News came down this week that Elder James Hamula of the Seventy has been released and excommunicated. Although this isn’t unprecedented, it’s only the second such excommunication to occur in my lifetime, and it probably has created a little consternation for some folks. Here are my thoughts on what we can take away from this event.
The Rules Apply to Everybody
You never want to see anyone get into a situation where they lose their standing in the Church. It’s tragic, whatever the circumstances. But it is nice to know that the General Authorities of the Church are subject to the same standards of conduct as the rest of it. This is what we want to see if there is some kind of serious transgression or apostasy, isn’t it? Far better than looking the other way.
Every Thirty Years Ain’t So Bad
I would love it if we never had a General Authority get into this kind of situation. But it is reassuring that it is rare, with the last time being nearly 30 years ago. Given how many men and women serve in priesthood and auxiliary positions in the Church, the situation is inevitable. Heck, in the early days of the Church, it seems like it was a monthly occurrence. They managed to survive it then. We can handle it now.
Let’s Not Freak Out
The excommunication of a General Authority hardly spells the end of the Church. We don’t–or shouldn’t–expect our leaders to be infallible or without sin. Only one person has met that standard. People make mistakes. Sometimes those are big mistakes. We have procedures in place for when that happens. If another person’s weakness shakes your testimony, you are in for a wild ride. People will always disappoint.
Let’s Also Not Judge
“I wonder what he did.” Let’s not speculate about the reason for the disciplinary action, nor make judgments about someone who messed up. We’ve all tripped, and none of us wants our dirty laundry aired for the world. We should pray for him and his family just as we should pray for all who are struggling. We shouldn’t treat this as a car wreck, slowing down to see if there are any bodies. Let’s have some decency and withhold our judgment.
Let’s Take This as a Warning
I sat in a meeting of high priests once, and the topic of the class was a particular type of transgression. The teacher started with, “While I’m sure this is not an issue for any of us…” Really? If a General Authority can be excommunicated, what makes any of us think that we have crossed some imaginary line where our testimony is unshakeable, our will resolute, and our capacity to fail eliminated? This should be a call to vigilance for all of us. If you are still ticking, the adversary isn’t done with you yet.