A group of Master Masons talk about topics of Masonic interest--each from their own unique perspective. You'll find a wide range of subjects including history, trivia, travel, book reviews, great quotes, and hopefully a little humor as well on topics of interest for Freemasons and those interested in the subject of Freemasonry.
That Which Has Been Lost - Laws, Rules and Regulations
by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Bill Hosler, PM
Recently I published a piece in which I laidout my belief that we who are in pursuit of Masonic education have forgotten to educate newly obligated Brethren on the basics of Masonic membership and my theory on how we came to our present situation. This is the second installment. You can read the first part HERE.
In the original piece I was going to write was about how one dresses while attending lodge meetings. As part of the research I asked a question in a Facebook group. I even gave an example of what I was searching for from my jurisdiction. The debate from my question went in every direction (except for answering my question.) It became very heated. I realized even though my question brought about a lot of debate, very few Brethren understood my question.
Although as important as the subject, is it has been debated over and over to the point it has almost has become the infamous debate that stemmed from “Points in or out” article from a few years ago. So although I reserve the right to throw gas on that fire at a future date I went to discuss something I felt was more important.
During the dress argument, a Senior Warden of a lodge stated that during his year he isn’t going to enforce the dress of his members while attending lodge events. “I don’t have the right to tell members how to dress.”, he stated. I’m sorry Brother, but that isn’t correct.
Even before you become a Mason you are asked many times if you will (paraphrasing) “cheerfully conform and submit to the laws of Freemasonry." You also agree during your obligation that you'll follow all laws, rules, and regulations of a lodge of (Whatever degree you were receiving). In plain English, “If you want to play our game, you have to play by the rules we've set up.” In many cases this includes how your lodge chooses to direct you to dress while attending a lodge communication. So Brother, yes you do have the authority to instruct a Brother how to dress when coming to lodge.
I have come to believe many Brothers within our fraternity are not aware their grand jurisdiction have put in place many rules (in Masonic circle called laws), which govern their day to day life.
All you have to do is pick up your jurisdiction’s book of Masonic laws. I think you'd be surprised at some of the laws on the books and possibly how many of these laws you might accidentally break during the course of your daily life, through ignorance.
Many of the laws lay out the functions of the Grand Lodge, the officers and their responsibilities. Other sections layout rules for subordinate lodges which they govern. Others still enumerate the laws and personal responsibilities of the individual Mason within the jurisdiction.
I have gathered some laws which are actually on the books from several jurisdictions. Some of the laws are common sense.
It is a Masonic offense in one jurisdiction to:
“...wear a Masonic emblem, or otherwise claim to be a Master Mason in good standing while an Entered Apprentice or Fellow Craft Mason, a suspended or expelled Mason, or a Mason unaffiliated for more than one year.”
“Failure of an officer of a Lodge to settle and to return his books over to it at the proper time, or failure to perform with fidelity a duty as an officer of a Lodge or of the Grand Lodge.”
“Using Masonic membership for commercial purposes.”
There are others laws which govern your daily life. Here are some examples from various states:
“Failure to supportdefendants is unmasonic. It shall be the duty of every Master Mason to provide his minor children, his father and his mother with the necessities of life to the extent that they will not become a charge of the lodge”.
“Gambling, in any amount or at any time, which may unreasonably impair one’s ability to support himself or those having prior claims upon him, or which causes a discredit to the brother or to the fraternity.”
“Profanity or the habitual use of obscene and filthy speech.”
“To promote or encourage the production, distribution or use of obscene films, pictures or writings”
Or one which has brought about much controversy in the last few years from the Grand Lodge of Tennesse:
“To engage in lewd conduct. To promote or engage in homosexual activity. To cohabit immorally in a situation without the benefit of marriage.”
There are many more. If you look, you will notice some have been in place for many years, decades even. I want to state I am not saying I agree or disagree with any of the above Masonic laws, I am just submitting them as examples to illustrate my point.
In my opinion, you can look at these laws in several different ways. If you totally disagree with a particular law you can work through the legislative process of your Grand Lodge to change a law you disagree with.
You might also look at these laws and you might find one of them bring to your attention something you do in your daily life that you aren’t proud of. It might be like tossing some cold water in the face, a wake up call.
You can also demit from the Fraternity. (I don’t suggest this one.)
But one thing you cannot do Brother, is ignore the lawyers of your Masonic jurisdiction. It is very possible it could lead to suspension or expulsion.
Just like in every other part of your life there are rules you have to live and abide by. Whether you are at work, playing in a softball league or living as a citizen of your country, there will always be laws and like it has been since the days of the laws of the Romans “Ignorantia juris non excusat”. Ignorance of the law is no excuse.
Take notice, govern yourself accordingly Brethren.
WB Bill Hosler was made a Master Mason in 2002 in Three Rivers Lodge #733 in Indiana. He served as Worshipful Master in 2007 and became a member of the internet committee for Indiana's Grand Lodge. Bill is currently a member of Roff Lodge No. 169 in Roff Oklahoma and Lebanon Lodge No. 837 in Frisco,Texas. Bill is also a member of the Valley of Fort Wayne Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite in Indiana. A typical active Freemason, Bill also served as the High Priest of Fort Wayne's Chapter of the York Rite No. 19 and was commander of of the Fort Wayne Commandery No. 4 of the Knight Templar. During all this he also served as the webmaster and magazine editor for the Mizpah Shrine in Fort Wayne Indiana.