I’ve come across a bit of a policy in the Church in regards to excommunication, and it is something that bothers me. The idea that Bishops can excommunicate non-priesthood-holding members. When I came across one story of a young woman who had committed fornication (which is adultery for the unmarried), I thought the Bishop had made a mistake, not knowing the correct policy. When I came across it a second time, it was pointed out to me that the Bishop can excommunicate members, with a consultation with the Stake President, but that only Priesthood holding men are sent to a court with the full High Council. I found an article in the Ensign (A Chance to Start Over: Church Disciplinary Councils and the Restoration of Blessings) that confirmed this.
I understand that the reason for this is that the person with the Priesthood has been given more responsibility and has therefore committed a greater sin, but to me this should be applied to anyone who has been to the Temple and taken out his or her Endowments, as that has included a covenant with God to remain chaste. I realize that the High Council is busy enough as it is, but excommunication is too important to be left to the impressions of just one person, the Bishop. I do know that Bishops are given gifts of discernment, but there have also been instances where that power has been abused. I just think the chance for abuse is much less if the matter must always be put before the entire High Council for any member who has made and violated the Covenants made in the Temple.
There evidently also needs to be some instruction on the difference between fornication and adultery, but that is an entirely different post. My wife thinks I should pray about this. Always a good idea, though I’m not meaning this as a slight against the Church, I just see it as a way we can do things better. It’s what I do. We can, and thanks to guidance from above, we will be better.