In my recent post about visiting the LDS church last weekend, I mentioned that I found the LDS sacrament rite to be quite difficult, even long before I left the church. On that entry, a friend left the following comment:
So I thought I would briefly address her question…

In the LDS church, the sacrament is administered every week by members of the lower LDS priesthood.  Typically the bread and water are blessed by 16 year old boys and the trays of bread and water are passed to congregants by 12 and 13 year-old boys.  I’m not particularly fond of the gendered pattern that this follows.  I can’s see any logical reason why a girl could not bless and pass the sacrament, too.  So that kind of rubs me the wrong way.

But that’s not my primary discomfort with the ordinance.  That comes from it symbolizing the blood and body of Jesus Christ, and for the promises contained in the sacramental prayer:

O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it; that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him, and keep his commandments which he hath given them, that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen

This ordinance is all about atonement of Jesus Christ–a concept that I find repulsive. I don’t like that the violent killing of a human being was supposedly conducted on my behalf. Even if I could accept the idea that Jesus was a willing victim in this arrangement, I reject the logic of a worldview where a murder is the foundation for personal sanctification. Everything in my heart and in my soul tells me that this is wrong. I could easily use stronger language to describe my repulsion to this concept, but I don’t want to completely alienate those of my readers and friends who hold this view.

So the first part of my LDS faith that I lost, was when I realized that I couldn’t accept the literal or figurative sacrifice of Jesus.  That happened several years before the rest of it unraveled.  And as a result, I avoided taking the sacrament whenever I could because it was discomfiting for me to participate in a ritual that reified such a violent act.

4 thoughts on “sacrament

  1. Craig

    Once I’d had been out of the church for a while I too came to hate and be repulsed by the whole idea of the atonement. The idea that without the violent murder (or suicide) of a person, human beings are essentially worthless is an idea I find dehumanising and offensive. To believe that in order to be a good person, a person needs to devote their life and align their world-view to that of another person robs people of their individuality (and not to mention critical thinking skills). Perhaps it’s because above all else I value my individuality that I find the requirement to sacrifice it a prerequisite to “salvation” a loathsome idea – one that is more aligned with slavery than the freedom salvation supposedly brings.

  2. Judy Jeute

    All of this is exactly why I call myself a “naturalist Christian”. I study God in nature, and teach my children right and wrong everyday. My God is too large to fit in any church…that is my new favorite saying.

  3. Davis

    I’m sorry you feel that way. If it is that disturbing for you, perhaps you should study it a bit more.

    The major part of the atonement took place in Gethsemane. Not on the cross. While parts of it occurred as Christ was being crucified, the violence was not an essential part of the Atonement. He ‘gave up’ his life for us. No one took it from him.

  4. chanson

    I understand that sentiment exactly! I had a very similar experience when I attended a Community of Christ service with my brother (who joined the C of C).

    It was a beautiful service, and I loved the familiar hymns of the restoration. It was like coming home to a familiar tradition only with the bad stuff (sexism, rigid hierarchy) taken out. Yet, I didn't take the sacrament (even though my brother told me it was open to everyone) — for exactly the reason you mention. As much as I like the Community of Christ — and agree with them on so many points — I don't agree with the doctrine of the literal or figurative sacrifice of Jesus, and I won't participate in a ritual that reifies such a violent act.

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