‘Brother’ and ‘Sister’ as a Title

I was born and raised in the church in an area that was nearly 100% Mormons. I grew up with the idea that we always called adults ‘Borther’ or ‘Sister’ so-and-so whenever we talked with or referred to them. I assumed that this was simply an acknowledgment of the fact that we have a belief in everyone being spiritual children of God, and that therefore we are all spiritual siblings. I felt that the only reason we might not call an adult who was not a member of our church ‘Brother’ or ‘Sister’ is because they wouldn’t understand it, and we wouldn’t want to look odd.

While I was on my mission I observed that the other missionaries would withhold the title of ‘Brother’ or ‘Sister’ from their investigators when referring to them to local members. It was not until after they were baptized that the missionaries and the members started in with the whole brother and sister thing.

Is this just being stingy? Not allowing someone new into our club until they have passed some initiation ritual? In a way perhaps it is. A type of club membership where a ritual is required prior to being accepted. There is a scripture that I feel addresses this.

And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for you say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters. (Mosiah 5:7)

Does this address the issue? It does not appear that King Benjamin was specifically talking about baptism, but I believe it applies to the covenant made at baptism very well.

We believe that all of us are spiritual brothers and sisters, being children of God, regardless of our religious beliefs. But once we enter into a covenant in the spirit of what King Benjamin was talking about, we become spiritually begotten sons and daughters of God. And then receive the title of ‘Brother’ and ‘Sister’.

I like this custom of the church. To me it teaches a respect for those who have made and kept covenants. It also is a way of teaching children respect for adults. Kind of a ma’am and sir type of thing. I hope as we respectfully refer to each other by the honorable titles of ‘Brother’ and ‘Sister’ that we will think about why these titles are significant and meaningful.

I wonder, however, about what people who are not members of the church might think of this title we use? Do some feel left out about not being given the same respectful title? Should we not be so stingy with it?

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7 Responses to “‘Brother’ and ‘Sister’ as a Title”


  1. 1 Kristian May 4, 2006 at 5:18 pm

    I kind of like the way the early Church addressed each other with their first name “Brother Joseph”, “Sister Helen”. etc… Seems even more “family-like”

  2. 2 Eric Nielson May 4, 2006 at 5:27 pm

    Yes, that would be cool.

  3. 3 annegb May 7, 2006 at 8:19 pm

    I like being able to call my bishop “Brother Smith.” But I am so annoyed when someone persists in calling me Sister Jones, when I say, “oh, call me Anne.” I find it pretentious and piously phony.

  4. 4 Eric Nielson May 8, 2006 at 7:03 am

    Wow. I haven’t come across that before. Thanks Sis….I mean Anne.

  5. 5 annegb May 16, 2006 at 12:41 pm

    šŸ™‚ Eric . . .

    I don’t care for my stake president. Long story. It’s all his fault. He’s a putz. But don’t tell Adam I used that word, okay?

    So I’ve decided to start calling him colonel since he was in the air force.

  6. 7 Jeff June 29, 2006 at 6:09 pm

    I’ve started a grass roots movement to introduce Brother Firstname and Sister Firstname back into the pattern. I’ve even called my bishop Brother Firstname already. By spuriously using this form, eventually we may at least get localized acceptance of the use of first names, which makes way more sense than having twelve Brother Smiths in the same ward, who are always together because they’re in the same family. (you get the point)

    ~Brother Jeff, a “Mormon Gnostic”


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