“38. Church Policies and Guidelines,” General Handbook: Serving in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (2020).
“38. Church Policies and Guidelines,” General Handbook.
Our Father in Heaven loves His children. “All are alike unto God,” and He invites all “to come unto him and partake of his goodness” (2 Nephi 26:33).
Church leaders and members are often asked who can attend meetings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who can become Church members, and who can attend a temple.
The Savior taught that His disciples should love their neighbors (see Matthew 22:39). Paul invited new converts to “no more be strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints” (Ephesians 2:19). The Savior also taught that Church members are not to “cast any one out from … public meetings, which are held before the world” (Doctrine and Covenants 46:3).
All are welcome to attend sacrament meeting, other Sunday meetings, and social events of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The presiding officer is responsible to ensure that all who attend are respectful of the sacred setting.
Those who attend should avoid disruptions or distractions contrary to worship or other purposes of the meeting. All age and behavior requirements of different Church meetings and events should be respected. That requires refraining from overt romantic behavior and from dress or grooming that causes distraction. It also precludes making political statements or speaking of sexual orientation or other personal characteristics in a way that detracts from meetings focused on the Savior.
If there is inappropriate behavior, the bishop or stake president gives private counsel in a spirit of love. He encourages those whose behavior is improper for the occasion to focus on helping maintain a sacred space for everyone present with a special emphasis on worshipping Heavenly Father and the Savior.
Church meetinghouses remain private property subject to Church policies. Persons unwilling to follow these guidelines will be asked in a respectful way not to attend Church meetings and events.
Membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is available to people who “come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits,” “are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ,” and desire to make and keep sacred baptismal covenants (Doctrine and Covenants 20:37).
A minor child age 8 or older may be baptized with the permission of his or her custodial parent(s) or legal guardian(s). The custodial parent(s) or legal guardian(s) should understand the Church doctrine their child will be taught and support the child in making and keeping the baptismal covenant.
Temples are holy places of worship in which essential ordinances are received and sacred covenants are made. To members of the Church, temples are houses of God. Because of this sacredness and the covenants made, only members of the Church with a current temple recommend may attend the temple. Members may receive a temple recommend when they faithfully keep the required commandments and live the gospel of Jesus Christ.
All members, even if they have never married or are without family in the Church, should strive for the ideal of living in an eternal family. This means preparing to be sealed as a worthy husband or wife and to become a loving father or mother. For some, these blessings will not be fulfilled until the next life, but the ultimate goal is the same for all.
Faithful members whose circumstances do not allow them to receive the blessings of eternal marriage and parenthood in this life will receive all promised blessings in the eternities, provided they keep the covenants they have made with God (see Mosiah 2:41).
An unwed young man under age 18 who is going to become a father may participate in his Aaronic Priesthood quorum or in the elders quorum. This decision is left to the prayerful discretion of the young man, his parents, and the bishop.
An unwed young woman under age 18 who is going to become a mother may participate in Young Women or in Relief Society. This decision is left to the prayerful discretion of the young woman, her parents, and the bishop.
In making this decision, youth, parents, and leaders consider the following:
If the youth participates in youth classes and activities, the child should not accompany him or her.
Older youth who choose to raise the child may benefit from being welcomed into the elders quorum as prospective elders or into Relief Society.
This section gives policies for ordinances and blessings. Some of these policies involve special circumstances. General information about ordinances and blessings is provided in chapter 18. Information about temple ordinances is provided in chapters 27 and 28.
It is important that a person who receives an ordinance or blessing understands what is said. If necessary, a presiding leader may ask someone to interpret an ordinance or blessing into a language that the recipient understands. This includes sign language interpretation. If possible, this person should hold the priesthood. If a priesthood holder is not available, a capable man or woman can interpret.
Ordinances and blessings are sacred. For this reason, no one should take photographs or make recordings of ordinances, blessings, or baptismal services.
Patriarchal blessings are transcribed. To facilitate this, the patriarch or his scribe makes an audio recording of the blessing.
A family may make an audio recording and transcription of father’s blessings. These blessings are described in 18.14.1. The exact wording of other ordinances is not recorded.
When possible, those who want to view an ordinance should strive to attend in person. When members and friends gather for an ordinance, they feel the influence of the Spirit and fellowship with one another.
However, when a close family member is not able to attend in person, the bishop or stake president may authorize streaming the ordinance to him or her. Streaming is permitted, for example, when the close family member:
Lives in a remote location or has limited ability to travel.
Has physical, mental, or emotional health challenges.
Is immunocompromised or in a care facility or hospital.
Needs sign-language interpretation.
Is serving a full-time mission. (The mission president’s approval is required.)
The bishop may authorize the streaming of baby blessings, baptisms, confirmations, and Aaronic Priesthood ordinations. The stake president may authorize the streaming of Melchizedek Priesthood ordinations and the setting apart of missionaries.
The ordinance of the sacrament is not streamed. If a sacrament meeting is being livestreamed, the stream should be paused during the administration of the sacrament. The bishop may authorize a priest or Melchizedek Priesthood holder to administer the sacrament in person to those who cannot attend the meeting.
Streaming of ordinances should not distract from the Spirit. Only one device should be used. Generally, it is operated by the ward or stake technology specialist. Both the device and the person using it should be inconspicuous.
Streams of ordinances should be deleted within one day after the ordinance.
When considering whether to perform ordinances for a person who has an intellectual disability, the individual, his or her parents or guardians (where applicable), and leaders counsel together. They prayerfully consider the person’s desire and degree of understanding. Ordinances should not be withheld if the person is worthy, wants to receive them, and shows sufficient responsibility and accountability.
The bishop may counsel with the stake president if he has questions about specific persons. The stake president may contact the Office of the First Presidency if necessary.
Individuals whose disabilities make them not accountable are “saved in the celestial kingdom of heaven” (Doctrine and Covenants 137:10). For this reason, ordinances are not needed or performed for them. The only exception is sealing to parents for those who were not born in the covenant.
For information about performing ordinances for those with intellectual disabilities, see the following:
Persons who have physical disabilities, such as the loss of limbs, paralysis, or deafness, may perform and receive ordinances and blessings. Leaders make arrangements so these persons can participate to the extent possible. If leaders have questions they cannot resolve, the stake president contacts the Office of the First Presidency.
Persons who are deaf or hard of hearing may communicate through sign language when performing or receiving an ordinance or blessing. A priesthood leader who oversees an ordinance ensures that the recipient understands it through an interpreter or by other means (see 38.2.1).
The information below gives reasons an ordinance would not be valid. It also describes how to validate or ratify the ordinance.
In some cases, an ordinance must be performed again. When this happens, a clerk records the new date on the membership record, even if it is out of sequence with the dates of other ordinances.
For record-keeping purposes, an ordinance is considered not valid if the year it was performed is missing or incorrect on the membership record. The ordinance can be validated with the original certificate that was issued when the ordinance was performed. With this certificate, the bishop can authorize a clerk to update the membership record.
If the certificate cannot be found, the ordinance can be validated with the testimony of two people who witnessed it. The two witnesses should:
Have been 8 years old or older when the ordinance was performed.
Have seen or heard the ordinance.
Be Church members of record at the time they give their testimony.
Give their testimony in writing, stating either (1) the complete date the ordinance was performed or (2) the year it was performed and the person who performed it.
Sign their testimony in the presence of a member of the bishopric or stake presidency.
With this testimony, the bishop can authorize a clerk to update the membership record. The written testimony may then be discarded.
If the certificate or witnesses cannot be found, the ordinance must be performed again.
If the member has received other ordinances after the invalid ordinance, they must be ratified by the First Presidency. To request this, the stake president sends a letter to the Office of the First Presidency.
An ordinance is not valid if a person received it out of sequence. For example, a man’s endowment is not valid if he received it before receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood. However, the First Presidency may ratify such an ordinance. To request this, the stake president sends a letter to the Office of the First Presidency.
An ordinance is not valid if it was performed before the appropriate age. For example, a baptism is not valid if it was performed before the person was 8 years old.
If no other ordinances were received after the invalid ordinance, it should be performed again. If other ordinances were received, those and the invalid ordinance must be ratified by the First Presidency. To request this, the stake president sends a letter to the Office of the First Presidency.
An ordinance is not valid if it was performed by someone who did not have the proper priesthood authority. For example, a confirmation is not valid if it was performed by someone who did not hold the Melchizedek Priesthood. Similarly, it is not valid if the person performing it received the Melchizedek Priesthood out of sequence or without proper approval (see 220.127.116.11; see also 32.17).
If no other ordinances were received after the invalid ordinance, it should be performed again by someone with the proper authority. If other ordinances were received, those and the invalid ordinance must be ratified by the First Presidency. To request this, the stake president sends a letter to the Office of the First Presidency. In some cases, the First Presidency may instruct that ordinances be performed again.
For general information about naming and blessing children, see 18.6.
If a newborn is critically ill, a Melchizedek Priesthood holder may perform the naming and blessing in the hospital or at home. He does not need authorization from the bishop. After giving the blessing, he notifies the bishop promptly so a membership record can be created for the child.
Sometimes a child’s parents or guardians request that the child be blessed even though they are not members of the Church. When this happens, the bishop obtains verbal permission from both parents or guardians before the blessing. He explains that:
A membership record will be created for the child.
Ward members will contact them periodically.
He or other ward leaders will propose that the child prepare to be baptized as he or she approaches age 8.
A person with an intellectual disability may be baptized and confirmed if he or she can reasonably be considered accountable. He or she should be able to understand and keep the covenants of baptism.
The bishop holds the keys for the person’s baptism if he or she is:
A member of record age 8 or older.
Age 8 and has at least one member parent or guardian (see 18.104.22.168).
The person, his or her parents or guardians (where applicable), and the bishop counsel together to determine whether the person should be baptized and confirmed.
If the person is a potential convert, the mission president holds the keys for his or her baptism (see 22.214.171.124). In this case, the missionaries inform the mission president. He counsels with the person and his or her parents or guardians (where applicable) to determine whether he or she should be baptized and confirmed. If the bishop knows the person well, the mission president may also seek his input.
For information about the membership records of persons who may not be accountable, see 33.6.10.
A minor, as defined by local laws, may be baptized when both of the following conditions are met:
The custodial parent(s) or legal guardian(s) give permission. They should understand the doctrine their child will be taught. They should also be willing to support the child in making and keeping the baptismal covenant. The person who conducts the baptism and confirmation interview asks for this permission to be in writing if he feels it will help prevent misunderstandings. In some locations, written permission is required. Mission and area leaders can provide guidance.
The person who conducts the interview discerns that the child understands the baptismal covenant. He should feel confident that the child will strive to keep this covenant by obeying the commandments, including attending Church meetings.
A child whose parents are divorced may be baptized and confirmed only with the permission of the parent(s) with legal custody.
If a child goes by the surname of his or her stepfather, the child may be baptized and confirmed in that name. This is true even if he or she has not been formally adopted. However, the child’s legal name, as defined by local law or custom, should be recorded on the membership record and the baptism and confirmation certificate.
A married person must have the consent of his or her spouse before being baptized.
A couple living together but not married must commit to living the law of chastity before either of them can be baptized. This includes exercising faith unto repentance as described in Doctrine and Covenants 20:37. It also includes no longer living together or, in the case of a man and a woman, getting married.
Persons whose Church membership was withdrawn or who resigned membership may be readmitted by baptism and confirmation. They are not considered converts. Missionaries do not interview them for baptism. For instructions, see 32.16.
Authorization from the mission president is required before a person can be baptized if he or she has ever:
In these cases, the mission president interviews the person. If necessary, the mission president may authorize one of his counselors to conduct the interview. He gives this authorization separately for each interview. The counselor who conducts it reports to the mission president, who may then authorize or deny the baptism and confirmation.
Approval from the First Presidency is required before a person can be baptized if he or she:
Is currently on legal probation or parole for a felony or a crime involving sexual misconduct (see 126.96.36.199).
Has committed murder (see 188.8.131.52).
Has been involved in plural marriage (see 184.108.40.206).
Has completed transition to the opposite of his or her biological sex at birth (see 220.127.116.11).
The mission president interviews the person. If he can recommend baptism, he submits a request for approval from the First Presidency for the person to be baptized. If the person is a former member seeking readmission, the bishop or stake president conducts the interview. He follows the instructions in 32.16.
Persons who have been convicted of crimes may not be baptized until they complete their terms of imprisonment. This is true for converts and for those seeking readmission.
Persons who have been convicted of felonies or any crimes involving sexual conduct may not be baptized and confirmed until they have also completed their terms of probation or parole. Only the First Presidency may grant an exception. These persons are encouraged to work closely with local priesthood leaders. They strive to do all they can to receive the Savior’s help to become worthy of baptism and confirmation.
Full-time missionaries do not teach people who are in prison or jail.
A person who has been convicted of murder may not be baptized unless the First Presidency gives approval. The same is true for a person who has confessed to committing murder, even if the confession was in private to a priesthood leader. If the person is seeking baptism for the first time, the mission president conducts the interview and submits the request if he can recommend baptism. The bishop or stake president does this for a former member seeking readmission (see 32.16). The request for permission must include all pertinent details as determined in the interview. As used here, murder does not include abortion or police or military action in the line of duty.
An adult who has encouraged, taught, or been involved in plural marriage must receive approval from the First Presidency before he or she may be baptized. The mission president may request this approval if he has interviewed the person, found him or her to be worthy, and can recommend baptism. If the person is seeking readmission after membership withdrawal or resignation, the stake president conducts the interview and requests this approval. The request should describe the person’s past involvement in plural marriage. It should also describe his or her repentance and current family situation.
A transgender person may be baptized and confirmed if he or she is not pursuing elective medical or surgical intervention to attempt to transition to the opposite of his or her biological sex at birth (“sex reassignment”).
Mission presidents should counsel with the Area Presidency to address individual situations with sensitivity and Christlike love.
A person who has completed sex reassignment through elective medical or surgical intervention must have First Presidency approval to be baptized. The mission president may request this approval if he has interviewed the person, found him or her to be otherwise worthy, and can recommend baptism. The person will not be able to receive the priesthood, a temple recommend, or some Church callings. However, he or she can participate in the Church in other ways.
For more information, see 38.6.23.
For general information about priesthood ordinations, see 18.10.
When a brother is baptized and confirmed, he is eligible to be ordained to an office in the Aaronic Priesthood if he will be at least 12 years old by the end of the year. The bishop interviews him soon after his confirmation, normally within a week. A member of the bishopric presents him in sacrament meeting so ward members can sustain his proposed ordination (see 18.10.3). He may then be ordained to the appropriate office:
Deacon, if he will turn 12 or 13 by the end of the year
Teacher, if he will turn 14 or 15 by the end of the year
Priest, if he will turn 16 or older by the end of the year; if he is 19 or older, he is also considered a prospective elder (see 18.104.22.168)
A new member is eligible to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood and be ordained an elder when he:
Is 18 or older.
Has served as a priest (no specified time is required).
Has sufficient understanding of the gospel.
Has demonstrated worthiness.
Newly baptized brethren are not ordained on the day they are baptized or confirmed. They first need to be interviewed by the bishop and sustained by ward members.
Baptisms of family members should not be delayed so the father can receive the priesthood and perform the baptisms himself.
A young man whose parents are divorced may be ordained to Aaronic Priesthood offices only with the permission of the parent(s) with legal custody.
If the young man goes by the surname of his stepfather, he may be ordained in that name. This is true even if he has not been formally adopted. However, the young man’s legal name, as defined by local law or custom, should be recorded on the ordination certificate.
A prospective elder is a male Church member age 19 or older who does not hold the Melchizedek Priesthood. Married brethren who are younger than 19 and do not hold the Melchizedek Priesthood are also prospective elders.
Under the direction of the bishop, the elders quorum presidency works closely with prospective elders to help them prepare to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood. If a prospective elder is not a priest, he should be ordained a priest as soon as he is worthy. He does not need to be ordained a deacon or teacher first. He may be ordained an elder when he has developed sufficient understanding of the gospel and demonstrated his worthiness. The bishop and stake president interview him to make this determination (see 31.2.6).
For more information about helping prospective elders prepare to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood, see 8.4.
Sometimes a brother who has lived in a ward for less than one year needs or desires to be ordained to a priesthood office. In that situation, the bishop conducts an interview and contacts the prior bishop to certify the brother’s worthiness.
Sometimes a brother is ordained while living away from home temporarily and his membership record is still in his home ward. In this case, the bishop of the ward where he was ordained informs the bishop of the home ward so the membership record can be updated. The certificate is prepared in the ward where the ordination was performed.
Worthy men ages 18 and older in young single adult wards and single adult wards should be ordained elders. Those who are not ordained elders are part of the elders quorum as prospective elders.
A military serviceman is normally interviewed and ordained in the ward that has his membership record. However, this may not be feasible if the serviceman is at sea for an extended time or is serving in a war zone or isolated area. In such cases, the serviceman meets with his service member group leader. If the group leader feels that the serviceman is ready to be ordained, he gives a written recommendation to the presiding leader of the Church unit that oversees the service member group. (If there is not such a Church unit, he gives the recommendation to the Area Presidency.) That leader contacts the bishop of the serviceman’s home ward to certify the man’s worthiness.
For ordination to Aaronic Priesthood offices, the presiding leader may authorize the group leader or a Latter-day Saint chaplain to interview the person and oversee the ordination. For ordination to the office of elder, the stake president, mission president, or Area Presidency may authorize a Latter-day Saint chaplain to interview the person and oversee the ordination. All ordinations should be sustained or ratified as explained in 18.10.3.
A male Church member who has an intellectual disability, his parents (where applicable), and the bishop counsel together about whether he should receive the priesthood. They counsel about his desires and whether he has a basic understanding of the priesthood and his responsibilities.
Priesthood holders who have such disabilities should be assisted so they can fulfill priesthood duties as fully as possible.
When a man who was not previously endowed is readmitted to the Church by baptism and confirmation, he may be ordained immediately afterward. He is ordained to the priesthood office he held when his membership was withdrawn or resigned.
If the man was previously endowed, he is not ordained to a priesthood office. Instead, his previous office is restored through the ordinance of restoration of blessings.
For more information and instructions, see 32.17.
A member who has received elective medical or surgical intervention to attempt to transition to the opposite of his or her biological sex at birth (“sex reassignment”) may not receive or exercise the priesthood. Nor may a member who has socially transitioned to the opposite of his or her biological sex at birth receive or exercise the priesthood.
Stake presidents should counsel with the Area Presidency to address individual situations with sensitivity and Christlike love.
A worthy male Church member who does not pursue medical, surgical, or social transition away from his biological sex at birth may receive and exercise the priesthood.
For more information, see 38.6.23.
For general information about patriarchal blessings, see:
Section 18.17 of this handbook.
Information and Suggestions for Patriarchs.
Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting: The Patriarch.
A member who has an intellectual disability, his or her parents or guardians (where applicable), and the bishop counsel together about whether he or she should receive a patriarchal blessing. They consider the member’s desires and whether he or she has a basic ability to understand the blessing. If so, a member of the bishopric may issue a Patriarchal Blessing Recommend. Instructions are in 18.17.
A patriarchal blessing can be a source of spiritual strength for a missionary. If possible, a member should receive a patriarchal blessing before beginning missionary service. When this is not possible, he or she may receive a patriarchal blessing during his or her mission. The mission president interviews the missionary and prepares a Patriarchal Blessing Recommend. Instructions are in 18.17.
A missionary at a missionary training center (MTC) may receive a patriarchal blessing only when all of the following apply:
The missionary comes from an area where no patriarch is able to give a blessing in the missionary’s native language.
The missionary will serve in a mission where no patriarch is able to give a blessing in the missionary’s native language.
A patriarch near the MTC can provide a blessing in the missionary’s native language.
A patriarchal blessing can be a source of spiritual strength for a member serving in the military. If possible, a worthy member should receive a patriarchal blessing before reporting for active duty.
If this is not possible, the member may be able to receive a patriarchal blessing at his or her permanent duty station. A member of the bishopric there interviews the member and prepares a Patriarchal Blessing Recommend. Instructions are in 18.17.
For more information, the stake president may contact the Office of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at Q12Patriarchs@ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
A member normally receives a patriarchal blessing from the patriarch in his or her stake. However, a member may receive a blessing from a patriarch in another stake if he or she:
Is a direct descendant of the patriarch (child, grandchild, or great-grandchild) through birth or adoption.
Lives in a stake that does not have a functioning patriarch.
Lives in a district.
Does not speak the same language as the stake patriarch, and a patriarch in a nearby stake speaks the member’s language.
In each of these cases, a member of the bishopric or the branch president interviews the member as described in 18.17. A member of the patriarch’s stake presidency and of the recipient’s stake or mission presidency must approve the recommend through the Patriarchal Blessing System.
The inspiration and meaning of a patriarchal blessing is difficult to convey in translation. For this reason, members should receive their blessings in the language they understand best. The Church does not provide written translations of patriarchal blessings.
Members are not encouraged to translate patriarchal blessings. However, sometimes a member needs a blessing translated into a language he or she understands. The member may find a trusted and worthy member of the Church who can provide the translation. The member should select a skilled translator who understands the spiritual nature and confidentiality of the blessing. Translated copies of blessings are not filed at Church headquarters.
A stake president may request a braille transcription of a patriarchal blessing. He contacts the Office of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at Q12Patriarchs@ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
If a member is deaf or hard of hearing, his or her patriarchal blessing can be interpreted in sign language. The member identifies an interpreter. It is best if this person is a trusted and worthy member of the Church who understands the doctrinal significance of patriarchal blessings. However, when a member of the Church cannot be found, another capable person can provide the interpretation.
In very rare circumstances, a worthy member may request a second patriarchal blessing. However, this is not encouraged, and the request might not be approved. If the member has an important reason for such a request, he or she discusses it with the bishop. If the bishop feels that a second blessing is necessary, he prepares a Patriarchal Blessing Recommend. Instructions are in 18.17.
The stake president then interviews the member and reads the original blessing with him or her. If he feels that a second blessing is necessary, he seeks approval from the Office of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at Q12Patriarchs@ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
The stake president informs the recipient and the patriarch of the decision of the Office of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. If the request is approved, the stake president approves the recommend in the Patriarchal Blessing System. The stake president tells the recipient that the second blessing replaces the original blessing. The patriarch may then give a second patriarchal blessing.
Church leaders encourage members to qualify for temple marriage and be married and sealed in a temple. If allowed by local laws, Church leaders may perform civil marriages in circumstances such as the following:
A couple plans to be married in a temple, but temple marriages are not legally recognized.
A couple will be married in a temple, but a civil marriage will help parents or immediate family members feel included.
Access to a temple is not available for an extended period of time.
A couple is not planning to be married in a temple.
A civil marriage is valid for as long as a couple lives. It does not endure beyond mortal life.
Civil marriages should be performed in accordance with the laws of the place where the marriage is performed.
Civil marriages and related religious ceremonies should not be performed on the Sabbath. Nor should they be held at unusual hours.
The bishop consults with his stake president if he has questions about civil marriage that are not answered in this section. The stake president may direct questions to the Office of the First Presidency.
When permitted by local law, the following currently serving Church officers may act in their calling to perform a civil marriage ceremony:
These officers may only perform a civil marriage between a man and a woman. All of the following conditions must also apply:
The bride or the groom is a member of the Church or has a baptismal date.
Either the bride’s or the groom’s membership record is, or will be after baptism, in the Church unit over which the officer presides.
The Church officer is legally authorized to officiate at a civil marriage in the jurisdiction where the marriage will take place.
Latter-day Saint chaplains on active military duty may perform civil marriages without prior approval.
Chaplains who are assigned to Reserve or National Guard units must receive prior approval from the Church’s Military Relations and Chaplain Services Division to perform a civil marriage. See contact information in 38.9.10.
Nonmilitary chaplains who serve in the following organizations must receive prior approval from the Church’s Military Relations and Chaplain Services Division to perform a civil marriage:
Police or fire departments
Retired chaplains are not authorized to perform civil marriages in their capacity as chaplains.
Those who perform marriages acting in their callings as Church leaders or chaplains should use the guidelines in this section. They also follow all legal requirements.
Latter-day Saint chaplains are not considered presiding Church officers unless they are serving as a stake president, bishop, or branch president. When a chaplain who is not a presiding Church officer performs a civil marriage, he or she functions as an agent of the government or civilian organization he or she serves. Thus, the wording of the civil marriage ceremony is changed slightly for these chaplains as shown in 38.3.6.
Latter-day Saint chaplains may only perform a civil marriage between a man and a woman.
Church officers and chaplains who perform civil marriages for members of the Church should provide the necessary marriage information to the ward or branch clerk. The clerk updates the membership records.
A Church officer or chaplain who performs civil marriages in a Church capacity may not accept fees.
A Church officer may not perform a marriage for Church members when neither the bride’s nor the groom’s membership record is in the Church unit over which the officer presides (see 38.3.1). An exception is made for Latter-day Saint chaplains and Church officers who are government officials.
A Church officer may not perform a marriage when neither the bride nor the groom is a member of the Church unless one or both of them have a baptismal date. An exception is made for Latter-day Saint chaplains and Church officers who are government officials.
A wedding ceremony may be held in a Church building if it does not disrupt the schedule of regular Church functions. Weddings should not be held on the Sabbath or on Monday evenings. Weddings performed in Church buildings should be simple and dignified. Music should be sacred, reverent, and joyful.
The Church does not allow its meetinghouses or properties to be used for any purpose related to same-sex, polygamous, unlawful, or other marriages not in alignment with Church doctrine or policy.
In rare circumstances, the bishop may allow the use of a Church building for marriages that are performed by someone who is not a Church officer or for those who are not Church members. He first counsels with the stake president. He counsels with the person who will be officiating to ensure that he or she understands the guidelines in this section. A member of the stake or ward council attends to ensure proper use and care of the building.
The bishop may authorize a livestream of a wedding performed in a Church building (see 29.7).
In some locations, laws require that a marriage ceremony be performed by a public official. Some require that the ceremony be performed in a public building or another public place. In these cases, an authorized priesthood officer may conduct a brief religious gathering after the civil marriage. In this gathering he provides counsel to the couple.
Marriage is sacred and should be honored and dignified as such. Marriages for Church members performed outside the temple should reflect a spirit of commitment and joy.
Except where noted, information in this section applies to Latter-day Saint chaplains as well as Church officers.
Before performing a civil marriage, a Church officer may counsel the couple on the sacred nature of the marriage vows. He may add other counsel as the Spirit directs.
To perform a civil marriage, the Church officer addresses the couple and says, “Please take each other by the right hand.” He then says, “[Groom’s full name] and [bride’s full name], you have taken one another by the right hand in token of the vows you will now enter into in the presence of God and these witnesses.” (The couple may choose or nominate these witnesses ahead of time.)
The officer then addresses the groom and asks, “[Groom’s full name], do you receive [bride’s full name] as your lawfully wedded wife, and do you of your own free will and choice solemnly promise as her companion and lawfully wedded husband that you will cleave unto her and none else; that you will observe all the laws, responsibilities, and obligations pertaining to the holy state of matrimony; and that you will love, honor, and cherish her as long as you both shall live?”
The groom answers, “Yes” or “I do.”
The Church officer then addresses the bride and asks, “[Bride’s full name], do you receive [groom’s full name] as your lawfully wedded husband, and do you of your own free will and choice solemnly promise as his companion and lawfully wedded wife that you will cleave unto him and none else; that you will observe all the laws, responsibilities, and obligations pertaining to the holy state of matrimony; and that you will love, honor, and cherish him as long as you both shall live?”
The bride answers, “Yes” or “I do.”
The Church officer then addresses the couple and says, “By virtue of the legal authority vested in me as an elder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I pronounce you, [groom’s name] and [bride’s name], husband and wife, legally and lawfully wedded for the period of your mortal lives.”
(Alternate wording for a chaplain not serving as a presiding Church officer: “By virtue of the legal authority vested in me as a chaplain in the [branch of military or civilian organization], I pronounce you, [groom’s name] and [bride’s name], husband and wife, legally and lawfully wedded for the period of your mortal lives.”)
“May God bless your union with joy in your posterity and a long life of happiness together, and may He bless you to keep sacred the vows you have made. These blessings I invoke upon you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.”
The invitation to kiss each other as husband and wife is optional, based on cultural norms.
Church members make sacred covenants with God as they receive temple ordinances. The temple sealing ordinances join families for eternity as members strive to honor the covenants they make when they receive the ordinance. Sealing ordinances include:
Sealing of a husband and wife.
Sealing of children to parents.
Those who keep their covenants will retain the individual blessings provided by the sealing. This is true even if the person’s spouse has broken the covenants or withdrawn from the marriage.
Faithful children who are sealed to parents or born in the covenant retain the blessing of eternal parentage. This is true even if their parents cancel their marriage sealing, have their Church membership withdrawn, or resign their membership.
Members who have concerns about the eternal nature of the sealing ordinance and their associated family and spousal relationships are encouraged to trust in the Lord and seek His comfort.
Members should counsel with their bishop if they have questions about sealing policies that are not answered in this section. The bishop contacts the stake president if he has questions. Stake presidents may contact the temple presidency in their temple district, the Area Presidency, or the Office of the First Presidency if they have questions.
I was married civilly and want to be sealed to my spouse.
I am divorced from a previous spouse and want to be sealed to my current spouse.
My spouse to whom I was sealed died. To whom may I now be sealed?
I need to apply for a sealing cancellation or a sealing clearance.
I need to have a restriction against temple sealing removed.
My spouse and I were married for time only in the temple. Can we be sealed to one another?
To whom may my deceased family members be sealed?
How does divorce affect my sealing?
What are the effects of canceling a sealing?
How does resignation or withdrawal of Church membership affect my sealing?
A man and woman who were married civilly may be sealed in the temple as soon as circumstances permit if the following conditions are met:
They are prepared and worthy.
Women. A living woman may be sealed to only one husband at a time. If she and a husband were sealed and later divorced, she must receive a cancellation of that sealing before being sealed to another man during her lifetime (see 22.214.171.124).
A living woman who is not currently married or sealed to another man may be sealed to a deceased husband from whom she was divorced in life. She must first receive signed consent from her former husband’s widow (if there is one).
See chapter 28 for information about performing ordinances for a deceased spouse.
Men. If a man and woman were sealed and later divorced, the man must receive a sealing clearance before being sealed to another woman (see 126.96.36.199). A sealing clearance is necessary even if (1) the previous sealing has been canceled or (2) the previous wife is deceased.
A sealing clearance is needed only if a man is divorced from the woman who was most recently sealed to him. For example, if a man received a sealing clearance to be sealed to a second wife after a divorce, and then his second wife dies, he would not need another sealing clearance to be sealed again.
A living man may be sealed to a deceased wife from whom he was divorced in life. He must first receive signed consent from his former wife’s widower (if there is one). He also must receive written consent from his current wife if he is married.
See chapter 28 for information about performing ordinances for a deceased spouse.
Women. If a husband and wife have been sealed and the husband dies, the woman may not be sealed to another man unless she receives a cancellation of the first sealing (see 188.8.131.52).
A living woman who is not currently married or sealed to another man may be sealed to a deceased husband. If the marriage ended in divorce, see 184.108.40.206.
A living woman who is currently married may not be sealed to a deceased husband without First Presidency approval.
See chapter 28 for information about performing ordinances for a deceased spouse.
Men. If a husband and wife have been sealed and the wife dies, the man may be sealed to another woman if she is not already sealed to another man. In this circumstance, the man does not need a sealing clearance from the First Presidency unless he was divorced from his previous wife before she died (see 220.127.116.11).
See chapter 28 for information about performing ordinances for a deceased spouse.
Members of either gender may seek a sealing cancellation even if they are not preparing to be sealed to another spouse. A male Church member must receive a sealing clearance to be sealed to another woman after a divorce.
The process for seeking a sealing cancellation or sealing clearance is outlined below.
The member speaks with his or her bishop about the request.
The bishop ensures that:
The divorce is final.
The member is current in all legal requirements for child and spousal support related to the divorce.
If the bishop recommends that the sealing cancellation or sealing clearance be granted, he:
Fills out an Application to the First Presidency for the member using Leader and Clerk Services (LCR). Leaders who do not have access to LCR instead use a physical copy of the Application to the First Presidency form. This form is available from the Confidential Records Office at Church headquarters.
Submits the application to the stake president.
The stake president meets with the member. The stake president verifies that:
The divorce is final.
The member is current in all legal requirements for child and spousal support related to the divorce.
If the stake president recommends that the sealing cancellation or sealing clearance be granted, he submits the application to Church headquarters using LCR or the form.
If the request is approved, the First Presidency provides a letter stating that the sealing cancellation or sealing clearance has been granted.
After receiving the letter, the member may schedule an appointment for a temple sealing. The member presents the letter at the temple.
A person who commits adultery while married to a spouse to whom he or she has been sealed may not be sealed to the partner in the adultery without approval from the First Presidency.
A couple may seek approval after they have been married for at least five years. The process for making a request to remove a restriction against temple sealing is outlined below.
The couple meets with their bishop and stake president.
If these leaders feel that the restriction should be removed, they write letters to the First Presidency with their recommendations. Their letters should describe the applicants’ temple worthiness and the stability of their marriage for at least five years.
The couple also writes a letter of request to the First Presidency.
The stake president submits all of these letters to the First Presidency. He may submit the request with an application for a sealing cancellation or sealing clearance (see 18.104.22.168).
If the request is approved, the First Presidency provides a letter stating that the restriction against temple sealing has been removed.
After receiving the letter, the couple may schedule an appointment to be sealed. They present the letter at the temple.
Couples who were married in a temple for time only are not usually sealed later. For such a sealing to occur, the woman must first receive from the First Presidency a cancellation of her previous sealing. If a bishop and stake president feel that a cancellation may be justified, they may submit an application to the First Presidency using LCR.
Time-only marriages in the temple are no longer performed (see 27.3.3).
Deceased Women. A deceased woman may be sealed to all men to whom she was legally married during her life. However, if she was sealed to a husband during her life, all her husbands must be deceased before she may be sealed to other men to whom she was married. This includes former husbands from whom she was divorced.
Deceased Men. A deceased man may be sealed to all women to whom he was legally married during his life if (1) they are deceased or (2) they are living and are not sealed to another man.
Deceased Couples Who Were Divorced. Deceased couples who were divorced may be sealed by proxy so their children can be sealed to them. See 28.3.8 if either the husband or wife had Church membership withdrawn or had resigned membership and had not been rebaptized at the time of death.
First Presidency approval is required before sealing a deceased couple who obtained a cancellation of their sealing in life.
If a couple was sealed and later divorced, the blessings of that sealing remain in effect for individuals who are worthy unless the sealing is canceled (see 22.214.171.124 and 126.96.36.199). A member who remains faithful to temple covenants will receive every blessing promised in the temple, even if the person’s spouse has broken the covenants or withdrawn from the marriage.
See 188.8.131.52 for information about children who are born after a divorce.
Once a sealing cancellation has been approved by the First Presidency, the blessings related to that sealing are no longer in force. Priesthood leaders counsel with members seeking a cancellation of a sealing to help them understand these principles. Leaders should honor members’ agency in these decisions.
Any children born to a woman after her sealing to a former husband has been canceled are not born in the covenant unless she has been sealed to another man.
After a couple has been sealed in a temple, if one of them resigns Church membership or has his or her membership withdrawn, his or her temple blessings are also withdrawn. However, the personal blessings of the sealing ordinance for the person’s spouse and children remain in effect if they remain faithful.
Any children born to a couple after one or both of them have resigned their membership or had their Church membership withdrawn are not born in the covenant. See 184.108.40.206.
Children who are born after their mother has been sealed to a husband in a temple are born in the covenant of that sealing. They do not need to receive the ordinance of sealing to parents.
Sometimes a woman who has been sealed to a man later has children with another man. When this occurs, these children are born into the covenant of the first sealing unless they were born (1) after the sealing was canceled or (2) after it was withdrawn due to resignation or withdrawal of Church membership.
Children who are not born in the covenant can become part of an eternal family by being sealed to their natural or adoptive parents. These children receive the same blessings as if they had been born in the covenant.
Living children. A living child may be sealed only to two parents—a husband and wife—and not to one parent only. See 27.4.1 for information about issuing temple recommends for children being sealed to their parents.
Members who are 21 or older must be endowed before being sealed to their parents.
Married members who are younger than 21 do not need to be endowed to be sealed to their parents. However, they must have a temple recommend (see 26.4.4).
Deceased children. A deceased person is usually sealed to his or her birth or adoptive parents. However, a deceased child may also be sealed to:
A birth mother and stepfather.
A birth father and stepmother.
Foster parents or grandparents who raised the child (see 220.127.116.11).
A couple who intended to adopt the child but could not complete the adoption before the child died (see 18.104.22.168).
These sealings may be done even if a deceased child is already sealed to his or her birth or adoptive parents. Sealings to nonbiological or nonadoptive parents in circumstances other than those listed above require First Presidency approval.
Living children who are born in the covenant or have been sealed to parents cannot be sealed to any other parents without First Presidency approval.
Living children who are legally adopted and were neither born in the covenant nor sealed to former parents may be sealed to their adoptive parents after the adoption is final. A copy of the final adoption decree should be presented at the temple. A court decree granting legal custody is not sufficient clearance for a sealing. There is no obligation to identify the natural parents of these children.
First Presidency approval is needed for a living member to be sealed to foster parents. This requirement applies even if the natural parents of the foster child are unknown. Such requests are made by the stake president.
A deceased adopted person is usually sealed to his or her adoptive parents.
A deceased foster child is usually sealed to his or her natural parents.
Minor children and children who are not accountable. Living minor children and children who are not accountable due to intellectual disabilities may be sealed to one natural parent and a stepparent only if all the following conditions are met:
The child was not born in the covenant or sealed previously.
The child has not been adopted by another parent.
The other natural parent has given a signed letter of consent for the sealing to take place. A court decree granting legal custody is not sufficient clearance for a sealing. The letter of consent should use wording similar to the following: “I, [name of natural parent], give permission for [name of child or children] to be sealed in the temple to [name of parents]. I understand that the sealing is a religious ceremony and does not have legal implications.” This letter is presented at the temple before the sealing.
If the other natural parent is deceased or if his or her parental rights have been fully terminated by legal process, no consent is required.
If the other natural parent cannot be located after thorough efforts to find him or her, no consent is required. In this case, the bishop and stake president certify in the verification process that thorough efforts to locate the missing parent have failed. If the other natural parent comes forward at a later date, the sealing will be subject to review.
Adult children. A living adult member may be sealed to one natural parent and a stepparent if the member was not born in the covenant or previously sealed to parents.
Members who are 21 or older must be endowed before being sealed to a natural parent and a stepparent.
Married members who are younger than 21 do not need to be endowed to be sealed to a natural parent and a stepparent. However, they must have a temple recommend to be sealed to parents (see 26.4.4).
Children conceived by artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization are born in the covenant if their parents are already sealed. If the children are born before their parents are sealed, they may be sealed to their parents after their parents are sealed to each other.
If a child was born to a surrogate mother, the stake president refers the matter to the Office of the First Presidency (see 38.6.22).
Children who are born in the covenant or sealed to parents remain so even if the sealing of the parents is later (1) canceled or (2) withdrawn because of the resignation or withdrawal of Church membership of either parent.
Children who are born after their parents’ sealing is canceled or withdrawn are not born in the covenant. These children may be sealed to their parents after their parents’ blessings are restored (if applicable) and any other obstacles are removed.
During the endowment and sealing ordinances in the temple, Church members wear white clothing. Women wear the following white clothing: a long-sleeve or three-quarter-sleeve dress (or a skirt and long-sleeve or three-quarter-sleeve blouse), socks or hosiery, and shoes or slippers.
Men wear the following white clothing: a long-sleeve shirt, necktie or bow tie, pants, socks, and shoes or slippers.
During the endowment and sealing ordinances, members put on additional ceremonial clothing over their white clothing.
Ward and stake leaders encourage endowed members to obtain their own temple clothing. Temple clothing and garments may be purchased from a Church Distribution store or at store.ChurchofJesusChrist.org. Stake and ward clerks may help members order the clothing.
Some temples have clothing available for rent. If a temple does not have rental clothing, members need to bring temple clothing with them. See temples.ChurchofJesusChrist.org to learn whether a particular temple has rental clothing available.
Temples maintain a limited supply of temple clothing that full-time missionaries may use. There is no rental charge while they are in missionary training centers and when they are authorized to participate in temple ordinances while serving in the mission field. If needed, this clothing may be used by missionaries receiving their own endowment.
For information about garment fabrics and styles, see store.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
Special garments may be purchased for members who are bedridden, have severe physical disabilities, or have allergies to certain fabrics or garments (see “Garments and Sacred Clothing,” store.ChurchofJesusChrist.org).
Shorter temple robes are available for members who are in wheelchairs or who have other needs (see store.ChurchofJesusChrist.org).
Members may make their own temple aprons if they use one of the approved apron kits. These kits are available from a Church Distribution store or from store.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
Members should not make other ceremonial temple clothing or temple garments.
Members who receive the endowment make a covenant to wear the temple garment throughout their lives.
It is a sacred privilege to wear the temple garment. Doing so is an outward expression of an inner commitment to follow the Savior Jesus Christ.
The garment is a reminder of covenants made in the temple. When worn properly throughout life, it will serve as a protection.
The garment should be worn beneath the outer clothing. It is a matter of personal preference whether other undergarments are worn over or under the temple garment.
The garment should not be removed for activities that can reasonably be done while wearing the garment. It should not be modified to accommodate different styles of clothing.
The garment is sacred and should be treated with respect. Endowed members should seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit to answer personal questions about wearing the garment.
To dispose of worn-out temple garments, members should cut out and destroy the marks. Members then cut up the remaining fabric so it cannot be identified as a garment. The remaining cloth can be discarded.
To dispose of worn-out ceremonial temple clothing, members should cut it up so the original use cannot be recognized. The cloth should then be discarded.
Members may give garments and temple clothing that are in good condition to other endowed members. Priesthood and Relief Society leaders can identify those who might need such clothing. Members should not give garments or ceremonial temple clothing to thrift stores, bishops’ storehouses, temples, or charities.
If possible, deceased members who are endowed should be buried or cremated in temple clothing. If cultural traditions or burial practices make this inappropriate or difficult, the clothing may be folded and placed next to the body.
Only members who were endowed in life may be buried or cremated in temple clothing. An endowed person who stopped wearing the garment before his or her death may be buried or cremated in temple clothing if the family requests.
A person whose blessings have not been restored after withdrawal or resignation of Church membership may not be buried or cremated in temple clothing.
A person who was endowed in life and who died by suicide may be buried or cremated in temple clothing.
Temple clothing that is used for burial or cremation need not be new, but it should be in good condition and clean. The member’s own temple clothing may be used.
A member who is to be buried or cremated in temple clothing may be dressed by an endowed family member of the same gender or by the spouse. If a family member is not available or would prefer not to dress the body of an endowed man, the bishop may ask the elders quorum president to invite an endowed man to dress the body or to oversee the proper dressing. If a family member is not available or would prefer not to dress the body of an endowed woman, the bishop may ask the Relief Society president to invite an endowed woman to dress the body or to oversee the proper dressing. Leaders ensure that this assignment is given to a person who will not find it objectionable.
A man’s body is dressed in temple garments and the following white clothing: a long-sleeve shirt, necktie or bow tie, pants, socks, and shoes or slippers. A woman’s body is dressed in temple garments and the following white clothing: a long-sleeve or three-quarter-sleeve dress (or a skirt and long-sleeve or three-quarter-sleeve blouse), socks or hosiery, and shoes or slippers.
Ceremonial temple clothing is placed on the body as instructed in the endowment. The robe is placed on the right shoulder and tied with the drawstring at the left waistline. The apron is secured around the waist. The sash is placed around the waist and tied in a bow over the left hip. A man’s cap is usually placed beside his body until it is time to close the casket or container. The cap is then placed with the bow over the left ear. A woman’s veil may be draped on the pillow at the back of her head. The veiling of a woman’s face before burial or cremation is optional, as determined by the family.
In some areas only a licensed funeral director or an employee of the director is allowed to handle a deceased body. In these cases, an endowed family member or an endowed person who is invited by the bishop or Relief Society president ensures that the clothing is properly placed on the body.
Some countries require that deceased persons be dressed in biodegradable clothing when they are buried. Biodegradable temple clothing is available at store.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
In areas where temple clothing may be difficult to obtain in time for burial, stake presidents should keep on hand at least two complete sets of medium-sized clothing, one for a man and one for a woman.
If temple clothing is not available, a deceased endowed member is clothed for burial in the garment and other suitable clothing.
A few policies in this section are about matters that the Church “discourages.” Church members usually do not experience membership restrictions because of their decisions about these matters. However, all people are ultimately accountable to God for their decisions.
The Lord commanded, “Thou shalt not … kill, nor do anything like unto it” (Doctrine and Covenants 59:6). The Church opposes elective abortion for personal or social convenience. Members must not submit to, perform, arrange for, pay for, consent to, or encourage an abortion. The only possible exceptions are when:
Pregnancy resulted from forcible rape or incest.
A competent physician determines that the life or health of the mother is in serious jeopardy.
A competent physician determines that the fetus has severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth.
Even these exceptions do not automatically justify abortion. Abortion is a most serious matter and should be considered only after the persons responsible have consulted with their bishops and received divine confirmation through prayer.
Presiding officers carefully review the circumstances if a Church member has been involved in an abortion. A membership council may be necessary if a member submits to, performs, arranges for, pays for, consents to, or encourages an abortion (see 22.214.171.124). However, a membership council should not be considered if a member was involved in an abortion before baptism. Nor should membership councils or restrictions be considered for members who were involved in an abortion for any of the three reasons outlined earlier in this section.
Bishops refer questions on specific cases to the stake president. The stake president may direct questions to the Office of the First Presidency if necessary.
As far as has been revealed, a person may repent and be forgiven for the sin of abortion.
Abuse is the mistreatment or neglect of others in a way that causes physical, sexual, emotional, or financial harm. The Church’s position is that abuse cannot be tolerated in any form. Those who abuse their spouses, children, other family members, or anyone else violate the laws of God and man.
All members, especially parents and leaders, are encouraged to be alert and diligent and do all they can to protect children and others against abuse. If members become aware of instances of abuse, they report it to civil authorities and counsel with the bishop. Church leaders should take reports of abuse seriously and never disregard them.
All adults who work with children or youth are to complete children and youth protection training within one month of being sustained (see ProtectingChildren.ChurchofJesusChrist.org). They are to repeat the training every three years.
When abuse occurs, the first and immediate responsibility of Church leaders is to help those who have been abused and to protect vulnerable persons from future abuse. Leaders should not encourage a person to remain in a home or situation that is abusive or unsafe.
In some countries, the Church has established a confidential abuse help line to assist stake presidents and bishops. These leaders should promptly call the help line about every situation in which a person may have been abused—or is at risk of being abused. They should also call it if they become aware of a member viewing, purchasing, or distributing child pornography.
The help line is available for bishops and stake presidents to call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Phone numbers are shown below.
United States and Canada: 1-801-240-1911 or 1-800-453-3860, extension 2-1911
United Kingdom: 0800 970 6757
Ireland: 1800 937 546
France: 0805 710 531
Australia: 02 9841 5454 (from within the country)
New Zealand: 09 488 5592 (from within the country)
Bishops and stake presidents should call the help line when addressing situations involving any type of abuse. Legal and clinical professionals will answer their questions. These professionals will also give instructions about how to:
Assist victims and help protect them from further abuse.
Help protect potential victims.
Comply with legal requirements for reporting abuse.
The Church is committed to complying with the law in reporting abuse (see 126.96.36.199). Laws differ by location, and most Church leaders are not legal experts. Calling the help line is essential for bishops and stake presidents to fulfill their responsibilities to report abuse.
A bishop should also notify his stake president of instances of abuse.
In countries that do not have a help line, a bishop who learns of abuse should contact his stake president. The stake president should seek guidance from the area legal counsel at the area office. He is also encouraged to counsel with the Family Services staff or the welfare and self-reliance manager at the area office.
Victims of abuse often suffer serious trauma. Stake presidents and bishops respond with heartfelt compassion and empathy. They provide spiritual counseling and support to help victims overcome the destructive effects of abuse.
Sometimes victims have feelings of shame or guilt. Victims are not guilty of sin. Leaders help them and their families understand God’s love and the healing that comes through Jesus Christ and His Atonement (see Alma 15:8; 3 Nephi 17:9).
Stake presidents and bishops should help those who have committed abuse to repent and to cease their abusive behavior. If an adult has committed a sexual sin against a child, the behavior may be very difficult to change. The process of repentance may be very prolonged. See 188.8.131.52.
Stake presidents and bishops should also be caring and sensitive when working with the families of victims and perpetrators of abuse.
Guidance for counseling victims and offenders is provided at Abuse: How to Help.
In addition to receiving the inspired help of Church leaders, victims, offenders, and their families may need professional counseling. For information, see 31.3.6.
For information about what bishops and stake presidents should do when they learn of any type of abuse, see 184.108.40.206. For information about counseling in cases of sexual abuse, rape, or other forms of sexual assault, see 220.127.116.11.
See also FamilyServices.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
Abuse of a child or youth is an especially serious sin (see Luke 17:2). As used here, child or youth abuse includes the following:
Physical abuse: Inflicting serious bodily harm by physical violence. Some harm may not be visible.
Sexual abuse or exploitation: Having any sexual activity with a child or youth or intentionally allowing or helping others to have such activity. As used here, sexual abuse does not include consensual sexual activity between two minors who are close in age.
Emotional abuse: Using actions and words to seriously damage a child or youth’s sense of self-respect or self-worth. This usually involves repeated and continuing insults, manipulations, and criticisms that humiliate and belittle. It may also include gross neglect.
Child pornography: See 38.6.6.
If a bishop or stake president learns of or suspects child or youth abuse, he promptly follows the instructions in 18.104.22.168. He also takes action to help protect against further abuse.
If a minor abuses a child, the stake president contacts the Office of the First Presidency for direction.
Physical or emotional bullying between children or youth of a similar age should be addressed by ward leaders. A membership council is not held.
Abuse of a spouse or another adult can occur in many ways. These include physical, sexual, emotional, and financial abuse. Adults who are elderly, vulnerable, or disabled are sometimes at high risk for abuse.
Often there is not a single definition of abuse that can be applied in all situations. Instead, there is a spectrum of severity in abusive behavior. This spectrum ranges from occasionally using sharp words to inflicting serious harm.
If a bishop or stake president learns of abuse of a spouse or another adult, he promptly follows the instructions in 22.214.171.124. He also takes action to help protect against further abuse.
Leaders seek the direction of the Spirit to determine whether personal counseling or a membership council is the most appropriate setting to address abuse. They may also counsel with their direct priesthood leader about the setting. However, any abuse of a spouse or another adult that rises to the levels described below requires holding a membership council.
Physical abuse: Inflicting serious bodily harm by physical violence. Some harm may not be visible.
Sexual abuse: See the situations specified in 126.96.36.199.
Emotional abuse: Using actions and words to seriously damage a person’s sense of self-respect or self-worth. This usually involves repeated and continuing insults, manipulations, and criticisms that humiliate and belittle.
Financial abuse: Taking advantage of someone financially. This may include the illegal or unauthorized use of a person’s property, money, or other valuables. It may also include fraudulently obtaining financial power over someone. It could include using financial power to coerce behavior. See also 188.8.131.52.
Members who have abused others should not be given Church callings and may not have a temple recommend until they have repented and Church membership restrictions have been removed.
If a person abused a child or youth sexually or seriously abused a child or youth physically or emotionally, his or her membership record will be annotated. He or she must not be given any calling or assignment involving children or youth. This includes not being given a ministering assignment to a family with youth or children in the home. It also includes not having a youth as a ministering companion. These restrictions should remain in place unless the First Presidency authorizes removal of the annotation. See 32.14.5 for information about annotations.
In stake and ward council meetings, stake presidencies and bishoprics regularly review Church policies and guidelines on preventing and responding to abuse. They teach the key messages in “Preventing and Responding to Abuse,” an enclosure to the First Presidency letter dated March 26, 2018. They invite discussion from council members. Leaders and council members seek the guidance of the Spirit as they teach and discuss this sensitive subject.
Council members are also to complete children and youth protection training (see 38.6.2).
If a member’s abusive activities have violated applicable law, the bishop or stake president should urge the member to report these activities to law enforcement personnel or other appropriate government authorities. The bishop or stake president can obtain information about local reporting requirements through the Church’s help line (see 184.108.40.206). If members have questions about reporting requirements, he encourages them to secure qualified legal advice.
Church leaders and members should fulfill all legal obligations to report abuse to civil authorities. In some locations, leaders and teachers who work with children and youth are considered “mandated reporters” and must report abuse to legal authorities. Similarly, in many locations, any person who learns of abuse is required to report it to legal authorities. Bishops and stake presidents should call the help line for details about mandated reporters and other legal requirements for reporting abuse. The Church’s policy is to obey the law.
Physical intimacy between husband and wife is intended to be beautiful and sacred. It is ordained of God for the creation of children and for the expression of love between husband and wife (see 2.1.2).
It is the privilege of married couples who are able to bear children to provide mortal bodies for the spirit children of God, whom they are then responsible to nurture and rear (see 2.1.3). The decision about how many children to have and when to have them is extremely personal and private. It should be left between the couple and the Lord. Church members should not judge one another in this matter.
The Church discourages surgical sterilization as an elective form of birth control. Surgical sterilization includes procedures such as vasectomies and tubal ligations. However, this decision is a personal matter that is ultimately left to the judgment and prayerful consideration of the husband and wife. Couples should counsel together in unity and seek the confirmation of the Spirit in making this decision.
Surgical sterilization is sometimes needed for medical reasons. Members may benefit from counseling with medical professionals.
The Lord’s law of chastity is:
Abstinence from sexual relations outside of a marriage between a man and a woman according to God’s law.
Fidelity within marriage.
Physical intimacy between husband and wife is intended to be beautiful and sacred. It is ordained of God for the creation of children and for the expression of love between husband and wife.
Only a man and a woman who are legally and lawfully wedded as husband and wife should have sexual relations. In God’s sight, moral cleanliness is very important. Violations of the law of chastity are very serious (see Exodus 20:14; Matthew 5:28; Alma 39:5). Those involved misuse the sacred power God has given to create life.
A Church membership council may be necessary if a member:
Has sexual relations outside of a marital relationship authorized by God’s law, such as adultery, fornication, and same-sex relations (see 32.6.2).
Is in a form of marriage or partnership that is not authorized by God’s law, such as cohabitation, civil unions and partnerships, and same-sex marriage.
Uses pornography intensively or compulsively, causing significant harm to a member’s marriage or family (see 38.6.13).
The decision about whether to hold a membership council in these situations depends on many circumstances. These are outlined in 32.7. For example, violating temple covenants increases the likelihood of a council being necessary to help a person repent. In some cases, personal counseling and informal membership restrictions may be sufficient (see 32.8).
See 220.127.116.11 for when a council is required for sexual sins.
The Church condemns child pornography in any form. If a bishop or stake president learns that a member is involved with child pornography, he promptly follows the instructions in 18.104.22.168.
A Church membership council and record annotation are required if a member makes, shares, possesses, or repeatedly views pornographic images of children (see 22.214.171.124 and 32.14.5). This guideline generally does not apply to children or youth of approximately the same age who share sexual pictures of themselves or others. Personal counseling and informal membership restrictions may be appropriate in those situations.
For more guidance, see 38.6.13.
The pattern of a husband and wife providing bodies for God’s spirit children is divinely appointed (see 2.1.3). For this reason, the Church discourages donating sperm or eggs. However, this is a personal matter that is ultimately left to the judgment and prayerful consideration of the potential donor. See 38.6.9. The Church also discourages selling sperm or eggs.
The Church condemns female genital mutilation.
The pattern of a husband and wife providing bodies for God’s spirit children is divinely appointed (see 2.1.3). When needed, reproductive technology can assist a married woman and man in their righteous desire to have children. This technology includes artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization.
The Church discourages artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization using sperm from anyone but the husband or an egg from anyone but the wife. However, this is a personal matter that is ultimately left to the judgment and prayerful consideration of a lawfully married man and woman.
See also “Adoption” (Gospel Topics, topics.ChurchofJesusChrist.org).
The Church condemns any form of incest. As used here, incest is sexual relations between:
A parent and a child.
A grandparent and a grandchild.
An uncle or aunt and a niece or nephew.
As used here, child, grandchild, siblings, niece, and nephew include biological, adopted, step, or foster relationships. Incest can occur between two minors, an adult and a minor, or two adults. If a stake president has questions about whether a relationship is incestuous under local laws, he seeks guidance from the Office of the First Presidency.
When a minor is a victim of incest, the bishop or stake president calls the Church’s abuse help line in countries where it is available (see 126.96.36.199). In other countries, the stake president should seek guidance from the area legal counsel at the area office. He is also encouraged to counsel with the Family Services staff or the welfare and self-reliance manager at the area office.
If a minor commits incest, the stake president contacts the Office of the First Presidency for direction.
Victims of incest often suffer serious trauma. Leaders respond with heartfelt compassion and empathy. They provide spiritual support and counseling to help them overcome the destructive effects of incest.
Sometimes victims have feelings of shame or guilt. Victims are not guilty of sin. Leaders help them and their families understand God’s love and the healing that comes through Jesus Christ and His Atonement (see Alma 15:8; 3 Nephi 17:9).
In addition to receiving the inspired help of Church leaders, victims and their families may need professional counseling. For information, see 188.8.131.52.
“That which is of God is light” (Doctrine and Covenants 50:24). The occult focuses on darkness and leads to deception. It destroys faith in Christ.
The occult includes Satan worship. It also includes mystical activities that are not in harmony with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Such activities include (but are not limited to) fortune-telling, curses, and healing practices that are imitations of the priesthood power of God (see Moroni 7:11–17).
Church members should not engage in any form of Satan worship or participate in any way with the occult. They should not focus on such darkness in conversations or in Church meetings.
The Church condemns pornography in any form. Pornography use of any kind damages individual lives, families, and society. It also drives away the Spirit of the Lord. Church members should avoid all forms of pornographic material and oppose its production, dissemination, and use.
Helping Those Who Struggle with Pornography (booklet)
Let Virtue Garnish Thy Thoughts (booklet)
Stake presidents and bishops also provide support to family members as needed.
Church leaders should realize that use of pornography can be a compulsion or an addiction. In addition to the inspired help of these leaders, some members may need professional counseling. Leaders may contact Family Services for assistance. See 31.3.6 for contact information.
Personal counseling and informal membership restrictions are usually sufficient when helping a person repent of using pornography (see 32.8). Membership councils are not usually held. However, a council may be necessary for intensive and compulsive use of pornography that has caused significant harm to a member’s marriage or family (see 38.6.5). A council is required if a member makes, shares, possesses, or repeatedly views pornographic images of children (see 38.6.6).
All people are children of God. All are brothers and sisters who are part of His divine family (see “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”). God “hath made of one blood all nations” (Acts 17:26). “All are alike” unto Him (2 Nephi 26:33). Each person is “as precious in his sight as the other” (Jacob 2:21).
Prejudice is not consistent with the revealed word of God. Favor or disfavor with God depends on devotion to Him and His commandments, not on the color of a person’s skin or other attributes.
The Church calls on all people to abandon attitudes and actions of prejudice toward any group or individual. Members of the Church should lead out in promoting respect for all of God’s children. Members follow the Savior’s commandment to love others (see Matthew 22:35–39). They strive to be persons of goodwill toward all, rejecting prejudice of any kind. This includes prejudice based on race, ethnicity, nationality, tribe, gender, age, disability, socioeconomic status, religious belief or nonbelief, and sexual orientation.
The Church encourages families and members to reach out with sensitivity, love, and respect to persons who are attracted to others of the same sex. The Church also promotes understanding in society at large that reflects its teachings about kindness, inclusiveness, love for others, and respect for all human beings. The Church does not take a position on the causes of same-sex attraction.
God’s commandments forbid all unchaste behavior, either heterosexual or same-sex. Church leaders counsel members who have violated the law of chastity. Leaders help them have a clear understanding of faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, the process of repentance, and the purpose of life on earth. Behavior that is inconsistent with the law of chastity may be cause for holding a Church membership council (see 38.6.5). It can be forgiven through sincere repentance.
If members feel same-sex attraction and are striving to live the law of chastity, leaders support and encourage them in their resolve. These members may receive Church callings, hold temple recommends, and receive temple ordinances if they are worthy. Male Church members may receive and exercise the priesthood.
All members who keep their covenants will receive all promised blessings in the eternities whether or not their circumstances allow them to receive the blessings of eternal marriage and parenthood in this life (see Mosiah 2:41).
“Same-Sex Attraction,” Gospel Topics, topics.ChurchofJesusChrist.org
“Same-Sex Attraction,” Life Help, ChurchofJesusChrist.org
In addition to the inspired help of Church leaders, members may benefit from professional counseling. Leaders may contact Family Services for assistance. See 31.3.6 for contact information.
As a doctrinal principle, based on the scriptures, the Church affirms that marriage between a man and a woman is essential to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children. The Church also affirms that God’s law defines marriage as the legal and lawful union between a man and a woman.
Only a man and a woman who are legally and lawfully wedded as husband and wife should have sexual relations. Any other sexual relations, including those between persons of the same sex, are sinful and undermine the divinely created institution of the family.
Parents have primary responsibility for the sex education of their children. Parents should have honest, clear, and ongoing conversations with their children about healthy, righteous sexuality. These conversations should:
Be appropriate to the age and maturity of the child.
Help children prepare for happiness in marriage and follow the law of chastity (see 2.1.2).
Address the dangers of pornography, the need to avoid it, and how to respond when they encounter it.
For more information, see “Sex Education and Behavior” (Gospel Topics, topics.ChurchofJesusChrist.org).
As part of their responsibility to teach their children, parents should be aware of and appropriately seek to influence the sex education taught at school. Parents teach correct principles and support school instruction that is consistent with the gospel.
The Church condemns sexual abuse. As used here, sexual abuse is defined as imposing any unwanted sexual activity on another person. Sexual activity with a person who does not or cannot give legal consent is considered sexual abuse. Sexual abuse can also occur with a spouse or in a dating relationship. For information about sexual abuse of a child or youth, see 184.108.40.206.
Sexual abuse covers a broad range of actions, from harassment to rape and other forms of sexual assault. It can occur physically, verbally, and in other ways. For guidance about counseling members who have experienced sexual abuse, rape, or other forms of sexual assault, see 220.127.116.11.
If members suspect or become aware of sexual abuse, they take action to protect victims and others as soon as possible. This includes reporting to civil authorities and alerting the bishop or stake president. If a child has been abused, members should follow the instructions in 38.6.2.
If a bishop or stake president learns of sexual abuse, rape, or another form of sexual assault, he calls the Church’s abuse help line in countries where it is available (see 18.104.22.168 for contact information). Legal and clinical professionals will answer his questions. These professionals will also give instructions about how to:
Assist victims and help protect them from further harm.
Help protect potential victims.
Comply with legal requirements for reporting.
In countries that do not have a help line, a bishop who learns of these offenses should contact his stake president. The stake president should seek guidance from the area legal counsel at the area office. He is also encouraged to counsel with the Family Services staff or the welfare and self-reliance manager at the area office.
Victims of sexual abuse, rape, or other forms of sexual assault often suffer serious trauma. When they confide in a bishop or stake president, he responds with heartfelt compassion and empathy. He provides spiritual counseling and support to help victims overcome the destructive effects of abuse. He also calls the Church’s abuse help line for guidance where it is available (see 22.214.171.124).
Sometimes victims have feelings of shame or guilt. Victims are not guilty of sin. Leaders do not blame the victim. They help victims and their families understand God’s love and the healing that comes through Jesus Christ and His Atonement (see Alma 15:8; 3 Nephi 17:9).
While members may choose to share information about the abuse or assault, leaders should not focus excessively on the details. This can be harmful to victims.
In addition to receiving the inspired help of Church leaders, victims and their families may need professional counseling. For information, see 31.3.6.
A membership council may be necessary for a person who has sexually assaulted or abused someone. A membership council is required if a member committed rape or is convicted of another form of sexual assault (see 126.96.36.199)
A council must also be held for sexual activity with a vulnerable adult. As used here, a vulnerable adult is a person who, because of physical or mental limitations, either cannot consent to the activity or cannot understand the nature of it.
To address other forms of sexual abuse, leaders seek the Spirit’s guidance about whether personal counseling or a membership council is the most appropriate setting (see 188.8.131.52 and 32.8). In severe cases a council is required. Leaders may counsel with their direct priesthood leader about the setting.
If membership restrictions result from a membership council that is held for a perpetrator of sexual abuse, that person’s membership record is annotated.
Church members who are single and pregnant are encouraged to meet with their bishop. In the United States and Canada, Family Services is available for:
Consultation with Church leaders.
Counseling with single expectant parents and their families.
No bishop’s referral is needed for this service. There is no charge. See 31.3.6 for Family Services contact information.
In other areas, leaders may contact Family Services staff or the welfare and self-reliance manager in the area office for consultation.
Mortal life is a precious gift from God—a gift that should be valued and protected. The Church strongly supports the prevention of suicide. For information about how to help someone who is suicidal or someone who has been affected by suicide, see suicide.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
Most people who have thought about suicide want to find relief from physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual pain. Such individuals need love, help, and support from family, Church leaders, and qualified professionals.
The bishop provides ecclesiastical support if a member is considering suicide or has attempted it. He also immediately helps the member obtain professional help. He encourages those close to the person to seek professional help as needed.
Despite the best efforts of loved ones, leaders, and professionals, suicide is not always preventable. It leaves behind deep heartbreak, emotional upheaval, and unanswered questions for loved ones and others. Leaders should counsel and console the family. They provide nurturing and support. The family may also need professional support and counseling.
It is not right for a person to take his or her own life. However, only God is able to judge the person’s thoughts, actions, and level of accountability (see 1 Samuel 16:7; Doctrine and Covenants 137:9).
The family, in consultation with the bishop, determines the place and nature of a funeral service for the person. The family may choose to use Church facilities. If the person was endowed in life, he or she may be buried or cremated in temple clothing.
Those who have lost a loved one to suicide can find hope and healing in Jesus Christ and His Atonement.
The pattern of a husband and wife providing bodies for God’s spirit children is divinely appointed (see 2.1.3). For this reason, the Church discourages surrogate motherhood. However, this is a personal matter that is ultimately left to the judgment and prayerful consideration of the husband and wife.
Children who are born to a surrogate mother are not born in the covenant. Following their birth, they may be sealed to parents only with the approval of the First Presidency (see 184.108.40.206).
Transgender individuals face complex challenges. Members and nonmembers who identify as transgender—and their family and friends—should be treated with sensitivity, kindness, compassion, and an abundance of Christlike love. All are welcome to attend sacrament meeting, other Sunday meetings, and social events of the Church (see 38.1.1).
Gender is an essential characteristic of Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness. The intended meaning of gender in the family proclamation is biological sex at birth. Some people experience feelings of incongruence between their biological sex and their gender identity. As a result, they may identify as transgender. The Church does not take a position on the causes of people identifying as transgender.
Most Church participation and some priesthood ordinances are gender neutral. Transgender persons may be baptized and confirmed as outlined in 220.127.116.11. They may also partake of the sacrament and receive priesthood blessings. However, priesthood ordination and temple ordinances are received according to biological sex at birth.
Church leaders counsel against elective medical or surgical intervention for the purpose of attempting to transition to the opposite gender of a person’s biological sex at birth (“sex reassignment”). Leaders advise that taking these actions will be cause for Church membership restrictions.
Leaders also counsel against social transitioning. A social transition includes changing dress or grooming, or changing a name or pronouns, to present oneself as other than his or her biological sex at birth. Leaders advise that those who socially transition will experience some Church membership restrictions for the duration of this transition.
Restrictions include receiving or exercising the priesthood, receiving or using a temple recommend, and receiving some Church callings. Although some privileges of Church membership are restricted, other Church participation is welcomed.
Transgender individuals who do not pursue medical, surgical, or social transition to the opposite gender and are worthy may receive Church callings, temple recommends, and temple ordinances.
Some children, youth, and adults are prescribed hormone therapy by a licensed medical professional to ease gender dysphoria or reduce suicidal thoughts. Before a person begins such therapy, it is important that he or she (and the parents of a minor) understands the potential risks and benefits. If these members are not attempting to transition to the opposite gender and are worthy, they may receive Church callings, temple recommends, and temple ordinances.
If a member decides to change his or her preferred name or pronouns of address, the name preference may be noted in the preferred name field on the membership record. The person may be addressed by the preferred name in the ward.
Circumstances vary greatly from unit to unit and person to person. Members and leaders counsel together and with the Lord. Area Presidencies will help local leaders sensitively address individual situations. Bishops counsel with the stake president. Stake presidents and mission presidents must seek counsel from the Area Presidency (see 32.6.3 and 18.104.22.168).
For further information on understanding and supporting transgender individuals, see “Transgender” on ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
An autopsy may be performed if the family of the deceased person gives consent and if the autopsy complies with the law. In some cases, an autopsy is required by law.
The family of the deceased person decides whether his or her body should be buried or cremated. They respect the desires of the individual.
In some countries, the law requires cremation. In other cases, burial is not practical or affordable for the family. In all cases, the body should be treated with respect and reverence. Members should be reassured that the power of the Resurrection always applies (see Alma 11:42–45).
Where possible, the body of a deceased member who has been endowed should be dressed in ceremonial temple clothing when it is buried or cremated (see 38.5.8).
A funeral or memorial service provides an opportunity for families to gather and perpetuate family relations and values (see 29.5.4).
Parents who experience the death of an unborn child suffer grief and loss. Leaders, family members, and ministering brothers and sisters offer emotional and spiritual support.
Parents may decide whether to hold memorial or graveside services.
Parents may record information about the child in FamilySearch.org. Instructions are provided on the website.
Temple ordinances are not necessary for children who die before birth. This does not deny the possibility that these children may be part of the family in the eternities. Parents are encouraged to trust the Lord and seek His comfort.
Mortal life is a precious gift from God. Euthanasia is deliberately ending the life of a person who is suffering from an incurable disease or other condition. A person who participates in euthanasia, including assisting someone to die by suicide, violates the commandments of God and may violate local laws.
Discontinuing or forgoing extreme life support measures for a person at the end of life is not considered euthanasia (see 38.7.11).
Members who are infected with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) or who have AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) should be welcomed at Church meetings and activities. Their attendance is not a health risk to others.
For some people, hypnosis can compromise agency. Members are discouraged from participating in hypnosis for purposes of demonstration or entertainment.
The use of hypnosis for treating diseases or mental disorders should be determined in consultation with competent medical professionals.
In extremely rare circumstances, a baby is born with genitals that are not clearly male or female (ambiguous genitalia, sexual ambiguity, or intersex). Parents or others may have to make decisions to determine their child’s sex with the guidance of competent medical professionals. Decisions about proceeding with medical or surgical intervention are often made in the newborn period. However, they can be delayed unless they are medically necessary.
Special compassion and wisdom are required when youth or adults who were born with sexual ambiguity experience emotional conflict regarding the gender decisions made in infancy or childhood and the gender with which they identify.
Questions about membership records, priesthood ordination, and temple ordinances for youth or adults who were born with sexual ambiguity should be directed to the Office of the First Presidency.
Seeking competent medical help, exercising faith, and receiving priesthood blessings work together for healing, according to the will of the Lord.
Members should not use or promote medical or health practices that are ethically, spiritually, or legally questionable. Those who have health problems should consult with competent medical professionals who are licensed in the areas where they practice.
In addition to seeking competent medical help, members of the Church are encouraged to follow the scriptural injunction in James 5:14 to “call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.” Priesthood blessings of healing are given by those who hold the necessary priesthood office. They are given when requested and at no charge (see 18.13).
Church members are discouraged from seeking miraculous or supernatural healing from an individual or group that claims to have special methods for accessing healing power outside of prayer and properly performed priesthood blessings. These practices are often referred to as “energy healing.” Other names are also used. Such promises for healing are often given in exchange for money.
However, marijuana may be used for medicinal purposes when the following conditions are met:
The use is determined to be medically necessary by a licensed physician or another legally approved medical provider.
The person follows the dosage and mode of administration from the physician or other authorized medical provider. The Church does not approve of vaping marijuana unless the medical provider has authorized it based on medical necessity.
The Church does not approve of smoking marijuana, including for medical purposes.
The donation of organs and tissues is a selfless act that often results in great benefit to individuals with medical conditions.
The decision of a living person to donate an organ to another or to receive a donated organ should be made with competent medical counsel and prayerful consideration.
The decision to authorize the transplant of organs or tissue from a deceased person is made by the person or by his or her family.
When facing severe illness, members should exercise faith in the Lord and seek competent medical assistance. However, when dying becomes inevitable, it should be seen as a blessing and a purposeful part of eternal existence (see 2 Nephi 9:6; Alma 42:8).
Members should not feel obligated to extend mortal life by extreme means. These decisions are best made by the person, if possible, or by family members. They should seek competent medical advice and divine guidance through prayer.
Leaders offer support to those who are deciding whether or not to remove life support for a family member.
Many private groups and commercial organizations have programs that claim to improve self-awareness, self-esteem, spirituality, or family relationships. These groups tend to promise quick solutions to problems that normally require time, prayer, and personal effort to resolve. Although participants may experience temporary relief or exhilaration, previous problems often return, leading to added disappointment and despair.
Some of these groups claim or imply that the Church or individual General Authorities have endorsed them. However, these claims are not true.
Church members are warned that some of these groups advocate concepts and use methods that can be harmful. Many groups also charge exorbitant fees and encourage long-term commitments. Some combine worldly concepts with gospel principles in ways that can undermine spirituality and faith.
Church leaders are not to pay for, promote, or endorse such groups or practices. Church facilities may not be used for these activities.
Members who have social or emotional concerns may consult with leaders for guidance in identifying sources of help that are in harmony with gospel principles. For more information, see 22.3.4.
Vaccinations administered by competent medical professionals protect health and preserve life. Members of the Church are encouraged to safeguard themselves, their children, and their communities through vaccination.
Ultimately, individuals are responsible to make their own decisions about vaccination. If members have concerns, they should counsel with competent medical professionals and also seek the guidance of the Holy Ghost.
Prospective missionaries who have not been vaccinated will likely be limited to assignments in their home country.
The Word of Wisdom is a commandment of God. He revealed it for the physical and spiritual benefit of His children. Prophets have clarified that the teachings in Doctrine and Covenants 89 include abstinence from tobacco, strong drinks (alcohol), and hot drinks (tea and coffee).
Prophets have also taught members to avoid substances that are harmful, illegal, or addictive or that impair judgment.
There are other harmful substances and practices that are not specified in the Word of Wisdom or by Church leaders. Members should use wisdom and prayerful judgment in making choices to promote their physical, spiritual, and emotional health.
The Apostle Paul stated: “Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20).
The Lord promises spiritual and temporal blessings to those who obey the Word of Wisdom and the guidance of living prophets (see Doctrine and Covenants 89:18–21).
Adopting children and providing foster care can bless children and families. Loving, eternal families can be created through adoption. Whether children come to a family through adoption or birth, they are an equally precious blessing.
Members who seek to adopt or provide foster care to children should obey all applicable laws of the countries and governments involved.
The Church does not facilitate adoptions. However, in the United States and Canada, leaders can refer members to Family Services as a consultation resource. For contact information, see 31.3.6.
For information about single expectant parents, see 38.6.19.
For more information, see “Adoption” (Gospel Topics, topics.ChurchofJesusChrist.org).
Affinity fraud occurs when a person exploits another’s trust or confidence to defraud him or her. This can happen when both people belong to the same group, such as the Church. It can also happen by abusing a position of friendship or trust, such as a Church calling or family relationship. Affinity fraud is usually for financial gain.
Church members should be honest in their dealings and act with integrity. Affinity fraud is a shameful betrayal of trust and confidence. Its perpetrators may be subject to criminal prosecution. Church members who commit affinity fraud may also face membership restrictions or withdrawal. See 22.214.171.124 and 126.96.36.199 for guidance about membership councils for fraudulent acts.
Members may not state or imply that their business dealings are sponsored by, endorsed by, or represent the Church or its leaders.
Audiovisual materials can help invite the Spirit and enhance gospel teaching in Church classes and meetings. Examples of these materials include videos, pictures, and music recordings. Use of these materials should never become a distraction or the main focus of the class or meeting.
Members should not use audiovisual materials in sacrament meetings or in the general session of stake conference. However, recorded music may be used in these meetings if needed to accompany hymns.
Members should obey all copyright laws when using audiovisual materials (see 38.8.10). They should only use materials that are in harmony with the gospel and help invite the Spirit.
Church members should not seek the autographs of General Authorities, General Officers, or Area Seventies. Nor should members ask these leaders to sign their scriptures, hymnals, or programs. Doing so detracts from their sacred callings and the spirit of meetings. It also could prevent them from greeting other members.
Members should not take photographs of General Authorities, General Officers, or Area Seventies in chapels.
Church meetinghouses and other facilities, Church meetings and classes, and Church websites and social media channels may not be used to promote any business or non-Church entity.
Lists of Church groups or other information about members may not be given to any business or non-Church entity. These include (but are not limited to) those that promote dating, education, and job opportunities. See 38.8.30.
Church employees are to live and uphold Church standards at all times. They must also comply with local employment laws.
To begin or continue Church employment, members must be worthy of a temple recommend. Periodically, representatives of the Church Human Resource Department will contact stake presidents or bishops to verify the temple worthiness of current or potential Church employees. Leaders should respond promptly.
The Church magazines include:
The First Presidency encourages all members to read the Church magazines. The magazines can help members learn the gospel of Jesus Christ, study the teachings of living prophets, feel connected to the global Church family, face challenges with faith, and draw closer to God.
Leaders help members access the magazines as follows:
Help members subscribe to print magazines and renew their subscriptions.
Show members how to access magazine content on ChurchofJesusChrist.org, the Gospel Library app, and the Gospel Living app. This digital content is free.
Soon after new members are baptized, show them how to access Church magazines digitally. If they prefer a print magazine, give them a one-year subscription using unit budget funds.
Provide ongoing subscriptions to all children and youth who attend church without a parent or guardian. Use unit budget funds.
Bishops may call a magazine representative to help members access the magazines. Or they may assign the ward executive secretary to assist (see 7.3).
The magazine representative or executive secretary can also help gather faith-promoting experiences and testimonies from local members to share with the magazines.
Subscriptions to the print magazines are available at store.ChurchofJesusChrist.org, the Global Services Department, and Distribution Center retail stores. In some areas, units order on behalf of their members and distribute magazines at their meetinghouses. For more information, contact the Global Services Department or a distribution center store.
The Church’s name, wordmark, and symbol are key Church identifiers. They are registered as trademarks or are otherwise legally protected worldwide. They are used to identify official literature, news, and events of the Church.
The Church’s key identifiers are to be used only according to the guidelines provided below.
Written name of the Church. Local units may use the written name of the Church (not the wordmark or symbol) when all of the following conditions are met:
The activity or function with which the name is associated is officially sponsored by the unit (for example, a sacrament meeting program).
The name of the local unit is used as a prelude to the name of the Church (for example, Campo Rosa Branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).
The typeface does not imitate or resemble the official Church wordmark.
Wordmark and symbol. The Church’s wordmark and symbol (see the illustration above) are to be used only as approved by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. They may not be used as decorative elements. Nor may they be used in any personal, commercial, or promotional way.
Questions should be directed to:
Intellectual Property Office
50 East North Temple Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84150-0005
Telephone: 1-801-240-3959 or 1-800-453-3860, extension 2-3959
Computers and software used in Church meetinghouses are provided and managed by Church headquarters or the area office. Leaders and members use these resources to support Church purposes, including family history work.
All software on these computers must be properly licensed to the Church.
The stake president oversees the placement and use of computers in the stake, including those in family history centers. The stake technology specialist ensures that they are properly updated and maintained as outlined in 33.10.
Copyright is protection given by law to the creators of original works of authorship that are expressed in a tangible (including digital) form, including:
Literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works.
Works of art, photography, and sculpture.
Audio and audiovisual works (such as movies and videos, CDs, and DVDs).
Computer programs or games.
Internet and other databases.
The laws governing creative works and their permissible use vary by country. The Church policies outlined in this section are consistent with international treaties that apply in most countries. For simplicity, this section refers to a creator’s rights as “copyright.” However, certain of these rights may be known by different names in some countries.
Church members should strictly observe all copyright laws. Generally, only copyright owners may authorize the following uses of their work:
Creation of derivatives
Using a work in any of these ways without authorization from the copyright owner is contrary to Church policy. Such use may also subject the Church or the user to legal liability.
A user of a work should assume that it is protected by copyright. Published works usually include a copyright notice, such as “© 1959 by John Doe.” (For sound recordings, the symbol is ℗.) However, a copyright notice is not required for legal protection. Similarly, the fact that a publication is out of print or posted on the internet does not mean it is not copyrighted. Nor does it justify duplicating, distributing, performing, displaying, or making derivatives of it without permission.
The following questions and answers may help members understand and abide by copyright laws when using copyrighted materials at church and at home. If members have questions that are not answered in these guidelines, they may contact the IPO:
Intellectual Property Office
50 East North Temple Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84150-0005
Telephone: 1-801-240-3959 or 1-800-453-3860, extension 2-3959
Can I copy music? Special copyright laws apply to music. A person may copy music from the following sources for noncommercial Church, home, and family use unless a restriction is noted on the hymn or song:
Duplicating printed or recorded music without authorization from the copyright owner is contrary to Church policy.
Can I copy materials that are not owned by the Church? Generally not. Copyright laws govern the use of privately owned materials. Usually there are restrictions that give the conditions the public must follow before copying non-Church materials. These restrictions are usually listed near the beginning of a publication. Members should strictly observe all copyright laws.
Can I show commercial audiovisual products at Church functions? Generally not. Church members should not violate warnings and restrictions that are placed on commercial audiovisual products. This includes movies, other video, and music. Using commercial audiovisual products at Church functions generally requires permission from the copyright owners.
Can I download or duplicate computer software and other programs for Church use? Generally not. Computer programs and other software may not be duplicated or downloaded unless all licenses have been appropriately purchased.
What permission is needed to present musical and theatrical productions? Productions that are owned by the Church or IRI may be performed in Church settings without permission from Church headquarters. If a copyrighted production is not owned by the Church, members must obtain the copyright owner’s permission to perform all or part of it in a Church setting. Usually the copyright owner requires fees or royalties even if no charge is made for the performances. All presentations should have the approval of local priesthood leaders.
The Church provides materials to help members learn and live the gospel of Jesus Christ. These include the scriptures, general conference messages, magazines, manuals, books, and other resources. Leaders encourage members to use the scriptures and other resources as needed to study the gospel at home.
Gospel learning and teaching should focus on the Savior and His doctrine. To help maintain this focus in Church classes, leaders ensure that teachers use approved materials. For information about approved materials, see Instructions for Curriculum.
Members and leaders are encouraged to use member directories provided by the Church. These directories are available in Ward Directory and Map on ChurchofJesusChrist.org and in the Member Tools app. They provide basic contact information for members. Stake and ward leaders are able to view additional information helpful for their callings. Leaders can also view this information in Leader and Clerk Resources.
Members can restrict the visibility of their digital contact information. They do this by selecting privacy levels in their household profile.
Stake and ward leaders should respect the privacy settings that members select. These leaders also ensure that information is used for approved Church purposes only.
Printed stake and ward directories are generally not needed. If leaders determine that there is a genuine need, printed directories may be created only by using Ward Directory and Map on ChurchofJesusChrist.org. These directories do not include the gender, age, or birthday of members.
Membership lists should not be printed for non-Church use.
Members of the Church are encouraged to show respect for the body in their choices about appropriate dress and appearance. What is appropriate varies across cultures and for different occasions. For example, for sacrament meeting, individuals wear their best available Sunday clothing to show respect for the sacrament ordinance (see 18.9.3). This same principle applies to temple attendance (see 27.1.5). Disciples of Jesus Christ will know how best to dress and groom themselves.
Members and leaders should not judge others based on dress and appearance. They should love all people, as the Savior commanded (see Matthew 22:39; John 13:34–35). All should be welcomed at Church meetings and activities (see 38.1.1).
The Church encourages self-reliance. Members are encouraged to be spiritually and physically prepared for life’s challenges. See 22.1.
However, Church leaders have counseled against extreme or excessive preparation for possible catastrophic events. Such efforts are sometimes called survivalism. Efforts to prepare should be motivated by faith, not fear.
Church leaders have counseled members not to go into debt to establish food storage. Instead, members should establish a home storage supply and a financial reserve over time. See 22.1.4 and “Food Storage” (Gospel Topics, topics.ChurchofJesusChrist.org).
Members may fast at any time. However, they usually observe the first Sabbath of the month as a fast day.
A fast day typically includes praying, going without food and drink for a 24-hour period (if physically able), and giving a generous fast offering. A fast offering is a donation to help those in need (see 22.2.2).
Sometimes Churchwide or local meetings are held on the first Sabbath of the month. When this occurs, the stake presidency determines an alternative Sabbath for fast day.
The Church opposes and counsels against gambling in any form. This includes sports betting and government-sponsored lotteries.
For most Church meetings and activities, speakers and instructors should belong to the local ward or stake.
A guest speaker or instructor is someone who does not belong to the ward or stake. The bishop’s approval is required before a guest speaker is invited to a ward meeting or activity. The stake president’s approval is required to invite guest speakers to stake meetings or activities.
The bishop or stake president carefully screens guest speakers or instructors. This may include contacting the person’s bishop.
The bishop or stake president ensures that:
The presentation is in harmony with Church doctrine.
Guest speakers or instructors are not paid a fee, do not recruit participants, and do not solicit customers or clients.
The person’s travel expenses are not paid either with local unit budget funds or by private contributions.
Presentations comply with the guidelines for using Church facilities (see 35.5.2).
Members who remain in their native lands often have opportunities to build up and strengthen the Church there. However, immigration to another country is a personal choice.
Members who move to another country should obey all applicable laws (see Doctrine and Covenants 58:21).
Missionaries should not offer to sponsor others’ immigration. Nor should they ask their parents, relatives, or others to do so.
The Church does not sponsor immigration through Church employment.
The Church maintains official websites, blogs, and social media accounts. These resources are clearly identified as official by the use of the Church wordmark or symbol (see 38.8.8). They also comply with legal requirements and the Church’s intellectual property and privacy policies.
Members may not create websites, blogs, or social media accounts on behalf of the Church or to officially represent the Church and its views, doctrine, policies, and procedures. However, they may create websites, blogs, or social media accounts to assist with their callings. When doing so, members should comply with the following guidelines:
The creation of a website, blog, or social media account must first be approved by the stake president (for stake resources) or bishop (for ward resources).
The Church wordmark or symbol may not be used or imitated (see 38.8.8).
The online resource should have a purpose and goal and be named accordingly. The name may include a ward or stake name. However, it may not include the official name of the Church.
Members may not state or imply that the online resource’s content, images, or other materials are sponsored or endorsed by the Church or officially represent the Church in any way. Rather, a disclaimer should be included stating that it is not an official, Church-sponsored product.
All content should be relevant for the intended audience and should be actively moderated.
The online resource should include contact information.
More than one administrator should be responsible for the online resource. This can provide continuity when a person’s calling or assignment changes. It also keeps one person from being burdened with updating and monitoring the resource.
When using images, videos, or personal information, consent from the content owner or the individuals involved is required. Consent may be obtained through a release form, a public announcement, a posted sign for a specific event, or written permission when needed. The country’s privacy laws should be followed.
Online resources should not duplicate tools and features that are already on ChurchofJesusChrist.org, Member Tools, or other Church resources.
Leaders and missionaries should coordinate to prevent duplicate communication.
Online resources should be retired when they are no longer needed. Important media (such as photos and videos) should be preserved in the ward or stake’s history.
For additional guidelines, see internet.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
The internet and social media have many positive uses. Among these are opportunities to share testimonies of the Savior and His restored gospel. Blogs, social media, and other internet technologies allow members to promote the messages of peace, hope, and joy that accompany faith in Christ.
Members are encouraged to share uplifting content. They should also exemplify civility in all online interactions, including social media. They should avoid contention (see 3 Nephi 11:29–30; Doctrine and Covenants 136:23).
Members should avoid all statements of prejudice toward others (see 38.6.14). They strive to be Christlike to others at all times, including online, and reflect a sincere respect for all of God’s children.
Members should not use threatening, bullying, degrading, violent, or otherwise abusive language or images online. If online threats of illegal acts occur, law enforcement should be contacted immediately.
Members should not imply that their messages represent or are sponsored by the Church.
Church internet, satellite, and video equipment is to be used only for noncommercial Church purposes. Any use must be authorized by the stake presidency or bishopric.
This equipment may not be used to access or record programs that are not sponsored by the Church. Nor may Church resources, such as internet connections, be used to access or record such programs.
Only people who are trained to operate the equipment may do so. It should be locked securely when not in use. Equipment may not be removed from the building for personal use.
When legal help is needed for Church matters, leaders should contact Church legal counsel. In the United States and Canada, the stake president contacts the Church’s Office of General Counsel:
1-800-453-3860, extension 2-6301
Outside the United States and Canada, the stake president contacts the area legal counsel at the area office.
Church leaders should not involve themselves in civil or criminal cases for members in their units without first consulting with Church legal counsel. This same policy applies to speaking with or writing to lawyers or court personnel, including through email.
Leaders should speak with Church legal counsel if, in their Church capacities, they:
Believe they should testify or communicate in a legal matter.
Are being required by legal process to testify or communicate in a legal matter.
Are ordered to provide evidence.
Are asked to provide documents or information voluntarily.
Are asked to communicate with lawyers or civil authorities about legal proceedings, including sentencing or parole hearings.
However well intentioned, Church leaders sharing information in legal proceedings can be misinterpreted and damaging. Such sharing can be especially harmful to victims and their families. Following the Church’s policy also helps keep the Church from being inappropriately implicated in legal matters.
Church leaders may not testify on behalf of the Church in any legal proceeding without prior approval from the Office of General Counsel. This policy also applies to sentencing and parole hearings. Church leaders may not provide verbal or written evidence in their leadership capacity without this approval.
Leaders should not suggest or imply that their testimony in a legal proceeding represents the Church’s position.
Leaders should not influence the testimony of a witness in any legal proceeding.
Contact information for Church legal counsel is provided in 38.8.22.
In many countries, it is a violation of postal regulations to place any material without postage in or on residential mailboxes. This restriction applies to any Church-related materials, such as flyers, newsletters, or announcements. Church leaders should instruct members and missionaries not to place items in or on mailboxes.
Church members are discouraged from calling, emailing, or writing letters to General Authorities about doctrinal questions, personal challenges, or requests. Responding personally would make it difficult for General Authorities to fulfill their duties. Members are encouraged to reach out to their local leaders, including their Relief Society or elders quorum president, when seeking spiritual guidance (see 31.3).
In most cases, correspondence from members to General Authorities will be referred back to local leaders. A stake president who needs clarification about doctrinal or other Church matters may write in behalf of members to the First Presidency.
Church members should seek employment that is consistent with gospel principles and for which they can in good conscience ask the blessings of the Lord. This is a personal matter that is ultimately left to the member’s judgment and prayerful consideration.
Leaders and members are encouraged to address the needs of all who live within their unit. Members with disabilities are valued and can contribute in meaningful ways. Disabilities may be intellectual, social, emotional, or physical.
Church members are encouraged to follow the Savior’s example of offering hope, understanding, and love to those who have disabilities. Leaders should get to know those who have disabilities and show genuine interest and concern.
Leaders also identify members who may need additional care because a parent, spouse, child, or sibling has a disability. Caring for a family member who has a disability can be both rewarding and challenging.
Leaders seek out and minister to members with disabilities who are living in group homes or other facilities away from family members.
Leaders, teachers, and other members seek to understand each individual who has a disability and his or her strengths and needs. They can increase their understanding by talking with the person and his or her family members. Resources are available at disability.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
Leaders assess the needs of those who have disabilities and their caregivers. These leaders determine how ward or stake resources could be used to help meet the needs as appropriate. Leaders encourage members to help and reach out in love and friendship.
The bishopric or stake presidency may call a ward or stake disability specialist to help individuals, families, teachers, and other leaders (see 188.8.131.52).
Leaders may also identify appropriate community resources that could help individuals who have disabilities and their families.
For more information on assisting persons who have disabilities, see disability.ChurchofJesusChrist.org. Leaders may also contact Family Services (where available; see 31.3.6 for contact information).
Leaders and members should not attempt to explain why someone has a disability or why a family has a child with a disability. They should not suggest that a disability is a punishment from God (see John 9:2–3) or a special privilege.
Many members with disabilities can serve in nearly any Church assignment. Leaders prayerfully consider the abilities, circumstances, and desires of each person and then provide appropriate opportunities to serve. Leaders also counsel with the individual and his or her family. They consider the effects of a Church calling on the person and his or her family or caregiver. (See Doctrine and Covenants 46:15.)
When considering Church assignments or callings for caregivers of people with disabilities, leaders carefully evaluate the circumstances of the caregivers.
Leaders and teachers should include members with disabilities in meetings, classes, and activities as fully as possible. Lessons, talks, and teaching methods should be adapted to meet each person’s needs. For information about adapting lessons, see disability.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
The bishopric may invite a ward member to help a person with a disability in a meeting or activity. For a class that includes a member with disabilities, the bishopric may call multiple teachers. The teachers work together to meet the needs of all class members.
If a person cannot participate in a meeting, class, or activity, leaders and teachers may consult with the member and his or her family about how to meet the member’s needs. The stake president or bishop may approve organizing special classes or programs for members with disabilities (see 184.108.40.206). If a person is not able to attend Church meetings, leaders and teachers may provide lesson materials, recordings, or streaming.
Leaders encourage priesthood holders who have disabilities to participate in ordinances when appropriate. Beginning in January of the year they turn 12, priesthood holders and young women who have been baptized and confirmed and who are worthy may be baptized and confirmed for the dead in a temple. For guidelines about members with disabilities receiving their own temple ordinances, see 220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168.
Members who have disabilities or special needs are encouraged to attend Sunday meetings in their wards unless they live in a care facility or residential treatment program where Church programs are organized (see 37.6).
Units and groups. Wards or branches may be created for members who have unique needs, such as those who are deaf and use sign language (see 37.1). Approval is given only by the First Presidency.
A ward may be asked to host a group for those with disabilities, such as those who use sign language. For information about the membership records of those attending such units or groups, see 33.6.11.
Deaf members who do not live within a reasonable distance from a deaf unit may attend one virtually. They should obtain permission from the leaders of that unit. Local ward leaders ensure that deaf members are cared for and have the opportunity to partake of the sacrament regularly.
Classes. Members with disabilities attend Sunday classes with the members of their ward. However, when needed to meet the needs of adult or youth members with similar disabilities, a ward or stake may organize special Sunday School classes (see 13.3.2).
Disability activity programs. When needed to meet the needs of adult members with intellectual disabilities, a ward, group of wards, stake, or group of stakes may organize a disability activity program. This program supplements ministering, Sunday Church services, and activities in the local unit.
A disability activity program typically serves individuals ages 18 and older. Every effort should be made to integrate members under 18 into their wards and stakes. In unusual situations, leaders may provide supplemental activities for youth beginning in the year they turn 12.
When multiple wards participate in a disability activity program, the stake president assigns an agent bishop to oversee it. When multiple stakes participate, the Area Presidency assigns an agent stake president to oversee it.
The agent bishop or agent stake president consults with other participating bishops or stake presidents to determine how these programs will be funded.
Disability activity leaders. Adult members may be called as disability activity leaders. These leaders plan and carry out the disability activity program. They consult with ward and stake disability specialists (see 22.214.171.124) to invite members with disabilities to participate. They counsel together about how to meet those members’ needs.
Disability activity leaders are called and set apart under the direction of the agent bishop or agent stake president. A stake president may also assign a high councilor to serve as a disability activity leader.
Leaders serving those of any age with disabilities complete the training at ProtectingChildren.ChurchofJesusChrist.org. For additional safety requirements for leaders, see Activities for Members with Disabilities.
When invited, disability activity leaders may attend stake or ward leadership meetings.
Guidelines for disability activity programs. Disability activity programs are organized to help participants develop spiritually, socially, physically, and intellectually (see Luke 2:52). Leaders determine the frequency of activities. They consider the number of participants, travel distances, and other circumstances.
Some people may not be able to participate because of complex medical, physical, intellectual, or behavioral circumstances. Leaders seek other ways to minister to their needs.
Participation and safety standards. At least two responsible adults must be present at all activities. The two adults could be two men, two women, or a married couple. Generally, more adults are needed to supervise activities for members with disabilities than are needed for other activities.
Adults who help with activities complete the training at ProtectingChildren.ChurchofJesusChrist.org. They must receive approval from their bishop before participating. For additional safety requirements, see “Activities for Members with Disabilities.”
If inappropriate behavior occurs, leaders’ immediate responsibility is to protect and help the vulnerable person. For information about responding to suspected abuse, see 126.96.36.199 and abuse.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
Members who are deaf or hard of hearing take initiative in working with leaders to meet communication needs. Members and leaders work together to ensure that interpreters are available.
Interpreters should be located where members can see them as well as the person speaking. Interpreters do not necessarily need to be on the stand.
During an ordinance or interview, the interpreter sits or stands close to the person who performs the ordinance or conducts the interview. For more information on interpreting ordinances and blessings, see 38.2.1.
If enough interpreters are available, they rotate approximately every 30 minutes to avoid fatigue.
In preparation for sensitive situations such as personal interviews or Church membership councils, leaders counsel with the deaf member. When the member desires, leaders seek an interpreter who is not a family member to preserve confidentiality.
These same principles apply for members who are deaf or hard of hearing and do not use sign language but need an oral interpreter to help them read lips.
Leaders may organize ward or stake classes to teach the sign language that is used in their area. A helpful resource is Dictionary of Sign Language Terms for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Leaders should respect the privacy of members with disabilities both during and outside of leadership meetings where needs are discussed. Leaders do not share diagnoses or other personal information without permission.
Bishops and stake presidents may determine whether to allow persons with disabilities to use trained service dogs in meetinghouses. Other types of animals, including emotional support animals (comfort pets), are generally not permitted in meetinghouses or at Church-sponsored events, except as specifically required by law. (In general in the United States, the Church is under no legal obligation to admit service dogs or emotional support animals to houses of worship.) Bishops and stake presidents make local decisions. They take into account the needs of persons with disabilities and the needs of others in the congregation.
The bishopric or stake presidency may call a ward or stake disability specialist. The specialist helps members with disabilities and their caregivers participate in Church meetings and activities and feel included.
The specialist serves members and leaders in the following ways:
Get to know individuals with disabilities and their families.
Respond to disability-related questions and concerns from caregivers, leaders, and others.
Help individuals access Church materials, meetings, and activities. This may occur through using technology and in other ways (see 188.8.131.52).
Identify meaningful opportunities for members with disabilities to serve.
Identify specific needs of families and, where appropriate, identify community, ward, and stake resources.
The specialist can help members with disabilities and their caregivers share information about the disability with others.
Resources for members with disabilities, for their families and caregivers, and for leaders and teachers are available at disability.ChurchofJesusChrist.org. This website provides:
Information to help increase understanding of the challenges faced by those who have disabilities.
Resources to help members who have disabilities and their families find comfort in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Listings of Church materials in formats that are accessible to members with disabilities (see also store.ChurchofJesusChrist.org).
Questions may be addressed to:
Members with Disabilities
50 East North Temple Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84150-0024
Telephone: 1-801-240-2477 or 1-800-453-3860, extension 2-2477
Church leaders are encouraged to follow the Savior’s example of offering hope, understanding, and love to those who are affected by crime and those who are incarcerated (see Matthew 25:34–36, 40).
Stake presidents direct prison ministry efforts. These efforts include supporting adults and youth who are in custody or have recently been released from prison or jail. This work also includes caring for families and children with an incarcerated parent or loved one.
Leaders who have a prison or jail within their unit boundaries should take steps to become aware of ministering opportunities and needs. For resources and guidelines, leaders may contact the Church’s Prison Ministry Division:
Telephone: 1-801-240-2644 or 1-800-453-3860, extension 2-2644
Much that is inspiring, noble, and worthy of the highest respect is found in many other faiths. Missionaries and other members must be sensitive and respectful toward the beliefs and traditions of others. They must also avoid giving offense.
Stake and mission presidents who have questions about relationships with other faiths should contact the Area Presidency. Other local leaders who have such questions should contact the stake or mission president.
Church members are encouraged to participate in political and governmental affairs. In many countries, this may include:
Joining or serving in political parties.
Providing financial support.
Communicating with party officials and candidates.
Participating in peaceful, legal protests.
Serving in elected or appointed offices in local and national government.
Members are also encouraged to participate in worthy causes to make their communities wholesome places to live and raise families.
In accordance with local laws, members are encouraged to register to vote and to study issues and candidates carefully. Principles compatible with the gospel may be found in various political parties. Latter-day Saints have a special obligation to seek out and uphold leaders who are honest, good, and wise (see Doctrine and Covenants 98:10).
The Church is neutral regarding political parties, political platforms, and candidates for political office. The Church does not endorse any political party or candidate. Nor does it advise members how to vote.
In exceptional cases, when moral issues or the Church’s practices are involved, the Church may take a position on political matters. In such cases, the Church may engage in political discourse to represent its views. Only the First Presidency can authorize:
Expressing the Church’s position on moral issues.
Committing the Church to support or oppose specific legislation.
Sharing the Church’s perspective on judicial matters.
Local Church leaders should not organize members to participate in political matters. Nor should leaders attempt to influence how members participate.
Church members who seek elected or appointed public office should not imply that they are endorsed by the Church or its leaders. Leaders and members should also avoid statements or conduct that might be interpreted as Church endorsement of any political party, platform, policy, or candidate.
Even when taking a position on a political matter, the Church does not ask elected officials to vote a certain way or to take a certain position. Members who are elected officials make their own decisions. These officials might not agree with one another or with a publicly stated Church position. They do not speak for the Church.
Political choices and affiliations should not be the subject of any teachings or advocating in Church settings. Leaders ensure that Church meetings and activities focus on the Savior and His gospel.
Members should not judge one another in political matters. Faithful Latter-day Saints can belong to a variety of political parties and vote for a variety of candidates. All should feel welcome in Church settings.
Church records, directories, and similar materials may not be used for political purposes.
Church facilities may not be used for political purposes. However, facilities may be used for voting or voter registration where there is not a reasonable alternative (see 184.108.40.206).
Church leaders are obligated to protect the privacy of members. Church records, directories, and similar materials may not be used for personal, commercial, or political purposes (see also 38.8.12).
Ward and stake leaders should not store or share confidential Church information outside of Church-provided applications, systems, or internet services. Examples of confidential Church information include a person’s:
Other personal information that is not publicly available.
Communications from individuals or government offices that refer to data privacy laws should be promptly referred to the Church Data Privacy Office.
Ward and stake leaders should not respond to these requests.
For the Church’s privacy notice, see “Privacy Notice” on ChurchofJesusChrist.org. Members may also ask stake or ward leaders to help them access the policy.
Members should not ask General Authorities, General Officers, or Area Seventies to coauthor or endorse Church books or other Church writings.
Members should not record, transcribe, or stream messages by General Authorities, General Officers, and Area Seventies. However, some meetings where these leaders speak can be streamed under the direction of the bishop or stake president. For information, see 29.7.
Members may record broadcasts of general conference on home equipment for personal, noncommercial use.
The name of the Church was given by revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1838: “For thus shall my church be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (Doctrine and Covenants 115:4). Referring to the Church and its members in the ways described below identifies a connection between Jesus Christ and members of His Church.
References to the Church should include its full name whenever possible. Following an initial reference to the full name, if a shortened reference is needed, the following terms are accurate and encouraged:
The Church of Jesus Christ
The restored Church of Jesus Christ
When referring to Church members, the following terms are accurate and preferred:
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Latter-day Saints (this is a name given by the Lord to His covenant people in the latter days)
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ
Referring to Church members by other titles, such as “Mormons” or “LDS,” is discouraged.
Mormon is correctly used in proper names such as the Book of Mormon. It is also correctly used as an adjective in historical expressions such as “Mormon Trail.”
The term Mormonism is inaccurate, and its use is discouraged. When describing the combination of doctrine, culture, and lifestyle unique to the Church, the phrase “the restored gospel of Jesus Christ” is accurate and preferred.
Many people have fled their homes seeking relief from violence, war, religious persecution, and life-threatening situations. As part of their responsibility to care for those in need (see Mosiah 4:26), Church members offer their time, talents, and friendship to welcome refugees as members of their communities. See Matthew 25:35; ChurchofJesusChrist.org/refugees.
The established programs of the Church provide financial help for people in need and for appropriate causes.
Church assistance to members in need is administered by bishops (see 22.3.2). Bishops follow established principles and policies to help ensure that Church funds are used properly (see 22.4 and 22.5).
Members in need are encouraged to speak with their bishop instead of contacting Church headquarters or requesting money from other Church leaders or members. The bishop will likely ask leaders from the elders quorum or Relief Society to help assess needs.
The purpose of Church research is to gather reliable information to support the deliberations of general Church leaders. The Correlation Research Division (CRD) is the only authorized research agency of the Church. CRD may also contract with third-party agencies to conduct research.
When Church-authorized researchers contact members or leaders, they provide a CRD employee’s contact information. This employee can answer questions about the research.
CRD seeks to protect the identity and responses of research participants. Persons may decline to participate at any time. They may choose not to answer any or all questions.
Parents or guardians must give consent before children under 18 are invited to participate in a study.
Local leaders should not approve any research related to the Church. This includes using members as research subjects.
CRD abides by all data privacy laws. Local leaders should also abide by these laws and should not provide members’ personal information to unauthorized researchers and research agencies.
Some research requires collecting information in Church meetings. This is especially true if the meeting is the focus of the study. In such cases, CRD will work with local leaders to ensure that the presence of researchers does not detract from the meetings.
To verify any research request, contact the Correlation Research Division:
Telephone: 1-801-240-2727 or 1-800-453-3860, extension 2-2727
The Church works to fulfill Jesus Christ’s commandment to take the gospel to all the world (see Matthew 28:19). Missionaries serve only in countries where they are officially recognized and welcomed by local governments.
The Church and its members respect all laws and requirements with regard to missionary efforts. For example, in some parts of the world, missionaries are sent only to serve humanitarian or other specialized missions. Those missionaries do not proselytize. The Church does not send missionaries to some countries.
Many Church welfare and self-reliance operations have equipment and machinery that can cause injury if it is not used properly. Agent stake presidents (or those they assign) and managers of these operations should ensure the safety of employees and volunteers.
Workers should be instructed regularly in safety practices. The work environment should be inspected periodically. Health and safety hazards should be corrected. Adequate supervision should always be provided to ensure that workers follow instructions, use tools and equipment properly, and avoid hazardous behavior.
Normally those who work at these operations should be age 16 or older. Those who operate equipment should be mature, adequately trained, and experienced in using it. Only adults may operate power equipment.
If an accident occurs, the operations manager reports it to the following:
Welfare and Self-Reliance Services: 1-801-240-3001 or 1-800-453-3860, extension 2-3001
Risk Management Division at Church headquarters (see 220.127.116.11 for contact information)
The Church identifies editions of the Bible that align well with the Lord’s doctrine in the Book of Mormon and modern revelation (see Articles of Faith 1:8). A preferred edition of the Bible is then chosen for many languages spoken by Church members.
In some languages, the Church publishes its own edition of the Bible. Church-published editions are based on standard Bible texts. Examples include:
The King James Version in English.
The Reina-Valera (2009) in Spanish.
The Almeida (2015) in Portuguese.
Church-published editions of the Bible include footnotes, subject indexes, and other study aids.
When possible, members should use a preferred or Church-published edition of the Bible in Church classes and meetings. This helps maintain clarity in the discussion and consistent understanding of doctrine. Other editions of the Bible may be useful for personal or academic study.
The Lord directed His prophets and apostles to preserve the scriptures in safety (see Doctrine and Covenants 42:56). The Council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles closely supervises the translation of Church scriptures. Using approved processes helps ensure doctrinal accuracy and preserve evidence of the text’s origins.
Area Presidencies submit official requests for new translations of the scriptures to the Church Correlation Department.
The Council of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has not authorized efforts to translate or rewrite scripture text into modern or informal language. This counsel does not apply to Church publications for children.
Printed copies of scriptures, including some preferred editions of the Bible, are available from Church Distribution Services. Preferred editions of the Bible may also be available at local booksellers, online, and in Bible mobile applications. Electronic text and audio recordings of Church-published editions and some preferred editions are available in the Gospel Library app and at scriptures.ChurchofJesusChrist.org. These resources also provide lists of scriptures that are available by language.
In today’s world, information is easy to access and share. This can be a great blessing for those seeking to be educated and informed. However, many sources of information are unreliable and do not edify. Some sources seek to promote anger, contention, fear, or baseless conspiracy theories (see 3 Nephi 11:30; Mosiah 2:32). Therefore, it is important that Church members be wise as they seek truth.
Members of the Church should seek out and share only credible, reliable, and factual sources of information. They should avoid sources that are speculative or founded on rumor. The guidance of the Holy Ghost, along with careful study, can help members discern between truth and error (see Doctrine and Covenants 11:12; 45:57). In matters of doctrine and Church policy, the authoritative sources are the scriptures, the teachings of the living prophets, and the General Handbook.
The Church warns members against seminars and similar gatherings that include presentations that:
Disparage, ridicule, or are otherwise inappropriate in their treatment of sacred matters.
Could injure the Church, detract from its mission, or jeopardize the well-being of its members or leaders.
Members should not allow their position or standing in the Church to be used to promote or imply endorsement of such gatherings.
Leaders provide support to members in hospitals and care centers within their units. They follow guidelines established by the facilities.
Ward and stake leaders ensure that local Church activities do not jeopardize the Church’s tax-exempt status. For guidelines, see 34.8.1.
Church members are to obey the tax laws of the nation where they live (see Articles of Faith 1:12; Doctrine and Covenants 134:5). Members who disagree with tax laws can challenge them as the laws of their countries permit.
Church members are in conflict with the law and with Church teachings if they:
Intentionally fail or refuse to pay required taxes.
Make frivolous legal arguments to avoid paying taxes.
Refuse to comply with a final judgment in a tax proceeding that requires them to pay taxes.
These members may be ineligible for a temple recommend. They should not be called to leadership positions in the Church.
A Church membership council is required if a member is convicted of a felony for violating tax laws (see 18.104.22.168).
A man and a woman should not travel alone together for Church activities, meetings, or assignments unless they are married to each other or are both single. For other travel policies, see 20.7.7.
Stake presidents and bishops help make the blessings of Church participation available to members who serve in the military. The Church’s military relations and chaplain services program consists of:
Support from stakes and wards.
Church orientation for members who enter military service.
Organization of wards, branches, or Latter-day Saint service member groups.
Endorsement of and support from Latter-day Saint chaplains.
Information on how to wear the garment in the military.
Support from senior missionary couples assigned to selected military installations.
If military installations or members who serve in the military are in a stake, the stake presidency has the responsibilities outlined in this section. If such installations are located in a mission rather than a stake, the mission president fulfills these responsibilities.
A member of the stake presidency oversees the pre–military service Church orientation in the stake. He ensures the orientation is offered to all members entering military service. The stake executive secretary may coordinate this orientation. (See 38.9.3.)
If Church services are held on a military installation, the president of a stake where the installation is located organizes one of the following for military personnel and their families (see 38.9.4):
A ward with a bishopric (when authorized by the First Presidency)
A branch with a branch presidency
A service member group with a service member group leader and assistants
The stake president calls, sets apart, and oversees the leaders of these units. He gives these leaders’ contact information to the Church’s Military Relations and Chaplain Services Division. He may designate a ward to support each service member group.
The stake president works with the Military Relations and Chaplain Services Division to provide a letter of appointment to each bishop, branch president, or group leader. This letter outlines his responsibilities and authorizes him to preside over the unit and conduct meetings. A copy of the letter should be given to the installation chaplain.
The United States military requires that a chaplain provide administrative oversight to any religious service held on a military installation. If there is a Latter-day Saint chaplain on the installation, he normally provides such oversight to a Church unit that meets there. The chaplain does not preside at the worship services unless he is the bishop, branch president, or group leader. However, he is expected to attend and participate.
A member of the stake presidency coordinates with the senior chaplain at each military installation in the stake. He ensures that bishops of wards whose boundaries encompass a military installation do the same. These leaders inform the chaplain of the ward’s meeting schedule, meeting location, and contact person. The chaplain can give this information to members at the installation.
The stake president annually interviews each Latter-day Saint chaplain who lives in the stake. He determines the chaplain’s well-being and worthiness to serve. The stake president also separately interviews each chaplain’s spouse annually.
Chaplains and their spouses should have ward or stake callings. A chaplain who holds the Melchizedek Priesthood may serve in leadership callings, such as on the high council or presiding over a military ward, branch, or service member group. However, this calling cannot conflict with his military duties.
Chaplains may assist the stake president in the following ways:
Report in stake council meetings on Church units meeting on military installations. These reports should include information about new and returning members.
Serve as the liaison between military leaders and the stake president.
Help the stake president identify members in the military to call as service member group leaders.
Assist with efforts to strengthen new and returning Church members in the military.
Help prepare members in the military to receive sacred ordinances and keep their covenants.
A member of the bishopric meets with ward members before they leave for military service. He ensures they have an opportunity to attend the pre–military service Church orientation (see 38.9.3).
For information about the membership records for a member entering the military, see 33.6.9. Some members are assigned to a remote or isolated location or are deployed to a war zone. In these cases, the bishop contacts the Church’s Military Relations and Chaplain Services Division for guidance about membership records (see 38.9.10).
Leaders in the home ward should correspond regularly with each ward member who is away in military service.
The bishop coordinates with the senior chaplain at each military installation in the ward.
The pre–military service Church orientation helps members entering military service learn what to expect regarding Church services and activities in the military. The orientation may be held at the stake or ward level.
A member of the stake presidency or bishopric calls a pre–military service instructor to provide the orientation. Preferably this instructor has had recent military experience. If a qualified instructor is not available, the stake president or bishop contacts the Military Relations and Chaplain Services Division for guidance.
For more information, see “Pre–Military Service Church Orientation” on ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
Members in the military normally participate in wards located near their military installations. However, in the following circumstances, the stake or mission president may organize a ward, branch, or service member group for military personnel and their families at the installation:
There is no ward within a reasonable distance of the military installation.
Military personnel do not understand the language spoken in the local ward.
Military personnel are unable to leave the military installation because of training requirements or other restrictions.
The members’ military unit is or will be deployed to a location where one of the following applies:
The Church is not organized.
The local Church unit cannot accommodate the members because of a different language.
Attendance at local meetings is not feasible.
Members belong to Reserve or National Guard units and participate in weekend drills or annual training exercises.
Wards and branches at military installations are created using the procedures outlined in chapter 37.
Wards and branches are usually established to support both military members and their families. A ward or branch may also be established for military members without their families. Such units may be established for members attending basic or advanced training or on a remote assignment. The military does not normally allow Church members who are not associated with the military to belong to a ward or branch that uses installation facilities.
If the number of members or if other circumstances do not justify creating a ward or branch at a military installation, the stake or mission president may establish a service member group. A service member group is a small Church unit that holds Church meetings and looks after members. The group leader does not have priesthood keys. Because of this, he is not authorized to receive tithes and offerings, counsel members about serious sins, restrict membership privileges, or perform other duties that require keys (see 37.7). For information about service member groups, see “Service Member Groups and Responsibilities of Group Leaders” on ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
When a Church unit is established at a military installation, the unit leader coordinates with the senior installation chaplain to arrange for meeting times and use of base facilities. If there is not an installation chaplain assigned to the base, the stake president consults with the commanding officer.
Stake or mission presidents normally call and set apart service member group leaders. However, this may not be possible in some remote locations or war zones. Since a group leader is not given priesthood keys with his calling, it is permissible for him to be appointed without being set apart. The priesthood leader who is responsible for the location can appoint a worthy Melchizedek Priesthood holder to serve as the group leader. He first verifies the man’s worthiness with his bishop and stake president. If a Latter-day Saint chaplain is in the area, the priesthood leader can authorize him to call and set apart a group leader.
Service member group leaders in isolated locations may obtain Church supplies and materials by contacting the Church’s Military Relations and Chaplain Services Division (see 38.9.10).
Sometimes a deployed service member is isolated from other Church members. If the service member holds the Melchizedek Priesthood or is a priest in the Aaronic Priesthood, his bishop may authorize him to administer and partake of the sacrament. If there is more than one member at a deployed location, a group leader should be called.
The Church’s Military Relations and Chaplain Services Division should be notified when a group leader is called. A letter of appointment will be sent to him (see 22.214.171.124).
For countries with mandatory military service, Church members must generally complete their military service before they can serve a mission. Some countries may allow the mandatory military service to be deferred until after missionary service. Stake presidents and bishops should become familiar with their country’s requirements so they can advise members appropriately. Members serving in the Reserves or National Guard may be able to serve missions after they complete basic and advanced training.
For more information, see “Missionary Service and Military Obligations” on ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
The Church’s Military Relations and Chaplain Services Division provides centralized endorsement for male and female chaplains who serve in a variety of government and nongovernment settings. These settings include:
Police and fire departments.
Civic and veteran organizations.
Colleges and universities.
Each organization establishes its own educational and ministry requirements for chaplains. However, most require Church endorsement before a person may serve as a Latter-day Saint chaplain.
Latter-day Saint chaplains:
Serve people of all faiths, including Latter-day Saints.
Ensure that individuals are afforded religious freedom.
Help facilitate or accommodate the religious needs of those they serve.
For more information, see “Latter-day Saint Chaplains” on ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
Bishops ensure that endowed members who enter military service understand the following guidelines.
When possible, endowed members in military service should wear the garment the same as any other member. However, members should avoid exposing the garment to the view of those who do not understand its significance. Members should seek the guidance of the Spirit and use tact, discretion, and wisdom. It may be best to lay the garment aside temporarily and put it on again when conditions permit. However, mere inconvenience in wearing the garment does not justify laying it aside.
Sometimes military regulations prevent a member from wearing the garment. In these cases, the member’s religious status is not affected, provided he or she remains worthy. The member will still receive the spiritual blessings associated with wearing the garment. If members in military service are unable to wear the garment, they should wear it again as soon as circumstances permit.
Members in the military should consult with their individual services on specific requirements that undergarments must meet, such as color or neckline style. Distribution Services is not able to maintain an inventory of all styles, color, or fabrics. If they do not carry the needed color or type of garment, the service member may place a special order. To place special orders for garments, members may contact Distribution Services or use the Uniform Garment Marking Order Form.
Retired military couples may be called to serve as military relations missionaries at selected military bases. They assist local priesthood leaders in strengthening new and returning members. They also provide support to families of deployed service members during periods of family separation.
For information about membership records of service members, see 33.6.9.
For information about patriarchal blessings for service members, see 126.96.36.199.
For information about ordaining service members in isolated locations, see 188.8.131.52.
For information about issuing temple recommends in isolated locations, see 26.3.2.
If Church leaders have questions about military relations, they may contact:
Military Relations and Chaplain Services Division
50 East North Temple Street, Room 2411
Salt Lake City, UT 84150-0024