Robert Kirby: Another Mormon reformation? Is anything worthy of doing once worthy of doing again?

Robert Kirby

With The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints cautiously resuming worship services, it’s possible that COVID-19 may come to be regarded as a judgment from on high. It’s happened before.

People dying by the thousands has long been considered by deep blue believers as proof that God’s patience isn’t infinite. Maybe we are/were being taught a lesson, and that it’s time to shape up.

If this mentality takes hold, Mormonism may undergo another reformation. Yup, we’ll have to get right with the Lord again. We’ll have to be rebaptized.

In the mid-1850s, with Mormons secure in our mountain fortress, Brigham Young came to the conclusion that the church needed to rededicate itself to God. This decision followed a drought, a locust infestation and public announcement of the practice of polygamy.

Exactly which of those forms of horribleness was the spark for large numbers of early Mormons being rebaptized is still a matter of speculation. My money — if I had any — would be on plural marriage.

Getting rebaptized is a foreign concept to most Latter-day Saints today. It used to be that getting rebaptized was just for those who had been excommunicated, or booted from the church. A good example would be, oh, say, anyone continuing in polygamy after God or others came to their senses and got rid of the practice.

After repenting of their wretchedness, those desiring readmission to the fold had to rededicate themselves in a baptismal font.

During the reformation, however, this applied to just about all Latter-day Saints regardless of whether they had done anything wrong. It was a time of zealous recommitment.

One of the bad things about zealotry is that it can get out of hand in a hurry. That’s why I am going on record to say that I will not get rebaptized. I’m drawing a line in the … water.

See, there’s too much of a risk in this whole re-whatever thing getting out of control. What if to prove my rededication I was called on another mission?

Not happening. I’m too old and annoyable to learn another language, live in a dump with someone I might soon be inclined to murder, or knock on doors while suffering from severe stomach cramps. Did that. Not doing it again.

Sound impossible? Well, far too often, one thing leads to another and soon we’re doing some of the following just to prove how rededicated we are:

RE-TITHING • This would involve paying 10% of whatever you’ve already paid as a tithe? For example, say you paid $500 in tithing. Re-tithing would mean you have to come up with $50 on that amount, then $5 on the $50, and so on until it zeroed out.

RE-MINISTERING • Already made your monthly visits to your assigned families? Good. Now do it again. If you waited until the last day of the month, too bad. You go back for a second visit that day, even if you have to squeeze it in before midnight.

RE-MISSION • Already served the Lord full time for two years or 18 months? Good. A second call will be especially good for you. That old Primary song will soon be sung in sacrament meeting, “I hope they re-call me on a mission…”

Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.

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