General LDS Information
Basic LDS Beliefs
LDS Videos
Critics' Questions
Submitted Questions
Scriptures/LDS Literature
LDS Temples
Music and Arts
LDS Online Stores
Priesthood, Humor, Miscel.
Site Map

Suggest a Site

Bookmark and Share



LUC - Growing up I felt like I was always taught to only partake of the sacrament with my right hand and to never take the sacrament tray myself but wait till its offered to me before I partake. Is there any doctrinal foundation to this or simply LDS culture?

JOEL - I never heard the one about not taking the sacrament tray yourself. Have I been doing it wrong all these 60 years? I think the only part of your question that might be considered doctrinal is taking the sacrament with the right hand.

The scriptures provide evidence to the importance and significance of the right hand. One of the earliest incidents recorded is the blessing Jacob gave his grandsons, Manasseh and Ephraim. Manasseh was the elder, and as Joseph presented his sons to their grandfather, he presented Manasseh towards Jacob's right hand and Ephraim towards his left hand. The record states that Jacob "guiding his hands wittingly" placed his right hand on the head of Ephraim and his left hand on the head of Manasseh. Joseph protested, saying, "Not so, my father: for this is the firstborn; put thy right hand upon his head." "I know it, my son, I know it:" said Jacob, "he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations."(Gen. 48:13-19)

When Stephen was slain, he looked up into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God.(Acts 7:55, See also Luke 22:69, Mark 14: 62)

God's children are promised that they will sit on the right hand of God in heaven(1 Pet 3: 22, Eph 1:20, Matt 25: 34, Mosiah 5:9)

It is customary to extend the right hand in token of friendship. The right hand is called the dexter, and the left, the sinister. Dexter, or right, means favorable or propitious. Sinister is associated with evil, rather than good. I suppose because of all this the custom from the very earliest time, has been to associate the right hand with the taking of oaths, and in witnessing or acknowledging obligations and has carried over into priesthood ordinances.

The right hand has been used, in preference to the left hand, in officiating in sacred ordinances where only one hand is used. We sustain the general authorities and local leaders with the right hand. We raise our right hand to the square during temple ordinances and when performing baptisms. In like manner we take the sacrament with the right hand to renew our baptismal covenant and the related obligations and promises.

Here's a few interesting quotes from earlier church leaders on this subject which reflects a little of the culture of the time:

"The ones who officiate at the board (Sacrament table) should do so with humble dignity, acting with precision and unity of movement, so that, all eyes being centered upon them, they may proceed without manifest embarrassment to perform their duties. Certain rules generally observed in the passing of the sacrament have come to be law, and these are based upon the idea of uniformity, perhaps, more than upon any other inherent reason—such as, for instance, that the deacon, or other officer passing the cup, shall carry it in his right hand, and that the communicant shall receive it in like manner; and these and other rules, not necessary to mention, are for the good order of the congregation. In addition to these things, the Saints owe a duty to each other that they should studiously discharge—that is to be so clean and sweet that their presence at the Holy Supper shall not offend any." (The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper. BY WILLIAM A. HYDE, Improvement Era, 1911)

"Our people have been taught to take the sacrament with the right hand; we believe that is appropriate, and proper, and acceptable to our Father. The sacrament should not be accepted with a gloved hand; nobody should receive it in that irreverent manner. We should partake of it in humility, with preparation of clean hands and pure hearts, and with a desire to be acceptable to our Father; then we will receive it worth fly and rejoice in the blessing that comes to us by reason of it." (George Albert Smith, Conference Reports, p. 36, April, 1908)

There's room for one to be practical with this. Obviously an amputee is going to have to use his left hand and it won't invalidate the ordinance. Even a mother holding a sleeping baby in her right arm might not want to risk waking the baby to switch hands to take the sacrament.

The only significance I can imagine in the act of letting someone else offer you the sacrament tray, is that it can be considered an act of service to offer it and an act of humility on your part to accept the offer. It also helps keep a sense of uniformity in the ordinance as mentioned in one of the quotes above. But I think more important than taking the sacrament by yourself or with the right hand is whether or not your heart and spirit are right at the time you take it. The reason why we take it is much more important than how we take it.

Return to top
Return to Questions