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Question and Answer 2

46: On 4/17/97, Jim asked: What do you believe stops people from going to church?

In general, I believe that people stop going to Church because they lose connection with the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost speaks in still small voice (1 Kings 19:12). Sometimes we get caught up in the anxieties of life and we forget to listen to the soft voice of the Spirit. We generally stop doing the basic things like daily scripture study and prayer. We forget about what is really important. The Book of Mormon teaches:

"... ye have heard his voice from time to time; and he hath spoken unto you in a still small voice, but ye were past feeling, that ye could not feel his words...." (1 Nephi 17:45)

When we lose the companionship of the Spirit, we can no longer feel the presence of God in our lives. Once this happens, we drift into world pursuits and away from the Church.

45: On 4/16/97, Richard asked: I have heard some stuff recently to suggest that the references to God in the Old Testament are actually speaking of Jesus Christ and that the OT is actually talking entirely about Jesus Christ. Am I correct in my interpretation of what I have been hearing? Is this opinion of LDS doctrine?

The Church teaches that the premortal Jesus Christ was Jehovah, The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (i.e., the God of the Old Testament). (See Jesus Christ is Jehovah)

President Joseph Fielding Smith taught:

All revelation since the fall has come through Jesus Christ, who is the Jehovah of the Old Testament. In all of the scriptures, where God is mentioned and where he has appeared, it was Jehovah who talked with Abraham, with Noah, Enoch, Moses and all the prophets. He is the God of Israel, the Holy One of Israel; the one who led that nation out of Egyptian bondage, and who gave and fulfilled the law of Moses. The Father has never dealt with man directly and personally since the fall, and he has never appeared except to introduce and bear record of the Son. (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:27)

44: On 4/11/97, Dak asked: Could some please tell me where the LDS stands on abortion?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints considers the elective termination of pregnancy "one of the most…sinful practices of this day" (Handbook of Instructions, 11-4), although not necessarily murder. The Lord has said, "Thou shalt not…kill, nor do anything like unto it" (D&C 59:6; emphasis added in Packer, p. 85). (See Abortion; Teachings About Sexuality; Attitudes Toward health and Medicine)

43: On 4/11/97, Kathy asked: When is it acceptable to kill?

In LDS doctrine, murder is second in seriousness only to the unpardonable sin of blasphemy against the Holy Ghost. (See Murder). Murder violates the sanctity of life and cuts off the ability of its victims to "work out their destiny" (Benson, p. 355). Moreover, because "man cannot restore life," and restoration or restitution is a necessary step for repentance, obtaining forgiveness for murder is impossible (Kimball, 1969, p. 129; D&C 42:18-19). Murder wrenches all lives connected to the victim, and ultimately the perpetrator of this crime suffers even more than the victims. "For Cain suffered far more than did Abel, and murder is far more serious to him who commits it than to him who suffers from it" (Kimball, 1982, p. 188).

However, there may be times when it is necessary to kill, which is differentiated from murder. Capital punishment is viewed in the doctrines of the Church to be an appropriate penalty for murder, but that penalty is proper only after the offender has been found guilty in a lawful public trial by constitutionally authorized civil authorities. (See Capital Punishment)

Regarding killing in war, here is an excerpt from the message of the First Presidency dated April 6, 1942:

The whole world is in the midst of a war that seems the worst of all time. The Church is a world-wide church. Its devoted members are in both camps. They are the innocent war instrumentalities of their warring sovereignties. On each side they believe they are fighting for home, country, and freedom. On each side, our brethren pray to the same God, in the same name, for victory. Both sides cannot be wholly right; perhaps neither is without wrong. God will work out in His own due time and in His own sovereign way the justice and right of the conflict but he will not hold the innocent instrumentalities of the war, our brethren in arms, responsible for the conflict. (MF 129) (Also see War and Peace)

42: On 4/11/97, Filip asked: Is there a list or a specification what the Church want to say with "drugs"?

The abuse of drugs is contrary to the teachings of the Church. Leaders have frequently cautioned members against using narcotics such as marijuana, heroin, LSD, and crack-cocaine, as well as misusing prescription medication or over-the-counter drugs. However, Latter-day Saints are encouraged to seek appropriate professional medical care. Medical drugs serve a very valuable purpose as they can ease pain and save lives. Their appropriate use is acceptable. It is the abuse of drugs which goes against the teachings of the Church. (See Abuse of Drugs; Attitudes Toward Health and Medicine)

41: On 4/10/97, Jim asked: Does anyone authoritatively know the doctrinal / historical roots of the follow the brethren doctrine?

"To Follow the Brethren" means that we should pay heed to the living prophets of God. It is simply another way of expounding the same doctrine that has existed since the days of Father Adam. One of the greatest challenges that has always faced mankind is to successfully distinguish between true messengers from our Heavenly Father and those who falsely claim his authority. Following a false messenger leads a person to destruction, both temporal and spiritual. Following God's true servants leads one to salvation, both temporal and spiritual. Unfortunately, most people find the carnal ways of the world more to their liking than the ways of the true and living God. (See Elder Maxwell's excellent discourse "Follow the Brethren" on our Following the Prophets home page)

40: On 4/8/97, Gusto asked: If marriage here on Earth is so important, why was Jesus Christ not married?

Why do you believe that Jesus was never married? The Bible does not teach that the Lord was never married, but simply makes no mention of the subject. The scriptures are not meant to convey all truth, but only those select things that are necessary for our salvation. For example, the Bible teaches the following:

And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. (John 20:30-1)

Whether Jesus was married or not has nothing to do with our personal salvation. Several leaders of the Church have speculated that Jesus Christ was indeed married during his mortality. According to the laws and customs of his day, Jewish men married at sixteen or seventeen years of age, almost never later than twenty; and women at a somewhat younger age, often when not older than fourteen. (See Mortal Messiah, Vol. 1, p. 223)

The Bible teaches that the enemies of Christ spent their time "Laying wait for him, and seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him" (Luke 11:54). Jesus Christ did not begin his ministry until his early 30's. If Christ were unmarried at this age, then his enemies could have proven that he did not obey the laws and customs of his day. Keep in mind that the Jews accused him of breaking tradition at every opportunity. Each time he was able to prove that his violation of their tradition was not really a violation of God's commandments. As far as the commandment to "multiply and replenish the earth", the Jews did not even bother to accuse him of violation. Why? Perhaps it was well known that he kept this commandment of his Father as he had kept all others?

Like Latter-day Saints, the ancient Israelites considered marriage a sacred responsibility and children a blessing. (See Family) While there is no definitive proof available that the Jesus was married, the evidence might lead one to that conclusion. (See Eternal Marriage; Is there Eternal Marriage?)

39: On 4/6/97, Michael asked: What is the church's position on non-members attending general conference? Are only temple recommend-holding members allowed to attend? Or is it open to the public?

Temple recommends allow members to attest to their worthiness to enter the temple. They have no bearing on one's ability to attend meetings and conferences. Everyone is invited to attend General Conference, including nonmembers. In fact, many members of the Church invite their nonmember friends to attend conference with them.

38: On 4/5/97, Steven asked: Is 8 years old, old enough to decide if you believe the Church or not. Usually the Faith of an 8 year old is based totally in what their parents have told them all their lives. They may be old enough to understand good vs. bad, but to me, they do not have the independence of mind to decide their eternal beliefs.

Elder Orson F. Whitney taught:

Little children, too young to have sinned, and therefore incapable of repentance, are exempt from baptism, and it is a sin to baptize them, involving as it does the vain use of a sacred ordinance. Redeemed by the blood of Christ from the foundation of the world, their innocence and purity are typical of the saved condition of men and women, who must become like them before entering into the Kingdom of Heaven. As children advance in years, however, they become accountable, and must then yield obedience to the requirements of the Gospel. Eight years is the recognized age of accountability in the Church of Christ. (Saturday Night Thoughts, p.232)

While Baptism admits a person to Christ's church on earth, that's not it's only purpose. Baptism is a primary step in the process, which includes faith, repentance, baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end, whereby members may receive remission of their sins and gain access to the Celestial Kingdom and eternal life.

At the age of 8, children become accountable to God for their sins. One cannot live in a state of happiness unless he repents of his iniquities and receives forgiveness from God. To grant pardon of sins is one manifestation of God's mercy, made possible by the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Since 8 year old children are capable of sin and accountable for them, they need access to the wonderful powers of the atonement to re-enter the state of happiness.

While a child of 8 may not have the full knowledge of eternal truth, he or she is at at age when practicing basic principles of the gospel like faith, repentance, prayer, and reverence. They are at an age when they can develop a meaningful personal relationship with God and therefore are old enough for baptism.

Also, one of the main purposes of the Primary organization for children is to ensure that young children are taught the needed prerequisites for understanding the nature of this sacred ordinance and are given a sound foundation in the gospel. In addition, all candidates for baptism, including children, are interviewed by the Bishop to ensure that they understand the commitment to Christ involved and that they are making it for themselves.

37: On 4/4/97, Jeffrey asked: I believe that the scriptures indicate that ONLY worthy members should partake of the Sacrament of Lord's Supper. This means only those who have been Baptized by water and by Spirit. This does not include children. I would like to see any references showing otherwise.

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)

36: On 4/3/97, Jason asked: What does Mormonism teach about humanity in general? (Origin of man, nature of man)

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.

As children of God, men and women have infinite potential (see 2 Ne. 2:20; Heb. 12:9). As a result of their divine heritage, all people carry the inherent capacity and the predisposition to become as their heavenly parents. Latter-day Saints seek to follow the injunction of Christ to be "perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48). Their view of each person's relationship with God stresses that life is as a maturing process, a working toward becoming like God, of becoming worthy to be with God (see Deification; Exaltation; Godhood). Mortal life may be only a beginning, but the potential is there. (See Mankind; Evolution)

35: On 4/2/97, Phil asked: Is it true that the Mormon church only ever has one prophet? Between the New Testament and everyday experience at church services, I expect to see people prophesy as often as Christians meet together for worship. Is your understanding different?

A belief in prophets and their messages lies at the heart of LDS doctrine. Latter-day Saints recognize the Biblical and Book of Mormon prophets, as well as latter-day prophets, as servants of Jesus Christ and accept as scripture the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, and the Doctrine and Covenants. They believe that Joseph Smith and all subsequent presidents of the church were and are prophets and representatives of Jesus Christ. (See Prophets)

While only one person (the president of the church) may exercise all the keys of the priesthood of God at one time on the earth and receive revelation for the whole Church, the underlying principle of the spirit of prophecy is that all saints who receive a testimony of Christ are prophets in the limited sense that they may receive revelation and inspiration for themselves (TPJS, p. 119). This same idea is implicit in Moses' response to Joshua: "Would God that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!" (Num. 11:29). (See Spirit of Prophecy)

34: On 4/2/97, Sherilyn asked: From what source does moral and spiritual force originate? Does Mormonism have a claim that can be shown to derive from this source?. I'd be interested in seeing answers from Mormons.

From what source does moral and spiritual force originate? The Book of Mormon states that goodness originates from God:

"Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually.

But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.

Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil.

For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night.

For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.

But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.

And now, my brethren, seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged.

Wherefore, I beseech of you, brethren, that ye should search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ." (Moroni 7:12-19)

Does Mormonism have a claim that can be shown to derive from this source? Yes, God the Father and Jesus Christ personally appeared to Joseph Smith and called him as a Prophet and instructed him to restore the Church of Christ to the earth. (See Joseph Smith--History in his own words; First Vision; Restoration of the Gospel home page)

33: On 4/2/97, Rick asked: My wife has cut her coffee consumption from about six cups a day to one. It was very difficult for her. If she doesn't have her one cup a day she gets a head ache. I have told her that she will not be able to get a temple recommend until she gives it up completely. She would like to know why. Can anyone help me explain this to her. Could she take a caffeine pill to stop her head ache or would this be a W of W violation? Where in the scriptures does it say that you can not go to the celestial kingdom if you drink coffee?

Addictions are very difficult to break. Both of my parents are recovered alcoholics and it was very difficult for them to become sober. I would suggest that your wife discuss this issue with your Bishop, especially regarding the use of caffeine pills. He may be able to provide specific guidance in this area. She certainly should be congratulated on the progress that she has made to date.

As far as your question, to enter the Celestial Kingdom, it is required to keep the commandments (D/C 76:52) and live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (D/C 84:44). When the servants of the Lord speak, it is the same as when the Lord himself speaks (D/C 1:38).

"Whatsoever is not of faith is sin." (Romans 14:23) This law applies to the saints, to those who have the light, who know that salvation is in Christ, to those who are under covenant to keep the commandments. It is not applicable to the world in general, for sin is not imputed where there is no law. Thus the saints are guilty of sin when they fall short of those high standards they are obligated to attain. In the field of the Word of Wisdom, for instance, it is a sin for a Latter-day Saint to use tea, coffee, tobacco, or liquor, but it is not a sin for a nonmember of the Church so to do. (Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, Vol.2, p.302)

32: On 4/2/97, Dru asked: I've always wondered what the 'official' church stance is regarding being an organ donor. I've heard both ways--that it's OK and that it is against church policy. Can someone please clear this up for me? Thanks

Because the transplanting of body parts raises some concerns regarding ethics and moral issues, the Church has issued the following statement: "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" (General Handbook of Instructions, 11-6). (See Organ Transplants and Donations on the Attitudes Toward Health and Medicine home page)

31: On 3/31/97, Jim asked: Through our meetings with the missionaries we have heard reference to a "Holy Mother". Can you elaborate further.

"Holy Mother" is a term not found in LDS doctrine or theology, but is typically used in association with the Roman Catholic Church. However, Latter-day Saints infer from authoritative sources of scripture and modern prophecy that there is a Heavenly Mother as well as a Heavenly Father, and this belief is probably the source of your reference. (See Mother in Heaven)

The First Presidency has declared, "All men and women are in the similitude of the universal Father and Mother, and are literally the sons and daughters of Deity" (MFP 4:203). Everyone, before coming to this earth, lived with Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother, and each was loved and taught by them as a member of their eternal family (see Premortal Life). Birth unites the spirit with a physical body so that together they can "receive a fulness of joy" (D&C 93:33; cf. 2 Ne. 2:25). (See Teachings About the Family)

President Spencer W. Kimball has taught "God made man in his own image and certainly he made woman in the image of his wife-partner...You [women] are daughters of God. You are precious. You are made in the image of our heavenly Mother. " (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.25)

The historic LDS affirmation of man as created literally in the image of God—with a Heavenly Mother as well as a Heavenly Father—led to a reinterpretation by Latter-day Saints of many conflicts felt in the larger society about the roles of men and women as individuals and as members of families and the Church. It also produced both a dramatic collision with fundamentalist Protestants and, to some extent, a reconciliation with Catholic and Protestant theologians who have rediscovered such ideas in the theology of the ancient Church. (See Intellectual History on the Education home page)

30: On 3/30/97, TS asked: What are the views the Mormon church has in regards to dating and marriage between an LDS youth and someone of a different religious affiliation?

While Latter-day Saints have the right to choose for themselves, the Church encourages members to avoid dating nonmembers. (See Dating Nonmembers; Dating and Courtship)

29: On 3/28/97, Jared asked: I have had several people approach me on D&C 134:11 - which teaches that we are justified in self defense. They claim that self defense may have been justified with the Law of Moses but that Christ brought a higher law that forbids doing any harm, even in self defense. They have quoted the "If a man should strike you on the cheek turn the other" and "if a man wants to steel your coat give him your shirt also" verses in MATT Mark Luke and John. They claim that these verses go against D&C 134:11 which states that we have the right to defend our property. Because Christ brought a higher law they will not accept any verses before his coming. This is an interesting dilemma, can you help solve it?

It is always important to remember that "ye are called to bring to pass the gathering of mine elect; for mine elect hear my voice and harden not their hearts" (D&C 29:7). One cannot prove anything to one who will resist the Spirit of the Lord, wrest the scriptures, and go against common sense. I have seen people quote these verses and similar ones on forgiveness and espouse the idea that one should not defend himself or his family against unlawful attacks including murder and rape.

Latter-day revelation and apostolic commentary resolves any such application of these verses. If your friends will not accept Latter-day Revelation or listen to their own common sense, then there is nothing that you can do for them.

The Book of Mormon teaches the doctrine of self-defense as follows:

Nevertheless, the Nephites were inspired by a better cause, for they were not fighting for monarchy nor power but they were fighting for their homes and their liberties, their wives and their children, and their all, yea, for their rites of worship and their church.

And they were doing that which they felt was the duty which they owed to their God; for the Lord had said unto them, and also unto their fathers, that: Inasmuch as ye are not guilty of the first offense, neither the second, ye shall not suffer yourselves to be slain by the hands of your enemies.

And again, the Lord has said that: Ye shall defend your families even unto bloodshed. Therefore for this cause were the Nephites contending with the Lamanites, to defend themselves, and their families, and their lands, their country, and their rights, and their religion [Alma 43:45-47].

As far as the verses to which you referred (i.e., "If a man should strike you on the cheek turn the other"), they must be placed into the context of the time, the audience, and the rest of the gospel.

Elder James E. Talmage noted :

Christ taught that men should rather suffer than do evil, even to the extent of submission without resistance under certain implied conditions. His forceful illustrations -- that if one were smitten on one cheek he should turn the other to the smiter; that if a man took another's coat by process of law, the loser should allow his cloak to be taken also; that if one was pressed into service to carry another's burden a mile, he should willingly go two miles; that one should readily give or lend as asked -- are not to be construed as commanding abject subservience to unjust demands, nor as an abrogation of the principle of self-protection. These instructions were directed primarily to the apostles, who would be professedly devoted to the work of the kingdom to the exclusion of all other interests. In their ministry it would be better to suffer material loss or personal indignity and imposition at the hands of wicked oppressors, than to bring about an impairment of efficiency and a hindrance in work through resistance and contention. (Jesus the Christ, Ch.17, p.235 - p.236)

Elder Bruce R. McConkie also noted that these verses were special counsel specifically addressed to the apostles and ministers of Christ—those whose talents and strength must be devoted, without hindrance, to the preaching of the gospel and the building up of the kingdom. Nothing is so important as the spread of truth and the establishment of the cause of righteousness. The petty legal processes of that day must not be permitted to impede the setting up of the new kingdom. (Mortal Messiah,Vol.2, p.141)

(See War and Peace; Military and the Church)

28: On 3/26/97, Mary asked: would like to know where the closest ward is to Imperial Texas. I was thinking of moving there and wanted to know how far the church would be. Also where is the closest stake? Thanks.

The main operators at Church headquarters should be able to direct you to the department that can provide you with this information. Their United States telephone number is 800-453-3860.

(See Question and Answer 3; Question and Answer home page; Question and Answer 1)

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