Using Others’ Spiritual Gifts

August 24, 2007

by Amri

Situation 1: a woman has found that she has the spiritual gift of healing. It is different than the Priesthood anointing and blessing the sick but healing occurs and it comes from her hands.

Situation 2: a man has the spiritual gift of speaking, of testimony, of helping others’ to feel his testimony. He is invited to speak all the time because of the spirit that he brings. He is gay. Eventually he comes out of the closet.

Situation 3: a woman feels that she has the gift of tongues. Not the comfortable, I learned how to speak on my mission sort of gift of tongues but the kind that needs translating. The kind that does not make sense to use immediately.

 What do we do in these scenarios? I have dear friends that have experienced all three. The first one is only awkward for people because it is a woman. All the way to the 1930s women in the Church could more openly admit and use this spiritual gift of healing but since then we are so uncomfortable with it that she may never be allowed to use this gift. Or she does it in secret with her own children, always wondering if she’s doing what’s right.

The second one is hard because it is hard to distinguish between old ideas of homosexuality being evil (and therefore how could they access a spiritual gift?) and the new ideas in the Church that homosexuality is not evidence of unrighteousness but just is, as long as their sexuality remains unexpressed with others.  Also then, if a gay or lesbian is in a relationship with someone, can they still hold onto their gift? Or does it dissipate because according to the Church they are sinning?

The third one is probably the one we think is the craziest though our history is ripe with people speaking in tongues. Joseph’s mother Lucy had this gift. Some were translated and put into songs and sermons. Now we think it’s associated with religions that are either way off base or dominated by the devil. So what happens to a believing Mormon, with good intentions, that feels she has this gift?

Theoretically, I think the more the merrier. Bring on everyone and anyone that has a spiritual gift, but admittedly some make me feel uncomfortable too. How do we deal with this? If you were a leader in your ward would you encourage someone share their gift even if the details of their gifts is strange or unfamiliar? If you found yourself with a gift you didn’t feel you could openly or easily use, what would you do about it?

I imagine I would fret a lot. And then cry. But beyond that, I can’t tell.



  1. I hope we would welcome all the gifts – no matter how strange and uncomfortable. If it is a true spiritual gift, then who are we to judge? Let God work his miracles through his children.

  2. In all of the cases above, it is the Church (and us as members) that need(s) to adapt, not the individuals. We should strive to foster and encourage authentic manifestations of spirituality. Attempts to control or correlate spirituality have the effect of deadening or muting the very thing we’re striving for, unless you are fortunate enough (via nature or nurture) to be hard-wired to feel and express yourself spiritually via the Church’s “approved” channels and processes.

    Only by encouraging and accepting authentic spirituality can we achieve True Community. Otherwise, we’re just playing around at Pseudocommunity. (See, for example, M. Scott Peck’s “community building” at Wikipedia.)

  3. You know, I think my life has been weird enough that I would roll with it. If any one of these things were granted to me by the Lord, who has any authority to make me feel bad for using them?

    Of course, it’s easy to say that, sitting here as a plain ol’ person.

  4. Of course we want everyone to feel welcome and be able to express their spiritual gifts, but I know I would feel awkward if someone started speaking in tongues at testimony meeting. Not just uncomfortable, depending on the situation it could freak me out. And no matter how much I want gays to find more a place in the Church, in all frankness right now they don’t. I mean, you can’t even really hold the hand of your crush if you’re gay, let alone be honest and open and still exhibit your gifts.

    In our history, people used to bring sick people to women healers to heal them but I do think people would get upset about it these days. Even some disciplinary action could occur if it were public. Don’t y’all think that’s the case? I mean, it’s about what’s acceptable in our heads right? How would one go about changing that?

  5. We need a spiritual gifts classified bulletin board:

    Speaker of tongues seeks interpreter of tongues.

    Teacher seeks those who gain faith by the testimony of others.

    Healer seeking sick people.

    That sort of thing. If we were all matched up better maybe we wouldn’t feel so uncomfortable about using our gifts. Isn’t it interesting that most gifts require other people?

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