One Possible Implentation

The following is one possible version on how to implement the ideas in the post “A Ground Rule from the Doctrine of Christ”, and you are free to disregard the ideas or change them.

1. As a body we can come to the realization that the doctrine of Christ may exclude the contentious filibuster option for decisions because we all said we believed in Christ’s doctrine about not disputing when we were baptized.

2. We do not have an accepted way to blot out names from the records. It’s nice to not have to be judges of people at this point (and that’s not even my intention in bringing up this point…quite the contrary, it’s to point out that it’s probably not even an option now to consider, so we shouldn’t think of it. We can judge proposals now, though, and the way they are advanced).

3. We can use God’s judgments to judge individual motions (the behaviors displayed in council during the decision-making process) without condemning either the content of the proposal or the person advancing it. We don’t even have to judge their intentions or their hearts. In other words, we all have bad moments and behaviors, and we shouldn’t label one another. Adrian’s recent post speaks well to this point.

4. If a motion is deemed contentious by the body, a neutral party can be chosen to advance the content of the motion in a non-contentious way. This way no wisdom or good ideas are lost in the process, and neither is the process stalled by behavior that is—intentionally or unintentionally—halting the body from proceeding.

5. If we have a true stalemate that doesn’t arise from contentious behavior, we can declare a stalemate and request revelation from the Lord to resolve the dispute (in this case, it is a procedural dispute where we all realize there is no harmonizing two valid viewpoints with our current understanding). At present, we have no means to ask the Lord for revelation as a body. We only do that as individuals now, or we have accepted certain pronouncements by Joseph Smith and Denver Snuffer. This point needs more work to be fully utilized. It’s a discussion for another day.

6. If a person seems to be halting a decision for no good reason (again, this is independent from their idea, it is the nature of how they submit the idea and stall the body), then all it would take is another person to motion to have their behavior scrutinized by the body in just this instance, and have it seconded. The body can then decide, without the offending party involved, to declare their behavior as an invalid proposal. Then, the body can take the content of their proposal and re-assign it per #4 above. This in NO WAY blots their name out of the records. It does NOT excommunicate them. It doesn’t even stop them from advancing another motion on the same project, provided it is not the same type of behavior displayed as the last time.

With these types of ground rules (again, feel free to reject this version of applying the scriptures mentioned above), we as a body can reject all disputations. We choose not to dispute. We choose to reject decision-making behavior that seems like a dispute. If we make a mistake in judging what behavior is contentious or not, we have the safeguard of taking the content of their proposal and still considering it. If a person sincerely believes their proposition is true, and they are of a good heart, I can see no reason to be afraid of this process. In fact, they’d be willing to sacrifice their individual vote temporarily to at least get their idea heard. They still maintain all future voting privileges. Their idea still gets heard, even if the way they advance it is mischaracterized temporarily. They in no way are barred from further participation. This way, nobody can arrest decision making indefinitely either. We are judging isolated behavior based on the Lord’s judgments, and not our own, and we are not judging individuals nor their status with God or as members of the body by virtue of their baptism and fellowship with us. It allows us as a body to say “It was a good idea, but we think it is being advanced with bad form or is unintentionally causing contention” or vice versa. People in the future can judge for themselves if we managed our difficulties correctly, and we can expand without fear of new people causing havoc if they display similar traits.

In judging “motions” we can use language such as “We as a body have deemed that the motion that says ________ is causing a disputation and we reject it as a procedure. We will consider the idea the motion advances separately.” Or, if the idea was already discussed and settled, that can be stated and we can vote as a body about the rejection of the dispute and move on. Sometimes we may not even need to vote about it, it may be self-evident. Either way, we can publish the intent of the body to outsiders who witness our proceedings and show how we reject filibustering. This can be done as a last step after all attempts to persuade the contentious have failed.

This option should NOT be used to stifle new ideas that modify old decisions. New ideas deserve their turn. We should be careful to not hastily label a motion as a dispute, or else everyone will be afraid of advancing any idea. This is why it would be important to have the body vote if a motion really is causing contention or not, and the contention is not just arising from other contentious people regardless. Again, this is why it’s important to preserve the content of the idea advanced if we reject a filibuster procedure as a last resort.