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Question and Answer 13

320: On 02/28/98, Debby asked: Do Mormons believe if you are not saved you will go to hell?

Latter-day Saints believe that those who do not receive remission of sins through repentance and obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ must go to Hell to be cleansed from their sins. After being cleansed from their sins, disobedient spirits will be released from Hell into a degree of glory that is based upon the type of character they developed in mortality. (See Salvation; Teachings About the Afterlife home page)

319: On 02/28/98, Neisha asked: who was the first patriarch of the church and who did he give the first patriarchal blessing too.

On December 18, 1833, in Kirtland, Ohio, Joseph Smith, Sr., was ordained the first Patriarch to the Church (D&C 107:39-56), with jurisdiction throughout the Church. I believe that Father Smith's first blessing was given to one of his sons, but I have been unable to find the authoritative reference. (See Patriarchal Blessings)

318: On 02/28/98, Stephen asked: In Sunday School we discussed the war in heaven that was fought and when Satan and his followers were cast out. What was the nature of this war? Was it a war of words, wills, or physical? We know that no spirits (good or evil) were destroyed. How were they compelled to leave? How is Satan bound by laws? What laws are they bound by?

When Latter-day Saints speak of the "war in heaven," they generally mean the conflict in the premortal life that began when Lucifer, in a rebellion against God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ, sought to overthrow them. The result was that Lucifer and his followers were cast out of heaven.

Since God is omnipotent [i.e., "all-powerful"], it is clear that he did not need his servants to physically cast Satan and his followers from heaven. Therefore, it would seem that the war in heaven was not a physical altercation. If so, then what was it?

In my opinion, it was a war of testimony and ideas. While our Heavenly Father could have cast Satan out when he first started his rebellion, he decided to let his children exercise their agency and choose the path they would follow. Would they accept the Plan of Salvation proposed by our Heavenly Father or would they rebel and follow Satan? A great debate was held and the majority decided to obey and trust their Father in Heaven. (See Council in Heaven) The Holy Bible teaches:

"And there was war in heaven......And they overcame [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death." (Revelation 12:7,11)

Once the debate was settled, I believe that Satan and his followers chose to leave on their own volition. We know that "he who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory." (D&C 88:22) We also know that "no unclean thing can dwell [in the Kingdom of God], or dwell in [God's] presence." (The Pearl of Great Price, Moses 6:57)

In at least two cases, the scriptures teach that those who are not cleansed from sin find their presence in the Celestial Kingdom to be a miserable experience. When Isaiah visited the throne of God in a vision, his immediate response was:

"Woe [is] me! for I am undone; because I [am] a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts." (The Holy Bible, Isaiah 6:5)

It was only after his sin was purged (See Isaiah 6:7), that his misery left him. Likewise, the prophet Alma found his presence in the Celestial Kingdom to be very miserable in an unredeemed state. After pondering his wicked deeds, Alma said:

"Oh, thought I, that I could be banished and become extinct both soul and body, that I might not be brought to stand in the presence of my God, to be judged of my deeds." (The Book of Mormon, Alma 36:15)

However, after being cleansed of sins through his repentance and faith in Christ, then

"... [his] soul did long to be there." (The Book of Mormon, Alma 36:22)

Since Satan is bound by the same eternal laws to which all of God's children are bound, I imagine that he likewise found Celestial Glory to be a little too pure and bright for his tastes. (See Teachings About Law home page)

317: On 02/24/98, a visitor asked: OK I have one more question , in the bible God states that I am a jealous god yet Jealousy is a sign of imperfection. Is god imperfect ??? This is a very difficult question because if God is perfect then why did he make a contradictory statement like that.

The Holy Bible states:

"Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God [am] a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth [generation] of them that hate me;" (Exodus 20:5)

If you examine the footnote to this verse in the LDS Edition of the King James Version, you will see that the word that is translated as jealous is actually the Hebrew word qannah, which means "possessing sensitive and deep feelings." The Lord loves us greatly and his greatest desire is for us to live in a way that will enable us to return to live with him after we leave mortality. The Lord who is indeed perfect is never jealous in the context that is usually associated with that word. (See Teachings About the Godhead home page)

316: On 02/24/98, Larry asked: Can Mormons  drink beer that is non-alcoholic.  It has .05% alcohol.

The Word of Wisdom prohibits Latter-day Saints from drinking alcoholic beverages. It is up to each member to use his or her agency to judge whether non-alcoholic beer violates the commandment. In cases like these, the Church teaches us correct principles and lets us govern ourselves.

315: On 02/24/98, Kathy asked: Do Mormons believe that Christ was born on December 25th?  I've been doing some research that indicates this is a date established to celebrate via the Catholic church, but they actually believe He was born sometime in the Fall.  I've also heard that some believe He was born in April.  What does the LDS church believe?

Presidents of the Church, including Harold B. Lee and Spencer W. Kimball, have reaffirmed that April 6 is the true anniversary of Christ's birth, but have encouraged Church members to join with other Christians in observing Christmas as a special day for remembering Jesus' birth and teachings. (See April 6; Birth of Christ)

314: On 02/24/98, Michael asked: This question may be a dumb question, but I can't seem to get an answer from anybody. I have a question concerning facial hair. I understand that tattooing is considered a "desecration of the human body and should not be permitted." Elder Bruce R. McConkie But I was wondering if shaving facial hair is also considered a desecration of the human body. 

The shaving of facial hair is not considered a desecration of the human body. (Also see Tattoos)

313: On 02/23/98, Dorothy asked: Does the LDS church have ministries that work specifically in the Third World, for instance with hunger relief or things of that nature?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a continuing commitment to relieve human suffering, to help eliminate life-threatening conditions, and to promote self-reliance among all people. Assistance is to be provided as Christian service, without regard to race, nationality, or religion. This assistance is provided in many countries, including less developed nations. (See Humanitarian Service; Welfare and Humanitarian Assistance home page)

312: On 02/23/98, a visitor asked: I know that members are required to pay one tenth of their "increase" as tithing, but I am confused as to whether that one tenth applies to gross or net income.

Tithing is the basic contribution by which Latter-day Saints fund the activities of the Church. By revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord stated that members should pay "one-tenth of all their interest [increase] annually; and this shall be a standing law unto them forever" (D&C 119:4). The Church maintains the policy of not interpreting this commandment. Instead, each member should read the revelation and decide for themselves what constitutes an honest tithe. (Also see Financial Contributions)

311: On 02/22/98, Christi asked: I am a non-member getting married to a latter-day saint in the chapel.  I want to know what the dress codes are with respect to sleeves and necklines, so I don't embarrass him.  This won't be a temple wedding, so the restrictions aren't as severe are they?

There are no specific dress codes associated with marriages performed in chapels. As far as general LDS guidelines on dress and appearance, the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet states:

"Servants of God have always counseled his children to dress modestly to show respect for him and for themselves. Because the way you dress sends messages about yourself to others and often influences the way you and others act, you should dress in such a way as to bring out the best in yourself and those around you. However, if you wear an immodest bathing suit because it's "the style," it sends a message that you are using your body to get attention and approval, and that modesty is not important.

Immodest clothing includes short shorts, tight pants, and other revealing attire. Young women should refrain from wearing off-the-shoulder, low-cut, or revealing clothes. Young men should similarly maintain modesty in their dress. All should avoid tight fitting or revealing clothes and extremes in clothing and appearance.

As Latter-day Saint youth, you can also show respect for the Lord and yourselves by dressing appropriately for Church meetings and activities, whether on Sunday or during the week. If you are not sure what's appropriate, ask for guidelines from your parents, advisers, and bishop."

If you have any further concerns about appropriate attire, you may want to talk to some women in the local congregation [like the Relief Society President or the Bishop's wife] and get their feedback.

310: On 02/22/98, David asked: I am currently doing a lot of reading and studying of the LDS faith. I think it is something I may want to enter into. But I want to know if my future plans for life are going to conflict in any way. I plan on going to school and earning a degree in criminology. I plan to use it to become a detective in the police force. I want to investigate homicides, and the like. I am wondering is this going to be a problem if I do enter in the church?

Since the Church considers law enforcement to be an honorable profession, your career goals will not interfere with your interest in the Church. (See Teachings About Law home page)

309: On 02/22/98, Steve asked: Can you please tell me the Church policy on the drinking of alcoholic beverages, smoking, coffee (does this mean all products with caffeine, as I see Mormons at work drinking Pepsi)?  Thank you. 

A revelation entitled the Word of Wisdom prohibits Latter-day Saints from drinking alcohol, tea, and coffee, as well as from smoking. Regarding cola drinks, President Spencer W. Kimball said:

Generally when we speak of the Word of Wisdom, we are talking about tea, coffee, tobacco, and liquor, and all of the fringe things even though they might be detrimental are not included in the technical interpretation of the Word of Wisdom. I never drink any of the cola drinks and my personal hope would be that no one would. However, they are not included in the Word of Wisdom in its technical application. I quote from a letter from the secretary to the First Presidency, "But the spirit of the Word of Wisdom would be violated by the drinking or eating of anything that contained a habit-forming drug." With reference to the cola drinks, the Church has never officially taken any attitude on this at but I personally do not put them in the class as with the tea and coffee because the Lord specifically mentioned them [the hot drinks]…. I might say also that strychnine and sleeping pills and opium and heroin are not mentioned in the Word of Wisdom and yet I would discourage them with all my power. (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.202)

308: On 02/22/98, Thomas asked: I have a question in Moroni Chapter 4 Verse 2. And they did kneel down with the church, and pray to the Father in the name of Christ, saying: Does this mean the whole congregation kneels during the Sacrament prayer? If so, why don't we kneel during Sacrament now?

Moroni 4:1-2 states:

"The manner of their elders and priests administering the flesh and blood of Christ unto the church; and they administered it according to the commandments of Christ; wherefore we know the manner to be true; and the elder or priest did minister it--And they did kneel down with the church, and pray to the Father in the name of Christ, saying:"

I interpret these verses to mean that those who administered the Sacrament [i.e., their elders and priests] kneeled during the prayer. This is consistent with the present policy of the Church. (See Priesthood Ordinances home page)

307: On 02/22/98, a visitor asked: I have a friend who believes everyone is saved simply by having faith in Christ. I explained Faith without works is dead. She responded that anyone who really believes in Christ would automatically perform good works. What material can I show her to help her realize the truth, that there are steps and ordinances that must be followed along with faith and works? As a byproduct of her belief that through the grace of God all who believe will be saved, she feels baptism for the dead is unnecessary. What can I do to show her baptism is essential?

The theological debate over whether we are saved by grace or by works has been going on for centuries. (See Grace vs. Works) If one side or the other could prove their position through debating techniques, then the issue would have been settled long ago. It has not been settled because it is impossible to prove spiritual truths through non-spiritual means. The Holy Bible teaches:

"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know [them], because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Corinthians 2:14)

However, it is possible to lead the honest in heart down the path of greater understanding. This is best done by helping them develop their own relationship with the Spirit. The Holy Ghost will teach and testify to things that are true. Your friend can learn through the witness of the Spirit that our Heavenly Father has given us priesthood ordinances to help us grow spiritually and become sanctified. (Also see Salvation; Baptism)

306: On 02/15/98, Becka asked: Are all members required to go on a mission? What happens if a member doesn't go on the mission?

The Church presently has three types of full-time missionaries: young single men, young single women, and older married couples who are usually retired. The Lord expects each young single man to serve a two year mission. President Ezra Taft Benson taught:

"As a young man, are you earnestly preparing to serve a full-time mission? The Lord needs every young man between the ages of nineteen and twenty-six, worthy, prepared, and excited about serving in the mission field." (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p.178)

Each young man is expected to serve because missionary service is one of the specific responsibilities incumbent upon priesthood holders. Older married couples are requested to serve as their circumstances permit. Missionary service is allowed but not strongly encouraged for young women.

If a young man does not accept his responsibility to serve a mission, the Lord does not violate his agency by forcing him to serve. Those who decline the call to serve face no Church punishment or reprisal. It is an issue between the individual and the Lord. (See Missionary Work home page)

305: On 02/13/98, Johanna asked: My question is I have heard this statement.....Through these great fore father prophets(meaning Abraham,Isaac,and Jacob) that they have mighty blessing and blessing that we are entitled too. Where can you find these questions and what are the blessings? Hope you can help.

The divine archetypal covenant, of which Abraham's covenant is an example, is the everlasting covenant of the gospel of Jesus Christ. By accepting the gospel, humankind can be redeemed from the doom of death and the blight of sin to enjoy eternal life with God. (See Abrahamic Covenant; Latter-day Covenant Israel)

304: On 02/13/98, Chris asked: Does the church doctrine on the 12 tribes of Abraham allow for other legitimate Prophets to have been raised up who were descendants of Abraham? Would this include Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, since He was descended from Abraham, and through Ishmael was granted a covenant also (Genesis 17, and other citations).

Latter-day Saints believe that God has inspired not only people of the Bible and the Book of Mormon, but other people as well, to carry out his purposes. Today God inspires not only Latter-day Saints but also founders, teachers, philosophers, and reformers of other Christian and non-Christian religions. On February 15, 1978 the First Presidency of the Church issued the following declaration:

The great religious leaders of the world such as Mohammed, Confucius, and the Reformers, as well as philosophers including Socrates, Plato, and others, received a portion of God's light. Moral truths were given to them by God to enlighten whole nations and to bring a higher level of understanding to individuals…. Our message therefore is one of special love and concern for the eternal Welfare of all men and women, regardless of religious belief, race, or nationality, knowing that we are truly brothers and sisters because we are sons and daughters of the same Eternal Father [Palmer, 1978] (See Overview of World Religions (Non-Christian) and Mormonism).

As a side note, the twelve tribes of Israel were founded by the twelve sons of Israel [a.k.a. Jacob]. Abraham was Israel's grandfather. God established a covenant with Abraham, reaffirming it with Isaac and Jacob and then with the children of Israel. While Ishmael was granted certain blessings, these blessings were not the same as those given to Israel (See Latter-day Covenant Israel; Abrahamic Covenant; Israel)

303: On 02/13/98, Stephen asked: Are all people foreordained? I recently had my patriarchal blessing which stated that I was given an assignment I must fulfill in this life and it is a call to go forward in the Lord's Kingdom and be a servant in His hand. I want to do what the Lord would have me do, but I'm not sure what it is. My blessing says that the Lord rejoices over me because I'm at the threshold in preparing myself to fill the goals and desires I had there. How do I find out what these goals and desires are?

Foreordination is the premortal selection of individuals to come forth in mortality at specified times, under certain conditions, and to fulfill predesignated responsibilities. I believe that all individuals are foreordained in the sense of being sent to earth under the circumstances that will best enable them to acquire the attributes necessary for them to enter the Celestial Kingdom. However, the term foreordained is usually restricted to those individuals who have been sent to earth to fulfill specific ministries to help their brothers and sisters further their journey to eternal life.

The best way to learn the Lord's will for you is to gain the companionship of the Holy Ghost. "For behold, again I say unto you that if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do." (The Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 32:5)

(See Prayer, Fasting, and Revelation home page)

302: On 02/10/98, Simon asked: what is the official position on the priesthood being conferred on a man illegally here in the USA. our branch president refused to let a friend of mine have the priesthood because he was here illegally.

As a people, the Latter-day Saints are committed to sustaining constitutional government as the best instrument for maintaining peace, individual freedom, and community life in modern society. The twelfth Article of Faith states:

"We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law."

The Doctrine of Covenants teaches

"Let no man break the laws of the land, for he that keepeth the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of the land." (D&C 58:21)

The Church does not allow those who willfully break the constituted laws of their government to advance in the priesthood or hold temple recommends. (See Teachings About Law home page)

301: On 02/08/98, Robert asked: Do we choose our parents in the pre-existence?

The Church has no official teaching about whether or not we were able to choose our families before we were born. However, it may be helpful to summarize a few things that we do know. First, people come to earth with specific assignments. For example, Mary was chosen to be the mother of Jesus, Moses was chosen to deliver Israel, etc. Second, in order to perform these responsibilities, it was necessary that people are born at certain times into certain families. For example, Jesus needed to be born of the Davidic royal line and not in a Gentile family. Third, since it would violate the eternal principle of agency, the Lord never forces us into service. Therefore, it is likely we were offered these foreordained callings with their accompanying family situations. We may not have known every detail, but it is certainly possible that we knew some of the major factors. (See Premortal Existence home page)

300: On 02/08/98, Katya asked: I understand that since the mid-80's it has been possible for a woman to go to temple even if her husband is not a member. If a woman joins the church and eventually is able to go to temple, but her husband does not join, what becomes of her, her husband, and their children in the afterlife? Given that the highest degree of exaltation is reserved for those couples who have been sealed in the temple, what are the implications for a woman who does everything she can do on this earth, but whose husband will not join the church?

It is not possible for one person to affect the eternal blessings that will be received by another. When we are interviewed by the Lord at final judgment, it is on an individual basis. We are judged and saved individually and not as couples. If someone is worthy of exaltation, then he or she will receive all that they deserve regardless of the actions of his or her spouse. If only one spouse is worthy of eternal life, then he or she will choose a new eternal companion in eternity. Any children would be sealed to the new spouse as well. (See Teachings About Marriage home page; Teachings About the Afterlife home page)

299: On 02/07/98, Sandy asked: where does the church stand on the issue of  a person donating their organs after their death?

Whether an individual chooses to will his own bodily organs or authorizes the transplant of organs from a deceased family member is a decision for the individual or the deceased member's family. The decision to receive a donated organ should be made with competent medical counsel and confirmation through prayer.

298: On 02/07/98, Sandy asked: What is the church's stand on things such as artificial insemination and things such as that?

The Church does not approve of artificial insemination of single women. It also discourages artificial insemination of married women using semen from anyone but the husband. However,' [we 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"

297: On 02/07/98, Sandy asked: Where does the church stand on the issue of cremation after death?

Since the organization of the Church in 1830, Latter-day Saints have been encouraged by their leaders to avoid cremation, unless it is required by law, and, wherever possible, to consign the body to burial in the earth and leave the dissolution of the body to nature, "for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return" (Gen. 3:19).

296: On 02/07/98, a visitor asked: I have a question concerning what happens when you die when you are a member of the LDS faith.  Do you believe that right when you die you go into heaven, if you are a believer and have a relationship with god like standard Christian faiths?

Latter-day Saints believe that when people die, they enter the spirit world to await their resurrection. In the spirit world, a temporary judgment is made separating the righteous and the wicked. The righteous live in a happy state of existence known as Paradise. The wicked dwell in a miserable state of existence known as Hell. They live in these temporary state of existences until they have been resurrected and received final judgment. Only after receiving final judgment do the righteous enter heaven. (See Teachings About the Afterlife home page)

295: On 02/07/98, Perry asked: I have been trying to find some info. on adoption through the church. my husband and I are members and we can not have children. is there a web site that will provide me with some info

Your Bishop can tell you more about adoption through the Church (Also see Adoption of Children; LDS Social Services).

294: On 02/07/98, Emily asked: I am sort of investigating the Mormon church and I was wondering if you could tell me the steps leading up to baptism.  I know about the missionary discussions but I was wondering if the process included anything else.

See Joining the Church; Membership

293: On 02/07/98, a visitor asked: I am a member and would like to know the significance of the oxen that hold up the baptismal fonts in all our temples. 

In baptismal fonts, Latter-day Saints perform proxy baptisms on behalf of people who have died without being baptized. LDS baptismal fonts are styled similarly to the basin used in Solomon's Temple. In the ancient Temple of Solomon, a deep brass basin "stood upon twelve oxen…and the sea was set above them, and all their hinder parts were inward" (The Holy Bible, 1 Kings 7:25). The twelve oxen symbolize the twelve tribes of Israel. (See Symbolism; Baptism for the Dead; Salvation for the Dead)

292: On 02/07/98, Cindy asked: I also have a question for my son-in-law.  What does it take to be a LDS navy chaplain?

See Chaplains

291: On 02/07/98, a visitor asked: Could you please tell me what it is called when a person who is a Mormon turns 18 years of age and goes out to recruit others to follow in the teachings of the Mormon way of life?  Could you also provide information on this practice?

Latter-day Saint men are encouraged to serve missions when they are 19 years of age. (See Missionary Work home page)

290: On 02/07/98, a visitor asked: I am a member of the church,and as much as I have researched, I have been unable to find an answer to my question, perhaps you can help me in my somewhat unusual situation. My husband died August 97, three days after he accepted the gospel.  All his temple work will be done and we will be sealed this coming August, as I have been told to do in every blessing since his death (which is also my heart's desire).  We have a four month old daughter who was born four weeks after his death. Now I had a blessing not long ago wherein it was revealed to me that God (and my husband) want me to remarry, as many children have been promised. Now, when Mike and I get sealed along with our daughter, will not any children borne unto me be Mike's as well, considering we will be sealed by this time, therefore, any children will be borne under the covenant which we have made? If so, please explain the teaching that children follow the patriarchal order (go with their fathers?) considering I will be sealed only to Mike and not my next husband?

President Joseph Fielding Smith taught:

"When a man and a woman are married in the temple for time and all eternity, and then the man dies and the woman marries another man, she can be married to him for time only. When a man marries a woman who was married previously to her husband in the temple but who has now died, he does so, or should, with his eyes open. If the children are born to this woman and her "time" husband, he has no claim upon those children. They go with the mother. This is the law. Certainly a man cannot in reason expect to take another man's wife, after that man is dead, and rear a family by her and then claim the children. If he wants a family of his own, then he should marry a wife that he can have in eternity. This is in full harmony with the patriarchal order. What was the law anciently? Was not the second husband supposed to raise up seed for his brother?" (Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.2, p. 78-79)

Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught:

"From the days of Moses, if a man died having no child, his brother was obligated to marry "the wife of the dead," and raise up seed unto his deceased brother, "that his name be not put out of Israel." (Deut. 25:5-10.) There were special provisions for avoiding this responsibility so that the widow could marry another, which was the very thing that made possible the marriage of Ruth and Boaz, through whose lineage our Lord was born. (Ruth 4.)" (The Mortal Messiah, Vol.1, p.223)

Your example is very similar to the story of President Heber J. Grant. President Grant was born November 22, 1856, in Salt Lake City to Jedediah M. and Rachel Ridgeway Ivins Grant. However, his mother Rachel had been previously sealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith. Therefore, in eternity Rachel will be married to the Prophet Joseph [not Jedediah Grant] and President Grant will be in their family line. Likewise, if you are sealed to your husband, then any future children born to you will be under the covenant between you and your husband [the one to whom you are sealed].

289: On 02/07/98, a visitor asked: I was trying to find out information about the marriage ceremonies of Mormons...and what exactly is done. Similarly I am trying to find out if a Devout Mormon can marry a non Mormon. I am trying to get detailed information for a college religion comparison paper...So whatever you have...Please let me know

See Teachings About Marriage home page

288: On 02/07/98, a visitor asked: The question I have is about television. What am I supposed to do about it? I want to do what is right, but right now I don't know what to do?

President Joseph Fielding Smith taught:

"You ask if it is wrong to take rides on the Sabbath, to view television and listen to the radio. Certainly it is not in harmony with the day to view shows on crime and scenes of murder, banditry, and other things contrary to the spirit of the gospel; and it must be admitted that these dominate the picture shows. So far as my practice is concerned, the radio and television are not turned on in the home on the Sabbath day, except it be to listen to religious sermons or other programs sponsored by the Church." (Answers to Gospel Questions, Vol.1, p.105)

President Spencer W. Kimball taught:

"Let us not be like the Church member who partakes of the sacrament in the morning, then defiles the Sabbath that afternoon by cleaning the house or by watching television or by choosing an afternoon of sleep over an afternoon of service." (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.225)

287: On 2/03/98, Al asked: I was wondering if gender is eternal, in other words, if I am a female in my earthly existence, will I be a female in my heavenly existence?

All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of Heavenly Parents. And, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose. (See The Family: A Proclamation to the World) Since you are female in your earthly existence, you were female in your premortal existence and will be female in your eternal existence. Also see Teachings About the Afterlife home page)

286: On 2/03/98, Charlie asked: I have a question regarding sinning and what happens when you sin.  Does God forgive by praying and admitting a sin like other Christian religions. I am very curious? 

Remission of sins is an achievement made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and earned through genuine changes in spirit and a discontinuation of behavior known to be wrong. Confession of sins is a necessary beginning step in the process of repenting and gaining forgiveness. It is a test of true repentance: "By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them" (D&C 58:43). However, a person cannot receive forgiveness simply by confessing previous wrongdoing. In order to receive a remission of sins, it is necessary for a person to complete the full repentance process. Repentance is the process by which humans set aside or overcome sins by changing hearts, attitudes, and actions that are out of harmony with God's teachings, thereby conforming their lives more completely to his will.

(See Question and Answer 14; Question and Answer home page; Question and Answer 12)

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