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Question and Answer 1

27: On 3/26/97, Martha asked: I am a physical therapy student at the University of Pittsburgh. One of our projects is to discover if the Mormon faith is opposed to any type of physical therapy treatment. This would include going to the hospital for treatment using hot or cold packs, massage therapy, electrical stimulation, traction, or any other types of exercises prescribed by your doctor? Please any one with any information would be greatly appreciated. My report is due in a week, so ASAP any info. Thanks.

In light of modern revelation, Latter-day Saints believe that the physical body and its health and well-being are an essential part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Today, many LDS women and men are involved in health care practice and research. Church members, who are advised to seek medical assistance from competent licensed physicians, generally believe that advances in medical science and health care have come though the inspiration of the Lord. In fact, Elder Russell M. Nelson, a present member of the Council of the Twelve Apostles, is an internationally recognized heart surgeon and medical researcher.

(See Attitude Toward Health and Medicine)

26: On 3/26/97 Steve asked: Hello, I am an investigator and I want to know if non-members taking sacrament during the meetings is allowed/acceptable. I haven't been, just to be on the safe side, but it does feel kind of strange to just pass it on.

In Latter-day Saint usage, Sacrament designates that ordinance instituted by Jesus Christ as a means by which worthy Saints may renew their covenants with their Redeemer and with God the Father.

Elder John A. Widtsoe noted, "The Sacrament is intended for the members of the Church. The covenants in the prayer of blessing are those made when entrance into the Church is consummated. Where there are many non-members present in a Sacrament meeting, the presiding officer usually announces that the Sacrament will be administered to members of the Church, without further comment. There should, however, be no attempt to withhold the bread and water from non-members. If such persons partake, it will be upon their own responsibility; and to some extent at least they then accept the meaning and covenants of the ordinance." (Evidences and Reconciliations, p.82)

(See Sacrament; Sacrament Prayers)

25: On 3/22/97, Norman asked: If I was informed correctly I understand that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has an extensive database of families. I would like to know whether it is possible to consult this through Internet (or otherwise) concerning my family and how I can do this.

The Church has Family History centers located throughout the world. (See Family History) These centers are available to both members and nonmembers generally without charge to either. For certain services, like copying, a nominal charge is required. In the United States, there is probably a center within a 30 minute drive from your home. Try contacting a local unit of the Church and asking them where the nearest Family History center is to you. You can find the Church listed in most phone directories.

On the internet, The Genealogy Lady at the New Jerusalem web site is a good place to start looking for information.  Also see, the Church's Family Search site at

24: On 3/22/97, Kevin asked: Being a non-member investigator I'm interested in learning how Latter-day Saints celebrate Easter. Do you hold special Church services or continue with your regular services?

Latter-day Saints conduct Easter Sunday services but do not follow the religious observances of Ash Wednesday, Lent, or Holy Week. LDS Easter services traditionally review New Testament and Book of Mormon accounts of Christ's crucifixion, his resurrection, and surrounding events. For these services, chapels are often decorated with white lilies and other symbols of life. Ward choirs frequently present Easter cantatas, and congregations sing Easter hymns.

(See Easter on the Holidays and Celebrations home page)

23: On 3/22/97, Gary asked: Another question is who is Raphael? No where in Church doctrine have I been able to find who his identity was or is.

The Lord has not clearly identified the mortal identity of Raphael. However, Elder Bruce R. McConkie has made the following observations:

"As part of the restitution of all things, Raphael, an angelic ministrant, a personage who held keys of power during his mortal ministry, returned to earth in modern times and conferred the keys of his dispensation upon Joseph Smith. (D. & C. 128:21.) The Bible contains no mention of Raphael; the apocryphal book of Tobias, however, contains this statement: 'I am the Angel Raphael, one of the seven, who stand before the Lord' (Tob. 12:15.)

As to Raphael's mortal identity we can only speculate. We do know the personages however, who restored the keys exercised in the various great dispensations mentioned in the Bible, with the exception of the dispensation of Enoch. An inference thus arises that Raphael may be Enoch or some other great prophet from his dispensation. If this assumption is correct, then the keys restored by Raphael would be those enjoyed by the saints in Enoch's day including, perhaps, the power whereby men may be translated." (Mormon Doctrine, p. 618) (See Angels)

22: On 3/22/97, Gary asked: As of lately I have been inundated with questions as to why the temple ceremonies have been changed? There are numerous sites on the internet to get the endowment ceremonies. How are we to handle a sincere question form an investigator as to why an unchangeable god would change his ordinances?

See Why Have the Temple Ordinaces Changed Over Time?

21: On 3/21/97, Mario asked: Many LDS members will speak of a testimony they had. But what is it?

"Testimony is a generic term among Latter-day Saints for the assurance of the reality, truth, and goodness of God, of the teachings and Atonement of Jesus Christ, and of the divine calling of latter-day prophets. It is the core of LDS religious experience. It reaches beyond secondhand assent, notional conviction, or strong belief. It is knowledge buttressed by divine personal confirmation by the Holy Ghost and is interrelated with authentic faith and trust in God as demonstrated by dedication and discipleship. Fundamental in the Church is the doctrine that 'no man can be a minister of Jesus Christ except he has the testimony of Jesus; and this is the spirit of prophecy. Whenever salvation has been administered, it has been by testimony' (TPJS, p. 160)." (Encyclopedia of Mormonism) (See Testimony on the Doctrines of the Gospel home page)

20: On 3/20/97, Sandy asked: I would like to see an article on Primary so families with young children can feel comfortable about bringing their young children to church and leaving them in some else's hands for two hours.

Articles have been added on Primary and the Role of Children in the Church. You may also want to visit the Primary Page web site. If anyone has any good information on this subject, we invite you to contribute it.

19: On 3/20/97, Angela asked: I think that "anti-Christ" is someone who take away or tear down someone else's Testimony, Faith or Self-esteem, without exemption of, if "someone" is inside and "someone else" is outside the LDS Church, or vice versa.(etc.) Am I wrong?

According to the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, "Antichrists are those who deny the divinity of Jesus Christ or essential parts of his gospel and actively oppose the followers of Christ or seek to destroy their faith."

According to Mormon Doctrine, "An antichrist is an opponent of Christ; he is one who is in opposition to the true gospel, the true Church, and the true plan of salvation. (1 John 2:19; 4:4-6.) He is one who offers salvation to men on some other terms than those laid down by Christ."

(See anti-Christs)

18: On 3/19/97, Chaz asked: Do Mormons believe that there are absolutes? or do we make up our own morality based on what we feel in our hearts?

Latter-day Saints believe firmly there are indeed moral absolutes. Elder Neal A. Maxwell said, "In an age that has given itself almost completely to situational ethics, our assertions about the existence of moral absolutes may cause some to view us as a kind of strange, religious remnant. It will be imperative that we speak concretely of the consequences of evil and of sin, hopefully in fresh, new, and hearable ways. Because of the increasing impact of the interdependence of mankind, our own individual behavior will be of more than passing significance to others; our believability will depend on our behavior." (A More Excellent Way, p. 9)

Moral absolutes center in God and are communicated to man via revelation. Often they are codified as commandments. Latter-day Saints believe that commandments are divine directives for righteous living; bring happiness and spiritual and temporal blessings; and are part of God's way to redeem his children and endow them with eternal life. (See Commandments in our Doctrines of the Gospel section)

17: On 3/17/97, Adam asked: I was wondering if the religion believes that a man or woman can reach a god-like state?

Latter-day Saints believe that the purpose of this life is to become like our Heavenly Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. The scriptures teach:

"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." (1 John 3:2)

(See Biblical Support for Deification; The Doctrinal Exclusion; Godhood; Early Christian Deification)

16: On 3/17/97, Susan asked: When were the first Mormons around?

This question can be answered in two ways. First, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was founded in 1830. (See April 6) However, Latter-day Saints believe that we are the restored Church of Christ, meaning that we are part of the same organization that has existed since before the foundation of the world. (See Restoration of the Gospel home page)

15: On 3/11/97, Emily asked: I am writing a report comparing Japanese and American women. I was wondering if you could be so kind as to help me by telling me one thing: do arranged marriages exist in the Mormon religion? If so, do you know what percentage of marriages are arranged?

Generally speaking, Latter-day Saints use their agency to choose their own marriage partners. Because we believe family relationships are eternal, choosing the right marriage partner is considered crucial to achieving happiness. Of all decisions, this one must not be wrong. Latter-day Saints have been counseled to remain single instead of marrying an unworthy mate.

In some cultures, parents still closely supervise courtship and arrange children's marriages. However, this is due to the cultural standards and does not arise from their LDS affiliation. Since most Latter-day Saints live in cultures where people choose their own mates, it is very rare for a Latter-day Saint to have an arranged marriage. (see Dating and Courtship)

14: On 3/4/97, Josh asked: As a first time visitor to The Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter-day Saints what should I wear? I'm 18 and will be attending by myself. What goes on?

While everyone is welcome to attend regardless of their dress, male members of the Church do typically wear suits or a jacket and tie. Many 18 year old members do not have suits, so they usually wear just a shirt and tie with slacks. White shirts are most common.

The main meetings on Sunday are (1) Sacrament meeting; (2) Sunday school; and (3) concurrent priesthood quorum meetings for men and Relief Society for women, with children under twelve years of age simultaneously attending primary. Young women meet in their own sessions, while young men of equivalent age are in priesthood meeting. (See Church Meetings)

13: On 3/4/97, Crossbow asked: Do Mormons believe strongly in the Bible or more so in the Book of Mormon?

Latter-day Saints believe that both works are scripture and serve as witnesses of Jesus Christ. Our eighth Article of Faith states: "We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God." (See LDS Belief in the Bible)

12: On 3/3/97 Jeff asked: It seems that prior to the death of Joseph Smith that there were many men within the church that did not hold priesthood of any office, or that they held the office of elder but none of the previous offices. Now it seems that members start at deacon, and then go to teacher, then priest, then elder. It seems like this progression takes place with later leaders of the church. Today it seems more age based. Why did this change take place in the LDS church?

All priesthood offices derive their authority from the priesthood itself, which is greater than any of those offices. Hence, ordination to an office does not increase an individual's authority or power, but rather focuses the individual's service in particular functions. When a person receives the priesthood by the laying-on of hands, he first has the priesthood conferred upon him, after which he is ordained to a specific office in the priesthood. (See Priesthood Offices)

Therefore, your question could be restated as "why has the priesthood been focused on different functions at different times?" The needs of a Church with thousands of members were different than the needs of a Church with millions of members. The organization of the Church has continually adapted in response to the needs of the membership. (See Organizational and Administrative Church History)

11: On 3/3/97, Nancy asked: An individual in the group related that they had been told that the LDS believe that Father God came from the planet Kolob. Would you please affirm or negate this information? If this is a teaching of the Church, where can it be found in written documentation?

Latter-day Saints believe that God the Father, our Heavenly Father, dwells within physical space. "Kolob means 'the first creation.' It is the name of the planet 'nearest to the celestial, or the residence of God.' It is 'first in government, the last pertaining to the measurement of time. . . . One day in Kolob is equal to a thousand years according to the measurement of this earth.' (Book of Abraham, pp. 34-35; Abra. 3:3-9.)" (Mormon Doctrine p. 428) Note that Kolob is the planet nearest to the residence of God, not the residence itself. (See Scriptual References to Astronomy)

10: On 3/3/97, Scott asked: I was wondering if you knew where on the Internet I could find the missionary discussions? I'm almost 18, and I'm trying to start preparing for my mission. If you could point me in the right direction to find them, I would really appreciate it.

The first two missionary discussions can be found on our Gospel Home Page. However, you can probably obtain a copy of them from missionaries assigned to your ward or stake. BYU offers a freshman college course entitled Religion C 130 Sharing the Gospel, which includes detailed discussion of the missionary lessons. It can be taken through their independent study program.

However, your best preparation for serving a mission is to read the scriptures regularly and maintain a high degree of personal worthiness. The Book of Mormon is worthy of particular attention. The greatest tool a missionary can have is the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. My advice is that your greatest focus should be in learning how to enjoy this companionship in your life. (See Missionary Work home page)

9: On 2/18/97, Karla asked: My question is how does the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints leaders handle the situation of sperm donation and artificial insemination (with donated sperm)?

Above all, "We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God’s eternal plan." (See The Family: A Proclamation to the World).

The Church does not approve of artificial insemination of single women. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. The Church also discourages artificial insemination of married women using semen from anyone but the husband. In accordance with the doctrines of agency and accountability, Latter-day Saints believe "this is a personal matter that ultimately must be left to the husband and wife, with the responsibility for the decision resting solely upon them" (Church Handbook of Instructions, 11-4) (See Teachings About Sexuality; Artificial Insemination)

8: On 2/17/96, Clint asked: When I kneel to pray who exactly am I praying to; God, the Father of Jesus Christ, or Jesus himself.

"[Prayers] are to be addressed to the Father; should always be made in the name of Jesus Christ; must be reverential and worshipful in nature, which requirement includes use of the language of prayer (the pronouns thee and thine, for instance, never you and your); and above all they must be offered in sincerity of heart, with real intent and purpose, and must come from the lips of those who have broken hearts and contrite spirits; and finally, they should be closed with the word Amen. As a token of reverence and respect, when occasion permits, they should be made from a kneeling position." Elder Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine. (See Prayer and Family Prayer)

7: On 2/15/97, Nola asked: I have read about still births in Mormon Doctrine, but what about miscarriages in the earlier stages. I have had 2: one in the 10 week and 1 in the 12 week. Will I still have a chance to raise them in the afterlife?

In Mormon Doctrine, Elder Bruce R. McConkie states "These are matters not clearly answered in the revelation so far available for the guidance of the saints in this dispensation." Therefore, until we receive further revelation upon this subject, we are left with personal speculation.

Several leaders of the Church have taught that stillborn children will be resurrected and raised by their parents in the eternal worlds. I have not been able to find any references where Church leaders specifically addressed miscarriages. However, please note that the same reasoning used to suggest resurrection for stillborn children can also be used for miscarriages.

A soul is the united entity of the spirit with the physical body. Several leaders have taught that the spirit enters the body before birth. Once the spirit enters the body, the baby becomes a living soul. All living souls, including the earth itself (D/C 88:26), will be resurrected.

Therefore, it appears that if the spirit entered the body before the miscarriage, then there will be a resurrection. But if the miscarriage occurred before the spirit arrived, there will be no resurrection. President Brigham Young taught that "when the mother feels life come to her infant it is the spirit entering the body" (JD 17:143). Therefore, it would appear that the only ones to know if a particular miscarried child will be resurrected are the child's mother and her Heavenly Father.

My wife and I recently experienced a miscarriage and I am aware of the many feelings involved with this issue. May I suggest that you counsel with your Heavenly Father about this matter. I know that he can ease your mind and fill you with peace. Whether there will be a resurrection or not, I know that the Lord only gives us these experiences to teach us what we need to know to return home to him. (See Stillborn Children; Prayer).

6: On 2/14/97, Mindy asked: Does the church encourage women to work at home to take care of the family?

Yes, mothers are encouraged to avoid any entanglements, work or otherwise, which interfere with their sacred responsibility of nurturing their children. The Church teaches that the family is the center of true happiness. Latter-day Saints believe that working mothers contribute to increased divorce, infidelity, and the general weakening of the home. The Proclamation on the Family states, "By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed." Where mothers are forced by necessity to work outside the home, there is no blame or sin. (See Teachings About Motherhood and the Role of Women home page)

5: On 2/14/97, Mindy asked: Does the church encourage families to have many children?

Yes, the Church teaches that the commandment given to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden applies to all of their descendants. The Lord told our first parents "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth" (The Holy Bible, Genesis 1:28). Church members have been instructed to place no arbitrary limits on family size. (See Teachings About Sexuality; Birth Control.; Abortion)

4: On 2/12/97, Fritz asked: I keep seeing references to a Mormon encyclopedia... Any idea where I can find one?

Infobases, Inc. sells one on CD-ROM for a very reasonable price. Your best value may be their Collector's Edition which contains a great deal of information, including the full Encyclopedia of Mormonism. They also maintain the full Encyclopedia in the gospel study area of their LDS Word site.

3: On 2/1/97, Nelson asked: What is the purpose of speaking in tongues?

The primary purpose of the Gift of Tongues is to enhance missionary efforts throughout the world. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught:

"When devout men from every nation shall assemble to hear the things of God, let the Elders preach to them in their own mother tongue, whether it is German, French, Spanish or Irish, or any other, and let those interpret who understand the language spoken, in their own mother tongue, and this is what the Apostle meant in First Corinthians 14:27" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 195 )

Also, President George Q. Cannon taught:

"If I were called on a mission to a people speaking a foreign language, I should pray constantly for the gift of tongues and for the gift of the interpretation of tongues ... This gift, as I have said, is a desirable gift; but it is especially desirable for our Elders who go to foreign lands. They should seek for it with all earnestness and faith. I testify to you that there is such a gift as the gift of interpretation of tongues." (Gospel Truth, Vol. 1, p. 197)

(See Gifts of the Spirit.)

2: On 1/24/96, Amy asked: I remember reading (and correct me if I say this wrong) that Mormon families live together in heaven as spirits before they come to earth and live mortally as human beings as a family. My question is, how does that work for people who later on in life are converted to Mormonism without their family's participation?

The family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children. Latter-day Saints believe that before we were born, the entire human family lived in a premortal state as spirits. In Heaven, we lived in a family unit as the offspring of Heavenly Parents. God, the Eternal Father, is the literal father of our spirits. From this perspective, we consider all men and women to be brothers and sisters.

Latter-day Saints believe that those people who are faithful to the teachings of Jesus Christ will live in eternal families. Husbands and wives who eternally married in the temple will continue their married relationship throughout time and all eternity. Children will remain associated with their parents. It should be noted that our premortal family unit is not exactly the same as our eternal family unit.

How does this work for converts? Members and non-members alike lived in the premortal family unit, as brothers and sisters. But what about the eternal family? Assuming that a convert's family never had the opportunity to hear the gospel, each person will have the opportunity to accept it for themselves in the spirit world. We believe that those who did not have the opportunity to hear the gospel in mortality will have that opportunity in the spirit world before the judgment. We must all use our agency to accept or decline the gospel for ourselves. We will be held accountable by God for our choice. (See Salvation for the dead)

What if a convert's family rejects the gospel? It is important to remember that Jesus Christ alone will determine the eternal destiny of such individuals. Only he can perfectly blend the divine attributes of justice and mercy and determine if someone has had fair opportunity. It is not for us to judge others. However, if a convert's family did had fair opportunity, then the convert would be sealed to another eternal family.

1:  On 12/9/96, Josh asked: Do you guys sing hymns or newer songs in church?

Latter-day Saints have a great love for beautiful and edifying music. During Church meetings, three types of music may be found. First, we always sing a selection of sacred hymns. Second, choral music is occasionally provided by the ward or stake choir. Third, members with musical talents will at times edify the congregation with instrumental and/or vocal performances of inspirational music. At all times, the music is conducive to the presence of the Spirit and in keeping with the principle of reverence. (See Music.)

(See Question and Answer 2; Question and Answer home page)

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