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Question and Answer 3

62: On 5/5/97, Julie asked: If you believe Jesus is the only way to salvation, why to you have baptism for the dead? I feel and the Bible and the Book of Mormon clearly states that you have only one chance to accept Jesus as your personal Savior. (Bible Verses -- Luke 16: 19-31; Hebrews 9:27; Galatians 6:8; John 3:36 --Book of Mormon -- Alma 34:31; 2 Nephi 9:38; Mosiah 26:25-27)

Latter-day Saints certainly believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation. The Book of Mormon teaches:

"Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.

And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen." (2 Nephi 31:20-21)

Why do we do Baptisms for the Dead? Salvation for the dead is the system where under those who would have accepted the gospel in this life had they been permitted to hear it, will have the chance to accept it in the spirit world, and will then be entitled to all the blessings which passed them by in mortality. The Doctrine and Covenants teaches:

"Thus came the voice of the Lord unto me, saying: All who have died without a knowledge of this gospel, who would have received it if they had been permitted to tarry, shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom of God; Also all that shall die henceforth without a knowledge of it, who would have received it with all their hearts, shall be heirs of that kingdom; For I, the Lord, will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts." (D&C 137:7-9, emphasis added)

However, the principles of this great doctrine do not apply to those hear the gospel in mortality and reject it. The Book of Mormon teaches:

Yea, I would that ye would come forth and harden not your hearts any longer; for behold, now is the time and the day of your salvation; and therefore, if ye will repent and harden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you.

For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.

And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.

Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.

For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked." (Alma 34:31-35)

In performing temple ordinances in behalf of the dead, Latter-day Saints do not attempt to distinguish between those who rejected the gospel in mortality and those who never had the opportunity. We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ alone has the right to judge someone's eternal destiny. (See Final Judgment) Therefore, we perform temple work for all of our ancestors and leave them in the loving hands of our Savior. (See Teachings About Temples; Teachings About the Afterlife)

61: On 5/3/97, Steve asked: Is age 8 really old enough for baptism? Do children really understand the significance of the covenants that they are making?

While it is true that most eight year old children do not have the maturity to fully understand the importance of the baptismal covenant, the same could be said for many adults. In addition, there are other issues involved. At age 8, our Heavenly Father begins to hold his children accountable for personal sin. Therefore, children need to learn how to obtain forgiveness for their transgressions (See Remission of Sins). In addition, the Prophet Joseph Smith taught:

"You might as well baptize a bag of sand as a man, if not done in view of the remission of sins and getting of the Holy Ghost. Baptism by water is but half a baptism, and is good for nothing without the other half—that is, the baptism of the Holy Ghost." (TPJS, p. 314)

The gift of the Holy Ghost is the right or privilege (based upon personal worthiness) of receiving divine manifestations, spiritual gifts, and direction from the Holy Ghost. It is through the enjoyment of this sacred gift that children can develop a deep and meaningful relationship with their Father in Heaven.

60: On 5/3/97, Rick asked: Is Plural Marriage required to enter the Celestial Kingdom?

Eternal Marriage (i.e., Sealing) is a requirement for Exaltation. "In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage]; And if he does not, he cannot obtain it.He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase." (D/C 131 1:-4) However, "Plural marriage is not essential to salvation or exaltation." (Mormon Doctrine, p.578) (See History of Plural Marriage)

59: On 4/27/97, Marylyn asked: I tried to find out the answer elsewhere but found nothing to match my question. I was wondering what the views of the church was on transsexuals.

The Church teaches that 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)

God's teachings about human sexuality are clear, unambiguous, and consistent from Adam to the present. "God created man in his own image…male and female created he them" (Gen. 1:27). "And the Gods said: Let us make an help meet for the man, for it is not good that the man should be alone, therefore we will form an help meet for him…. Therefore shall a man…cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh" (Abr. 5:14-18). "Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord" (1 Cor. 11:11). (See Homosexuality)

President Spencer W. Kimball:

Transsexual operations are travesty. Then we're appalled to find an ever-increasing number of women who want to be sexually men and many young men who wish to be sexually women. What a travesty! I tell you that, as surely as they live, such people will regret having made overtures toward the changing of their sex. Do they know better than God what is right and best for them?

Some people are ignorant or vicious and apparently attempting to destroy the concept of masculinity and femininity. More and more girls dress, groom, and act like men. More and more men dress, groom, and act like women. The high purposes of life are damaged and destroyed by the growing unisex theory. God made man in his own image, male and female made he them. With relatively few accidents of nature, we are born male or female. The Lord knew best. Certainly, men and women who would change their sex status will answer to their Maker. (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.278)

(See Teachings About Sexuality)

58: On 4/27/97, Alison asked: I was wondering about the law of tithing. I realize that it is important to support the church financially. Is it right to specify a certain amount (10%)? What if someone is really struggling? Could they give just what they can afford to?

Tithing is the basic contribution by which Latter-day Saints fund the activities of the Church. Is it right to specify a certain amount? 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). Therefore, tithing is a commandment.

The Prophet Joseph taught that we should keep the commandments, even if we may not understand them at the time:

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 conducted—by 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. If we seek first the kingdom of God, all good things will be added. So with Solomon: first he asked wisdom, and God gave it him, and with it every desire of his heart, even things which might be considered abominable to all who understand the order of heaven only in part, but which in reality were right because God gave and sanctioned by special revelation. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Section Five 1842–43, p.256, emphasis added)

As with all commandments, there is a correlation between observance of the law of tithing and blessings or punishments. The promises to the obedient are great, but the revelation also warns, "It shall come to pass that all…shall observe this law, or they shall not be found worthy to abide among you" (D&C 119:5).

What if someone is really struggling? "All Church members who have income should pay tithing, with the following exceptions:

1. Members entirely dependent on Church welfare assistance.

2. Full-time missionaries. (However, missionaries should pay tithing on personal income beyond what they receive for their support from families and others.)" (Ward/Branch Financial records Handbook, 2-1)

Since the Church has an extensive welfare program, no Latter-day Saint ever goes without the basic necessities of life.

57: On 4/27/97, Tracy asked: What's the difference between the Mormons and Baptists? Don't we both believe in Jesus for our ultimate salvation? Thanks.

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; Do you believe in a different Jesus?)

I believe that it is always best for adherents of a religion be allowed to explain their own faith. Whenever nonmembers attempt to explain a denomination's beliefs and practices, distortions are likely to occur. Even if a nonmember is trying to faithfully represent another faith, he usually lacks the objectivity and inside knowledge to do so accurately. Therefore, I am reluctant to attempt any explanation of Baptist belief. For an explanation of Baptist beliefs, I would suggest that you gain knowledge first hand by asking some Baptists.

However, for a summary of distinctive LDS doctrines, I would suggest that you review the Distinctive Teachings and LDS Differences in Doctrine articles under the FAQ section.

56: On 4/24/97, Francois asked: I am sixteen, and have been convinced by a Mormon friend that The Book of Mormon is the truth. I would like to convert to Mormonism, but I don't know how to tell my parents. Do you have any advice?

I would invite your parents to attend a local Church meeting. (See Meetings and Conferences) After they get a basic feel of what the Church is like, then you should be able to discuss it with them over dinner. You can invite your friend over to answer any of your parent's questions. Assuming that your parents' have internet access, you can invite them to visit both our site and the official Church site ( ) for more information.

55: On 4/23/97, Jim asked: Please explain to me what you mean by "losing connection with the Spirit". Do you have this connection and how did you get connected?

Our Heavenly Father has not left us alone in this world. He has sent a comforter, to those who love him and keep his commandments, called The Holy Ghost. The gift of the Holy Ghost is the right or privilege (based upon personal worthiness) of receiving divine manifestations, spiritual gifts, and direction from the Holy Ghost. When one enjoys the gift, he walks in the light of continuous inspiration and revelation. He feels encircled about by the arms of Christ and feels like singing the song of redeeming love.

If we are guided thereby, then the sanctifying, cleansing, purifying, perfecting processes begin to operate in our lives, and in literal reality we become the saints of God, a peculiar and distinct people.

A person gains The Gift of the Holy Ghost through a priesthood ordinance called confirmation. However, the actual companionship of the Spirit is predicated upon personal worthiness. The Book of Mormon teaches:

"And this I know, because the Lord hath said he dwelleth not in unholy temples, but in the hearts of the righteous doth he dwell; yea, and he has also said that the righteous shall sit down in his kingdom, to go no more out; but their garments should be made white through the blood of the Lamb." (Alma 34:36)

Only the most spiritually mature men and women are able to enjoy this marvelous gift constantly. For when we undertake to cover our sins and gratify our pride, the Spirit of the Lord is grieved and will not dwell in us. When we reach this state, it is necessary for us to repent to once again enjoy the companionship of the Spirit.

Some practical ways that we can enhance our spiritual connection are to read our scriptures and approach our Heavenly Father in deep meaningful personal prayer. By confessing our unworthiness and truly repenting of our sins, our loving Father in Heaven will restore his Spirit to us.

54: On 4/23/97, ServnHim2 asked: Does the LDS church teach that the blood Jesus shed is sufficient for the atonement of sins? Is there anything else that is needed for the atonement of sins???

The Atonement of Jesus Christ is the foreordained but voluntary act of the Only Begotten Son of God. He offered his life, including his innocent body, blood, and spiritual anguish as a redeeming ransom (1) for the effect of the Fall of Adam upon all mankind and (2) for the personal sins of all who repent, from Adam to the end of the world. (See Atonement of Christ)

The atonement is sufficient to redeem all men from personal sin, but the Lord will only apply it to those who have faith unto repentance.

53: On 4/23/97, Curt, asked: I am working on an update of Swedish National Encyclopedia and have come to the entry Doctrine and Covenants from which year is the latest edition? How many chapters are there in the latest edition? The information I have is from 1993.

The present edition of the Doctrine and Covenants is the 1987 edition. It has 138 sections and 2 Official Declarations. Therefore, I suspect that your information is still up-to-date.

52: On 4/23/97, Deni asked: My question is that if Mormons have such a respect for genealogy, why do you oppose open adoptions? I would think that it would make it easier for adult Mormon adoptees, who wish to continue the Mormon tradition of tracing one's roots.

As it has been explained to me, an open adoption means that the adoption record is a public document that anyone can access. There are several reasons that many non-Mormons oppose open adoptions. First, it is very difficult to give up a child for adoption. A birth mother who is reminded of the adoption by seeing the child on a regular basis, getting phone calls about the adoption, or having people track her down about it, generally finds it more difficult to find closure to the experience. In addition, many adoptive parents legitimately worry that some birth parents would try to forcefully enter the child's life.

In addition, these practical reasons are amplified by some key doctrines in the LDS belief system. Latter-day Saints believe that we can be sealed in family units. This means that if we are faithful to the teachings of Christ, then we will live as a family in heaven. We believe that family ties, especially marriage, should be eternal in nature and not only for this life. (See Teachings About the Family)

Children born to parents sealed in an LDS Temple are automatically sealed to their parents. Adoptive children can also be taken to a Temple and sealed to their parents. If an adoptive child is sealed to his or her parents, we believe the sealing creates a permanent eternal bond. In effect, they are literally grafted into the adoptive family. At this point, they have absolutely no connection with their birth parents beyond genetic ties. It is common for families to consider their adoptive children as their "real children". The sealing makes the family bond more real than genetics. (See Teachings About the Temple)

You suggest that open adoptions would make it easier to conduct Family History (or genealogy) research. But in the LDS belief system, the adoptees roots are the adoptive family line (not the birth line). Once an adopted child is sealed to his or her parents, there is no longer any connection to birth genealogies. Tracing one's birth line would serve no constructive purpose (in the LDS belief system) and could possibly alienate the feelings of all concerned. Therefore, I can see several reasons why LDS adoptive agencies would fight against open adoptions.

It should be noted that in LDS Social Services sponsored adoptions, letters can be exchanged, photos of the baby can be shared, and health records are made available.

51: On 4/22/97, Jeanne asked: I guess the real question is what constitutes multiply and replenish? Is it two or more and does this give the families with hordes of children the moral authority to make snide comments like many children do you have? Oh one........hmmmmm with a disparaging look not knowing the circumstances of the person they are questioning.

I believe that the number of children that you have is irrelevant to your standing with God. Many of the most righteous women in the scriptures were barren for long periods of time. Some couples have never used birth control, but were given only one or two children or none at all. Several of my friends have been in this situation. The issue is not about "how many", but the approach one takes to fulfill a sacred responsibility.

Regarding both the sacred responsibility to bring children into the world and the inability of some couples to do so, Elder Dallin H. Oaks recently said this at General Conference:

President Kimball said, "It is an act of extreme selfishness for a married couple to refuse to have children when they are able to do so." When married couples postpone childbearing until after they have satisfied their material goals, the mere passage of time assures that they seriously reduce their potential to participate in furthering our Heavenly Father's plan for all of his spirit children. Faithful Latter-day Saints cannot afford to look upon children as an interference with what the world calls "self-fulfillment." Our covenants with God and the ultimate purpose of life are tied up in those little ones who reach for our time, our love, and our sacrifices.

How many children should a couple have? All they can care for! Of course, to care for children means more than simply giving them life. Children must be loved, nurtured, taught, fed clothed, housed, and well started in their capacities to be good parents themselves. Exercising faith in God's promises to bless them when they are keeping his commandments, many LDS parents have large families. Others seek but are not blessed with children or the number of children they desire. In a matter as intimate as this, we should not judge one another. (Conference Report, October 1993, Pg. 101)

People who make snide remarks (or have snide thoughts) about couples with small families are not practicing the gospel as perfectly as they should. As Elder Oaks said, " In a matter as intimate as this, we should not judge one another." Likewise, as President Kimball said, "It is an act of extreme selfishness for a married couple to refuse to have children when they are able to do so."

We should never judge the individual situation of a person, for it is not our place. But we also should never be ashamed of a doctrine on which the Prophets of God have spoken so abundantly. (See Teachings About Sexuality)

50: On 4/21/97, Steph asked: I'm not & have never been LDS, and I have a question about political demographics within the church. I'm guessing most LDS are Republicans. Am I wrong?

While Latter-day Saints are encouraged to become involved in their communities (See Civic Duties), the Church does not endorse any particular political party. Members are encouraged to study the issues carefully and vote their conscience. However, based upon present political platforms, Latter-day Saints have tended to vote Republican in recent years. Also, most Latter-day Saints presently serving in Congress are Republican. This may be due to the conservative outlook that Church leaders have espoused on many social issues like abortion, capital punishment, abuse of drugs, homosexuality, and self-sufficiency. However, many faithful Latter-day Saints, including some Church leaders, have been members of the Democratic party. (See Politics home page)

49: On 4/20/97, Ron asked: I recently joined the LDS and have a question or two.......My wife chose not to join the church, but supports my decision. I have been told that during some ceremonies in the temple I will be told things that cannot be told to anyone. Is this true? Does this include my wife?

The Church stresses the importance of the marriage relationship above all other relationships. (See Eternal Marriage) It is the center of the plan of happiness that God has for each person. (See The Gospel of Jesus Christ) However, Latter-day Saints believe that the ordinances of the Temple are sacred and not to be discussed, except on holy ground (i.e., within the Temple itself). I would advise you to speak to your Bishop regarding more specific information. If necessary, he can contact a higher Church official to obtain information on your behalf.

There are a number of books and articles that have been written about the Temple. From the published information available, I am sure that your wife could probably satisfy any curiosity that she might have. However, due to the importance of both principles involved (the sacredness of Temple ordinances and open communication with your spouse), this seems to be an issue best resolved with your Bishop. (See Teachings About the Temple; Teachings About the Family)

48: On 4/20/97, MeAmigo asked: What is the "Atonement of Christ?"

The Atonement of Jesus Christ is the foreordained but voluntary act of the Only Begotten Son of God. He offered his life, including his innocent body, blood, and spiritual anguish as a redeeming ransom (1) for the effect of the Fall of Adam upon all mankind and (2) for the personal sins of all who repent, from Adam to the end of the world. (See Atonement of Christ)

47: On 4/19/97, Pat asked: I would love for a direct quote stating that [Children who die under the age of 8 automatically go to Heaven] from a prophet, who is given the direct authority to make such statements.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that all children who die before the age of accountability (age 8) are automatically saved in the Kingdom of God through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Here are just a few of the many references that are available on this subject.

The scriptures teach:

"And I also beheld that all children who die before they arrive at the years of accountability are saved in the celestial kingdom of heaven." (D&C 137:10)

President Joseph F. Smith taught:

"But, with little children who are taken away in infancy and innocence before they have reached the years of accountability, and are not capable of committing sin, the gospel reveals to us the fact that they are redeemed, and Satan has no power over them. Neither has death any power over them. They are redeemed by the blood of Christ, and they are saved just as surely as death has come into the world through the fall of our first parents." (Gospel Doctrine, p.452)

President Heber J. Grant taught:

"We believe that through the atonement of Christ all children who die before they arrive at the years of accountability will be saved." (Gospel Standards, p.5)

President David O. McKay taught:

"The Church of Jesus Christ promulgates the doctrine that little children are redeemed and sanctified through the atonement of our Lord and Savior. If they die before reaching the age of accountability, they become heirs of the celestial kingdom of heaven. Such is the sublime teaching set forth by the Prophet Joseph Smith as early as the year 1832." (Gospel Ideals, p.74)

President Joseph Fielding Smith taught:

"And I also beheld that all children who die before they arrive at the years of accountability, are saved in the celestial kingdom of heaven." That is what the Lord said to the Prophet Joseph Smith by revelation in a vision that he had in the Kirtland Temple. Does not that sound good? Is it not just? Is it not right? It does not make any difference whether it is a Catholic baby, a Protestant baby, or a Mohammedan baby: no matter whose baby it is, it is not responsible for original sin; it is not responsible for any sin; and the mercy of God claims it; and it is redeemed." (Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.2, p.52)

(See Question and Answer 4; Question and Answer home page; Question and Answer 2)

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