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Question and Answer 19

"And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things." (The Book of Mormon; Moroni 10:4-5)

by W. John Walsh

Visitors are invited to send any Questions via EmailWe try to respond to questions as quickly as possible, but are limited by time constraints.  Therefore while we will eventually answer every letter we receive, there may be a period of delay due to the amount of research required and/or our personal circumstances.

The questions answered in this section concern the basic beliefs and practices of the Latter-day Saints. Answers to accusatory questions are given in the Response to Criticism section. Answers to Frequently Asked Questions are maintained separately.

All questions concerning Family History or Genealogy should be addressed to The Genealogy Lady at the New Jerusalem web site.

NOTE: Dates are posting dates

Please note that the answers given are not official statements of doctrine, but interpretations by the author for which he is alone responsible.

528: On 08/09/98, Michael asked: Are temples only in certain places, or is there one in every church?  I'm really confused on this point and would greatly appreciate any clarification you could offer.  Thanks.

Latter-day Saints conduct their weekly worship services in meeting houses containing chapels. A temple is a sacred building, the "House of the Lord," in which Latter-day Saints perform sacred ceremonies and ordinances of the gospel for themselves and for the dead. While there are thousands of chapels, there are presently only 52 operating temples. Another 46 are in the construction/planning stages. (See Teachings About Temples home page)

527: On 08/09/98, Allison asked: I read in the Q&A section that non-members aren't supposed to take the sacrament, because when you do, you are renewing you covenants. Does that mean small children aren't supposed to take it before they're baptized?

President Brigham Young taught,

"Children who are capable of repentance should be baptized when they reach the proper age, according to the revelations. Up to that age they are entitled to the sacrament." (Messages of the First Presidency, Vol.2, p.289)

President Joseph Fielding Smith taught,

"There is no reason why any member of the Church should be concerned over the fact that little children may partake of the sacrament. The most important thing is to be sure that we who are grown to full maturity keep ourselves worthy of this sacred ordinance. (Answers to Gospel Questions, Vol.2, p.90)

CHILDREN TO PARTAKE OF SACRAMENT. All little children virtually belong to the Church until they are eight years of age. Should they die before that age, they would enter the celestial kingdom. The Savior said, "Of such is the kingdom of heaven." Then why should they be deprived of the sacrament? (Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.2, p.350)

President Spencer W. Kimball taught,

"The sacrament is for the Saints, for those who have actually made covenants at the waters of baptism primarily, but there is no evidence that I find where the Lord would ever exclude the children who were rapidly moving toward baptism and who were learning and being taught to worship the Lord and be ready for the covenants as their age and development would permit…. "(The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.226)

526: On 08/09/98, Craig asked: Can you clarify the LDS view on the origins of God?

The Church teaches that the Godhead is comprised of God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost both have spirit bodies that were begotten by God the Father. In addition, Jesus Christ has a physical body begotten by God the Father as well. Before Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost were born as spirit sons of God the Father, they existed as intelligence which "was not created or made, neither indeed can be" (D&C 93:29; see Intelligences)

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that prior to the creation of this world, our Heavenly Father lived a mortal existence comparable to the mortal experience of Jesus Christ. However, the Church has no official teaching or elaboration on this subject. (See Teachings About the Godhead home page; Teachings About Premortal Existence home page)

525: On 08/09/98, Stephen asked: I had heard that Mormons store one years of food stuffs in their homes in the event of catastrophe.  Is this true?  If it is true I would also be interested in finding out how to obtain a the listing

From its beginnings, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has sought to be prepared against natural disasters following admonitions such as "if ye are prepared, ye shall not fear" (D&C 38:30). Preparedness is carried out on both individual and institutional levels.

In their homes, members are encouraged to have food storage sufficient for a year and other essentials of emergency preparedness: clothing, bedding, fuel (where possible), and the like. Church members are also advised to have sufficient supplies to enable them to be completely self-sustaining for at least fourteen days without the benefit of electricity and clean running water.

(See Calamities and Disasters; Food Storage for a listing of suggested supplies)

524: On 08/07/98, a visitor asked: Hello, I am married to a convert to the church who is Black.  I know he may have questions about our dealings with blacks in the past.  I want to learn about this, do you have any information? Thankyou

See the Blacks home page

523: On 08/07/98, Lynn asked: I have a question on your Hollywood policy's. Where or what general conference does someone say that mormons shouldn't watch "R", "XXX", or any other unholy entertainment? And what are your rules for them?

See Rated R Movies and Other Inappropriate Entertainment

522: On 08/07/98, a visitor asked: I have a question about the Mormon religion.  From my understanding the state of Utah has a large population of Mormons.  My question is: As a chiropractor that is considering moving there, how is health care, specifically chiropractic, looked about from people of the Mormon religion?

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. (See Attitudes Toward Health, Medicine, and Fitness home page)

521: On 08/07/98, Michael asked: Is the temple endowment the same thing as a temple recommend?  Which comes first?  I'm kind of fuzzy on this point. 

A temple recommend is an identification card that allows someone to enter the temple. The endowment is a course of instruction, ordinances, and covenants given inside dedicated temples. (See Teachings About Temples home page)

520: On 08/07/98, Julia asked: Are the Nephites, immigrants from Israel that arrived around 500 BC.?  Are the Lamanites people of the Nephites that were considered the Native Amer. Indians. I am confused as to whom are the Jews in the Book of Mormon? Thank you for clarification.

The patriarch and prophet Lehi led his family from Jerusalem to the western hemisphere about 600 B.C. and was the progenitor of two major Book of Mormon Peoples, the Nephites and the Lamanites. The Book of Mormon teaches that Lehi was a descendant of the tribe of Joseph, son of Jacob, as follows:

"And it came to pass that my father, Lehi, also found upon the plates of brass a genealogy of his fathers; wherefore he knew that he was a descendant of Joseph; yea, even that Joseph who was the son of Jacob, who was sold into Egypt, and who was preserved by the hand of the Lord, that he might preserve his father, Jacob, and all his household from perishing with famine." (1 Nephi 5:14)

Therefore, all of his descendants, both the Nephites and the Lamanites, were Israelites. (See Book of Mormon Peoples).

519: On 07/26/98, Jaclynn asked: Can a woman reach the same level as a man in The Church? And Can she reach the same level in Heaven regardless of their husbands' status within the church. Thank You!

The Church does not have levels or hierarchies in the context in which you are using the term. All Church members are considered equal to one another. It should be noted that the Church believes that men and women are divinely created to perform different roles both in the Church and in the family. In these sacred responsibilities, men and women are obligated to help one another as equal partners.

All people receive eternal blessings in accordance with their personal diligence in following Jesus Christ. A person's eternal salvation cannot be enhanced or forfeited due to the actions of their spouse. Our final judgment is personal in nature and tied to our individual choices and actions. (See Teachings About the Family home page; Teachings About the Afterlife home page)

518: On 07/26/98, Katie asked: Do Mormons believe that they can "pray" someone out of Hell?

No, Latter-day Saints do not believe that someone can be released from Hell through the personal prayer of others. Our Heavenly Father sends his children to Hell to learn from their mistakes. Until they have learned the blessings of obedience by fully suffering for their sins, they will not be released. (See Hell; Prayer, Fasting, and Revelation home page)

517: On 07/18/98, a visitor asked: Why are LDS discouraged from dating non members?  That is seen as discrimination and I don't see what makes members different from non members if they get along and believe in the same principles.

By definition, active Latter-day Saints and nonmembers do not believe in the same principles. If a nonmember actually believed in the same principles, then he or she would convert and join the Church. The reason that the nonmember has not converted is because he or she does not accept all the principles and doctrines of the Church as well as have a testimony of the work. While this does not mean that the nonmember is a bad person, it does mean the couple cannot share the most important parts of an LDS marriage. (See Dating Nonmembers)

516: On 07/18/98, a visitor asked: Why does LDS members believe that you have to be an LDS member in order to get to the highest level of heaven?

Latter-day Saints believe that the purpose of life is to obtain the fullness of salvation by becoming like God and living as he lives (See Godhood). We call this state of existence eternal life or exaltation. To obtain this ultimate degree of salvation, it is necessary to "obey the laws and ordinances of the gospel." (Third Article of Faith) These laws and ordinances are taught in their fulness only by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Here are just a few examples -- faith in Jesus; repentance; baptism by immersion; gift of the Holy Ghost; gifts of the spirit; oath and covenant of the priesthood; eternal marriage; Sabbath keeping; Word of Wisdom; and law of consecration. While many Christian Churches teach portions of the gospel, we alone offer all the knowledge necessary to become Christlike and receive the fullness of salvation. As President Hinckley recently said:

"We, in effect, simply say to others, 'Bring all the good that you have and let us see if we can add to it'" ("The BYU Experience," BYU devotional address, 4 Nov. 1997).

(See Do Only Mormons Go to Heaven?)

515: On 07/18/98, a visitor asked: Why can't a couple be married in a church other then an LDS temple and live a happy life?  I think that they can still be together in heaven, why is it not seen as so by the LDS church?

The temple is the place designated by the Lord to solemnize eternal marriages. It is interesting to note that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only Church that teaches that marriage and the family can be eternal in nature. All other Christian denominations, both Catholic and Protestant, deny that marriage continues after death. (Also see Authority)

514: On 07/18/98, a visitor asked: Why is there so much pressure for a young man to go on a mission?

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught:

"After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the Gospel." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.112)

Our Heavenly Father desires every person to return home and live with him again. In order to do so, a person must accept the fullness of the gospel. Obviously, a person must be taught the gospel before he can accept it. Since there billions of people who have yet to have the opportunity of hearing the gospel, there is considerable work to be done. Therefore, "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) (See Missionary Work home page)

513: On 07/18/98, a visitor asked: My roommate at school is a Mormon and she told me that being Mormon makes you a better person, how can this be true if we are all the same in God's eyes?

Latter-day Saints believe that "God is no respecter of persons" (The Hole Bible, Acts 10:34), meaning that he loves all of his children equally and does not arbitrarily favor one above another. The Church teaches the fullness of the gospel which enables a person to change his or her nature and become more Christlike. The closer we grow to Christ, the better person we become. (See Born of God)

512: On 07/18/98, Mark asked: I wanted to know where I can find life expectancy information on the LDS population, broken out by sex.  I have been doing some research for school and often the information is stated that Mormons have a longer life expectancy than non Mormons, but I can't find any supporting data.

See the bibliography section in the Social Characteristics article.

511: On 07/18/98, John asked: I am often asked about the current whereabouts of the Golden Plates.  I always thought the the Lord the lord took the plates after Joseph Smith finished the translation.  Or are the plates again hidden on this earth.(Hidden Treasures unto the Lord)? 

After the work of translating the Book of Mormon was finished, the plates were returned into the keeping of the angel Moroni. (See Gold Plates; Why Don't you have the Plates?)

510: On 07/18/98, Jared asked: Just wondering what the church's view is on cremation vs. burial.  Is there a definite stance on it?  What talk or reference is there that I can refer to?

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).

509: On 07/12/98, Buz asked: What is the church's position on the concept of Original Sin, as held by the Catholic and Protestant churches?

While The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that the transgression of Adam and Eve brought death into the world and made all mortals subject to temptation, suffering, and weakness, it denies that any culpability is automatically transmitted to Adam and Eve's offspring. All mortals commit sin, but they will be punished "for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression" (A of F 2). (See Original Sin; Fall of Adam home page)

508: On 07/12/98, Joseph asked: Does the Church believe that the "Joseph" that is talked about in Ezekiel chapter 37 verse 16 is Joseph Smith?

Ezekiel 37:16-17 state:

"Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and [for] all the house of Israel his companions: And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand."

The Joseph mentioned in these verses is actually the people [or descendants] of Joseph, the son of Jacob.

507: On 07/12/98, Joseph asked: Does the church teach that it is a different religion than Christian?  Does the Church believe that there are Christians in other places of worship outside of the its own church?

Latter-day Saints are Christians. However, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not see itself as one Christian denomination among many, but rather as God's latter-day restoration of the fulness of Christian faith and practice. Thus, from its earliest days LDS Christians sought to distinguish themselves from Christians of other traditions. Other forms of Christianity, while bearing much truth and doing much good under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, are viewed as incomplete, lacking the authority of the priesthood of God, the temple ordinances, the comprehensive understanding of the Plan of Salvation, and the nonparadoxical understanding of the Godhead. While we believe that other Christian denominations lack the fullness of truth, we do accept their members as Christians. (See Are Mormons Christians? home page; Interfaith Relations home page)

506: On 07/12/98, Joseph asked: What are the Aaronic and the Melchizedek priesthoods?  If the priesthoods are under the same authority from God, why are there different names for them? 

President Joseph Fielding Smith taught:

"How many priesthoods are there? The answer is there is one priesthood, but the Lord divided it into two divisions known as the Melchizedek and the Aaronic Priesthood....

When the Lord says there are two priesthoods, he is speaking of divisions of the priesthood. The Prophet Joseph Smith has explained this as recorded in the conference minutes, October 5, 1840: "Its institution was prior to 'the foundations of this earth, or the morning, stars sang together, or the sons of God shouted for joy, and is the highest and holiest priesthood, and is after the order of the Son of God, and all other priesthoods are only parts, ramifications, powers, and blessings belonging to the same, and are held, controlled and directed by it."

The Prophet also said, "All priesthood is Melchizedek, but there are different portions or degrees of it. That portion which brought Moses to speak with God face to face was taken away; but that which brought the ministry of angels remained." (Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.3, p.103)

(See Priesthood Organization home page)

505: On 07/12/98, Joseph asked: In" The Purpose of Life", it says,"  All have the potential of eternal life, conditional upon individual worthiness & obedience to the Savior's ordinances & teachings."  Isn't it true that we as humans are not worthy of even speaking the name of Christ Or His Father, God?  What does the Church teach about Grace?

Latter-day Saints believe that all men and women become "carnal, sensual, and devilish" [and thus unworthy] as a result of mortality (see The Book of Mormon, Mosiah 16:3) However, we believe that by partaking of the atonement of Christ, we can be redeemed and saved from sin and death. When we are redeemed by the Savior, we become justified or worthy in the eyes of God. This justification is received through the love and grace of the Lord. However, he does not justify those who will not follow him and serve him to the best of their ability. (See Grace; Justification; Righteousness; Sanctification; Born of God)

504: On 07/12/98, Joseph asked: Why do Latter-day Saints believe that the age of accountability is 8?  Why not 7 or 9?

The quick answer to this question is that 8 is the age proscribed by God. However, some additional comments may be helpful. When Latter-day Saints refer to age 8 as being the age of accountability it is usually in the context of determining when a child is mature enough to accept the baptismal covenant. It should be understood that 8 is the earliest age at which a child may be baptized. Some children are not allowed to be baptized at age 8 if their parents or local Church leaders do not believe that they are ready. In which case, these children are not yet deemed accountable.

Latter-day Saints believe that accountability for sin is a very complex process based upon a person's knowledge and opportunity to learn right from wrong. In reality, the accountability process is so complex that only God can judge whether a person is accountable for a specific act or not. (See Accountability; Salvation of Children)

503: On 07/12/98, Larry asked: A friend (Mormon) referred to someone as being a "dry Mormon" - what does this mean?

I have heard the term used to describe a person who believes the doctrines of the Church and may even attend meetings, but he or she has not yet committed to baptism and official membership. Since the ordinance of baptism requires a person to be immersed in water, the person described is "dry."

502: On 07/12/98, Natalie asked: I live in a house with my mother 3 younger sisters, and 1 younger brother. We love to have the missionaries over to have dinner or just to talk. But they told us that they couldn't come in our house because we don't have an adult male family member, why is that so? It's not fair that we have to be punished for things beyond our control, it's not our fault that our parents got divorced. I would like to know what the basis of that decision was.

The Church does not allow missionaries to be alone with members of the opposite sex. Why does the Church have this rule? Generally speaking, these types of rules are created to avoid problems that occurred in the past. Therefore, if you ever hear of a new restriction being placed, it is probably because some missionary had a problem that the Church does not want repeated with other missionaries.

What type of problems caused this rule to be created? A few examples are inappropriate romantic relationships, inappropriate actions by either the missionaries or their hosts, and false accusations of assault by people against missionaries. Please remember that missionaries are in the field to serve the Lord and not to form romantic relationships. Likewise, a missionary never alone with a member of the opposite sex cannot be falsely accused of inappropriate behavior.

What can you do about the situation? Try inviting one or more couples from your ward to dinner as well. The adult member of the same sex as the missionaries is not required to be a member of the family. (See Missionary Work home page)

501: On 07/12/98, David asked: The Seventh-day Adventist Church teaches that the work of atonement was not completed at the Cross.  They teach the following: The teachings of Ellen G. White (The Sprit of Prophecy) and The Seventh-day Adventist Church can be understood best in the following words of Ellen G. White. As you will see, Ellen White teaches that Satan is the bearer of our sins. "It was seen, also, that while the sin offering pointed to Christ as a sacrifice, and the high priest represented Christ as a mediator, the scapegoat typified SATAN, the author of sin, UPON WHOM THE SINS OF THE TRULY PENITENT WILL FINALLY BE PLACED". The Great Controversy, p. 422 (emphasis added) "As the priest, in removing the sins from the sanctuary, confessed them upon the head of the scapegoat, so CHRIST WILL PLACE ALL THESE SINS UPON SATAN, the originator and instigator of sin". The Great Controversy, p. 485 (emphasis added) Their sins are transferred to the originator of sin". Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 475 As you may know, Ellen G. White claimed to have her first vision five months after Joseph Smith was murdered. Some Seventh-day Adventist have told me in the past month that the Mormons teach the same thing concerning the transferring of sin to the head of Satan. Can you tell me if this is true or not.

Latter-day Saints do not believe in the transferal of sin as you have described above. Two of the key doctrines of the Church are the concepts of agency and accountability. We believe that God has endowed his children with the freedom to choose good and evil for themselves and are accountable to him for how they use that freedom. Since God does not allow Satan to tempt anyone beyond his or her capacity to endure (see 1 Cor. 10:13), we are responsible to answer for our own sins. (See Temptation) Satan and his followers are responsible only for their own rebellions against God.

Latter-day Saints do not believe the scapegoat is symbolic of Satan. Instead, this ordinance was a Mosaic requirement done in similitude of the fact that Christ would atone for the sins of the world and bear the iniquities of those who would repent and confess their sins to the Lord. (Mosiah 13:29-31.) (See Atonement of Christ home page)

500: On 07/12/98, Jean asked: I would like to know if in actuality, the LDS leadership has rescinded their practice of storing food and advising members of the church to store food. I would appreciate a reply, since the person who passed on this information has some influence over others and may be passing on wrong  information. Thank you.

No, the Church still encourages its members to keep a supply of food, clothing, and, where possible, the fuel necessary to sustain life for one year. (See Emergency Preparedness; Food Storage section at the Relief Society Rest Stop)

499: On 07/05/98, a visitor asked: On the page titled Celestial Kingdom, it is explained that the way to get into the highest level of heaven is thru righteous conduct, etc. but also by temple sealing or temple marriage.  What if I decide to join the church, and my husband does not?  If i live my life in the must righteous manner, but still am not married in the temple, does that mean that I will not dwell in the most glorious of mansions? 

The Church proclaims that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children. In fact, men and women cannot enjoy eternal life unless they are married to a righteous partner (See Doctrine and Covenants 131) . If someone is married to a partner who does not keep the sacred covenants upon which exaltation is predicated [regardless of whether their unworthy spouse is a member or nonmember], then they will have the opportunity to choose another companion in eternity. A spouse without faith will not keep someone from enjoying all that Our Heavenly Father has planned for us. We are judged and rewarded based upon our individual merits. (See Teachings About the Family home page)

498: On 07/05/98, a visitor asked: Is it true that most of the believers of this religion drive MiniVans??

Latter-day Saints believe in family planning -- they plan on having families. (See Procreation) In addition, Latter-day Saints who are active in the Church often give people rides to various activities. Therefore, Latter-day Saints have found that vehicles with large carrying capacities can be very useful for their lifestyles.

497: On 07/05/98, Kristen asked: A while ago you answered a question about what happens to children when their parents sealing is canceled. You said that they would either stay with the righteous parent or be adopted into a different eternal family. What happens if  two people get a civil divorce, but the sealing is not canceled?  If neither of the parents make it to the celestial kingdom, do the children still get adopted into another eternal family, or do they simply form a family unit on their own without parents? This possibility does not make sense to me, but I would like to know for sure.   Thank you for your time,

Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught:

"Those who shall hereafter rule and reign in eternity as exalted beings will form a patriarchal chain which will begin with Father Adam and spread out until every exalted person is linked in. Exaltation consists in the continuation of the family unit in eternity, and every family which so continues will find its proper place in the eternal organizational framework which the Almighty has ordained. None will be forgotten. Unworthy mortal links will be dropped in eternity, for there is no family in which all generations will attain exaltation; later generations of worthy families will be welded into the links formed by their ancestors who became worthy of a like exaltation with them." (See Patriarchal Order of the Priesthood)

496: On 07/05/98, a visitor asked: Who was Joseph Smith?

Joseph Smith, Jr. (1805-1844), often referred to as the Prophet Joseph Smith, was the founding prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Latter-day Saints call him "the Prophet" because, in the tradition of Old and New Testament prophets, he depended on revelation from God for his teachings, not on his own learning. (See The Prophet Joseph Smith home page)

495: On 07/05/98, a visitor asked: What is the basic belief system of Mormon religion?

Jesus Christ is the central figure in the doctrine of The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints. The Prophet Joseph Smith explained that:

"the fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it" (TPJS, p. 121).

Latter-day Saints believe that complete salvation is possible only through the life, death, resurrection, doctrines, and ordinances of Jesus Christ and in no other way. (See Teachings About Jesus Christ home page)

494: On 07/05/98, Curtis asked: Is there any information from Church leaders on wether the calculation of tithing should be based on Net or Gross Income? Can you point me to any articles or directions from the church on this issue?

The Church leaves it to each individual to calculate what he considers a fair tithe that is in keeping with the commandments. In fact, local Church leaders [e.g., Bishops, Stake Presidents] are specifically instructed not to interpret the commandment for someone else. Church leaders believe that those people who are inspired by the Holy Ghost will know how to calculate their tithing. (See Financial Contributions)

493: On 07/05/98, Jeff asked: As a member of the Church, I was recently asked this question by my eight year-old daughter for which I am unable to find an answer.  She wanted to know why it was so important to use her right hand when partaking of the sacrament. Having learned this as a small child, I was not 100% sure why we teach this. This is a hard concept for her to understand since her four year-old sister is left handed. 

President George Albert Smith taught:

"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." (Conference Report, April 1908, p.36)

President Joseph Fielding Smith:

"It is the custom to extend the right hand in token of fellowship. The right hand is called the dexter, and the left, the sinister; dexter means right and sinister means left. Dexter, or right, means favorable or propitious. Sinister is associated with evil, rather than good, Sinister means perverse. We take the sacrament with the right hand. We sustain the authorities with the right hand. We make acknowledgment with the right hand raised." (Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.3, p.108)

It should be noted that using the right hand is a symbolic expression. The practice does not mean that the left hand itself [or left-handed people] are evil or unapproved of by God. The members of the Godhead have left hands [and there is nothing evil associated with the Godhead] and the left hand is also used in certain sacred priesthood ordinances.

492: On 07/05/98, a visitor asked: Is there somewhere that I can go to get the complete Wentworth Letter?

See The Wentworth Letter.

491: On 07/05/98, Marlon asked: Hi ! I have been wondering if Satan can read our thoughts. Whatever the answer can be,  is there any scripture which could confirm it ? If I have bad thoughts, Is Satan the one who put it in my mind ? Or He is not able to do this ? Can he feel I have bad thoughts ?

Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught:

"Men's thoughts are secret and cannot be pried into by other men, or for that matter by devils. 'There is none else save God that knowest thy thoughts and the intents of thy heart.' (D. & C. 6:16; 1 Cor. 3:20; Heb. 4:12; Mosiah 24:12.)

However, the Lord can and does on occasion reveal to his prophets the thoughts and intents of the hearts of men. "By the help of the all-powerful Creator of heaven and earth," Jacob said to his Nephite brethren, "I can tell you concerning your thoughts." (Jac. 2:5; Alma 10:17.) This revealing of the thoughts of another is one of the gifts of the Spirit; it is akin to the spirit of prophecy; it comes by the power of God and not of man. (Alma 12:3, 7; 18:16-20, 32; Hela. 9:41.) Our Lord during his ministry frequently exercised the power to read the thoughts of those among whom he labored. (Matt. 9:4; 12:25; Luke 5:22; 6:8; 9:47; 11:17; 24:38; 3 Ne. 28:6.)" ( Mormon Doctrine, p.777)

However, Satan can try and influence us by planting bad thoughts into our minds. Elder Neal A. Maxwell wrote:

"Satan will insinuate himself and his ideas into our thoughts and life-style if we will let him. But one of the grand rules even he must obey is that he may not tempt us above that which we are able to bear. (1 Corinthians 10:13.)" ( Deposition of a Disciple, p.13)

(Also see Thoughts; Devils)

490: On 07/05/98, Ken asked: Is caffine against the word of wisdom?

While no official Church position has been stated, leaders have counseled members to avoid caffeine and other addictive chemicals. (See Word of Wisdom)

489: On 07/05/98, Will asked: Could you please explain the spirit children thing to me? Are all people spirit children of God?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints views all descendants of Adam and Eve as the children of God—not in an abstract or metaphorical sense, but as actual spirit offspring of God the Father and a Mother in Heaven. This basic premise has profound implications for the LDS understanding of what human beings are, why they are here on earth, and what they can become. (See Mankind; Spirit Body; Premortal Existence home page)

(See Question and Answer home page)

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