Friday, November 12, 2010

LDS Church To Release 2010 Version Of "Handbook Of Instructions"; Volume II Will Be Posted Online For Public Access And Review

On November 12th, 2010, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced that it will release the 2010 version of its "General Handbook of Instructions". However, in a departure from historical practice, Volume II will be posted online at and is now available for access and review by the general public for the first time ever HERE. Volume I will also be online, but accessible only to Church members in leadership positions. Media stories in the Deseret News and the Salt Lake Tribune.

In its official statement, the LDS Church said that the handbook will be formally introduced in a special training meeting originating at Church headquarters in Salt Lake City on November 13th and broadcast to 95 countries in every time zone and in 22 languages during the course of the day. Church leaders say that one of the major aims of the new handbook is to reduce the administrative workload on the Church’s bishops, who put many hours of service into their church duties in addition to managing their full-time occupations and their families. Key principles embodied in the handbook are simplification and flexibility where necessary in units that lack sufficient members to carry out the full Church program, while at the same time maintaining the essential doctrines and principles of the Church.

Major new doctrinally based chapters have been added at the front of the book on the eternal family and leadership and priesthood principles. Most of these changes are incorporated into the publicly-available Volume II.

One LDS blogger obtained advance copies and posted them as PDF files online, but the links are now disabled because of a copyright claim by Intellectual Reserve, who operates on behalf of the LDS Church. This has happened before; the LDS Church has previously pursued litigation against those who posted the most current handbook online, most notably the Utah Lighthouse Ministry in 1999 and Wikileaks in 2008.

Some other LDS bloggers got sneak previews and posted their own impressions. On Wheat and Tares, BIV notes that bishops and stake presidents will now have the discretion to allow priesthood holders who are not fully temple-worthy to perform or participate in some ordinances and blessings. However, presiding officers are still cautioned not to allow such participation if a priesthood holder has unresolved serious sins. Furthermore, only a temple-worthy Melchizedek Priesthood holder may continue to act as voice in confirming a person a member of the church, conferring the Melchizedek Priesthood, ordaining a person to an office in that priesthood, or setting apart a person to serve in a church calling.

Loydo38 notes changes in the section on homosexuality. All official "stigma" against mere homosexual orientation is removed; only homosexual behavior is now considered "actionable" amd subject to Church discipline. Most noteworthy is the following addition: "If members feel same-gender attraction but do not engage in any homosexual behavior, leaders should support and encourage them in their resolve to live the law of chastity and to control unrighteous thoughts. These members may receive Church callings. If they are worthy and qualified in every other way, they may also hold temple recommends and receive temple ordinances".

However, some gay Mormons will not be satisfied. According to the Tribune, a couple of gay Mormons won't be content until the LDS Church formally recognizes monogamous gay couples. And that ain't about to happen anytime soon, at least not without a revelation. I won't place restrictions on the Lord by saying it will never happen, but I find it most unlikely. And anyone who has a true understanding of the Gospel will likely agree.

But making at least one volume of the Handbook of Instructions publicly available is a positive step towards greater opennness, and will rob anti-Mormons of some of the grist they use for their propaganda mills.


Anonymous said...

links are down

Jack Mormon said...

Thanks for the report; that was quick. I've updated my post accordingly.

Anonymous said...

here's the unpublished handbook: