My wife and I enjoy reading your responses and appreciate your diligent efforts to give answers from official sources when possible. My question is regarding temple recommend questions. Some of our extended family is in a stake where it seems that additional requirements are in place. For one, men with beards have been denied recommends as they feel a beard demonstrates that one does not sustain priesthood leaders. (A general authority commented to the stake president that there was a lot of facial hair in the stake one time. Since then there has been a push to make sure the brethren in the stake are clean shaven.)
We have also been told of a recommend being denied for drinking herbal (peppermint) tea. Are bishop’s and stake presidents given the authority to add requirements to the temple recommend interview? In my opinion these seem like fairly minor issues to deny recommends over. After all, couldn’t most sins/areas-where-we-fall-short fall into the category of not supporting church leaders? I appreciate that you are rightly reluctant to criticize local leadership, but I would appreciate any thoughts you are willing to share.
Worthiness to enter the temple in the Mormon Church is a judgment call by the interviewing members of bishoprics and stake presidencies The questions that are normally asked in a temple recommend interview are not the only questions that may be asked. The interviewing authority is free to ask whatever he wishes in order to determine worthiness. One would anticipate that decisions made in such matters are the result of inspiration and revelation from the Lord. If there appear to be differences between different Wards or Stakes in the perceived requirements, that may indeed be the case, but it in no way invalidates the decisions of the interviewing authorities.
The thing is that the Lord has placed these particular individuals in their positions of authority, and He will honor their decisions as long as they remain in office.
If the members become the judges of the authorities, instead of the other way around, chaos would ensue. At each Ward and Stake conference we make covenants to SUSTAIN our leaders in their positions of authority. They are not all required to sing from the same hymn book, as it were. But we are required to honor our sacred commitments to sustain them in the offices of their callings.
You mention that you have also been told of a recommend being denied for drinking herbal (peppermint) tea. You may have heard that, but how would ever know that such was the case? The person being interviewed could have reported that such was the case, and the interviewing authority could well have discussed the Word of Wisdom in relation to drinking herbal teas. However, there is no doubt that such an observation was a mistaken conclusion by the person being interviewed.
To relate a personal experience in that regard– As a stake president years ago (and far away) I gave a temple recommend interview to a young couple and felt as a result of the interview that they should wait for a period before entering the temple. During the interview the subject of drinking Coke came up. This couple, disappointed at not receiving an immediate recommend, wrote a letter to the First Presidency of the Church complaining that they had been denied a recommend because they drank Coke. I received in return a letter from a member of the Quorum of the Twelve advising me that drinking Coke was not formally against the Word of Wisdom, and that other things being order, I could not deny them a recommend on that basis. I explained to the writer of the letter that drinking Coke had nothing to do with my decision that it would be well for them to wait awhile before entering the temple, and the decision was honored. Perhaps a similar situation occurred with respect to the peppermint tea episode.