Sunday, May 16, 2004

Loosed in heaven?

During today's commemoration of the 175th anniversary of the restoration of the priesthood, this well-known scripture was cited repeatedly:

And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (Matthew 16:19)

The part about sealing/binding I think I understand pretty well: it essentially means that ordinances, properly done and recorded, are considered valid and create ties that can continue beyond this life. But I don't have a good understanding of the part about loosing. When we seal something, we do so with an ordinance. Are there ordinances that serve a loosing function? When a sealing is cancelled, is there an ordinance of cancellation of sealing, or is the cancellation simply recorded? How is the priesthood involved in loosing?


  1. Nice reminder, I hadn't even noticed the date. The point about loosing is quite interesting, really. Most ordinances seem to be designed and interpreted as "one-way only," which is somewhat at odds with what is outlined in Matthew. If you're baptized you can't be "unbaptized." And I have read that if one is excommunicated, one can't apparently be "unexcommunicated," say if it is determined there was a miscarriage of justice, instead one is just rebaptized.

    I suppose ordinances are viewed as voluntary, whereas a "loosing" ordinance might sometimes be involuntary. It is odd to think of the exercise of priesthood claims or power over unwilling subjects.

  2. Nullification of sealings for marriage is one example. However I believe that when certain states are imposed by the priesthood, say a draught, then this can be losed by the priesthood. The idea is, I think, that there is no difference between the spiritual and the physical and thus matter "obeys" the priesthood. You can define laws and remove laws.

  3. Grasshopper,

    Is your question about what a "loosing" is or is the question about what ritual or process is involved in such an action?

    The former question raises the question of exactly what it means to have a ritual here have a meaningful effect in a condition which we don't know much about. The latter seems to me to be more this-worldly, and likely more susceptible to finding an answer.

  4. The idea of "loosing" a condition of nature, such as drought, is intriguing. In this sense, I suppose we could consider healings a "loosing", as well.


    Good questions. My question in this case is more pointed toward the "this-worldly" ritual aspects of loosing. But that leaves the deeper question unanswered: how is it that this-worldly ritual has other-worldly effects? And that question applies to both sealing and loosing.

  5. My father was on a high council when an excommunication was "rescinded." He admitted that it was strange and that he had never seen such a thing before, but apparently the person had been done wrong. After investigating the matter and so forth, the stake president (a different one than the one that carried out the excommunication) recieved a letter from the First Presidency stating that the excommunication was "rescinded."

    When we are called, we are set apart with an ordinance, but we are released rather casually. Yet my "casual" release as a missionary was more dramatic to me than my setting apart. Not being involved with these things I can only speculate, but my sense is that sealing cancellations, excommunications, etc. are done without ordinances (unless you count the Prophet's signature as an ordinance.)

  6. Can we be loosed from obligations? Is the Atonement a loosing, a shedding?

  7. Good question, greenfrog. It seems connected to my question about whether healing can be considered a loosing: a freeing from bondage.

    Is atonement an ordinance?