But What If I Want To Evil-Speak Of The Lord’s Anointed?

Rusty - April 26, 2006

I always considered this exhortation to mean “don’t talk bad about the prophets or your priesthood leaders.” But if you think about it I’m not so sure that’s the case:

Lord’s Anointed: “The Lord’s anointed” just sounds authoritative, though, while sage advice, I don’t think that’s who it’s talking about. Who is anointed? Is someone anointed to be a prophet? An apostle? A bishop? A father/mother? A primary teacher? No, no, no, no, and no. The only contemporary anointings that I’m aware of are those who have been through the temple.

Evil Speaking: Questioning? Disagreeing? Judging? Insulting? I don’t really know but my instinct tells me that it falls somewhere between judging and insulting.

Is this just a general plea from the Lord for us to respect one another a bit more, to respect the covenant we make in the temple a little more? And does this mean it’s less-bad to evil-speak of those who haven’t gone through the temple?

This is one of my “thoughts in progress” posts so feel free to speculate, respond, conclude, feel prideful because you know everything, admit ignorance (like me), or whatever you please.

44 Comments »

  1. This is an interesting topic, Rusty. I don’t know what it means, either. I just get annoyed when people use it as a trump card in a discussion about leaders.

    Even IF I may be speaking evil of the Lord’s annointed (which is a possibility at times, since, as you point out, it’s hard to know exactly what that means, even though I try not to), telling me I am can sometimes seem like “You’re being wicked. That means I don’t have to listen to anything you say and I’m right. So neener neener on you!”

    (Of course, I don’t mean to say that it’s never appropriate to raise the question whether someone is speaking evil, it probably has its place.)

    Comment by LoganB — April 26, 2006 @ 8:22 am

  2. Lord’s Anointed- I’ve liked the view that those who have been through the temple are the Lord’s anointed. I think that the original intent was more tightly defined to the Prophet, but we should treat all people fairly.

    Evil speaking- How about knowingly saying something false or hurtful? Or even saying something that is true when you know that it will hurt someone. Like telling your mother-in-law that she’s fat. She knows it. You’re just being blunt and rude.

    I had a bishop whom I’ve called the unrighteous bishop on other blogs because of his unrighteous dominion. People think that I make up some of the things he did because they are so outrageous. Rather than speak about him to the ward, I took my cares to the Stake President. After confirming what I had said and finding other abuses, this bishop was released. Lesson: It’s not evil speaking if you are talking to the proper authorities and you’re not doing it with evil intent. I didn’t want the bishop hurt, but I wanted the abuses of power stopped.

    Comment by Floyd the Wonderdog — April 26, 2006 @ 8:27 am

  3. The Lord’s Annointed equalling people who have been through the temple is appealing, but one problem I see is that it makes the phrase almost meaningless. Why not just say “don’t speak evil of anyone“? I guess (as Rusty suggested) you could argue that it’s an implied license to “speak evil” of all non-endowed people, but that doesn’t seem right somehow either.

    Comment by LoganB — April 26, 2006 @ 8:49 am

  4. Of course, the ultimate one anointed by the Lord was Jesus, the Messiah.

    Comment by Ronan — April 26, 2006 @ 8:51 am

  5. Of course that’s true Ronan, but that’s a pretty obvious one. I’m pretty sure it’s talking about more than just Christ.

    Logan,
    It seems we’re equally confused.

    Floyd,
    When you say you think the “original intent” of this meant the Prophet, do you have a source? I’m just curious as to where our tradition of it being leadership comes from. I think your definition of evil-speaking is pretty good though.

    Comment by Rusty — April 26, 2006 @ 10:36 am

  6. I’ve always thought it meant not to malign the prophets. For some reason, I’ve never really considered ward/stake offices like bishop or stake presidents or whatvever “the anointed.”

    Comment by meems — April 26, 2006 @ 10:56 am

  7. But Meems, are the prophets “anointed” any more than someone who’s gone through the temple?

    Comment by Rusty — April 26, 2006 @ 11:45 am

  8. I honestly don’t think that the word “annointed” is neccissarily meant literally. I think it’s more symbolic. Annointed meaning “called” or “chosen”. That would mean that it’s referring to the brethren. That’s what I think anyway.

    One shouldn’t speak evil of anyone really, but of all people that deserve respect, it’s the “Lord’s Annointed”.

    Comment by Ian Cook — April 26, 2006 @ 11:55 am

  9. Ok I did a little digging and it looks like the term “Lord’s Anointed” was used mostly in scripture to signify first King Saul and then King David. That idea tracks most closely today to the church’s top leader as chosen by God, or the president of the church for Mormons. That notion is further backed in the JS memorial in section 135 where John Taylor said:

    “He lived great, and he died great in the eyes of God and his people; and like most of the Lord’s anointed in ancient times, has sealed his mission and his works with his own blood; and so has his brother Hyrum.”

    So I agree that all endowed members are anointed of the lord but it seems that in the historical context the term had to do with the president of the church at least and possibly the other apostles/GAs by association. (If I remember correctly, most of our current endowment came through Brigham to us and I suspect that is what he had in mind.)

    Comment by Geoff J — April 26, 2006 @ 12:15 pm

  10. I think you are on the right track here all around. Well done.

    Comment by Eric — April 26, 2006 @ 12:17 pm

  11. But Meems, are the prophets “anointed” any more than someone who’s gone through the temple?

    Yes. I am fairly certian that the phrase refers to an annointing in the Temple that isn’t part of the innitiatories and that the vast majority of members don’t recieve in this life.

    Comment by J. Stapley — April 26, 2006 @ 12:28 pm

  12. Wow, J., that’s the most interesting (to me) comment on this thread so far. In other words, the ‘speaking evil’ part of the temple covenant seems to refer to specific people.

    It would make keeping that covenant easier if we knew who those people were, or course.

    Comment by LoganB — April 26, 2006 @ 12:41 pm

  13. Oh, it just occurred to me, J.: is that the “Second Annointing,” or what I’ve heard called having your calling and election made sure?

    Comment by LoganB — April 26, 2006 @ 12:42 pm

  14. I prefer the terms, “the fullness of the priesthood” or “second annointing.”

    Comment by J. Stapley — April 26, 2006 @ 12:47 pm

  15. So that’s a yes? =)

    If so, since that seems like something people don’t talk about, the charge not speak evil about those people gets a bit tricky.

    Comment by LoganB — April 26, 2006 @ 1:06 pm

  16. Yeah, but I think we can presume that the leaders of the church have all recieved it. The injunction does make more sense from a nineteenth century perspective when everybody who went through the Temple knew everybody else who recieved all the ordinances.

    Comment by J. Stapley — April 26, 2006 @ 1:40 pm

  17. …er at least a Nauvoo perspective.

    Comment by J. Stapley — April 26, 2006 @ 1:44 pm

  18. J,
    How many people actually even know about the Second Anointing? I found out about it literally this weekend and I’ve been blogging for two years. For as many members as go through the temple and make this covenant, I’d bet 99% don’t know anything about the Second Anointing. And if that’s the case it seems to be a silly covenant to make.

    I’m not saying that you’re wrong, but maybe they should just update the language or something.

    Comment by Rusty — April 26, 2006 @ 1:48 pm

  19. Come on, J–you’re being so safe and politically correct! ;) I don’t know who I presume has received them. Probably the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, but how far do you think it goes down?

    Comment by LoganB — April 26, 2006 @ 1:51 pm

  20. I tend to agree that the term has the same origin as the “quorum of the anointed”, and has some reference to the leadership of the church.

    Of course second anointings used to be relatively common, so again we have the same problem that in the late 1800s the prohibition on speaking evil of them would mean about the same as not speaking evil of any member.

    As for who has it, my mission president used to go on an on about that. It would seem that all general authorities recieve it, and that other leaders such as stake presidents might receive it if a session is being done in their area. At least that was what he said. It seemed to be a favorite topic of his.

    Comment by a random John — April 26, 2006 @ 2:06 pm

  21. Okay, someone with more knowledge (i.e. not me) about Second Anointings needs to write a post about it. Since learning about it (last weekend) I’ve been uncomfortable with the idea that these men are basically acting in Christ’s place as Judge. It’s one thing to anoint them to “become such” but it’s another thing entirely to actually make the judgement call and say they’re done. This is especially difficult considering that there are GA’s who have left/apostatized/whatever.

    Are we even sure they still practice this?

    Comment by Rusty — April 26, 2006 @ 3:07 pm

  22. Geoff, you seem to say that the annointed goes back to Saul and David and therefor tracks to the leaders in the church. If that’s what you meant, I question the logic. David and Saul, were kings but those weren’t church offices nor were they of the priesthood tribe and therefore I don’t think they had they had the priesthood.

    There were prophets during this time who were the leaders of the church, not David and Saul.

    If that isn’t what you meant, sorry I mis-understood.

    Comment by don — April 26, 2006 @ 3:25 pm

  23. Rusty’s question about 2nd annointing still being done is a good one. Do we really know that it is, or isn’t?

    Just because it was done in an earlier time doesn’t mean it’s done today. Look at the changes in the Temple covenants. How about the practice of re-baptism? How about consecration…living it? There’s lots of examples.

    I’d be interested in any reference to the prophet being “annointed” as to his office.

    Comment by don — April 26, 2006 @ 3:29 pm

  24. Yes, it is still done. It doesn’t mean that they will be our judges, though. I am preparing a post on the Anointed Quorum that should be posted in a week or so. I will not delve specifically into the practice as I am not comfortable doing so in a blog setting. If you want some reading, drop me an email.

    Comment by J. Stapley — April 26, 2006 @ 3:36 pm

  25. As in your previous post, Don, there are two anointings as King: One like Saul and David and one as part of the Temple ritual. We don’t know if the first is still done, the last public account was of John Taylor. I can give you a ref if you want one.

    Comment by J. Stapley — April 26, 2006 @ 3:39 pm

  26. …I will also say that there is a strong possibility that the Evil-speaking does refer to anyone who has passed through initiatories. As I recently posted on Joseph Kingsbury’s experience in the Temple in 1845, people entered the quorum after the initiatories and sometimes there was a long period before experiencing the other ordinances.

    Comment by J. Stapley — April 26, 2006 @ 4:01 pm

  27. Stapley– I don’t think Rusty thinks people with the 2nd annointing will be our judges. I think he means that it is inherently problematic for one fallible human to proclaim another fallible human to have their “calling and election made sure.” To judge them worthy of guaranteed salvation, in other words.

    Does the 2nd annointing guarantee salvation? Surely not. But if not, then what’s the point?

    Comment by NFlanders — April 26, 2006 @ 6:55 pm

  28. “David and Saul, were kings but those weren’t church offices nor were they of the priesthood tribe and therefore I don’t think they had they had the priesthood.”

    Well, not the Melchizedek anyway. That ended with Moses.

    Comment by Anonymous — April 26, 2006 @ 7:48 pm

  29. While we’re puzzling out temple covenants, anyone have thoughts on “loud laughter”? I can’t make heads or tails of that one.

    Comment by AmyB — April 26, 2006 @ 7:55 pm

  30. Flanders – I agree.

    Comment by Geoff J — April 26, 2006 @ 8:03 pm

  31. “Does the 2nd annointing guarantee salvation? Surely not. But if not, then what’s the point?”

    I wonder if this can be compared at all to a Patriarchal Blessing when we are blessed to rise during First Resurrection. It’s not a guarantee, just a blessing/promise/covenant.

    Comment by Tim J. — April 26, 2006 @ 8:06 pm

  32. Seems to me, Geoff, that if you don’t by into it, then the whole temple liturgy means nothing to you. As stated, the end is just a mirror to the begining.

    Comment by J. Stapley — April 26, 2006 @ 8:38 pm

  33. David and Saul didn’t have any priesthood. The Aaronic Priesthood was only for those who were direct decendents of Aaron. The Levitical (spelling?) was for the remaining members of the tribe of Levi. Aaron was from the tribe of Levi also.

    The Melchizedek Priesthood was taken from the earth and only bestowed on the prophets….as far as I know. The other offices in the Mel. Priesthood did not function as such until Christ’s time.

    Comment by don — April 26, 2006 @ 9:05 pm

  34. “The Melchizedek Priesthood was taken from the earth and only bestowed on the prophets….as far as I know.”

    Possibly. But remember that “Prophet” is not a priesthood office. Those we called prophets, were prophets simply because they had the gift of prohecy. In our belief of Dispensations, there does not exist one between Moses and Christ.

    Comment by Anonymous — April 26, 2006 @ 9:09 pm

  35. According to Joseph Smith:

    Although David was a King he never did obtain the spirit & power of Elijah & the fulness of the Priesthood, & the priesthood that he received & the throne & kingdom of David is to be taken from him & given to another by the name of David in the last days, raised up out of his linage (WoJS pg. 331)

    It would seem that even though he didn’t recieve the “fullness of the priesthood” he did have some priesthood or another.

    Comment by J. Stapley — April 26, 2006 @ 9:38 pm

  36. J: Seems to me, Geoff, that if you don’t by into it, then the whole temple liturgy means nothing to you.

    That is an odd conclusion to jump to. Why would it seem that way to you?

    Comment by Geoff J — April 26, 2006 @ 9:44 pm

  37. AmyB- “loud laugther”, as far as I can tell, means exactly that. I have no clue why it’s important, or relevant to salvation, but unless somebody shows me otherwise, I’ll have to think it means what it sounds like it means.

    Comment by cchrissyy — April 26, 2006 @ 10:16 pm

  38. My (incredibly limited) understanding is that the second anointings refer to the first presidency and maybe the apostles (and wives). Never imagined any others. And I thought that it did indeed prety much guarantee exaltation and a yet another remission of all sins. Maybe the whole Sons of Perdition thing-sinning against the Holy Ghost – is reserved for those with the fullness of the priesthood (outer darkness is a pretty esoteric club).

    But is this necessarily what evil speaking against God’s anointed means? I still think it pertains to the prophet – and the mouth pieces of the Lord (i.e. apostles), but I don’t think it really has to do with the second anointing per se. I’m interested to read J.’s post about it.

    Comment by meems — April 27, 2006 @ 1:02 am

  39. I don’t know, sometimes you guys make me laugh pretty darn loud.

    Comment by annegb — April 27, 2006 @ 2:29 am

  40. In a BYU fireside talk on 2 March 1980, H. Burke Peterson expressed his preference for a broad interpretation of “the Lord’s anointed.”

    Another stone that creeps into this wall between us and heaven is evil speaking. Have you ever come home from a sacrament meeting, priesthood meeting, or Relief Society meeting and said, “Boy, what a dumb lesson,” or “Boy, why did the bishop do that tonight; wasn’t he thinking?” or “Boy, I wish they would get a better teacher for us; she’s a lemon,” and on and on. I believe that every time we speak evil of anyone who is a servant in the kingdom–and I’m not just talking about the prophets–we are sowing the seeds of apostasy. We talk about speaking evil of the Lord’s anointed, but I believe that anointed applies to all who are working in the kingdom. I believe that you can’t speak evil of a bishop, a counselor, or a teacher without putting a stone in your path that might keep the messages of heaven from reaching you. So I would suggest that we look for elevating things to say about people and not for the degrading things, no matter who we are talking about.

    Comment by Steve S — April 27, 2006 @ 4:01 am

  41. I tend to think, as a rule of tumb, that the “Lord’s Announted” are those He has called into positions to teach us and lead us. We should not get too Pharasee-ish about this point, such as the old discussions about “Who is my neighbor?”

    Again, as a rule of thumb, I think you can find fault or “speak evil” with a leader or teacher as long as it is true and damaging. For example, I had an EQ Teacher who would never theach from the book and end every single lesson with why we should become socialists. I mean every lession. While I think these type of discussions are valid, I don’t think a period given to Church instruction is a time to start a plea for political persusion ( I cringed whever Clinton was brought up in Church too back in the day, by the way). And I told the EQ leader leader so. Apparently others felt that way because he was removed about a month later.

    Comment by Nate T. — April 27, 2006 @ 12:00 pm

  42. “Second anointing” seems to have multiple meanings, and they have changed over the years.

    In the spritiual sense, the “first anointing” is actually receiving the Holy Ghost. Not the gift of the Holy Ghost, not just the influence of, but actually receiving him, as in a visitation, as when he “falls upon” someone.

    In this sense the “second anointing” is then a personal visit from the Savior. The phrase “second anointing” is congruent to “the second Comforter” of which Joseph Smith taught. He explained that “the second Comforter” is the Savior.

    We generally associate a personal visit from the Savior with “having one’s calling and election made sure” but the Savior could visit someone without making his/her calling and election sure, as happened in the scriptures and in the early history of the modern church.

    I have no references handy to back it up, but from what I’ve heard at talks and firesides is that when the Lord wants to visit with someone, he does so at a temple. How an appointment is made or arranged, I don’t know.

    I remember a fireside talk given by someone in our stake who is a long-time pillar of the church, and has been a long-time temple worker. In part of his talk, he spoke of both the temple, and Christ as the second Comforter. He urged the audience to so live as to be worthy of a visit from the Savior and have one’s calling and election made sure. As he spoke of Christ as the second Comforter, the skin of his face started to glow and shine. I got the impression he not only knew what he was talking about, but that he was speaking from experience.

    Comment by Bookslinger — April 27, 2006 @ 12:09 pm

  43. I have a thing on my fridge that somebody on the blog said, “There’s something Christ-like about supporting someone in their callings even when they’re not doing all that well in them”

    Or pretty close.

    Comment by annegb — May 1, 2006 @ 3:20 am

  44. You know, I’m studying to be a psychotherapist and if someone comes to me, in confidentiality, to tell me something that involves a priesthood leader whom they believe has done them harm, how does that measure up relative to this conversation? Just wondering…

    Comment by KATZ — May 3, 2006 @ 5:06 pm

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