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Question and Answer 21
"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 Email. We 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.
604: On 03/07/99, a visitor asked, Who wrote the book of abraham?
See The Book of Abraham
603: On 03/07/99, a visitor asked, Is there a site that has a presentation of the plan of salvation for non-members?
See The Plan of Salvation
602: On 03/07/99, a visitor asked, As I am interested in your faith, I would like to observe a service, or a study, or a gathering of your people. How could this be arranged? It is not my intention to cause any kind of strife or trouble.
I suggest you locate an LDS congregation in your area and visit during worship services on Sunday. You can try the telephone directory, directory assistance, or http://www.deseretbook.com/Locate/home.html to find out times and locations. (See Meetings and Conferences home page)
601: On 03/07/99, Steve asked, Hi. I'm a new convert to the Church and am very happy and strong in my testimony. I recently met a beautiful LDS girl who is almost half my age. I'm 35, she's 20 to be exact. We have very strong feelings for each other. Does the church have a problem with this much of an age difference or for that matter any significant age difference?
The Church has no specific counsel regarding age differences. Church leaders have generally advised people to select marriage companions from the same racial, economic, social, and educational background as themselves to enhance their likelihood of achieving a successful partnership. It's interesting to note that I am nine years older than my wife. When we were courting, we received counsel from Reed Benson, President Benson's son and a religion instructor at BYU, regarding the impact of age differences on a marriage. He is 12 years older than his wife and they have achieved a very happy marriage. (See Dating and Courtship home page)
600: On 03/07/99, Paul asked, Is it proper just to show up at an LDS church service, or make arrangements before hand with someone already in the church. This is of interest to me because I would like to visit one in my area.
Visitors are always welcome to attend LDS worship servives and no prior arrangements are necessary. (See Meetings and Conferences home page)
599: On 03/07/99, a visitor asked,
I am doing a little research about the creation and use of the Deseret
Alphabet. Could you please direct me to any existing resources
See Deseret Alphabet
598: On 02/28/99, Laura asked, I was looking through the LDS web pages hoping to find some information on birth control. Could you please send me some information or answers on the Churches standing on birth control?
The First Presidency has stated "Where husband and wife enjoy health and vigor and are free from impurities that would be entailed upon their posterity, it is contrary to the teachings of the Church artificially to curtail or prevent the birth of children. We believe that those who practice birth control will reap disappointment by and by." (See Birth Control)
597: On 02/28/99, James asked, Where can I read all revelations given to all church presidents since the last published "revelation" in the D&C?
The leaders and members of the Church receive constant revelation and guidance from the Holy Ghost. In other words, we receive revelation from God everyday. Each April and October, members of the Church throughout the world assemble in Salt Lake City, Utah, for two days of meetings called General Conference. During these conferences, the leaders of the Church often share revelations and inspiration that they have received during the prior six months. You can find the most recent addresses in our Conferences section. (See Prayer, Fasting, and Revelation home page)
596: On 02/28/99, Chuck asked, I understand the the LDS church believes in the death penalty. I could not find anything on this on your site. How can they believe this way when we are taught "though shall not kill"?
In summary, 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. The Prophet Joseph Smith noted:
"God said, 'Thou shalt not kill;' at another time He said, 'Thou shalt utterly destroy.' This is the principle on which the government of heaven is conductedby revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the children of the kingdom are placed. Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof till long after the events transpire." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Section Five 184243, p.256)
(See Teachings About Law home page; Prayer, Fasting, and Revelation home page)
595: On 02/28/99, Mike asked, does the Mormon faith believe that God evolved from humankind?(compton's 1996) if so why?
No, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints views all descendants of Adam and Eve as the children of Godnot 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)
594: On 02/28/99, Mike asked, what exactly are endowments?
An Endowment generally is a gift, but in a specialized sense it is a course of instruction, ordinances, and covenants given only in dedicated temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (See Teachings About Temples home page)
593: On 02/28/99, Mike asked, what are the names of the three heavens?(celestial, terrestrial,?????)not including the outer darkness
The three Degrees of Glory are the Celestial Kingdom, Terrestrial Kingdom, and Telestial Kingdom. (See Teachings About the Afterlife home page)
592: On 02/28/99, Lori asked, I would like to know what the church's stand is on vasectomies and tubal ligations for the purpose of preventing further pregnancies. Thank you.
Surgical sterilization should only be considered (1) where medical conditions seriously jeopardize life or health, or (2) where birth defects or serious trauma have rendered a person mentally incompetent and not responsible for his or her actions. Such conditions must be determined by competent medical judgment and in accordance with law. Even then, the person or persons responsible for this decision should consult with each other and with their bishop and receive divine confirmation through prayer (See Sterilization)
591: On 02/28/99, Margaret asked, Can you give me some information about the New Era? It's history, purpose, etc. Thank you.
The New Era is the official English language publication of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for youth (ages 12-18), their parents, and their Church leaders and teachers. Established in 1971 during a period of consolidation of all Church magazines, the New Era is published monthly. (See New Era)
590: On 02/28/99, Brad asked, i need info on the Mormon belifs on drug , alcohol and substance abuse
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. In the October 1974 General Conference, President Spencer W. Kimball stated, "We hope our people will eliminate from their lives all kinds of drugs so far as possible. Too many depend upon drugs as tranquilizers and sleep helps, which is not always necessary. Certainly numerous young people have been damaged or destroyed by the use of marijuana and other deadly drugs. We deplore such" (Ensign 4 [Nov. 1974]:6). (See Abuse of Drugs)
589: On 01/31/99, Robin asked, Where does the LDS Church stand on cremation. Is it OK?
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) (See Cremation)
588: On 01/31/99, James asked, I was wondering if you could tell me what exactly the "Land of Promise" means to your religion. Also I was wondering if there is anywhere that I could find out a lot of stuff about it.
See Concept of a Promised Land
587: On 01/31/99, Rick asked, Do Mormons use Gods name Jehovah?
While some Christians do not equate Jesus Christ and Jehovah in their theologies, Biblical passages indicate that relationship, and Latter-day scriptures often refer to Jesus Christ, the Son, as Jehovah (e.g., D&C 110:3-4; Moro. 10:34). (See Jesus Christ is Jehovah)
586: On 01/31/99, Sylvia asked, I would like to know more about what you teach concerning Jesus Christ and the method of salvation. Who do you say Jesus Christ is? How is one saved?
The Book of Mormon, the keystone of our religion, teaches that "Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations." (Title Page of the Book of Mormon)"We believe that through the atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel." (AF 3) (See Teachings about Jesus Christ home page; The Gospel of Jesus Christ home page)
585: On 01/31/99, Emrol asked, I understand an accept that I am required to pay a tithe of 10% of my increase. In an effort to ensure that I pay an honest tithe and as I build a business of my own, am I required to pay 10% of my revenue, or of my profit?
The Church leaves it up to each member and his own individual conscience to determine what constitutes ten percent of his increase. (See Tithing)
584: On 01/31/99, Kim asked, hi ive been a member all my life my question is why did Joseph experiment with masonry and ive learned that there may be certain things done in these meetings that are done in the temple when I read that I really got an uncomfortable feeling please clear up my confusion with this question I have a strong testimony of the church and I feel like IM wavering a little because of this. thank you
See How can you explain the resemblances between Masonry and the LDS temple?
583: On 01/24/99, a visitor asked, If temple ordinances are so important, then why were some of them removed?
See Changes to the Temple Ordinances
582: On 01/24/99, a visitor asked, Why is perfection so important to the church? We can try as hard as we want to be perfect like Christ but we will never be able to.
Through all generations, God has commanded his children to be perfect. His mandates to Abraham, "Walk before me, and be thou perfect" (Gen. 17:1), and to the Israelites, "Thou shalt be perfect with the Lord thy God" (Deut. 18:13), were one with his charge, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48; cf. 3 Ne. 12:48). It is clear that the Lord commands us to be perfect. Yet, is it truly possible? The Book of Mormon makes it clear that the Lord only commands that which is possible for us to achieve:
"And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them." (1 Nephi 3:7)
Since the Lord commands us to be perfect, and we know that the Lord only commands that which is possible for us to do, then it surely is possible for us to actually become so. (See Perfection for a good explanation about how this perfection can be achieved)
581: On 01/24/99, a visitor asked, Doesn't the LDS church believe that Christ's blood shed in the Garden of Eden is the blood that saves them and not the blood on the cross?
The Church teaches that the Atonement of Jesus Christ started in the Garden of Gethsamane, where the Savior's spiritual anguish began: "And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground." (The Holy Bible, Luke 22:44) The Atonement ended and was "consummated" (President John Taylor, The Gospel Kingdom, p.114) upon the Cross at Calvary.
580: On 01/24/99, Alicia asked, what is a Mormon priest called?
Latter-day Saints have a lay ministry (i.e., no professional clergy). All Latter-day Saint men are offered priesthood ordination, if they meet prerequisite standards of worthiness. (See Lay Participation and Leadership; Priesthood Organization home page)
579: On 01/24/99, Alicia asked, why do missionaries go on missions for 2 years with no contact home. what is the purpose of this mission and why do they go to foreign country's?
All Latter-day Saint young men are encouraged to serve missions when they turn 19 years of age. While missionaries typically do not call their families, they are allowed to write to them. The purpose of the missions are to teach people those principles that will allow them to be happy in this life and find salvation in the eternity to come. Latter-day Saints spread the gospel message to all people everywhere because our Heavenly Father loves all of his children and desires all of them to return home. Since they can return home only "by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel" (AF 3), it is crucial that the gospel be taught to them. (See Missionary Work home page)
578: On 01/24/99, Janna asked, I work as a Graduate Assistant at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Part of my duties requires answering questions submitted to our question board. What follows is a question that recently was submitted: "Why are Mormons called 'Mormons' if the name of their church is 'The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints?'" I have looked at several websites related to the Mormon faith and was unable to find an answer to this question. I was wondering if you would know the information necessary to answer the question? I would appreciate your help and thank you very much for your time.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were nicknamed "Mormons" by non-members because of their belief in The Book of Mormon. Non-members have at times also referred to the LDS faith as "Mormonism". Members of the Church typically prefer their official nickname, Latter-day Saints.
577: On 01/24/99, a visitor asked, what must a person do to become one of the sons of perdition, and is there anyway to be for them to be forgiven? Can they ever get to the celestial kingdom?
See Sons of Perdition
576: On 01/24/99, Joy asked, Recent convert from a very strong Methodist upbringing.(Daughter of a minister) My husband is not a member so we debate often. He believes the church does not teach the deity of Christ because the church does not teach the trinity. My understanding is that Christ is the son of God and so would be deity in the very fact that he is God's son.. I don't debate as well as my husband>> Help.
The Book of Mormon, the keystone of our religion, teaches that "Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations." (Title Page of the Book of Mormon) For more information, I suggest you tour our "Teachings About Jesus Christ" section. It has many articles that fully testify that Jesus Christ is our Lord, our God, and our King.
As far as understanding the LDS view of the Trinity, I would refer you to The Doctrinal Exclusion: Trinity and the Nature of God by Dr. Stephen E. Robinson.
We regard Sunday as the Sabbath because we have received modern revelation from prophets and apostles so instructing us. This is a similar situation to the Law of Moses. In the Old Testament, the people were commanded to keep the Law of Moses. However, after the resurrection of Christ, the people were relieved of this responsibility by the Lord's authorized servants [who were living at that time]. Likewise, in these last days, the Lord has told us that through his authorized servants that while Biblical peoples may have kept Saturday as the Lord's Sabbath, the Lord now desires us to honor Sunday as his holy day. As an interesting side note, not all calendars hold Saturday to be the 7th day of the week. For example, most French calendars show Sunday to be the 7th day of the week. (See Teachings About the Sabbath home page)
574: On 01/24/99, John asked, I am in a college course studying religion in the U.S. We are required to visit four Christian Churches this semester and write a paper on our experience. I would like to visit the local Mormon church, but I'm not sure which services to visit and what happens at each. Can you tell me about the Sacrament Service, Sunday School, and Priesthood Service? What occurs at each service and which are visitors welcomed to attend.
LDS services occur in a three hour block on Sundays. We also have other meetings during the week that are geared towards specific audiences. In Sacrament meeting (the first hour), members partake of the Lord's Supper. Afterwards, the entire congregation will typically hear from selected members who have been invited to speak about a gospel related topic (e.g., faith, charity, repentance, etc.). In a typical ward, each family will receive at least one invitation per year to address their fellow members. However, on the first Sunday of the month, the congregation has a special type of meeting called a fast and testimony meeting. Instead of selected members of the congregation being asked to speak, the meeting is opened to the entire congregation who take turns expressing their feelings about Jesus Christ and his gospel (i.e., bearing their testimonies).
In Sunday School (the second hour), the adult members study from the scriptures. The Church rotates through a four year cycle. A year is spent on the Old Testament and Pearl of Great Price, then a year on the New Testament, then a year on the Doctrine and Covenants and Church History, and finally a year on the Book of Mormon. At which point, the cycle begins again.
In the third hour, adult men and women split up. Women head to "Relief Society" where they teach one another lessons that are geared especially for their gender (e.g., how to be better wives and mothers). Men go to "Priesthood" where they also received gender specific instruction (e.g., how to be better husbands and fathers). While some of the lessons would apply to either gender (e.g., grow closer to Christ by exercising charity), it is often helpful to receive the lessons from a member of one's own gender. In addition, the separate meetings make it easier to build the bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood in the congregation. Occasionally, we will hold special combined Relief Society/Priesthood meetings to give everyone the same lesson.
It should be noted that sometimes the meetings occur in a different order due to scheduling issues. (See Church Organization and Priesthood Authority home page)
573: On 01/24/99, Shannon asked, Our Christian
denomination does not help with planning for the 2nd Coming of Christ, nor discuss it. I
verily believe it to be true that this day will happen in my lifetime and would like more
help with planning for that day. Do you share the LDS plan for this day, and if so can you
tell me where to find the information on your website or
Latter-day Saints affirm that there is an actual Messiah, even Jesus Christ, and that he will come at some future time to the earth, and that only through his coming and the events associated therewith will a millennial age of peace, harmony, and joy begin. President Harold B. Lee taught that, "the purpose of the restored church [is] to prepare a people ready to receive the coming of the Lord." (Stand Ye In Holy Places, p.85-86) Every teaching of the Church is geared to help Latter-day Saints personally prepare to meet the Savior at his return. Therefore, it is not possible to provide a short listing of bullet points about preparing for the second coming. If you desire to more fully understand the LDS perspective, you should contact the Church and request some literature. For example, Together Forever, a free video, explains Heavenly Father's plan of happiness. For a free copy, call (U.S.) 1-888-917-5858. Other pieces of literature can be found on our Welcome page.
(See The Second Coming of Jesus Christ home page)
572: On 01/24/99, Kim asked, And what do Mormons think about today's contemporary Christian Music?, one of my friends who is a Mormon said that she felt that it mocked God. But how can that be when they praise him and glorify him, they just do it in a way that the kids today can relate to. Is it b/c some of the Christian music is based on the Trinity that God is Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.
Latter-day Saints believe that music is an appropriate form of worship. The Doctrine and Covenants states: "If thou art merry, praise the Lord with singing, with music, with dancing, and with a prayer of praise and thanksgiving." (D&C 136:28) However, not all music is beneficial to the soul. For example, President Ezra Taft Benson taught "Much of the rock music is purposely designed to push immorality, narcotics, revolution, atheism, and nihilism through language that often carries a double meaning and with which many parents are not familiar." (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p.322)
The Church has never issued any statement regarding contemporary Protestant music. It is worth noting that the Latter-day Saint hymn book has a large number of songs written by Protestants. Does contemporary spiritual music mock God? It depends upon the particular artist and/or song. I know many Latter-day Saints who enjoy contemporary spiritual music. For example, Amy Grant has published a number of songs which I personally enjoy and find spiritually uplifting. On the other hand, I have heard some music that I found distasteful and not spiritually uplifting. And I don't even like all of Amy Grant's songs.
571: On 01/24/99, Kim asked, Why don't Mormons drink caffeine?
While no official Church position has been stated, leaders have counseled members to avoid caffeine and other addictive chemicals. For example, Elder John A. Widtsoe taught:
"Whenever a drink is advertised to "give you a lift," the "lift" is likely to be caused by the drug which it contains. Such soft drinks are decidedly harmful and habit-forming, even though sold by the millions. Such caffeine-containing drinks, offered by every soda fountain and most eating places, and consumed in large quantities, should be known and avoided. (The Word of Wisdom: A Modern Interpretation, p.97)
In general, Latter-day Saints emphasize eating good foods and avoiding that which provides no nutritional value.
(See Word of Wisdom; Attitudes Toward Health and Medicine home page)
570: On 01/24/99, Kim asked, So Mormons do not believe that God separated himself into the trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? In other words that God is not also Jesus in man's form, even though the Bible states this many times.
Latter-day Saints "believe the Bible to be the word of God " (AF 8) and this holy record serves as a standard work of the Church. We accept unequivocally all the biblical teachings on the nature of God, but we reject the extrabiblical elaborations of the councils and creeds. For example, the phrases "God separated himself into the trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" and "God is not also Jesus in man's form" are not actually found anywhere in the Bible. Therefore, Latter-day Saints feel under no obligation to accept them as true. (See Teachings About the Godhead home page; The Doctrinal Exclusion: Trinity and the Nature of God; The Holy Bible home page)
569: On 01/10/99, a visitor asked, Is it true that Mormons believe that a woman can only get into heaven if her husband grants her entry?
No, a woman's husband does not give her the right to enter the Celestial Kingdom. All people, both men and women, are granted a celestial inheritance through the atonement of Jesus Christ and their personal obedience to the Savior's commandments. (See Teachings About the Afterlife home page)
568: On 01/10/99, a visitor asked, I have recently been baptized into the Mormon faith and I am very curious for the reasoning of not wearing crosses. I have had a few people try to explain it but it hasn't made sense yet.
Latter-day Saints do not use the symbol of the cross in their architecture or in their chapels. They, like the earliest Christians, are reluctant to display the cross because they view the "good news" of the gospel as Christ's resurrection more than his crucifixion. (See The Cross)
567: On 01/10/99, a visitor asked, In social studies, my calss has been studing about the Mormon religion and the starter, Joseph Smith. The question came up that the Mormon church owns Pepsi and hotel chain. If this is true, and you own any businesses
The Church does not own Pepsi or, to my knowledge, any hotel chains either. One of our members, J. Willard Marriott, founded the Marriott hotel chain, but the Church does not own the company. (See Church Participation in Business)
566: On 01/10/99, Wendy asked, Repeated adultery on the part of my husband, has led to the breakdown of our nineteen year temple marriage. We will be divorced soon, but what happens next when I choose to remarry in the temple for eternity? Can you please explain the process of "Cancellation of Sealing" that would allow me to be sealed in eternal marriage to another?
The First Presidency may cancel temple sealings when the circumstances of a request for cancellation warrant it. Your Bishop would be the best person to explain the process for obtaining a cancellation of your sealing. Once a sealing has been canceled and you have also received a valid civil divorce, then you may be sealed to someone else, if you have the permission of the Church. (See Cancellation of Sealings; Eternal Marriage; Adultery)
(See Question and Answer home page)
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