My sibling-in-law fell on humbling hard times, began to return to the church, went through a painful and litigious break-up, then asked their Home Teacher for a blessing of comfort. He came, lectured, announced that he wasn’t inclined to give a blessing, and abruptly excused himself. How do we explain this behavior to someone who may never have understood the gospel before leaving the church 20 years ago? I don’t even know that it’s discouraged. I can only say that it feels very wrong.
I’m sorry, that sounds very wrong to me too. To be fair, though, we weren’t there, and there may have been some sort of misunderstanding. I see two main possibilities, though there could be others as well.
Scenario One: It happened just as was described to you. In that case the priesthood holder was out of line. We are counseled to “succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down and strengthen the feeble knees”. D&C 81:5 A righteous priesthood holder should exemplify this scripture and thus he should have given your sibling-in-law kindness and support in addition to the blessing requested. I can’t think of any scenario where what you describe should have happened.
Scenario Two: In psychology there is a theory called “projection”. The Encyclopedia Britannica explains it this way: “Projection is a form of defense in which unwanted feelings are displaced onto another person, where they then appear as a threat from the external world.” Projection in Psychology
It is possible that your sibling-in-law, who had been through a “painful and litigious break-up”, unconsciously projected feelings of anger and rejection (which were likely abundant in the break-up) onto the Priesthood holder without recognizing it.
However, trying to explain that to your family member could cause further hurt feelings (especially since scenario one may be the correct one, we just don’t know.) Either way, there is something you can do for your family member. Listen to him/her without judging. Pain needs a witness. Validate the feelings shared by saying “that must have felt terrible” (or something like that.) Then explain that you are sorry and offer to introduce him/her to a priesthood holder who will give a blessing with love and kindness.