privilege. When blessing the sacrament, you are representing Christ when he blessed and passed the first sacrament. Tell your friend this, and also tell him he needs to find help for his alcohol problem.

Elder Scott Anthony Lowther Pennsylvania Pittsburgh Mission

I know how you feel. My brother drinks and smokes. I didn’t know what to do. I thought a long time about it and prayed. I decided to go to my parents. They confronted him, and he has stopped drinking. Try praying, fasting, and talking it over with your parents.

Name withheld

I believe that by telling your bishop you would really help the person. The bishop could help him work through his problems.

Shanna Mortensen, 14 Sandy, Utah

Anyone who has heard the sacrament prayers repeated several times knows how precisely the Lord desires the prayer to be said. If the Lord is concerned with the correctness of the words, how much more is he concerned with the worthiness of the person who says the prayer?

Joseph Fluckiger, 17 Sunnyvale, Texas

I think you should tell your bishop. If the bishop can’t help him, there’s not a whole lot more you can do. All we can do is let him know we are there to help.

Gwen Zambrana, 17 Clovis, California

I feel you should consult your bishop privately. Keep it away from outside people. Love this member and support him.

Amy Edwards Clovis, California

I do know someone in my ward that had this problem. I promised that I wouldn’t say anything, so the problem worsened and he came to church with a hangover and blessed the sacrament every Sunday. It started to really trouble and upset me. I prayed about it, and it came to my mind that if I spoke out to someone it might make him change. I only had to go as far as talking to him and a week later he had told his parents.

I would advise you to not hold in that kind of information.

Name withheld

I’d first talk to him. I think that would be the best way to go. Just confront him with it and tell him he should go talk to the bishop.

Jared Holdaway, 18 Sun Prairie, Wisconsin

I would tell the bishop. I know the bishop is spiritually guided and will make the correct choice, and I would trust in that choice.

Alexis Miller, 12 Haverfordwest, Wales

[photo] Photography by Melanie Shumway

[illustration] In the parable of the lost sheep (see Luke 15:4–7), the shepherd made every effort to help the wandering sheep return to the fold. We should always be ready and willing to help someone who has wandered from the things they know to be true. (Painting The Good Shepherd by W. H. Margetson.)