What would happen if there was no question in the temple recommend interview about the Word of Wisdom–but there was one about home and visiting teaching?

112 comments for “Hypothetical

  1. Julie M. Smith
    July 16, 2007 at 6:13 pm

    So what I’m getting at here:

    (1) The role of the TR questions in defining orthodoxy and orthopraxy.

    (2) I find it incredible that our church culture can keep 18 to 25-year-olds from having sex but it can’t convince 30-year-old males to spend a half hour chatting in someone else’s living room once per month.

  2. Adam Greenwood
    July 16, 2007 at 6:18 pm


  3. Costanza
    July 16, 2007 at 6:35 pm

    First Presidency Letter #1: “Bishops and Stake Presidents will now be asking members about their home and visiting teaching habits during the temple recommend interview.”

    First Presidency Letter #2 “We regret to announce that the church will be closing 109 temples due to lack of use.”

  4. Randy B.
    July 16, 2007 at 6:43 pm

    Julie, on your second point, I suspect this has much to do with the relative positions of power and stations of life of those involved. As married adults, it is easy to tell teenagers they can’t have sex until they are married. On the other hand, it is a little more awkward to be giving your own friends guilt trips about not hometeaching.

  5. Randy B.
    July 16, 2007 at 6:46 pm

    That and most folks don’t think that missing your home teaching assignment is a sin second only to murder.

  6. Darrell
    July 16, 2007 at 6:46 pm

    There is one that sort of covers HT/VT. It starts out with, \”Do you strive to do your duty in the Church….\”

  7. dkl
    July 16, 2007 at 6:53 pm

    Easy: I’d drink nightly — if not more often.

  8. Melanie
    July 16, 2007 at 7:13 pm

    Those of us that are busy living the celibate law of chastity lifestyle would have some means of escape and release other than singing hymns to ourselves, making sandwiches and getting some exercise. Sounds good to me.

  9. Melanie
    July 16, 2007 at 7:15 pm

    Those of us that are busy living the celibate law of chastity lifestyle would have some means of escape and release other than singing hymns to ourselves, making sandwiches and getting some exercise. And of course, amongst all the adults, we’d all be feeling relaxed enough to do the home and visiting teaching because all of those nasty social inhibitions are whisked away…

    sounds good to me. ;)

  10. jimbob
    July 16, 2007 at 7:16 pm

    Is this like one of those Friday Firestorms?

    “What would happen if there was no question in the temple recommend interview about the Word of Wisdom–but there was one about home and visiting teaching?”

    The dead would be waiting a really long time for salvation.

    “I find it incredible that our church culture can keep 18 to 25-year-olds from having sex but it can’t convince 30-year-old males to spend a half hour chatting in someone else’s living room once per month.”

    The decision to have sex when single is an individual decision. It depends on me as an individual. The only way other people’s decisions factor in is if I’m about to make the wrong decision.

    But I can’t make the dozens of people on my hometeaching list open their doors, or rearrange their schedules so that we can meet at a mutually-amenable time. That depends largely on factors out of my control.

    In this same vein, I’d also mention that under your formulation–and painting by broad strokes here–members in Utah would have an easier time getting a recommend than someone in a less active unit. I can remember in my last branch having 25 families on my hometeaching list–virtually none of whom wanted to see me on any basis, let alone monthly. It’s hard for me to think that I couldn’t have a temple recommend while the guy in Provo who has two active families to visit could.

  11. Jacob
    July 16, 2007 at 7:40 pm

    Not to sound too cynical, but how well are we actually doing in keeping 18 to 25-year-olds from having sex?? Do the Bretheren seemed to be more concerned than ever about pornography? Does that concern come from a more widespread use/viewing of pornography in the church? If the answer to the last 2 questions are yes, then aren’t we not doing so great in the prevention of sex department?

    With home teaching, considering my elder’s quorum presidency talks about it every week, our bishop brings it up whenever he can, and on seldom occasion we have members of the Relief Society come in and guilt trip us on Home Teaching, well, . . ., if that doesn’t get us to do it, or it doesn’t creat an environment that can “convince 30-year-old males to spend a half hour chatting in someone else’s living room once per month”, I don’t really know what could create such an environment.

  12. Joshua Madson
    July 16, 2007 at 7:48 pm

    Second what Jacob said. I’ve heard more testimonies about HT and that it so very important more so than any program in the church.

    A more interesting question to add would be “Do you hold racist or sexist feelings towards anyone?”

  13. Dan
    July 16, 2007 at 8:02 pm

    It really won’t do anything to increase home and visiting teaching. The fact that the Word of Wisdom is asked at the Temple Recommend interview does still not stop people who want to drink coffee from drinking coffee.

  14. Mark IV
    July 16, 2007 at 8:13 pm

    What would happen if they asked us about HT and VT in recommend interviews?

    Many of us would say that yes, we visit teach and home teach. But then the bishop would need to spend additional time on the question about honesty in all things.

  15. christopher johnson
    July 16, 2007 at 8:28 pm

    I’d like to take this opportunity to remind all the Elders in my quorum to make appointments this week so that they can answer affirmatively to the Lord’s servants about their stewardship at the end of this hemisphere’s hot summer month.

  16. July 16, 2007 at 8:30 pm

    I’ll give you a hypothetical in response:

    What if there were two TR questions regarding the WW, phrased simply, “Do you take good care of your body?” and “Do you indulge in any addictive substances or behaviors?”

  17. July 16, 2007 at 8:32 pm

    I’ve never much enjoyed having home teachers visit. I’d be bummed if they started showing up every month (unless it was to drop off cookies on the doorstep of course).

  18. Julie M. Smith
    July 16, 2007 at 9:11 pm

    Re #16,

    Non-hypothetical answer: I’d have to reschedule my August temple trip. :)

  19. KyleM
    July 16, 2007 at 9:20 pm

    I’ve only had one home teacher that I thought actually gave a rip about me and my family. I’d be bummed that they felt even more compelled to come by than they already do. I’d have a cold one ready for them when they got here, though.

  20. Kaimi Wenger
    July 16, 2007 at 9:35 pm


    But change #1 could facilitate compliance with change #2, no?

    Instead of, “can we come home teach you next Sunday”, the relevant query would be, “why don’t we come over after the game and bring a few beers . . . “

  21. Razorfish
    July 16, 2007 at 9:44 pm

    Hometeaching is by far the largest mutually understood lie in the Church. A lie in the sense it gets more lipservice than almost any other program, and yet the large majority of the rank and file consistently choose to dodge the assigment and responsibilty.

    Hometeaching probably gets more publicity, advertising, reminders, calls to actions, guilt sermons, prophetic citations than any other single program I know. And yet, on a collective Church-wide basis, it is probably the worst executed program in the Church.

    The problem with it is no one specifically covenants to perform their hometeaching duties either at baptism, priesthood ordination, temple covenants, temple recommend interview etc. Yes you can pull out some generic catch all, or nebulous requirement (as some have listed here), but that gives the Church license to insert any policy, program, or time intensive assignment and then demand 100% compliance by the Priesthood.

    That’s one of the problems with hometeaching. Many people simply do not accept the premise that one should be required to spy and report on how their “families” are doing. This isn’t East Germany in the 60’s.

    Other churches have similar programs that try to achieve the same objectives as our home teaching program, namely a mentor, sponser, voluntary friendship or service arm of their church, But the key is it is not mandatory, but rather voluntary in nature. This removes the artificial and phony nature of the current program (inherent flaw). When people serve by choice, rather than being compelled or coerced, the outcomes are always more beneficial.

    So I think adding the HT question to the TR interview would simply compound the failings of the HT program. If you aren’t being coerced enough currently to do your hometeaching, now you have another hammer hanging over you to force your compliance. A better avenue would be to examine the underlying premise, and how to achieve the intended outcome without holding your temple recommend hostage.

  22. Julie M. Smith
    July 16, 2007 at 10:25 pm


    Another reason HT may not have the success we want is that some members think it synonymous with spying and reporting.

  23. TMD
    July 16, 2007 at 10:33 pm

    Honestly, I don’t recognize the program you’re describing Razorfish. And I think that one of the great things about home teaching is that it is mandatory for everyone–everyone is called to do the work of caring on an individual basis for others in their ward, rather than leaving it for others. Also, it seems to me that you’re wrong about the not covenanting. If you look at the description of the duties of an elder, you’ll find in D & C 20: 42, “And to teach, expound, exhort, baptize, and watch over the church”–which sounds an awful lot like home teaching. Generally, during the priesthood advancement interview, they ask if you are prepared to take on the duties of an elder, referencing that and the Oath and Covenant. If you answered yes, they you’ve pretty much made a covenant to home teach. And you’re now being dishonest if you don’t home teach but say you’re fulfilling all duties, etc.

  24. Brian
    July 16, 2007 at 10:40 pm

    HT should not be classified as “spying” or “reporting”, but as priesthood help for those who need it, which is all of us at various times for various reasons. Everyone should have contact with the church, unless they have a “do not contact” in their records Our brothers and sisters have problems, and it is our job to help them as much as we can, and home teaching is one way that we can. This isn’t a brand new revelation after all- home teaching has been around since the early days of the church. I think they should add that question to the temple recommend interview, Julie.

  25. Brian
    July 16, 2007 at 10:42 pm

    But I think The Word of Wisdom question should stay too. :-)

  26. July 16, 2007 at 10:56 pm

    For a lot of us dufuses, if it weren’t for assigned friends, we’d have no friends at all.

    I try to remember to shower, brush/floss teeth and use deodorant when I know home teachers are coming.

  27. Jim F.
    July 16, 2007 at 11:18 pm

    I think jombob’s point, #10, is compelling.

  28. It's Not Me
    July 16, 2007 at 11:43 pm

    I know HT is not easy, but for those (especially) who live in Utah, I’m tired of hearing the excuses and the whining about how much it’s preached. Just do it, for crying out loud. It’s not like we’re being asked to drag handcarts across the plains. My ward is about 4 city blocks square. It’s baffling why these guys won’t go out and at least make an effort.

    I’ve heard the “spy” references before, and I’m not impressed.

  29. It's Not Me
    July 16, 2007 at 11:45 pm

    I know HT is not easy, but for those (especially) who live in Utah, I’m tired of hearing the excuses and the whining about how much it’s preached. Just do it, for crying out loud. It’s not like we’re being asked to drag handcarts across the plains. My ward is about 4 city blocks square. It’s baffling why these guys won’t go out and at least make an effort.

    I’ve heard the “spy” references before, and I’m not impressed.

    And while it’s certainly “high brow” to say it’s more important to be liberal and tolerant (and perhaps it is), who says a person can’t be tolerant and go home teaching? They’re not mutually exclusive.

  30. It's Not Me
    July 16, 2007 at 11:46 pm

    Dumb computer.

  31. bad home teacher
    July 17, 2007 at 12:03 am

    One aspect of home teaching is that every family has someone they can call on for help and support. This is the part I really believe is a great idea.

    The other aspect of home teaching is that you and another guy go make an appointment to someones house and sit on the couch making small talk, eventually making some rather boring and predictable comments about the first presidency message. This is the part that I don\’t particularly enjoy doing, nor do I particularly enjoy being on the receiving end.

    Unfortunately, I think that failure in the second aspect often leads to failure of the first aspect. I wish there was an easy way to make home teaching more fun for everyone.

    If I could improve the program in one way, I\’d get rid of companions. I\’d much rather just go with my wife, or alone, or do something else entirely, like inviting my people over for dinner. Plus it wouldn\’t be as easy to shift the blame to another person.

  32. shannon
    July 17, 2007 at 12:07 am

    I had a wise bishop once advise me when he called me to be the Young Women’s President:
    Your priorities should be in this order:
    1) your personal relationship with your Heavenly Father
    2) your relationships with your family and friends
    3) your visiting (subsitute home) teaching
    4) your calling.
    He specifically emphasized that even though my calling entailed a lot of responsibility, I should put visiting teaching BEFORE it. I’ve always wished that all bishops told this to people when they are given callings. I really think too often we spend WAY more time on our “other” callings than on home and visiting teaching.

  33. Razorfish
    July 17, 2007 at 12:48 am

    The use of the characterizing home teaching as “spying” was overly provocative. This wasn’t fair and doesn’t summarize the spirit of the program.

    But to pretend there is no amount of observation and reporting is also disingenious. To be fair, home teachers are expected to observe, watch over, and report back to their leaders on needs and conditions of those they teach. They are expected in a PPI setting to talk about the families they teach and how they are doing. This information can be shared in Ward Councils and to the Bishop and others. Sometimes confidential and otherwise personal information can be shared inappropriately. This is not the intent, but the reality is it can, and it does happen.

    “If you look at the description of the duties of an elder, you’ll find in D & C 20: 42, “And to teach, expound, exhort, baptize, and watch over the church”–which sounds an awful lot like home teaching.”

    To suggest this establishes the scriptural precedent to require a visit to 5 families a month, is far from the mark. The spirit of this scripture can certainly be fulfilled in a myriad of other ways outside of the current home teaching paradigm.

    I’m interested in some candid, honest discussion that engages the merits of the issue – namely how can the program be improved to address the flaws that have been raised? Post #31 is at least honest in summarizing what works and what doesn’t and offers some suggestions to improve it.

    Hardliners just try pounding the nail harder to raise the compliance above 25% in a Ward. Can’t we be pragmatic and consider real alternatives to improve the program. Nobody is trying to steady the Ark here, just provide pragmatic and constructive feedback to improve the efforts of a program that could be improved. If you believe the program is clicking on all cylinders, then no suggestions are relevant.

    I’d be interested in someone trying to engage in a constructive discussion on some of the flaws in the current model and how these could be overcome.

    Julie’s post suggests focusing on the compliance end is a better approach (ie rachet up the penalty for non-corformance). However, there are other alternatives here including redefining the program (and accompanying implicit rules and expecations) that instills greater sincerity while still delivering a meaningful act of service.

  34. Unknown
    July 17, 2007 at 1:22 am

    I was in a bishopric meeting earlier in the year. Our bishop indicated that our stake president had instructed him to pull temple recommends of anyone who was a chronic slacker when it came to home teaching. It will be interesting to see how that ends up.

    Brian in #24 said that HT should be \”priesthood help for those who need it\”. The key there is \”for those who need it\”. I\’m assigned to HT a member of the stake presidency. Pretty cushy assignment right. I have tried to be a good HT with visits and showing interest in the family. Yet I hear about things like minor basement flooding and giving priesthood blessings to a sick child after the fact. Their actions indicate to me that they do not need a HT. Or they do not consider me as a resource for them to use. On the other hand another family I\’m assigned to has called me a couple of times at midnight to go and help give a blessing. They have asked me on several occasions to help out in a time of need. It sure makes it easier to visit when one feels like what you are doing is appreciated and not just filling an assignment.

  35. anon
    July 17, 2007 at 1:58 am

    1) Is hometeaching a good method by which the bishop can receive feedback? No. I relayed the needs of a family I hometaught to my E.Q. president to be relayed to the bishop. The message never made it. I then told the bishop directly. Nothing happened. I asked. The bishop said that they need to ask him directly for financial help. So, my credibility as a go-to person for help was gone. I relayed to them that they had to ask the bishop directly.

    2) Is it the only way scriptural commandments to watch over each other can be fulfilled? Absolutely not.

    3) Is it widely done? It depends. Outside of the U.S., especially in new areas, it is not. In the U.S., not so much either.

    4) When it\’s done right, is it effective? I think so. Growing up, my family had great hometeachers. I have had a very difficult time getting my hometeachers to come for a long time now, even though I have called them, brought them cookies, and let them know my family is available to be hometaught.

    5) Do I like hometeaching? Some families, yes. Others, no. I don\’t like chasing down people who constructively have proven they don\’t value the visit. Those people should be taken from the hometeaching rolls.

    6) Is it causing other problems? Yes. The current lawsuit in Oregon claims that a hometeacher was a church official when he molested a child, and therefore the church is liable, and therefore they must produce their financial records in order to determine punitive damages should the case proceed to that point.

    7) Should a program be given the stature of a sin by elevating it to a temple recommend question? Absolutely not.

    8) The church is very strict about temple recommend questions. They do not allow leaders to add or take away from the questions, no matter how emphatically they want to project their own biases onto the decisions of the Brethren.

  36. AHLDuke
    July 17, 2007 at 2:01 am

    A couple of comments. I agree in part with what was said in #10. While the decision to live the Word of Wisdom is totally within the scope of my agency, whether my HT/VT is accomplished is not. There are a couple of questions in the TR interview that also depend on the agency of others, like the relationship with your family one. So maybe that is not a great explanation.

    We might also think of practical difficulties with such a question. How much HT/VT do I have to do to be eligible for a TR? 100%, 50% each month, at least one family every month, etc. I think that the Word of Wisdom is one commandment that we can be perfect in obeying. Note: I am referring to the Word of Wisdom as taught by the missionaries to new investigators and members – the tobacco, alcohol, coffee, tea, and drugs formula. I think that most of us can agree that when the WoW question comes up in a TR interview, this is what is being asked. We are not asked the more esoteric aspects of the WoW, such as the “eat meat sparingly” thing, or about our caffeine intake, or the general state of our diet. Or at least these are not things that come to my mind when I answer that question. Though I imagine there are some bishops and SPs who pry a little more into those other aspects. My point is that according to the “missionary formulation” of the WoW, I can be absolutely perfect in my obedience all by myself (kind of like tithing). I could be perfect in my HT/VT, but not without a little help and accommodation from my assigned families. So if I can’t be perfect, will the bishop/SP accept something less than perfection? How much less? Is it enough that I called my families but we just could not work out a commonly convenient time? Can I start doing my HT like VT is done in some wards (i.e. check-up over the telephone/e-mail)?

    Moving on, I want to make a larger point. Ultimately, we ought to do our HT/VT not because we need it to get a TR (even though we presently don’t). We ought to do it because we love the Lord, we love our fellow man (even if not the particular fellow men and women we are assigned) and we genuinely want to be of assistance and service to others. Now, that being said, I just do not have a testimony of HT/VT. I have often been a less-than-diligent home teacher (particularly when I am the “senior” companion and responsible for seeing that it gets done). I have had many less than diligent home teachers in my life as well (my wife and I’s family ward HT has not been to our home once since we were married two years ago). In the end, I don’t think that I’m the worse for it. If I ever have a HT-type need in my family, I have lots of closer friends that I could call more readily than my HT. My wife seems to genuinely enjoy her VT so maybe I can learn something from that.

  37. July 17, 2007 at 2:22 am

    There are a wide range of human beings on this planet, so it should come as no surprise that there are a wide range of Mormons and much diversity in how serious people take their temple covenants. There are locks on the lockers inside temples for a reason – people were getting things stolen out of their lockers. Yes. Deliberate theft inside the house of God. More than a few dishonest folk have entered those doors by strategem and deception out of curiosity or the thrill of having gotten away with something, or from social pressure of families and friends to participate despite their secret sins.

    That being said, I choose to believe MOST temple attending LDS genuinely are striving to live the gospel – being far from perfect, but honestly attempting to honor their covenants and take their stewardships seriously.

    I think the main thing to remember about temple interviews and temple attendance is that the work is not reserved for perfect people who have it all figured out. Rather, it is intended (so far as I understand) for those saints who are signficantly committed and sincerely striving, even though in some areas they may miss the mark.

    In the end, no matter what questions we are or are not asked, we each choose what behaviors we will emulate and what to avoid, and we each choose how honest we will be in those interviews.

    Personally, I’ve always found it a bit odd that for a church well known for its “health code” we have such a high proportion of overweight / unfit people (myself included). As for the lax HT/VT rates… Just as a person may avoid coffee, tea and alchohol but be very unhealthy in other ways, someone can be 100% in duty visits without ever opening their hearts to those they have been assigned stewardship over. Likewise, there are some folks who still struggle with WW issues, but have strong faith and are trying with all their might to do better. In the same fashion there are some good, deeply caring people who have not yet caught the vision of HT/VT or have other reasons why they just don’t manage to get it done, but may be stalwart in other areas of service.

    I remember someone saying once to a member who was being critical of a smoker in thier ward “Some sins stink so they get noticed. Some don’t. But in one fashion or another, we all have them. I’d rather have that smoker here sitting by me so we both can keep working on our salvation together than have her stay away because she wasn’t perfect in all things.”

    Word of Wisdom means different things to different people. My experience has been that the bretheren doing the interviews keep the probing to a minimum and let it remain between the individual and their maker to decide. It’s pretty clear that we are counciled not to drink coffee, tea or alcohol. But I know someone who honestly believes it’s ok to go to the temple if you only drink decaffinated coffee. Some think you shouldn’t go if you drink coke, others disagree.

    Some say the only difference between a “good” Mormon and a “bad” Mormon is the temperature of their caffiene.

    On the home teaching thing – there was a story told in my RS recently about two primary kids playing a bit of “my family is the most faithful” one-upmanship. As the stakes of their claims grew higher the first kids says “Oh yeah? Well MY dad always does his home teaching on the very first day of the month! So there!” To which the other one snidely retorted: “Big deal! My dad always does his on the day BEFORE the first of the month!”

    Is doing it the last day out of guilt better than not doing it? I’m not sure.

    I just wish that instead of bemoaning the sad state of the church being filled with people who don’t meet their responsibility of HT/VT we could create an environment where all home and visiting teachers felt welcome and valued, which unfortunately is often not the case.

  38. July 17, 2007 at 6:45 am

    It is true that you can drink decaf and go to the Temple. The question was raised in my ward, and my bishop called church HQ and confirmed it. Strange, no?

  39. Marcie
    July 17, 2007 at 8:28 am

    Fifteen years ago, I was the ward music director sitting in church in my previous ward. A man was called to the stand and sustained as the new Elders Quorum President. He was a good man, my home teacher. I was a single mother with four children. In the two years that he was my home teacher, I had seen him once. I have no idea to this day who his companion was. This good man left a plate of cookies on my doorstep, got in his car and drove away. Had I not seen him come to my door, I would have had no idea that he left the cookies, obviously baked by his wife.
    After he was sustained, the bishop of our ward got up and embraced him at the pulpit and told the congregation what a good man he was. He said, “In all my years as your bishop, this is the only man in our ward who consistently had 100% home teaching……”
    I wonder what on earth compelled this good man to lie about his home teaching?
    I still think he is a good man. For what ever reason he felt the need to lie.
    Later, in my life, I have discovered that sometimes this tendency to doctor numbers on reports, stems from dishonesty as a missionary in the mission field. Having had seven sons who have been there, done that, they have told me this exists. The strain of missionary work is sometimes hard on young people. The numbers are important on the “key indicator” reports turned in to area reps. The mission president sometimes insists on good numbers even though the number of baptisms doesn’t reflect the “work” done.
    I realize we need statistical reports. They are the meat that changes policies and procedures in the church.
    I have also been a visiting teacher co-ordinator in the RS. I realize the value of visiting teaching. It was hard for me to make reports at the end of the month. I consistently had to call women of the ward and ask them if they had done their VT. It was always mostly the same women each month who didn’t follow through. I never got to report a 100%. I wrote lots of notes and made lots of visits to make up for the slack, and in my mind, it was always 100%. But not on paper.
    HT/VT as # 10 said has a lot to do with the people you are assigned to teach. The Word of Wisdom question belongs in the interview for temple worthiness.
    There is also a question which talks about honesty. It belongs in the interview also. It all boils down to integrity, and how much you love the Lord.

  40. SueCaswell
    July 17, 2007 at 8:30 am

    Some of the comments I read were about non-active families not wanting to be seen. Well here in the SE, at least for my family anyway, we are an active family, I do my VT my husband does his HT, but for the past year it has been like pulling teeth to get our HT to come and teach us. I guess they figure that we are at church every Sunday, that we are fine.
    But a short time ago, we weren\’t fine. Our youngest child decided to try her \”adult wings\”. We could have really used our HT then, to help us through. But unfortunately they weren\’t around. The good side of this, we made it through and we did not any repercussions from it. But not without alot of prayers, and tears on all our parts.
    I wish that HT and VT questions were in the TR questions. Speciffically. Because ,\”do you honor your church callings\” in my opinion are too broad based.

  41. SueCaswell
    July 17, 2007 at 8:30 am

    Some of the comments I read were about non-active families not wanting to be seen. Well here in the SE, at least for my family anyway, we are an active family, I do my VT my husband does his HT, but for the past year it has been like pulling teeth to get our HT to come and teach us. I guess they figure that we are at church every Sunday, that we are fine.
    But a short time ago, we weren\’t fine. Our youngest child decided to try her \”adult wings\”. We could have really used our HT then, to help us through. But unfortunately they weren\’t around. The good side of this, we made it through and we did not any repercussions from it. But not without alot of prayers, and tears on all our parts.
    I wish that HT and VT questions were in the TR questions. Speciffically. Because ,\”do you honor your church callings\” in my opinion are too broad based.

  42. SueCaswell
    July 17, 2007 at 8:30 am

    Some of the comments I read were about non-active families not wanting to be seen. Well here in the SE, at least for my family anyway, we are an active family, I do my VT my husband does his HT, but for the past year it has been like pulling teeth to get our HT to come and teach us. I guess they figure that we are at church every Sunday, that we are fine.
    But a short time ago, we weren\’t fine. Our youngest child decided to try her \”adult wings\”. We could have really used our HT then, to help us through. But unfortunately they weren\’t around. The good side of this, we made it through and we did not any repercussions from it. But not without alot of prayers, and tears on all our parts.
    I wish that HT and VT questions were in the TR questions. Speciffically. Because ,\”do you honor your church callings\” in my opinion are too broad based.

  43. Marcie
    July 17, 2007 at 8:32 am

    FYI–the seven sons I refer to serving missions, were three of my own, and four step-sons, when I later re-married.

  44. July 17, 2007 at 8:53 am

    Bad Home Teacher,

    “If I could improve the program in one way, I’d get rid of companions. I’d much rather just go with my wife, or alone, or do something else entirely, like inviting my people over for dinner.”

    I don’t know if I would choose to get rid of companionships, but I cannot deny that every single time in my adult life when, for one reason or another, I was operating as a solo home teacher, I got far more of my home teaching done, and done more consistently, than was the case when I was teamed with someone. I’m not sure if there’s any lesson to be learned there; if there is, it may be simply a matter of one schedule being much easier to juggle than two. I presume this is an obvious enough point that the church leadership is well aware of it, and so their maintenance of companionships is about fulfilling other needs and obligations (training, involving the youth, etc.) above and beyond simply trying to get HT numbers up.

  45. Mark IV
    July 17, 2007 at 9:07 am

    “After having been called as a bishop, I [Joseph Fielding McConkie] was bragging to Dad [Elder Bruce R. McConkie], ‘In our ward we’ve had 100 percent home teaching for the past five months.’

    ‘Well,’ he responded, ‘we have found that a bishop who has 100 percent home teaching lies about other things, too.’”

  46. It's Not Me
    July 17, 2007 at 9:20 am

    #39. This story about the EQ president, I think, gets right to the heart of desire(?) on the part of some that HT be explicitly mentioned in the TR interview. What I mean is that when we have a member who should know better (shouldn’t we all?) because they are in a leadership position, my personal feeling is that person should not have a temple recommend. We have one of those in our ward, who’s been in the bishopric and is currently on the high council. For years he has lied about his HT. As his priesthood leader, I asked one of my assistants to ask this brother not how his families are, but rather ask him if he visited them. My assistant did indeed ask this question, and the brother cut off the conversation and hung up. I am being judgmental when I say this, but I do not believe he should have a TR.

    I would not apply this same standard to a brother who is semiactive. I believe leaders should be held to a higher standard.

  47. Mark IV
    July 17, 2007 at 9:20 am

    I actually enjoy home teaching, and I think it is more important than my other church callings. But I’m glad it isn’t part of the TR interview. Some months, even with a good effort on my part (multiple attempts, multiple phone calls), I can only get 30-40% visited. And I’m assigned one of my own sons as companion, so schedule coordination is less of a problem for me than for most. If my success as a home teacher is viewed as an indicator of my righteousness, I’m sunk.

  48. It's Not Me
    July 17, 2007 at 9:24 am

    #47. In my opinion, if HT were part of the TR interview, I do not believe it would require perfection. I think it would require effort.

  49. Adam Greenwood
    July 17, 2007 at 9:30 am

    Re #10, 27, 36: I disagree. We bend over backwards to make ourselves available to our hometeachers, but they rarely come. As for my own hometeaching, and the hometeaching of others that I know, when we miss its usually because we made no efforts at all, or only the most minimal efforts.,

    On companionships: One of me and my companion will set our appointments and if the other can go, great! If not, we go solo. This makes scheduling easier. We also try to drop in on people when we are out driving around–these visits are obviously solo visits. I’m betting that part of the reason the Church wants companionship teaching is that it reduces the plausibility of accusations of molestation or other kinds of bad behavior. Its hard to do hometeaching always in companionship but you’re taking a risk of getting smeared with something later if you don’t.

  50. July 17, 2007 at 9:48 am

    The result of pulling temple recommends would probably be less home teaching.

  51. July 17, 2007 at 9:52 am

    Brother Greenwood, priesthood companionships go back a long ways. I wouldn’t credit them too much to the current legal/social climate.

  52. mondo cool
    July 17, 2007 at 10:22 am

    Maybe the Brethren should come up with a list of questions to be asked at TR interviews that don\’t require an answer.

    \”Sister (or Brother), these first questions are just for you to ponder before we get to the recommend questions. To what extent do you strive to fulfill your calling as VT (HT)?\” \”Do you keep your yard and house clean and presentable?\” etc.

    Talk about all hell breaking loose.

  53. July 17, 2007 at 10:23 am

    This would signal that the church actually cares about home/visiting teaching. The current arrangement suggests that the home-visit programs are near the very bottom of the priority list for the church. As much as anything else, that priority signal might change people’s attitudes about the programs.

  54. Fan of the Program
    July 17, 2007 at 10:30 am

    I think back to Elder Oak’s GC talk on pornography. He said it applies to five of the temple recommend questions, not just #7 (even there, it’s implicit, not explicit). With regards to home teaching, I think the question, “Do you strive to keep the covenants you have made” is directly correlated to home teaching D&C 20, 84 etc.), even with regards to the baptismal covenant to bear one another’s burdens (see Mosiah 18:8-10) which to me is the spirit of home teaching

    If I’m not striving (i.e. trying my best, as Mark IV in #47 even though others don’t cooperate) to fulfill that covenant, I see a temple trip as a bit of a hollow exercise, especially when I think about the language of the covenants we make and renew there. Same thing if I’m not living the law of chastity, obeying the other commandments, etc.

    I think part of the problem may be the focus on ‘the visit’ rather than on the purpose, which is to watch over, love and serve the families you teach. This encompasses far more than a monthly meet and greet. My e-mail exchanges, phone calls, hugs at church, etc. have been just as valuable as the monthly in-home visit.

  55. jimbob
    July 17, 2007 at 10:43 am

    Adam (#49),

    Obviously a major culprit for not getting my HT done is my own laziness, but I also have two DNC families on my list. And they mean it; I’ve visited. Under the hypo above, should I lose my temple recommend?

  56. July 17, 2007 at 10:46 am

    – If a HT-ers calls his people and attempts to make appointments, and the HT-ees refuse, then the HT-ers should still get credit. The attempt was made. The goal of the HT program is not to _force_ visits on people, but to be there for them. If the HT-ee doesn’t outright refuse, but just makes excuses, my rule-of-thumb is then three attempts or phone-calls.

    I can’t fault an HT-er if he made three attempts to see someone, and got blown off with excuses. However, at some point, if the HT-er is consistently blown off, he should ask the person, “would you just rather I stop asking?”, and if so, take that person off the HT assignments so they don’t “count” in the stats.

    “… (a) sit on the couch making small talk, eventually making some rather boring and predictable comments about the first presidency message. …. (b) do something else entirely, like inviting my people over for dinner.”

    (a) is not mandated by the HT program. That just seems the way we have interpreted it. (b) works just as well. In fact, have a cookout, invite them all over at once (even make it a pot-luck if you can’t afford to feed them all), and “get them” all at once.

    I think the reason the church does not have a home-teaching hand-book with alternatives to the sitting-on-the-couch approach, is to give freedom to the program. With the low standard being “just visit with them at least once a month”, it’s up to the people involved (both HT-ers and HT-ees) to define what the visit is and entails. A movie, Putt-putt, bowling, dinner in, dinner out, cook-out, baseball, picnic, watch tv together, invite them to go with you to the beach, hiking, whatever.

    Couch-sitting is only there because “that’s the way that my trainer tought me,” kind of thing, and it’s a rut.

    But those little-old-ladies with no cars, and other home-bound folk really do appreciate you coming over and sitting on their couch for a while, even if you do make boring and predictable comments.

    It’s good that there is no hand-book of ideas, because then _anything_ becomes the “extra mile,” and the extra-mile brings blessings. If you chose an idea from page 32 of the HT-hand-book-of-ideas, then the HT-ee would also realize that and say “Aw, you’re just operating off of page 32”, which would be analogous to the current “We all know you’re just here because you have to/were assigned/etc.”

    Make sure all the boys age 12 and over in your ward are home-teachers, especially those not living under the same roof with an active adult priesthood holder.

  57. rbc
    July 17, 2007 at 10:48 am

    As an active TR holder, I would much prefer to be home taught via cell phone while I’m driving home from work. My three kids would also prefer it. They dread the irregular and, for them at least, boring visits. We have a good home teacher and he does a good job, but I would rather he spent the time with his own family or visiting some of the part member or less active members of the ward. We have a large geographical ward and lots of less active and part member families who are not regularly home taught. That is where we should concentrate our fire, imo.

    HT should come with some type of guilt-free “opt out” for active members to allow a ward to better concentrate its resources on the more needy. Perhaps those in the “opt out” pool only need be seen once a year, or if a person in the “opt out” pool misses more than 3 Sundays during any quarter they are dropped from the “opt out” pool and returned to the regular rotation of HT families. Of course, to make those types of judgment about who should and shouldn’t qualify for the “opt out” pool will involve the spying and reporting back bemoaned earlier.

    If the HT question were added to the TR recommend, there would soon be movement to add a subpart about proper attire during HT visits, i.e. a white shirt and tie.

  58. TMD
    July 17, 2007 at 10:56 am

    I think it’s striking that so many people think that they don’t need to be home taught.

  59. July 17, 2007 at 11:13 am

    Julie, I like the question you are asking as well as the discussion it brings about – both for the humor and insight.

    I just had a discussion this morning with a co-worker about the WoW – after the co-worker asked me where would be a good place to buy coffee locally.

    I have to admit it would have been a lot easier to answer the question if there was a Starbucks nearby.

  60. July 17, 2007 at 11:31 am

    The Word of Wisdom is not strictly limited to Tea, Coffee, Alcohol, Tobacco, and recreational Drugs. Doctrine & Covenants 89:12 says meat should be used sparingly, yet my last Elders Quorum regularly had Chicken Wing eating contests at one of the local restaurant’s all you can eat wing night. I don’t profess to know how they answer the WoW questions in the TR interview, but I suspect they would answer differently if it had been a beer guzzling competition.

  61. CS Eric
    July 17, 2007 at 11:36 am

    I got a new list Sunday. Out of 8 names listed, only one has a phone number. Several do not have any address other than the city. I’m not sure how my numbers are going to look when all I have is a name. Should my new barcode TR get pulled?

  62. Guy C
    July 17, 2007 at 12:34 pm

    We were told by our Bishop 2 years ago that we should adapt our home-teaching to the needs of the family. IE: If the family wants to be taught, prepare a lesson or message. If the family wants to be receive a friendly visit only, keep the visit low-key / timely / and friendly. If the family wishes not to be visited, do not visit, but make sure the family has your name and number in the event they should need anything.

    Since then, through conversation with other member friends from other areas, it does not sound like this particular HT/VT practice occurs anywhere else. I was unaware that the practice could vary from Ward to Ward, Stake to Stake. Personally, I like the idea of performing this calling under those guidelines. Feels like you are putting less pressure on your families to conform.

  63. jjohnsen
    July 17, 2007 at 2:54 pm

    “Some of the comments I read were about non-active families not wanting to be seen. Well here in the SE, at least for my family anyway, we are an active family, I do my VT my husband does his HT, but for the past year it has been like pulling teeth to get our HT to come and teach us. I guess they figure that we are at church every Sunday, that we are fine.”

    Wow, can we trade? I have a HT, that shows up once a month, his numbers must be great. The fake sincerity, the conversations where he obviously isn’t listening, and him bolting for the nearest exit when I ask for anything is really annoying. After month’s of this I made it clear I’d be fine with a phone call or cookies being dropped of instead of a visit. He was visibly relieved.

    No thank you to HT, I prefer comfort and help from my family and friends, not people who have been called to pretend to like my family.

  64. Carlton
    July 17, 2007 at 2:58 pm

    “Make sure all the boys age 12 and over in your ward are home-teachers, especially those not living under the same roof with an active adult priesthood holder.”

    Bad idea, too many pedophiles out there.

  65. MaF
    July 17, 2007 at 3:15 pm

    Bookslinger #57 It would be good for you to ask your ward clerk who is included in the HT/VT stats that are sent to HQ on a quarterly basis. It might surprise you.

  66. Adam Greenwood
    July 17, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    Obligations aren’t things we can set aside if they irritate us and receiving hometeachers is as much an obligation as hometeaching is. Remote, perfunctory hometeachers come in the name of the Lord same as the adequate kind, so recieving them is credited to us as recieving the Lord.

  67. Darrell
    July 17, 2007 at 4:19 pm

    The best home teacher that I ever had never came and gave us a lesson. However, he was always there for us. He would show up unannounced and mow our lawn. He fixed our wood stove. Gave us Priesthood blessings. And otherwise blessed our family in countless ways. How did he know to do these things? He talked to us at church, on the street, on the phone. He listened to our comments in SS and Priesthood meetings. He seemed to instinctively sense our need simply because he cared about us as a family. This is in contrast to a home teacher that came every month, gave us a lesson and left without asking us anything. I’m sure that the first HT never reported 100% home teaching while the second one always did. “Which of these two did the will of his father….?”

    We also recognized our obligation as a family being home taught. Call the Home Teachers when you have a need. Most times they are waiting for the opportunity to serve. But you must communicate with them.

  68. Ray
    July 17, 2007 at 4:26 pm

    So much to say, even for me . . . How to be concise?

    First, I have been a good and a bad Home Teacher – and a good and bad Home Teachee. I was raised in central Utah, with extended family all around me. If we had any problem, we wouldn’t call our HT – even the ones that were excellent and sincerely cared. We would call family. That was understood by our HT, so they never asked. All they could do was come by and fulfill the minimum requirements. We were fine with that, since we didn’t need anything else.

    The problem is that when I became an adult HT, that was the model I knew – so I rarely asked what was needed and simply showed up to teach a lesson. That changed when one of my HT families had a real need and asked for help. Since then, I have begun to understand that HT is NOT about the number but rather the need.

    Now, from the administrative end, it is SO frustrating that so many members don’t understand that the once-a-month standard is a minimal compromise. The ideal is “whatever is needed, as often as needed” – which simply can’t be addressed in the TR interview. The proper place is the PPI, which also is terribly misunderstood by way too many. Does anyone really think that the Church leaders WANT to have people showing up just to show up just to fill a stat sheet just to look good ad nauseum?

    Second, this issue is completely different for a Utah ward like where I was raised (less than 4 square blocks) and the ward in which I live now (approx. 25 square miles).

    Third, the underlying concept of HT goes all the way back to Moses, so I have a HUGE problem with those who question the actual practice as a Mormon invention to spy on its members. (I would say, “Get a grip,” to these people, but that would be too harsh – so I won’t say it.) I think most people realize that the execution by too-mortal members is deeply flawed, but consider someone who lives 20 miles from the nearest member – or is the only member in the entire high school – or the only member in the family AND lives 20 miles from the nearest member AND is the only member in the entire high school – or whose husband or wife refuses to help his/her spouse enjoy weekly fellowship – or whose health keeps her homebound – etc. How else are these members going to enjoy any other fellowship with the Saints?

    I want to say this as gently as possible, but my attitude about HT changed when I realized it wasn’t about me. As a HT, it was about those I taught; as one receiving a HT, it was about the HT. From both sides, what could I do to help the other? Of course, sometimes the answer is, “Nothing.” I have had those with whom I simply couldn’t visit; I have had those HT’s who simply didn’t visit. No big deal, since it wasn’t about me anyway. My current HT never shows up, and when I need help giving one of my kids a blessing, I usually call our former HT – who lives about 15 miles closer to us. Maybe my HT is using his time to visit those who need it more than I; maybe he isn’t visiting anyone at all. That’s fine. I’m not missing any blessings, because I have others I can call for help. After all, it’s not about me – but I have the luxury of being able to say that, since I don’t need the visits. My heart aches for those who DO need them but don’t get them.

    In summary, I LOVE the HT (and VT) program; I’m not the best HT in our ward; we haven’t had a HT visit in over a year; our focus in our ward is identifying those who need someone and will accept someone – and focusing our efforts and attentions and questions on them; I report my HT accurately, no matter the %; I have had FAR fewer 100% reports than under 100% reports in the last two years; I have a visible calling; not one person ever has questioned my HT numbers, since I am open and honest about the families/individuals I have been assigned.

    To answer the original question, I would lament the state of the Church that required the change. The fact that HT has had to be dumbed down to the current level is painful enough.

  69. July 17, 2007 at 4:30 pm

    Okay, so I’m straight up tempted to go into the work kitchen and brew myself up some decaf.

  70. KyleM
    July 17, 2007 at 4:45 pm

    72. Only if you plan on giving up caffinated soda.

  71. Adam Greenwood
    July 17, 2007 at 4:46 pm

    “Okay, so I’m straight up tempted to go into the work kitchen and brew myself up some decaf. ”

    Uh . . . maybe you’re giving too much credibility to a stray comment by an internet stranger.

  72. July 17, 2007 at 4:52 pm


    You think?

  73. Adam Greenwood
    July 17, 2007 at 5:15 pm

    Yes. Yes, I do.

  74. Kaimi Wenger
    July 17, 2007 at 5:28 pm


    But cf. this (purported) official letter on the subject: http://web.archive.org/web/20040217043242/http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~dbowie/dispute/caffltr.html

  75. rbc
    July 17, 2007 at 6:07 pm

    re: 66

    Where is the obligation to *receive* HTers found? I don’t see where I am doing anything wrong if I ask my HPGL to give my faithful HT a break from visiting our family so our he can spend more time HTing the single sisters and less actives or with his own family. That’s a sin?

  76. July 17, 2007 at 6:47 pm

    Adam (71),

    I’m not an Internet stranger; my profile is up for all the world to see over at Mormon Mentality.
    Yes, It’s a weird position to take, that cold caffeine is okay but hot caffeine is a recommend-breaker. I am simply relating what my BYU bishop told us in PEC; I’m not in a position to confirm the Church’s stance toward decaf as explained by my bishop, but I’m sure there is someone on one of these blogs who can confirm this through official channels.
    That said, the page Kaimi linked to looks dubious to me; I doubt the 1st Pres. would name a specific brand of coffee on official letterhead.

  77. Lupita
    July 17, 2007 at 8:02 pm

    Visiting teaching makes me have mission flashbacks, some which are not pleasant. I think it’s an excellent idea in theory but maybe I’m just jaded after yet another visit from my VT’ers, their many children, and the subsequent aftermath. Perhaps setting some simple rules would make it more palatable. That being said, I do my VTing monthly because I said I would. I don’t like it and wouldn’t be sad to see major changes but oh well. We’ve had HTers who were no shows for years, and two sets who have been exceptional. I don’t know if it is personality or just luck but we benefitted from having people genuinely interested in our lives. They definitely didn’t make it seem like a burden or a random assignment.

  78. anothernonymous
    July 17, 2007 at 10:01 pm

    Here are some more hypotheticals. What if we could consult the RS Pres/EQ Pres prior to receiving an assignment (would it be a popularity/perceived needs contest?). What if we had say as to who our HT/VT’s were. What if we make our own assignments rather than be assigned. What if we had a say as to when our assignments were abruptly changed. What if I decide that if I want to serve I will find the impetus to find those who could benefit from service rather than be assigned. Why don’t visiting teachers teach the whole family (or at least more than just the wife/single mother/single sister) – is there something wrong with a man in the home being taught by a woman?

    What is the visible result when reliable, good HT/VT stats are reported. Can you walk into a unit and feel more love in a high stat HT/VT unit vs. a low one.

  79. Ray
    July 17, 2007 at 10:57 pm

    Is there anyone here who thinks HT/VT is not a good thing – IF it’s what it’s supposed to be? Can anyone provide a better way to make sure nobody is forgotten and neglected (even the obnoxious members that almost nobody likes or shy members that nobody knows) – IF it’s what it’s supposed to be? How many of us would go out of our natural circles on our own and serve those who are radically different than us (racially, politically, philosophically, educationally, demographically, ethnically, psychologically, etc.) – or would we gravitate to those who are more like us? I know myself well enough to wonder about myself. Some of my good friendships have developed with people with whom I had nothing in common except the Church and the Gospel (and sometimes I wondered about their views of the Gospel) – with whom I wouldn’t have associated if I hadn’t been their HT.

    I mean these questions seriously. I am very disappointed in the way HT/VT is practiced throughout the Church, but, for the life of me, I can’t figure how to do it better and make sure nobody gets left out – that members, especially in wards that cover a geographic area the size of mine, have the fellowship of the Saints on more than just Sunday.

  80. It's Not Me
    July 18, 2007 at 12:00 am

    #75 – Asking your HPGL to make changes is not a sin. Not cooperating with your HT would be, albeit not a large one.

  81. July 18, 2007 at 1:05 am

    Ooooh…#57 mentioned opting out of receiving HT? I like that idea. I think that my wife and I would definitely be on board for that. My wife might keep her VT though. At this point in our lives, we don’t need the monthly visits and would much rather have the poor guy who never comes to see us try harder to see those folks who could use a spiritual boost. I would be content with a check-up phone call or e-mail to ask if we have any needs.

    #21, you referred to HT as the largest mutually understood lie in the Church. The use of the word “lie” was a little perjorative, but I think I agree with what you are getting at. I don’t think that all of the attention paid to HT (the weekly reminders, the follow-up e-mails, the talks from the pulpit) is justified by the return on investment of your average active member-to-active member HT visit. That’s why I like the opt-out program–its the people with needs that get more attention. In the end, the active folks are often (though not always) the easiest to visit, so if a HT has to choose to visit only one family in a month, who will he try to visit? Probably the active people that could do without. Also, I am sympathetic to the idea that even active people need HT/VT sometimes. Again, that is why I support the “opt-out” idea. I get a little annoyed and a little ashamed when I see on the attention lavished on HT, not only because I am an inconsistent HT myself, but because there are so many more important things we could be talking about, like almost anything.

  82. DKL
    July 18, 2007 at 2:32 am

    As far as health codes go, the Word of Wisdom is really only terribly effective when you have a reasonably healthy populace to begin with. Abstaining from alcohol and tobacco doesn’t do you a whole heck of a lot of good when you’re obese — a health risk faced by 1 in 3 Americans. And exercize is a bigger factor in longevity than moderate alcohol consumption or even smoking. Smokers who exercise live longer than non-smokers who don’t exercise.

    The real hypothetical is this: How many of us would hold temple recommends if the Word of Wisdom required us to exercise daily? The answer: Almost nobody. Why? Because of the physical exertion. Oh, and it’s hard to act morally superior about exercise.

    Reminds me of this cartoon.

  83. July 18, 2007 at 6:01 am

    Well, I hate to break it to everyone, but this site does have a reputation for being clique-ish; most of us come here with that understanding in mind. I chalk up lame remarks by permabloggers here as the price of joining a good discussion, and it’s worth it.

    AHLDuke (81),

    I “opt out” in every ward I go to. When I meet my home teachers, I politely tell them they are welcome to come over if they want, but a phone call or email will do just fine, as long as I know how to reach them if I need them. I agree with another sentiment mentioned here, that it would be better to focus energy on people who need the visit more than my wife and I do. Whether or not I get home taught will never have any effect on my Church activity, but there are people who might really be affected positively by a visit. Home teaching should be geared towards those people, and I think it should be the only calling of the home teachers in those instances.

  84. Adam Greenwood
    July 18, 2007 at 8:59 am

    I don’t see any good coming of deciding that we know better than the prophets what programs we need, though opting out probably isn’t as bad as deciding that daily scripture reading and prayer, or weekly church attendance, is for the weak, not for one’s self.

  85. July 18, 2007 at 9:22 am

    I think we definitely need the home teaching program, but not in a one-size-fits-all implementation. I had a member of my old stake presidency visit my ward to discuss our effort, and he said the relevant issue is, “Do you feel watched over and cared for at the end of the month? If so, you’ve been home taught.” He left all the other particulars up to us.
    By “opting out,” I only mean that I give my home teachers complete leeway in how they do their service; if they want to show up and sit on my couch in white shirts and ties, that’s fine, but not expected or even hoped for.

  86. NoCoolName_Tom
    July 18, 2007 at 9:42 am

    I believe that in the early Utah Church and before, \”Home Teaching\” was the responsibility of a Teacher. The current system of \”everyone is a Home Teacher\” was established in the 50s during President McKay\’s leadership. At least, that\’s what I remember from the David O. McKay biography; I\’ll have to double-check.

    So, I suppose there is a strong case for having HT being an actual calling for a few members of the ward, since that is what it was to begin with.

  87. DKL
    July 18, 2007 at 10:13 am

    Adam Greenwood: I don’t see any good coming of deciding that we know better than the prophets…

    Don’t read much church history, do you?

  88. TMD
    July 18, 2007 at 11:32 am

    #78: Yes, in my experience, high levels of home teaching do help generate a greater sense of community and love within a ward. Probably the highest HT/VT stat ward I’ve been in was a geographically vast ward in rural Tennessee (driving from one side of the ward to the other required about 90 minutes). Though not high in socio-economic status as the wordl knows it, they were loving and they were humble and welcoming. Crucially, they were always humble enough both to do and to welcome their home and visiting teachers into their homes. There, home teaching was not talked about as if it were a chore, instead people routinely testified about how wonderful and spiritual their experiences with home teaching were.

    As I’ve read this thread, it has really struck me how important humility and approaching one’s fellow church members with humility is in making the home teaching program work, both in getting people to make the effort to home teach and in getting the people to make the effort to be home taught.

  89. Ardis Parshall
    July 18, 2007 at 11:51 am

    I’m one of those who didn’t have home or visiting teachers for many years. There was never any concrete service that any of them could have offered that I couldn’t take care of myself, but now that I have good sets of both, I feel the difference. Nobody should have to do everything by him- or herself. Even when you actually do take care of things yourself, knowing that I could call on any of these four people, and knowing that they would be there, is a kind of reassurance and comfort. It’s like knowing your parents would let you bunk in their basement if it ever came to that, although you never intend to let it come to that. It’s like having health insurance that you never use; it’s there just in case, and you have that nagging worry removed from the back of your mind.

    And of course the reason I know I can count on them is that they visit regularly. Regular visits are like oil in the lamp.

  90. July 18, 2007 at 12:07 pm

    TMD (88),

    Point taken. I have seen some amazing things happen in the home teaching program as well, especially in my own family. But every instance was characterized by a complete lack of formality and “uniforms.” In fact, my family’s claim to LDS fame is, our home teacher’s service during my mother’s illness with cancer was discussed in the Church news :-) And I don’t ever recall him coming over in a white shirt and tie, reading the 1st Pres. message, asking if we need help, then leaving with a prayer. He just looked for things we were in need of, and mobilized people to help.
    In my own experience, I used to home teach a single woman in Utah who was traveling for an extended period over the summer, and I tried unsuccessfully to check up and see how she was doing during most of that time. Turns out, I took a trip to L.A. and when I landed at LAX, I saw that girl in the airport- she had a few minutes of layover in that particular airport before a flight out of the country, and we were able to chat a while and get caught up on how she was doing. Coincidence? I don’t think so, and neither did she. So I definitely get the importance of the program.
    In any case, I would rather that I and my home teachers have a less formal and more genuine friendship like that, than a monthly visit that feels like it is the result of an “institutional framework for caring,” or what have you.

    My apologies to Julie for the semi- threadjack!

  91. jimbob
    July 18, 2007 at 12:15 pm

    “As far as health codes go, the Word of Wisdom is really only terribly effective when you have a reasonably healthy populace to begin with. Abstaining from alcohol and tobacco doesn’t do you a whole heck of a lot of good when you’re obese — a health risk faced by 1 in 3 Americans.”

    This makes no sense to me. Are you saying that because someone is already at risk for developing Type 2 Diabetes due to obesity they should go ahead and run the risk of liver disease as well? Or that so long as someone already has high blood pressure due to being overweight, they might as well develop lung cancer while they’re at it?

  92. Mark IV
    July 18, 2007 at 12:19 pm

    That’s a good comparison, Ardis. We can also compare home visits to the routine, preventative maintenance we perform on a machine. There is no obvious benefit until the machine is used, and we are just keeping it oiled and ready for a time of need. When the church responds to a natural disaster (earthquake, hurricane, tornado), it is spectacular to observe the machine rumble into action. I suppose God would be justified in damning me to hell forever if I had been watching the evacuation of Hurricane Katrina from the safety of a hotel room in Houston and seen the face of one of the people I’d been assigned to visit among the people in the Superdome.

  93. DKL
    July 18, 2007 at 12:45 pm

    jimbob, I’m not sure why you’re confused:

    If the heart disease is going to kill someone before she develops cancer, then tobacco poses no measurable health risk to her. The much vaunted heart-disease risk of tobacco is just so much propaganda invented to hype the dangers of tobacco in spite of the fact that heart disease kills many more people than cancer does. Tobacco contributes a negligible amount to already existing heart-disease, and it is not itself a cause of heart disease when there are no other factors present.

    Tobacco does, however, improve quality of life, as witnessed evidenced by western civilization’s 400 year love affair with it.

  94. jimbob
    July 18, 2007 at 12:58 pm


    I think we’re talking past one another. I’m not saying that obesity does not come with several health risks. But I think you can be a significantly more healthy obese person by obeying the word of wisdom than you would be if you were obese, plus you drank, plus you smoked. My reading of your argument is that so long as someone is already obese, the word of wisdom is already not going to do them any good from a health perspective. I disagree with such a statement.

  95. July 18, 2007 at 1:02 pm

    You haven’t been to SoCal lately, have you? ‘Cause it’s totally easy to act morally superior about exercise. I did, back when I exercised.

  96. plutarch
    July 18, 2007 at 1:03 pm

    Re: 76 and the hot vs. cold caffeine debate.

    In the late 1970s, Spencer Kimball (then president of the church) and other worthies from the presiding councils of the church held a series of “solemn assemblies” around the church, either in temples or in adjacent buildings. At the one I attended, in the Oakland Interstake Auditorium next door to the Oakland Temple, there was an opportunity to submit questions for Pres. Kimball. One such question was whether decaffeinated coffee was against the word of wisdom. While Pres. Kimball was unenthusiastic about the drinking of any form of coffee, his final comment was that he wouldn’t deny anybody a temple recommend just because they drank decaf.

  97. July 18, 2007 at 1:23 pm

    plutarch’s got my back! Woo hoo!

    Sam B,

    I am from SoCal, and I do think that showing good stewardship of one’s body through exercise is morally superior to letting the body deteriorate unnecessarily. If the body is a temple, it should be maintained like one, no? Anyway, before you all throw tomatoes at me through the Internet, I will admit that I am not exemplary in this area…

  98. jat
    July 18, 2007 at 1:33 pm

    #57 RBC,
    Why is there a trend toward ‘opting out’ in the church? HFPE just recently downsized, and all throughout the church, everyone is saying they are too busy. Each ward has several families that spend the equivilent of a qtr-time job doing church things. Bishops, RS Presidents, etc. can sometimes spend over 20hrs/week (easily). Missionaries work more than FT. We’re pulling back– but out of what and into what?

    #64, ALL 12 yr olds should HT/VT. Yes. I agree 100% AND . . .

    12 yr old YW should be VT teaching companions with their mothers and other RS sisters.

    Here’s why:

    A) They need to be active in service during teen years (helping new moms, newly marrieds, widows, single sisters, . . . women in all stages of life). There is a huge emphasis in YW on “personal” development, “personal progress” and emphasis on self. Think about it, 6/7 values are about oneself compared to the one on service. (INDIVIDUAL worth, Divine Nature, *personal* knowledge, *personal* faith, *personal* choice and accountability, and also . . . ‘good works’)

    B) They’ll LEARN about RS and SERVICE instead of jumping off the diving board at 18. (We all know transition to RS is a huge problem, a lot don’t make it. Not a lot like it when they get there, I believe b/c they don’t understand it and aren’t used to it. When a YW turns 18, she becomes a VTer, w/o a testimony or even KNOWLEDGE of the core spiritual/physical mission of VT. No training, no experience, etc. Compound this with the fact that most YW head right off to singles wards (where everyone is in the same boat). How are they supposed to truly magnify this calling? YM have 6 years of ‘training’ AND lessons in YM on HT, while YW just jump in? ? Odd.

    c) They’ll get to learn more about women in various life stages as they serve them. They’ll see firsthand what some of the challenges and triumphs of life beyond high school are. New moms, single women, widows, stressed moms chasing kids, newly marrieds, marriage woes, will all be observed when teens go in and VT ’em. Imagine how developmentally instructive this would be, spiritually and temporally! So many YW have very idealistic and unrealistic ideas about marriage (all problems will be solved), children (everything will be Beatrix Potter and Baby Gap), single-dating years (that there won’t really be any) etc. Spending time observing life with LDS women and serving the needs that arise will be extremely helpful and preparatory for YW’s future.

    D) Freak, they might even learn to teach! YM start teaching classes from the time they are 12, but YW are always TAUGHT until they turn 18. We should be fostering opportunities for YW to grow, teach, lead, etc. as well.

  99. jat
    July 18, 2007 at 1:52 pm

    Getting back to the main point I don’t think replacing VT/HT with WoW does anything. We’re just replacing one lower-law with another. VT/HT is a crude attempt at measuring and encouraging the higher law– charity. We keep gravitating toward easily quantifiable gauges for spirituality. Coffee, weight and BMI, meat consumption, HT/VT stats, tithing, and activity are all outward indicators of dispositions. In my opinion, they all have a surprisingly low correlation with our spiritual level anyway. We can’t measure each other. It can’t be done, we’ll just turn ourselves into Pharisees.

    Question: If outward manifestations aren’t a good gauge for Bishops and SPs, how the heck are we going to issue temple recommends?

    Answer: What ever happened to discernment?

  100. July 18, 2007 at 1:56 pm

    jat, that’s great for the girls. I think, though, that I wouldn’t want little girls visiting me, evaluating my needs (!), offering suggestions from the wealth of their experience (!), and limiting VT conversation to topics suitable for or of interest to 12-year-olds. There are virtually no opportunities for social contact in the church that are geared to individual adults rather than families, and I really appreciate a slight break in the near-constant obligation the church puts on us to support the development of other people’s children.

  101. July 18, 2007 at 2:04 pm

    So am I, so do I, and neither am I.

  102. July 18, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    jat (99),

    I agree with you that these things are outward-focused, except with the WoW, when my non-LDS friends ask why we have it, my usual answer is that it serves a function of keeping us away from various kinds of addiction, which is an inward, spiritual matter. To be consistent, I do not like the fact that we think alcohol and tobacco are addictive substances pushed by conspiring persons (in marketing firms?), yet we have nothing to say of sugary children’s cereals, or fatty foods that have an addictive “comforting” effect.
    I like the WoW, but I think if we were to embrace the spirit of it, it would include exercise and a much more vegetarian diet.

  103. JAT
    July 18, 2007 at 2:49 pm

    I don’t understand why so quickly, we were apt to dismiss a 12 yr old girls’ ability to serve and bring a spiritual message to VT, when we don’t also equally dismiss 12 yr old boys as HTers. Both require an adult companion. One difference is that boys are given tutilidge for future responsibilities and incremental training from their first days in YM. (In my pie-in-the-sky idea, YW would have similar VT training from the time they are 12 as well.) Also, I wonder why there is a resistence toward social programming in the church for young girls, when young boys have scouts, YM, quorum responsibilites, HT, etc.

    We as a group seperate adult women from teens and children in many traditionally female life events and responsibilites that other cultures use to teach. Heck, they often desperately rely on young teens for help. Why do we step back from intertwining female generations more concretely in organized social activities? I’m baffled as to why RS is in many ways, so seperatist. Is it a Victorian thing? A Western thing?

  104. Jonovitch
    July 18, 2007 at 2:56 pm

    Our stake analyzed some numbers recently and reported to us in a priesthood leadership meeting that they noticed a couple of trends on the individual ward level from month to month.

    First, as the percentage number for home teaching increases, so does the percentage number for sacrament meeting attendance in that ward. Second, as the number for joint teaching with the missionaries increases, so does the number of baptisms in that ward.

    They didn’t preach, mandate, or challenge. The stake presidency member who reported these numbers (a professional numbers guy), didn’t even claim to understand these trends perfectly. They simply offered them to us as one piece of data to chew on, and invited us to contact our families and to work with the missionaries, perhaps with the hope that the trends they noticed hold true and keep going up each month.


  105. Ray
    July 18, 2007 at 2:59 pm

    FWIW, coming from a man, my wife likes to be able to discuss her children and her husband with the women who come to visit her – and she would feel less open to that type of discussion if there was a 12-year-old friend of our daughters there.

  106. JAT
    July 18, 2007 at 3:02 pm

    Dan Ellsworth,
    Absolutely. However, I think that meat, grains and exercise are as prescribed and detailed as the other WoW heavy hitters. As a matter of fact, meat, grains and exercise are probably even more emphasized than coffee, which isn’t specifically used as a word in the 89th. The 89th contains a temporal list of nouns, all of which are listed similarly and are all pretty cut and dry. We’re practicing selective obedience rather than lower-law/higher-law obedience.

  107. JAT
    July 18, 2007 at 3:10 pm

    correction– in addion to lower-level and higher-level obedience.

  108. Adam Greenwood
    July 18, 2007 at 3:25 pm

    Thanks for passing that on, Mssr. Jonovitch.

  109. JAT
    July 18, 2007 at 3:35 pm

    Again, I’m still asking the same thing that I asked Ardis. Why is it ok for a 12 yr old HT (and friend of a son) to be present when the adult HT is asking about the needs of the family, but it is NOT of for a 12 yr old VT (who is the friend of a daughter)? Are you basically saying that HT is a shell and the real needs are expressed in VT? I don’t know that I’d agree with that, as each as the capacity for truly serving or being truly annoying. It seems to me that the practice in HT and VT, when the adults need to discuss something that they don’t want teens to hear, is that they bring it up with the adult HT privately or with the Bishop.

  110. JAT
    July 18, 2007 at 3:45 pm

    Also, you’d get about the same dispersion of youth-adult companionships in VT as you do in HT. I’ve noticed that often Bishops assign 2 adults to HT ward members who have the greatest needs- or needs better suited for adults. Don’t forget that very serious needs are referred to leadership for help anyway. It could be the same with VT- two adult sisters for serious cases and help from the RS Pres., Compassionate SC, and Bishop when appropriate.

  111. JAT
    July 18, 2007 at 3:48 pm

    So I’m still not seeing why YW as VT would be any different from YM as HT.

  112. July 18, 2007 at 4:01 pm

    In theory, I see the value of the “grooming for service” approach of taking young people out for visits, but if those visits are rote and don’t really show any demonstrable benefit, the effort may be counterproductive for a lot of youth.

Comments are closed.