My son had the opportunity to attend his first Temple trip with the youth recently. He was nervously anticipating this next step in his cultural indoctrination. Our branch has a chasm between he and the other youth as far as age, so he was not among “friends”. The long drive (90-120 min. traffic dependent) did not offer opportunity for social interaction, as he spent the entire time watching everyone on their electronic device of choice. He was anticipating conversation and brought a game along in hopes of calming nerves but could find no takers.

Upon arrival, the leaders went one direction and the youth went another to have a meeting with the Temple staff. After the prayer there was a question, “Are there any young men in the group that have not been ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood?” My son raised his hand. Cue crickets and popping eyeballs. 

He sat in the waiting room for the next two hours by himself wondering why he couldn't participate even though he passed the temple recommend interview. All of his leadership acted as though his participation was expected and certain. Our previous BP was in attendance and had never heard this question before. Needless to say the current BP was also completely unaware, as were all the leaders. Would have been nice to get that memo.

No harm done, but it got me to thinking. What is so magical about 12 anyway? Can't a person decide he is not ready for that commitment but still be worthy to participate in baptisms for the dead? My son didn't, and has since been ordained. It was simply a timing issue. But couldn't a person?

I am not sure I believe in mandatory priesthood ordination in order to attend baptisms for the dead.