The CHI & the Cider House Rules (Weekend Poll)

November 2, 2013

If we don’t ask, they won’t tell.

In the movie The Cider House Rules, there are rules posted on the wall, but none of the workers who live in the room can read them, so they can’t follow them.  Likewise, the Church’s Handbook of Instruction contains guidelines for members on all manner of detailed decisions:  family planning, funerals, and so forth.  But members aren’t given a copy of this guide, only leaders.  Is it binding?

Are members obligated to follow the counsel in the CHI?

  • The CHI is for leaders only, in case they are asked thorny questions. People should learn to follow the spirit more and ask bishops less. (68%, 65 Votes)
  • No - if we were supposed to follow it, we'd have a copy. (32%, 30 Votes)
  • Yes - these are areas of life that aren't really open to opinion. Any good member would know to ask. (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 95

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Discuss.

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14 Responses to The CHI & the Cider House Rules (Weekend Poll)

  1. Jack Hughes on November 2, 2013 at 10:38 AM

    Policy and doctrine are two different things. I have managed to peruse the CHI on a few occasions (with and without permission) and most of what is in there is dull procedural information. That sort of thing may be fascinating to someone who is a management/operations/organization/policy junkie (like me) but the majority of Church membership probably shouldn’t be burdened by it.

    Most Church members will never need to know how to convene a disciplinary council, report tithe collection, submit insurance riders for ward activities, or deal directly with sensitive issues in a spiritual/ecclesiastical context (e.g. abortion, sexual abuse, death, etc.). Also, as much as people claim to love their freedom to make their own choices, people have an innate craving for laws and rules. We love keeping a “house of order”, and written boundaries are a great way to do it. I don’t know if this is cultural or biological, but people are really quite comfortable being commanded in all things as slothful and unwise servants. No wonder the scriptures advise against it.

    My mother is frequently making phone calls to her brother, a bishop in another state, to ask him questions about whether such-and-such is authorized by the Church, or if cremation jeopardizes your potential for resurrection, or stuff about caffeinated soft drinks, you get the idea. In any case, she always asks him to check the manual, much to his consternation.

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  2. Jenn on November 2, 2013 at 11:10 AM

    The handbook is available on the internet. Whether or not it is binding seems to depend on local leadership. Which is good, because frankly I think many of the rules are ridiculous.
    Whatever happened to “teach correct principals and let them govern themselves”?

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  3. ji on November 2, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    I think “teach correct principals and let them govern themselves” is a truth and a reality in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Sure, there are some imperfect members who want someone else to govern them, and some who want to govern others, and one can learn all about them on the internet, but on the whole, I think the axiom is appreciated and followed.

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  4. IDIAT on November 2, 2013 at 4:20 PM

    Selected church policies that address the things mentioned have been available in a Handbook 2 to everyone for at least 3 years. I think you can buy one from church distribution. Where have you been the last few years?

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  5. jpv on November 3, 2013 at 1:04 AM

    wheatmeister (or others with a current copy), what part of Handbook 1 (not 2 avail on lds.org) pertains to “rules” for the membership?

    As I recall from browsing one back in the day there are no “guidelines for members on all manner of detailed decisions” in there, just administrative stuff.

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  6. Hedgehog on November 3, 2013 at 4:08 AM

    I was specifically asked to read the relevant parts of the handbook for my calling.

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  7. IDIAT on November 3, 2013 at 5:58 AM

    Oops I forgot. If you have a smart phone it’s also available in the free Gospel Library app.

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  8. Jace on November 3, 2013 at 7:07 AM

    I think you should split the last vote option into two; that’s called a double barreled response because it’s carrying two separate responses. Using the CHI for thorny questions has nothing to do with an opinion that people ask bishops too many questions.

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  9. Paul Brown on November 3, 2013 at 2:49 PM

    There are some interesting things in volume 1. Viz. this re transsexual people:
    A person who is considering an elective transsexual operation may not be baptized or con- firmed. Baptism and confirmation of a person who has already undergone an elective transsexual operation require the approval of the First Presidency 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. However, such persons may not receive the priesthood or a temple recommend.

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  10. Jeff Spector on November 4, 2013 at 10:31 AM

    The CHI is not an “answer book” for members but a procedural guide for leaders. Yes, it does address some thorny issues, but generally it is a organizational outline, a set of job descriptions and a procedures manual. Leaders are given a lot of latitude in using the CHI, but some choice to read it verbatim and act accordingly. Some things need to be that way, but the bulk of it is suggestive, rather than directive.

    And i have copies of both books.

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  11. The Other Clark on November 4, 2013 at 11:54 AM

    Issues addressed in CHI #1 (not available to the general membership) but affecting a large portion of rank-and-file members include:

    Family Planning
    Temporary birth control (now widely quoted outside the handbook)
    permanent birth control (strongly against)
    Artificial insemination (generally against
    In vitro fertilization (strongly against)
    Surrogate mothers (extremely strongly against)
    Artificial insemination of single mothers (extremely strongly against)

    Temple Sealing Guidelines
    Cancellation of sealings
    Sealings to second spouses
    Sealing policies for civil marriages
    Children’s sealings to divorced parents

    Church Discipline
    Which sins need priesthood confession
    “Common Law” guidlelines on which sins require disfellowshipment. X-Comm, etc.

    Use of Church Buildings
    Politics-(no *except as a voting station)
    Commercial (no *except piano or organ lessons, interestingly)
    Community sponsored B-Ball teams (no)

    I’ll check my book tonight and see what other things I missed.

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  12. jpv on November 4, 2013 at 12:22 PM
  13. OD on November 4, 2013 at 1:18 PM

    TheOtherClark, your characterization of several of the rules outlined in CH #1 leaves something to be desired as it is incomplete or simply incorrect.

    Family Planning – it says married couples are free to make their own decisions

    Temporary Birth Control – see above

    Permanent Birth Control (including vasectomy) – strongly discourages for elective purposes but outlines scenarios where may be necessary – ultimately it leaves the decision up to the couple to seek an understanding and revelation

    In Vitro Fertilization – discourages doing it with semen from someone other than the husband or eggs from other than the wife but ultimately leaves the decision up to them

    Artificial Insemination – See In Vitro – same rules

    Surrogate Mothers – strongly discouraged but not prohibited. If a couple wants a surrogate child to be sealed to them a request must be made to the First Presidency

    Artificial Insemination of Single Sisters – single sisters who seek to be impregnated through AI should not do it. Church discipline likely will follow those who do.

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  14. The Other Clark on November 4, 2013 at 2:14 PM

    OD– I stand corrected. I suppose I should double check everything, as working off the top of my head is demonstrably error-prone.

    Yet the question remains: Are these policies something that the general church memberhip should be aware of? Do men considering vasectomies regularly counsel with their bishops about the operation?

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