Question: What is the purpose of Church discipline?

Table of Contents

Question: What is the purpose of Church discipline?

The purpose is to provide the individual with a chance to start over

The purpose of excommunication is not to simply purge people from the Church. The purpose is to provide the individual with a chance to start over. Elder Ballard states:

When members need to have certain blessings withheld, the Lord’s object is to teach as well as to discipline. So probation, disfellowshipment, and excommunication, when they become necessary, are ideally accompanied by eventual reinstatement and restoration of blessings.

I remember as a child occasionally coming unkempt to the dinner table. My mother wisely sent me to clean up and then return. My parents would have been pained if I had taken offense and had run off—and I would have been foolish to do so. In the same way, the servants of the Lord occasionally find that they must, in loving concern, send some of Heavenly Father’s children out the door so they can return clean once again. The Lord does not want us to “miss supper.” In fact, he has a great feast prepared for those who return clean and pure through the door. He is greatly saddened when anyone decides they prefer to be unclean and miss the meal, or when they find an excuse to take offense, or when they run away. He is pleased to extend the chance to start over.

I’ve known a few rebellious people who disregard the commandments and are influenced by the evil one or by other rebellious people to transgress God’s laws. I’ve seen their distress and pain. I’ve also seen their joy when, humbled and fully repentant, they have returned to the Church and have had all their blessings restored. [1]

Although excommunication does not always result in the individual returning to the Church, the hope that this will happen is indeed the desired outcome.


Notes

  1. M. Russell Ballard, "A Chance to Start Over: Church Disciplinary Councils and the Restoration of Blessings," Ensign (September 1990), 12. off-site