Several years ago, the LDS church president spoke of their ambition to make things less complicated in their church:

I need not tell you that we have become a very large and complex Church. Our program is so vast and our reach is so extensive that it is difficult to comprehend. We are a Church of lay leadership. What a remarkable and wonderful thing that is. It must ever remain so. It must never move in the direction of an extensive paid ministry. But we know that the administrative load is very heavy on our bishops and stake presidents, as well as some others. An awareness of that fact has led the Presidency and the Twelve to hold a number of meetings, some of them long and interesting, in which in effect we have taken the Church apart and then put it together again. Our objective has been to see whether there might be some programs we could do away with. But as we have analyzed these, we have not seen much that could be dropped. To drop one is like giving away one of your children. You haven’t the heart to do it. But I wish to assure you that we are aware of the burdens you carry and the time you spend. In this priesthood meeting I wish to mention a few of the items we have discussed. I think you will note that we have made some progress, although it may be small. (Gordon B. Hinckley, “To Men of the Priesthood,” October 2002 General Conference Priesthood Session).

When he said, “in effect we have taken the Church apart and then put it together again,” although outwardly a commendable notion, there is no consideration to the idea that programs could well be chosen and administered, or abandoned altogether, on the local level without central oversight.

Speaking to his twelve disciples of old, the Lord said:

The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth. (Luke 22:25-27).

Perhaps it is for this reason that the only result of the LDS meetings to reorganize their structure was, “…that we have made some progress, although it may be small.” Progress towards what end? Perhaps it could be said, instead, that giving up one of their centrally correlated programs was like giving up one of their idols…which throughout history has been ironically difficult for mankind to do, despite the absurdity of worshiping vain things that cannot provide salvation. Without fail, religions that once thrived from direct blessings from heaven, have all eventually dwindled to the point of clinging to their buildings, programs, structures, and traditions when apostasy has set in.

It is evident from the scriptures that the Gospel of Jesus Christ includes sacred oral traditions replete with ceremony, ordinances, and consistency (see Alma 12:9-11). But, care should be taken with temple rites, as much mischief can be done by their misuse (consider Cain vs. Abel, Brigham Young’s polygamy and blood oaths, and see Helaman 6). But, in the proper context, correct rituals can be uplifting, and even essential for our exaltation:

Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the salvation of men, are not to be altered or changed. All must be saved on the same principles. (Joseph Smith, TPJS, p. 308).

An altered form of the oral tradition that Joseph Smith began in Nauvoo is available in LDS temples or online for review (see caution below). Because it has been altered over the years, it stands in the category of apocrypha, along with many other works that give insight into the ancient oral tradition of the Gospel (see Masonic rituals, and The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, especially his work on the Lord’s 40 day ministry, and the Egyptian Endowment, etc).

I used to be a Free and Accepted Mason, and I can say I believe Joseph Smith translated Masonry and restored what principles were lost into the beginnings of a format for use by the Priesthood in the last days, much like he translated the King James Version of the Bible…but we have lost much of what Joseph has restored.

There are no “keys” that give any man authority to change ordinances instituted before the foundation of the world, for the Priesthood, that are not intended to be changed. Therefore, changes in the endowment ceremony by definition make the ceremonies, to the degree of change involved, apocryphal, and inclusive of “interpolations by the hands of men” (D&C 91). The word history/definition of the verb form of “interpolation” is:

interpolate (v.) 1610s, “to alter or enlarge (a writing) by inserting new material,” from Latin interpolatus, past participle of interpolare “alter, freshen up, polish;” of writing, “falsify,” from inter- “among, between” (see inter-) + polare, which is related to polire “to smoothe, polish.”  Sense evolved in Latin from “refurbish,” to “alter appearance of,” to “falsify (especially by adding new material).” Middle English had interpolen (early 15c.) in a similar sense. Related: Interpolated; interpolating. (see here).

Section 91 expresses principles revealed by the Lord on how to treat Apocrypha, and is worthy of a careful review before attempting to study any text about temple rituals, or to attend an LDS temple itself. In fact, because the rituals are intended to be transmitted in person with heaven’s approval, care should also be taken in reviewing online or written materials. For those who have already received ordinances with heaven’s approval, they can be a useful way to review, especially if the LDS Church has unjustly taken away your temple recommend.

The best current resources for getting at the truth of what is contained in the Gospel’s oral tradition is to read the standard works, Joseph Smith’s teachings, and Denver Snuffer’s teachings (See Denver’s posts here and here where he says in part, “I’m acquainted with all the changes. I have found them all and studied them all. I know all of the many differences.”). Within their teachings are the Savior’s principles that must be applied first in order to prepare for higher, sacred knowledge. That is enough to build upon today. We cannot have more if we do not appreciate and live what we have already been given (see 3 Nephi 26:9 and D&C 88:33). In the chapter entitled “Preserving the Restoration” in Denver’s book of the same title, he says:

There is nothing special about us, but there can be. We do not need hundreds of temples, but will need one to which Christ can come. We will not need to perform endless work for the dead until there has been a covenant made by God with us. We must be first connected to the fathers in heaven. Only then can we do something to liberate the dead. (pp.526-527).

Having activities for youth are great and wonderful, but become an encumbrance and a hindrance to righteous living when idolatry is involved. Parents are not excused from their responsibility to be the primary teachers of the gospel to their children, so any other wholesome program for youth can be substituted for LDS Church programs as the parents supplement with Gospel teaching on their own. If you choose to wade through the idolatry included in LDS youth programs (that encourage youth to “follow the prophet” and to follow LDS leaders), then you face the challenge of contradicting their errors and persuading your children with truth from the scriptures to combat the evil influence of those programs. But, such a course may be worthwhile if you simultaneously want to take advantage of the good left in those programs. The choice is yours. Many parents organize activities for their youth with their friends in fellowships that are just as uplifting and productive. With many having served in LDS callings for years, it is easy to reproduce only the good parts of activities that are developed from wise, divinely inspired orderliness that the LDS have now commercialized and promoted to yield high tithing receipts and participation. It is perfectly OK to opt out of the LDS Church corporation’s versions of the programs and recreate them on your own, according to God’s will. Then you can pick and choose the parts that are the most uplifting and leave behind the dross.

Nothing needs to be chartered and officially sanctioned unless it involves more people than your immediate family. Follow wise principles and get heaven’s consent before important endeavors, and if you do involve a larger portion of the community, get their common consent and avoid getting trapped into false traditions and bureaucratic excesses. Be smart, be safe, be frugal, and be free. If you were once willing to put forth great effort for a calling and to get the praise of leaders, do it again for your family and for the Lord, where not much of your effort will get recognized publicly. This can include ordaining your young men (or old men) to the Priesthood outside of the LDS Church (see Denver Snuffer, Preserving the Restoration, pp. 509-515) and encouraging proper preaching, teaching, expounding, and exhorting (see 3 Nephi 14:6). The Lord may call them to service in good and worthwhile organizations that can take them on similar assignments paralleling LDS missionary service (see our post here). The Lord may inspire them to preach in ways more powerful than the limited approach of the LDS for their youth (see Denver Snuffer, Preserving the Restoration, pp. 519). Remember that this movement started with a 14 year old boy being visited by the Father and the Son, who became a 22 year old who began and finished the translation of ancient scripture.

Much of LDS missionary work is babysitting unconverted missionaries. It is an affront to the Lord and a compulsion for some who have no desires to serve God, but seek only to fulfill a family and cultural obligation. The notion that a mission is what a youth needs to get converted is a false and damnable idea. The pattern the Lord outlined is simple and profound: “If ye have desires to serve God, ye are called to the work” (D&C 4). If there is no desire, there is no call. That being said, there are still sincere, and miraculous efforts in the LDS missionary program from those who truly desire to serve the Lord, but remember, there was no MTC in Joseph Smith’s day, and what was likely Joseph’s sealing to Emma was outside of temple walls (see Denver Snuffer, Passing the Heavenly Gift, footnote 10, p. 18).

Although these are general guidelines, and not specific answers to some of the topics in the question, it should be evident by now in our posts that we do not seek to be the final answer on these questions, but to direct the learner to the scriptures and to the Lord. Hopefully you will see the spirit of the scriptures in these posts, and recognize the voice of the Good Shepherd when it has been evident, and be able to face God correctly in your journey forward.

Here are some other noteworthy resources, including a piece about sincere missionary work and inspired resources on how to conduct marriages approved by heaven, matching earlier practices of Latter-day Saints in Joseph Smith’s day:

(Rock Waterman, Where I Went Wrong On My Mission)

(Article on Marriage from the 1835 D&C, section 101)

(Keith Henderson, Marriage and Denver Snuffer, Comments on Marriage)

As other conditions arise that require direction from heaven on how to proceed, such as what to do about Patriarchal blessings, and other important items, heaven can be sought and revelation obtained as God grants it.

Concerning callings, the restraint and balance required of Hyrum Smith by the Lord in regards to preaching is noteworthy in D&C 11, but service to our fellowman is always commendable (See Rock Waterman, The Refiner’s Fire, and D&C 58:26-33).

The scriptures give the commandment concerning the Sabbath day, which Abinadi reiterated in the Book of Mormon:

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work;
But the seventh day, the sabbath of the Lord thy God, thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates;
For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is; wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. (Mosiah 13:16-19).

Breaking the Sabbath used to be a capital crime. A person could be sentenced to death for violating it.

And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you. Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord: whosoever doeth any work in the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed. (Exodus 31:13).

Why such a serious offense?

The Lord explained it best when he said “And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath” (Mark 2:27). Therefore, a day of rest and peace is intended to be one of God’s greatest gifts to mankind in this fallen world. It would follow that the logic surrounding the death penalty for its abuse would be geared towards protecting the innocent worker. Since the commandment includes not asking your servants to work on the Sabbath either, than it seems that the Lord is saying He really intends to prevent abuse of the innocent. He will make sure no one is forced to work this day, if it means that He has to implement death for the employers who so spite Him. It is obvious in the New Testament that a poor worker who finds his ox in the mire is not in violation of the Sabbath when he proceeds to pull him out (Luke 14:3-6). The intent of the commandment, therefore, seems clear.

Following this logic, it becomes clearer which statement in the Sermon on the Mount is potentially Jesus expounding on the importance of the spirit of Sabbath worship. Without mentioning the Sabbath, Jesus seems to be assuming it is well known what kind of activity goes on on that day, knowing that His hearers will know what He is talking about. We are so fallen into secular blindness that we don’t relate to His sayings that well these days, but the connection is nevertheless clearer after walking through it as we have above:

Verily, verily, I say that I would that ye should do alms unto the poor; but take heed that ye do not your alms before men to be seen of them; otherwise ye have no reward of your Father who is in heaven. Therefore, when ye shall do your alms do not sound a trumpet before you, as will hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward. (3 Nephi 13:1-2).

The Sabbath is a day of peace for all, a day of brotherhood, and of forgiving of debts; a day to give alms to the poor; a day to return to the Garden of Eden and its innocence. What do the employers do if they can’t, under penalty of death, force their employees to work on the Sabbath? They go to the opposite extreme and give large gifts to charity, but only for the purpose of networking and making themselves look to be a profitable employer to work for, and thus still pervert sincere intent. These corrupted organizations and individuals still can’t keep the Sabbath even when they participate in the almsgiving of that day. They remain hypocrites. What will they do when the whole workweek becomes a holy day and we enter into the rest of the Lord (Alma 34:33; JST Luke 12:44; Matthew 25:6)? They will go their own way, not interested in the party, where there will be found weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth (D&C 63:54) for these oppressors who hate a God who gives gifts to the poor in spirit (3 Nephi 12:3).

Even after being chastened in Babylon for seventy years, many Jews returned to Israel with a culture against Sabbath worship. Nehemiah proclaimed:

In those days saw I in Judah some treading wine presses on the sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses; as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all manner of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the sabbath day: and I testified against them in the day wherein they sold victuals. (Nehemiah 13:15).

Instead, our God delivers from bondage, and frees us from labor on the Sabbath in commemoration of his promise of mercy and redemption. The purpose of deliverance from labor on the Sabbath seems to be a symbol of deliverance from sin (Mosiah 25:16).

It is to this end that the following scriptures elaborate on individual Sabbath worship:

If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. (Isaiah 58:13-14).

And the following:

I am the Lord your God; walk in my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them; And hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the Lord your God. (Ezekiel 20:19-20).

After reviewing the way the scriptures describe the Lord’s original intent for keeping the Sabbath holy, it should be obvious that even devoted church service can brake the Sabbath day. Ask yourselves, does the institution I belong to posture their church service opportunities on the Sabbath as a means to network, prove their institution is worth working for and being loyal to, sound a trumpet about their charitable acts in the name of marketing their brand of religion, or promote greetings in the marketplace and competitive habits concerning piety, dress, or codes of conduct (see Luke 20:46)? If so, you may be looking at a business conglomerate masquerading as a religion, hypocritical in their pretenses of promoting the very commandment they cause their members to break through excessive and vain meetings and busy-work callings.

On the other hand, the sincere in heart can always find ways to be of true service to their fellow beings, even if they find themselves in the midst of corruption and spiritual wickedness in high places (see Ephesians 6:12). Even still, good advice concerning the Sabbath comes from churches that have self-preservation as an interest; and not all leadership, direction, callings, or Sabbath-day meetings are faulty.

For those who don’t have a church to attend, but only fellowship amongst close family and friends, the spirit of the Sabbath is easy to discover in the scriptures quoted above. Are your activities on the Sabbath a sign to the Lord of your remembrance of his statutes and judgments, and that you wish to know that He is the Lord your God? Said the Lord, “And if ye do always remember me ye shall have my Spirit to be with you” (3 Nephi 18:7).

 

That depends. In many cases in today’s circumstances, no you will not.

Excommunication is an ordinance just like any other. In the Book of Mormon, the ordinance consisted of blotting out the names of those who would not confess their sins, and baptizing or re-baptizing those who confessed and returned again (see Mosiah 26). Since these actions are performed by ordinances, that means that excommunication and reinstatement through re-baptism take abstract intangible concepts and spiritual realities, and put them into physical rites by the use of symbolism. Being cut off from your community, after a church trial and conviction, is a type or symbol of being cut off from the presence of the Lord, or being cursed so as to be unable to achieve redemption for a time, and to be barred from seeing the Second Comforter. A revealed pattern for conducting the trial is contained in D&C 42 and D&C 102. The scriptures describe excommunication like so: “Inasmuch as ye are cut off for transgression, ye cannot escape the buffetings of Satan until the day of redemption” (D&C 104:9; see also D&C 78:12, D&C 82:21, and D&C 132:26).

In connection with excommunication being an ordinance, D&C 132 outlines how the Lord validates any action claimed to be performed by His priesthood:

And verily I say unto you, that the conditions of this law are these: All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, of him who is anointed, both as well for time and for all eternity, and that too most holy, by revelation and commandment through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this power (and I have appointed unto my servant Joseph to hold this power in the last days, and there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred), are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead. D&C 132:7.

Therefore, it follows that excommunication is only valid if it is sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise. Excommunication must be done in righteousness, or else it is an abomination on the part of the leaders who so take the name of the Lord in vain by falsely accusing and convicting innocent members. A faulty excommunication would be as bad as baptizing little children (see Moroni 8). Perhaps the Lord’s exclamation would be fitting for those who so profane his name: “It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones” (Luke 17:2).

In fact, the Lord is more explicit in section 121 (and consider that “anointed” has no reference to general authorities in particular at all, but to any person upon whom the Lord has poured out His spirit because of their innocence and sincerity in believing His word; and meaning none of the general authorities unless they, too, have had His spirit poured out upon them, since a physical anointing is meaningless unless it, too, is sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise):

Cursed are all those that shall lift up the heel against mine anointed, saith the Lord, and cry they have sinned when they have not sinned before me, saith the Lord, but have done that which was meet in mine eyes, and which I commanded them. But those who cry transgression do it because they are the servants of sin, and are the children of disobedience themselves. And those who swear falsely against my servants, that they might bring them into bondage and death—Wo unto them; because they have offended my little ones they shall be severed from the ordinances of mine house. Their basket shall not be full, their houses and their barns shall perish, and they themselves shall be despised by those that flattered them. They shall not have right to the priesthood, nor their posterity after them from generation to generation. It had been better for them that a millstone had been hanged about their necks, and they drowned in the depth of the sea. Wo unto all those that discomfort my people, and drive, and murder, and testify against them, saith the Lord of Hosts; a generation of vipers shall not escape the damnation of hell. D&C 121:16-23.

Ironically, the LDS do not believe that it is necessary to achieve an audience with the resurrected Lord in this life anymore, so the very ordinance they claim to have power to perform (see D&C 104:10) to cut people off from this possibility, has lost its symbolic meaning for them.

The Lord always has had veto power for all of the acts said to be done in his name. Furthermore, when a church loses it’s divine commission, excommunications from that institution become meaningless all the more.

If you are facing excommunication, or have been excommunicated by the LDS Church, how can you tell if you have really deserved that kind of treatment or not? In other words, how can you tell if the Holy Spirit of Promise has sealed a curse upon you because of sin, or how can you tell if someone you know has been excommunicated for the right reasons?

It all depends upon the manner of life that you or they live. King Benjamin said, “But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not” (Mosiah 4:30).

You shall know by the fruits of the Spirit, or absence of those fruits…Lehi observed that Laman and Lemuel were being excommunicated by the Lord Himself, as he feared they would be cut off from the presence of the Lord:

My heart hath been weighed down with sorrow from time to time, for I have feared, lest for the hardness of your hearts the Lord your God should come out in the fulness of his wrath upon you, that ye be cut off and destroyed forever; Or, that a cursing should come upon you for the space of many generations; and ye are visited by sword, and by famine, and are hated, and are led according to the will and captivity of the devil. O my sons, that these things might not come upon you, but that ye might be a choice and a favored people of the Lord. But behold, his will be done; for his ways are righteousness forever. 2 Nephi 1:17-19.

Thankfully, it appears the Lord spared Lehi from performing the ordinance of excommunication for his own sons, but suffered Lehi to merely prophesy about it, and performed the excommunications Himself. In all cases of legitimate excommunication, it is the Lord who finalizes the act anyway.

Those who are legitimately excommunicated do not watch their thoughts, words, or deeds anymore; they do not observe the commandments of God such as the Ten Commandments; they do not continue in the faith of what they have heard concerning the coming of the Lord, nor of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the Prophet Joseph Smith. In a word, they perish. And, as the Book of Mormon points out about the early stages of apostasy: they “dwindle in unbelief”. (This has nothing to do with disbelieving general authorities, and has everything to do with disbelieving scriptures and the Lord. We have gone over the difference in past posts such as this one, but on with the current subject…).

On the other hand, no matter how many people believe someone has been excommunicated legitimately, and no matter how much they may not like that person; or even, no matter how much they believe their leaders’ excommunication decisions are correct and honored by God, if the person who has been excommunicated has done no wrong according to the scriptures, and if they keep the commandments, and continue in the faith they have received, it is more likely that the LDS Church has lifted up their heel against one of the Lord’s anointed, and cried they have sinned when they have not sinned before the Lord. The Lord will not honor such gross misapplications of His “courts of love”, but will instead, according to His word (see 1 Samuel 2:30), honor the person who was unjustly persecuted and shamed by the priestcraft of false leaders (see also 3 Nephi 12:10-12, as well other scriptural examples that are just too numerous to list, such as the Lord’s whole mortal ministry in the New Testament, and the Acts of the Apostles, and the beginning of the Book of Mormon, and all the prophets in the Old Testament who fought against the established “Church” of their day).

Temple blessings and baptismal covenants are untouched and in force in such cases of false excommunication. Who cannot see the logic in this? Little children can understand as much. Fear not. If you are excommunicated or are about to be, ask yourself, “Do I still have faith?” If so, then as Gordon B. Hinckley used to say, “Go forward in faith,” and continue to enjoy the blessings that a just God will never remove from those who are condemned by false brethren.

 

 

 

Absolutely not!

It can be argued that the clear commandments of God in scripture could be used to require that a person repent of specific sins before being allowed to be baptized, but in the case of the Word of Wisdom, the Lord expressly stated it was to be “without commandment or restraint” (D&C 89:1-3), making it a subject off limits for baptismal requirements.

Regarding tithing, it is a “standing law unto the church” (D&C 119:4). It is commonly thought that baptism makes one a member of the LDS Church. While valid and sincere baptism defines a member of Christ’s church, and establishes a relationship between the convert and the Lord, the association of that convert with other individuals requires that they be confirmed to an office called “member” and that they subscribe to the code of conduct of that body of believers. Confirmation can rightly require agreement to a code of conduct (including the paying of tithes to be considered a member in good standing), but baptism cannot specifically require anything other than the broad requirement of “repent of all your sins”, being those sins that you are aware of, and being that you forsake in your heart and confess the behavior as sinful, and not that you fully have modified your behavior yet (see our posts here and here).

Such modification comes after assistance from the Holy Ghost, or mind of God, as it is bestowed more fully upon the person who is baptized. Can’t you see how repentance only requires facing the right direction, and the heavy lifting comes from the Lord after one exercises their faith to be baptized? To expect a false interpretation of “forsaking sin” beyond merely a change of heart is to require the sinner to fully reform before having the grace of God to be able to do so. It is oppressive, and ungodly. To require a commitment to tithe before one is baptized (as opposed to requiring it before confirmation only) is to run close to priestcraft, and charging for ordinances. But, the LDS have merged baptism and confirmation as one ordinance, so hence the confusion (see our post here).

The novel (and more scripturally correct) idea is that you can be baptized first, and then confirmed much later if you are slow to reform your behavior after getting the mind of God. Confirmation needs a godly walk and conversation after baptism. The church articles are clear:

The duty of the members after they are received by baptism—The elders or priests are to have a sufficient time to expound all things concerning the church of Christ to their understanding, previous to their partaking of the sacrament and being confirmed by the laying on of the hands of the elders, so that all things may be done in order. And the members shall manifest before the church, and also before the elders, by a godly walk and conversation, that they are worthy of it, that there may be works and faith agreeable to the holy scriptures—walking in holiness before the Lord. D&C 20:68-69.

But, you can still be saved even if you are slow and don’t rise up to be a member yet. Therefore, get baptized and don’t fear! Let the increase of the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost assist you in your quest to become more like God! Don’t worry about member status and obligations until you are ready. Consider also, that the Lord never intended the Word of Wisdom to be a requirement for membership, or temple attendance.

Generally speaking, yes. The Lord’s baptism as outlined in 3 Nephi 11 has no conditions against it.

The obvious contradiction would be joining a religion that is openly against Christ and his doctrine to the point you feel it would be counter-productive to your own faith and belief. You may decide on your own what the appropriate particulars are on that, but it is in the spirit of the Book of Mormon to serve others and then you will be in the service of your God (Mosiah 2:17).

Consider the example of Ammon (Alma chapters 17-20), who submitted himself to be a servant of a Lamanite king who supported an apostate system of beliefs. Ammon was able to believe as he wished and yet be willing “to dwell among this people for a time; yea, and perhaps until the day I die” (Alma 17:23), even while considering, “the baseness of the traditions of their fathers, which were not correct” (Alma 17:9). Because of the incorrect traditions of the Lamanites, the Lord told Ammon, “ye shall be patient in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me” (Alma 17:10).

You may hear the call of your Lord to serve among the Catholics, any of the Protestant denominations, or the Evangelicals; the Muslims, the Jews, the Baha’i’s, the Seventh Day Adventists, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Amish, the RLDS, or stay LDS, or serve in the Mormon Christian fellowships, or others.

Interestingly, the LDS Church used to (and may still) include as part of their definition of apostasy to “Formally join another church” (See p. 110 at https://file.wikileaks.org/file/mormon-handbook-of-instructions-2006.pdf ). So, if you are LDS, you may be subject to excommunication and being branded as an apostate if you join another church simultaneously.

But again, consider that you just may be considered in good company with the likes of Ammon, and Aaron, and Omner, and Himni, who served among the apostate Lamanites.

Within the other religions, you doubtless will face opposition with false creeds and requirements that challenge your commitment to the doctrine of Christ; but it is a “big brother” attitude, and falsely condemning, for the LDS Church to assume that its members are too immature in the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be able to face those challenges resolutely if they were also members of other churches. As we see with Ammon, there are legitimate, Christ-centered reasons to serve others by becoming one of them. After all, God came among us as one of us. Simply put, it is NOT apostasy to formally join another church. As Jesus said, be as wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove (see Matthew 10:16).