Doctrine and Covenants 102 consists of the minutes of the meeting at which the first stake high council was organized. It is not a revelation, though the principles out of which it grows were revealed to the prophet Joseph Smith.
On February 17, 1834, approximately sixty members of the church gathered at the home of Joseph Smith in a special meeting to call twelve high priests to serve as member of the high council in what was the first stake organized in this dispensation. In this meeting the prophet sets rules for the high council on how to handle difficult decisions. When you think about how young the prophet is at this time (28 years old), it is a wonder the ideas and principles he sets forth on how to handle very difficult issues and problems.
One main principle behind this revelation is that we ought to be wise so as not to injure another. The church must protect and safeguard the innocent, the church as an organization, and assist in helping sinners come to the Savior to be cleansed.
In a meeting held five days before this revelation the prophet observed:”In ancient days councils were conducted with such strict propriety, that on one was allowed to whisper, be weary, leave the room, or get uneasy in the least, until the voice of the Lord, by revelation, or by the voice of the council by the Spirit was obtained: which has not been observed in this church to the present. It was understood in ancient days, that if one man could stay in council another could spend his time, the members could also. But in our councils, generally, one would be uneasy, another asleep, one praying another not; one’s mind on the business of the council and another thinking on something else.” (“Kirtland Council Minute Book,” pp.27-28, Church Archives; published in Smith, Teachings, p.69).
“Our acts are recorded, and at a future day they will be laid before us, and if we should fail to judge right and injure our fellow-beings, they may there, perhaps, condemn us; there they are of great consequence, and to me the consequence appears to be of force, beyond anything which I am able to express. Ask yourselves, brethren, how much you have exercised yourselves in prayer since you heard of this council; and if you are now prepared to sit in council upon the soul of your brother.” (Smith, History of the Church, 2:25-26).
- Girls softball team
- Boys basketball team
- The chess club
- German club
- Spanish club
- The track team
- The “Jimmer for President” club – just kidding!
Organizations have membership standards. What if a boy wanted to join the girls softball team or a young man wanted to change the arrangement of the chess team and make checkers an optional activity? What would happen? Is the young man who wants to change chess to checkers a bad person? Is checkers a bad thing? What if a person wanted to make it so all Spanish club members speak only Mandarin Chinese in their meetings? Is Mandarin an unacceptable language?
The idea is that each and every group has standards and if you adhere to those standards you may be part of the group, but by going against those standards, your membership may be at risk. Certainly the checkers guy would get the hint after a brief talking to.
The church has the right to set the standards for its organization. Because the church is the Lord’s, He sets standards so that the Kingdom of God on the earth can be a “light (to) the world” (Matthew 5:14 & D&C 103:9). This section streamlines perfectly with the Zions Camp episode- the Saints are experiencing troubles in Missouri because they will not hearken unto the Lord. By their disobedience, they are reaping what they have sown – if the standards are not held to, then the organization suffers. In this way D&C 102 and 103 relate to each other and to the lives of the youth. How can you be a light to the world if you don’t uphold the standards in obvious ways? If your dress & appearance, language, attitude, and behavior reflect the world, then who are you representing?
This ties into Matthew 18 on the three purposes of church discipline:
- Protect the innocent – verses 1-7
- Protect the Church – verses 8-10
- Save the sinner – verses 11-14
We discussed how violating the standards of the church that would qualify for serious discipline hurt innocent people. Probably the thing the youth identified with most as a serious sin that would endanger our membership is sexual sin. I asked them, “how does sexual sin hurt innocent people?” This question generated some discussion and got them thinking about the consequences that arise when we break the law of chastity.
The disciplinary process is a process whereby the Lord’s servants can assist in protecting the innocent, protect the church and save the transgressor. In my estimation this is the applicability of section 102 as it applies to the youth.
We discussed the idea that the purpose of a disciplinary council is not to harm but to bless, show love, and offer help. We examined the following statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley, then a counselor in the First Presidency:
“In times of disciplinary councils, the three brethren of the bishopric, or the three brethren of the stake presidency, or the three brethren of the presidency of the Church, sit together, discuss matters together, pray together, in the process of reaching a decision. I wish to assure you, my brethren, that I think there is never a judgment rendered until after prayer has been had. Action against a member is too serious a matter to result from the judgment of men alone, and particularly of one man alone. There must be the guidance of the Spirit, earnestly sought for and then followed, if there is to be justice” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1990, 65; or Ensign, Nov. 1990, 50 ).