Excommunication is defined by the LDS church as “A disciplinary process used only in extreme situations. This includes removal of an individual’s name from the records of the Church“.
From my experience (which isn’t that extensive) with excommunication, one is removed for serious, repeated sexual sins or by having a very rebellious attitude towards the Church of Jesus Christ.
Throughout the years, I’ve often heard LDS members of the church say that the worst thing you can do is be excommunicated because the gift of the Holy Spirit is removed from you and you’re left to your own devices.
I believe that that statment is a falsehood designed by Satan to put despair into the hearts of those who are excommunicated.
I’ll share a story with you as to why I believe it is false that the Lord removes his Spirit from those who are excommunicated.
We were alone in a room in a church building. The young man in front of me had just been excommunicated from the church and was sobbing in front of me. I was the Elders Quorum President (mens group leader) at the time and I didn’t have answers for him that seemed to help. He asked questions such as: Why did I choose to do the things I did? How can I gain membership back into the church? Did God abandon me? Will I have the Holy Spirit and strength to re-commit myself to the Savior and His gospel?
As he cried and shared his feelings with me, I prayed silently “God help me help him feel your love and give him answers”. Suddenly I remembered something I had done numerous times on my mission with investigators of the gospel.
I looked at him and told him I didn’t have the answers to his questions, or the ability to heal his heart and offer forgiveness and healing for his sins, but Jesus did.
We dropped to our knees and I offered the first prayer. I opened my heart to God thanking Him for the blessing of the gospel and for the Atonement of Jesus. I asked Him for guidance and direction for this young man and that He would pour His love into the young man’s heart.
Next, the young man prayed. I have seldom heart a more honest and sincere prayer as I did that day. As the young man prayed, the Holy Spirit came into both of our hearts and we both knew the young man was forgiven. We both knew the compassion and mercy God has for us when we are humble and come to Him offering our hearts to Him.
We both cried and were both strengthened in our relationship with the Lord.
One year later, I was able to witness and assist this young man as he was re-baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ.
If this young man had believed the lie that the Spirit couldn’t be with him after he was excommunicated, he would have lost complete faith in God and never experienced the love of Jesus in such an amazing way. He would have let go and never come back.
For those of you who know someone who has been excommunicated I encourage you to reach out to them as Jesus would and show an increase in love. Don’t judge them or look down on them or think they are not capable of feeling the Lord’s Spirit. If you do judge them, you’re commiting a sin and have need of repentance!
For those who may be excommunicated, I know that God loves you and that you can still feel the Lord’s love and He will increase his love and spiritual protection for you as you open your heart in prayer, read his Holy Word, and remain humble.