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Question and Answer 5

104: On 8/22/97, John asked: What do you believe about the bearing of children?

I believe that the act of bearing children, when coupled with faithfullness, charity, and sobriety, is an act of salvation and exalting in and of itself. (See 1 Tim 2:15). No other single act of righteousness is greater except the atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ. Likewise, abortion is a serious sin with eternal consequences. (See Teachings About Children home page)

103: On 8/17/97, a friend asked: How do we become sanctified?

Sanctification is the process of becoming a saint, holy and spiritually clean and pure, by purging all sin from the soul. (See Sanctification) Latter-day Saint scriptures mention several factors that make sanctification possible. Here are a few examples:

"Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God." (The Book of Mormon, Helaman 3:35)

"And we know also, that sanctification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true, to all those who love and serve God with all their mights, minds, and strength." (Doctrine and Covenants 20:31)

"Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God. And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot." (The Book of Mormon, Moroni 10:32-3)

102: On 8/17/97, a friend asked: Should we worship Jesus?

"The Father and the Son are the objects of all true worship. 'Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.' (Matt. 4:10; Luke 4:8; Ex. 34:14; Mosiah 18:25; D. & C. 20:17-19.) No one can worship the Father without also worshiping the Son. 'All men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.' (John 5:23.) It is proper to worship the Father, in the name of the Son, and also to worship the Son. 'Believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul; and if ye do this ye shall in nowise be cast out.' (2 Ne. 25:16, 29.)" (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p.84; See Teachings About Jesus Christ home page)

101: On 8/17/97, Emily asked: Do you have any information on the history of the organization of Primary?

Please see our article on the Primary.

100: On 8/17/97, Vincent asked: do you believe in the comming of the second comming of Christ.

Latter-day Saints affirm that there is an actual Messiah, 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. (See Second Coming of Christ home page)

99: On 8/17/97, Vincent asked: what [are your] views on other races?

The Church proclaims that all persons are of equal value in the sight of God. Each person (of every nation and every race) is as precious to him as another.

The Book of Mormon teaches:

"For none of these iniquities come of the Lord; for he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile." (2 Ne. 26:33)

" Now my brethren, we see that God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth. Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever. Amen." (Alma 26:37)

(See Equality; Mankind; Are Mormons Prejudiced?)

98: On 8/8/97, Roger asked: I was informed that the Mormon church had a lot of data of birth and death of European people. Is it possible and allowed to use these data from within internet? It would clearly be interesting for a genealogy study.

Please see our Family History section.

97: On 8/7/97, Anthony asked: What is the Gospel?

"The gospel of Jesus Christ is the plan of salvation. It embraces all of the laws, principles, doctrines, rites, ordinances, acts, powers, authorities, and keys necessary to save and exalt men in the highest heaven hereafter. It is the covenant of salvation which the Lord makes with men on earth." Elder Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine (See The Gospel of Jesus Christ home page)

96: On 8/7/97, Anthony asked: Do Mormons believe that there are Millions of Gods in existance? (Not that they worship them all, but do they believe that Millions exist?)

Latter-day Saints declare, "We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost" (A of F 1). The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are three separate and distinct beings who constitute one Godhead. (See God)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that all resurrected and perfected mortals become gods (cf. Gen. 3:22; Matt. 5:48). They will dwell again with God the Father, and live and act like him in endless worlds of happiness, power, love, glory, and knowledge; above all, they will have the power of procreating endless lives. Latter-day Saints believe that Jesus Christ attained godhood (see Christology) and that he marked the path and led the way for others likewise to become exalted divine beings by following him (cf. John 14:3). (See Godhood)

While we believe that the faithful will enjoy a life similar to our Heavenly Father, we also believe we will still be subject to and worship the God of Heaven, which is represented as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. We will never be at the same level as them or stop worshipping them, but we will be like them and enjoy a quality of life similar to theirs. (See Biblical Support for Deification)

95: On 8/4/97, a visitor asked: Why did the belief in the marriage of several wives vanish, and is it true that secretly some Mormons still practice this believe?

Some early leaders and members of the Church entered into plural marriages (polygyny) during the latter half of the nineteenth century. (See Plural Marriage home page) After receiving a revelation, Church President Wilford Woodruff declared that the practice should be discontinued. That position has been reaffirmed by every President of the Church since. Members of the Church who enter into plural marriage today face Church disciplinary action, including excommunication. (See Why Did the Church Abandon Polygamy?)

There are groups of people, commonly called "Mormon Fundamentalists", who practice plural marriage today, but they are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "Mormon Fundamentalism" denotes the beliefs and practices of contemporary schismatic groups [i.e., Apostates] that claim to follow all the teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. They often style themselves believers in the "fulness of the gospel," which they assert must include plural marriage and sometimes the United Order. (See Mormon Fundamentalists)

94: On 8/4/97, a visitor asked: Could a member of LDS be married under two religions? In case you didn't under stand that, if the spouse they are marrying belongs to another religion, could they get married though that religion and then get married in the temple?

Only two active members of the Church who hold temple recommends may be married, or sealed, in the temple. (See Teachings About Temples; Teachings About Marriage; Eternal Marriage)

93: On 8/4/97, a visitor asked: I am familiar with the practices of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and I am curious what the connection is between the two. Are you one church, or two separate churches, and if so, what are the main differences.

The RLDS church is a separate and distinct Church that emerged during the 1850s from the conflict and schism that arose in Mormonism after the June 27, 1844, murder of Joseph Smith, Jr., its founding prophet. (See Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

92: On 8/4/97, Grant asked: I really enjoy learning about the church and want to become a member, my question is; what if I cannot give 10% of my earnings to the church? and is this percentage fact or fiction? I was told I have to give money to the church when I become a member.

Tithing is the basic contribution by which Latter-day Saints fund the activities of the Church. By revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord stated that members should pay "one-tenth of all their interest [increase] annually; and this shall be a standing law unto them forever" (D&C 119:4). Before a person is accepted as a candidate for baptism, he or she must agree to tithe. (See Tithing; Financial Contributions; Joining the Church; Baptism)

91: On 07/16/97, a visitor asked: A dear friend of mine is unable to have children of her own. Can you please tell me what the church thinks of surrogacy? Thank you very much.

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints views the family as the most important organization in time and all eternity. The Church teaches that everything should center in and around the family. It stresses that the preservation of family life in time and eternity takes precedence above all other interests; it venerates parental and filial love and duty." (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p.489) (See Teachings About the Family home page; Parenting home page)

Therefore, Latter-day Saints consider the coming of children into their homes as a great blessing. Unfortunately, not all couples are able to have any children or as many as they desire.

However, the Church declares that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife. In addition, Church leaders declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. (See Proclamation on the Family; Teachings About Sexuality home page)

The Church has summarized some policies on this issue as follows:

Artificial Insemination. "Artificial insemination with semen from anyone but the husband is discouraged…. Artificial insemination of single sisters is not approved" (11-4; see Artificial Insemination).

Donation of Sperm. "The donation of sperm is discouraged" (11-4).

In Vitro Fertilization. "In vitro fertilization using semen other than that of the husband or an egg [from anyone] other than the wife is discouraged. However, this is a personal matter that ultimately must be left to the judgment of the husband and wife" (11-4).

Surrogate Motherhood. The Church discourages surrogate motherhood (11-5).

(See Policies, Practices and Procedures)

90: On 07/09/97, Josh asked: Do you believe Jesus Christ was God in the Flesh? Was Jesus Christ God? Did Jesus Christ atone for all your sins? Can you tell me where there is pictures of a Mormon church building from the inside in the web?

Latter-day Saints believe that "Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations." (Title Page of the Book of Mormon) The Church teaches that Jesus Christ is our Lord, our God, and our King. We believe that the premortal Christ was Jehovah, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (God of the Old Testament). (See Teachings About Jesus Christ)

We believe that Jesus 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 The Atonement of Jesus Christ)

A pictures of the inside of an LDS chapel can be found accompanying the article on Father's Blessings.

89: On 7/04/97, James asked: Do Mormons believe that Jesus visited the United States and why?

As shown in the New Testament and the Book of Mormon, after his resurrection, Jesus Christ can, and also does, appear to people in this latter-day dispensation of the gospel. The most important appearance of the Savior in this dispensation occurred when he and the Father came to Joseph Smith in the spring of 1820. This theophany, commonly called the first vision, revealed the separate nature of these two members of the Godhead and ushered in the dispensation of the fulness of times and the restoration of all things. (See the Prophet Joseph's personal account of this event; Latter-day Appearances of Jesus Christ; Restoration of the Gospel home page)

88: On 07/01/97, Hedgehog wrote: If I understand the Mormon position correctly, the Holy Spirit is a spiritual person and not simply a force.

It is correct that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that the Holy Ghost is a spirit man, a spirit son of God the Father (See The Holy Ghost home page). However, Latter-day Saints also believe that a spiritual power emanates from God that we call the Light of Christ. Other terms sometimes used to denote this same phenomenon are "Holy Spirit", "Spirit of the Lord," and "Spirit of Truth," but it is different from the Holy Ghost.

Therefore, when a Latter-day Saint says "the Spirit" or "the Holy Spirit", he or she may mean a spirit personage or a spiritual power/force, depending upon the context.

87: On 07/01/97, Todd asked: I have read in your web site that the churches can not be proven by human means. It is a matter of faith. Does the church back up its beliefs by way of Bible scripture and is the Bible true cover to cover as it stands today?

"The Church believes the word of God contained in the Bible. It accepts the Bible "as the foremost of [the Church's] standard works, first among the books which have been proclaimed as…written guides in faith and doctrine. In the respect and sanctity with which the Latter-day Saints regard the Bible they are of like profession with Christian denominations in general" (AF, 1966 ed., p. 236)." Encyclopedia of Mormonism (See The Holy Bible home page)

86: On 06/29/97, Martin asked: What is the LDS policy or advice on the creation and use of a private religious altar in a members home for use by that member in private religious practice/worship? Any published guidelines as to altar contents and rituals performed in its use?

Unlike some members of other denominations (like the Catholic faith), Latter-day Saints do not maintain private religious altars in their homes. Members may pray, fast, read scriptures, receive blessings, sing, and participate in other forms of personal worship without an altar.

However, Latter-day Saints do use altars in Holy Temples, which have been dedicated for certain forms of worship that are performed only within the temple itself. As the ancients came to the altar to communicate and commune with God, so also do members of the Church, in a temple setting, surround the altar in a prayer circle and in supplication. United in heart and mind, the Saints petition God for his blessings upon mankind, his Church, and those who have special needs. In addition, Latter-day Saints participate in covenant-making ceremonies, like eternal marriage, while kneeling at altars in the temple. They make these covenants, as was done anciently, in the symbolic presence of God at the altar (Ps. 43:4; cf. Ps. 118:27).

In a more public Sacrament meeting, the Altar of Sacrifice is symbolized by the "Sacrament table." On this table are emblems of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the bread and the water respectively representing the body and blood of the Savior (Luke 22:19-20). Each week individuals may partake of the Sacrament and renew their covenants.

(Also see Altars; Teachings About Temples home page)

85: On 6/25/97, Graham asked: my friend has a question. How do we as members know that god exists and how can my friend find out for himself?

Members of the Church know that God exists because we have received a testimony of this great truth. A testimony is sure knowledge, received by revelation from the Holy Ghost. Any accountable person can also know that God lives by obeying that law upon which the receipt of such knowledge is predicated.

In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Alma told us how he acquired his testimony:

And this is not all. Do ye not suppose that I know of these things myself? Behold, I testify unto you that I do know that these things whereof I have spoken are true. And how do ye suppose that I know of their surety? Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me." (Alma 5:45-46, emphasis added.)

The Prophet Joseph Smith also received his testimony of God through sincere prayer. (Read his personal account). The Lord is no respector of persons and will reveal himself to anyone who meets the prerequisites. The Doctrine and Covenants teaches:

Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am (D&C 93:1)

(Also see How to Obtain Personal Revelation by Elder Bruce R. McConkie; Revelation home page)

84: On 6/22/97, Glen asked: This may seem to some who do not have any pets, or have had any they became close to, a non issue when it comes to religion. However, I, having had a couple of pet dogs that I can truly say that I love them and am concerned about their spiritual well being, would like to know what scriptures tell us, and what the LDS church believes about this subject.

"The simple answer is that animals do have spirits and that through the redemption made by our Savior they will come forth in the resurrection to enjoy the blessing of immortal life....As to where the beasts, birds, and fish, and all other creatures will go after the resurrection we can only express an opinion. John saw many of them in heaven in the presence of God (See Book of Revelation). It is very probable that they, like mankind, will be distributed in the various kingdoms, celestial, terrestrial, and telestial. We may well believe that in each of these kingdoms such creatures will be assigned." (Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, Vol.2, p.51)

After the Second Coming, "all these forms of life will come up in the resurrection, 'in their destined order or sphere of creation, in the enjoyment of their eternal felicity [or happiness].'" (D. & C. 77:3.) (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p.38) (See Animals)

83: On 6/22/97, Kelcey asked: "Why did the church's prophet get rid of polygamy, was it because of a revelation or was it just to appeal to the laws of man?"

Following a vision showing him that continuing plural marriage endangered the temples and the mission of the Church, not just statehood, President Wilford Woodruff issued the Manifesto in October 1890, announcing an official end to new plural marriages and facilitating an eventual peaceful resolution of the conflict with the United States government. (See Plural Marriage home page)

When outside influences affect our "... privilege of worshipping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience ..." (11th Article of Faith), there are two general approaches to take. One can either resist or submit. The correct approach depends upon the particular circumstances.

When the issue at stake is essential to our exaltation and salvation, the Lord allows us to resist those opposing influences. As the Book of Mormon states:

"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 43:47)

However, if the issue is not essential to our salvation, then we must be "subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law." (12th Article of Faith) The Bible has a story which demonstrates this principle:

And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute [money] came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute?

He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers?

Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free.

Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee. (Matthew 17:24-7)

In these passages, Jesus explains that while the requirement to pay tribute is unjust, they should pay it to keep from offending the Romans. Why? The Lord expects us to obey the constituted government on issues that do not impact our salvation. (See Teachings About Law home page)

The Church used every legal means to appeal the anti-polygamy legislation. However, once the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed it's constitutionality, President Woodruff decided to obey the law after receiving revelatory experiences and confirmation from the Lord. (See President Woodruff's contextual comments in Official Declaration 1) Since Plural Marriage is not essential to our salvation (See Doctrine of Plural Marriage), the Lord did not want the church impaired by continuing it's practice. The Lord does not always immediately show forth power to destroy the enemies of his people. The ancient Israelites were in bondage many years before they were finally released from their afflictions. For us to see all of our wrongs addressed, we will have to wait for the Final Judgment.

As stated in the Doctrine and Covenants, our ability to keep the Lord's commandments is restricted, the Lord does not hold us accountable for them:

Verily, verily, I say unto you, that when I give a commandment to any of the sons of men to do a work unto my name, and those sons of men go with all their might and with all they have to perform that work, and cease not their diligence, and their enemies come upon them and hinder them from performing that work, behold, it behooveth me to require that work no more at the hands of those sons of men, but to accept of their offerings.

And the iniquity and transgression of my holy laws and commandments I will visit upon the heads of those who hindered my work, unto the third and fourth generation, so long as they repent not, and hate me, saith the Lord God. (D&C 124:49-50)

82: On 6/15/97, ChocLover3 asked: A friend of mine is a member who's non-member husband does not work. She was on the church welfare program receiving food every two weeks. After a year her Bishop took her off the program and now they are in dire straights. She only works part time and goes to school full time. Is there a limit on how long you can be on the program?

It is a major concern of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to care for the physical, as well as the spiritual, welfare of its own members, and of others as far as possible. Bishops are responsible for administering the welfare program as it relates to a local congregation. Since I am not aware of the details of your friend's individual situation, then it would be inappropriate for me to make specific comments. If your friend believes that her bishop made an error by ending her welfare assistance, then she has the right to appeal to a higher Church authority.

Generally speaking, welfare assistance is intended to be short-term assistance until a family is again self-sufficient. While there is no set time limit for becoming self-sufficient, participants in the welfare program are expected to strive for that goal. As mentioned above, the Church encourages and assists members in finding suitable employment.

If a Bishop determines that a person is not making a legitimate effort to become self-sufficient, then he or she will likely no longer be able to participate in the program. While the Church stresses the importance of education, the welfare program is not a college scholarship program.

(See Welfare and Humanitarian Assistance home page)

81: On 6/15/97, Alberto asked: Although not a religious myself, but with great interest in the history of religion, I am interested in the question friends have asked me: is it possible for a black man to become head of the Mormon Church? And, are there black members and, if yes, do they have full access to the church in all of its manifestations?

The President of the Church is is the prophet, seer, and revelator who is authorized to direct the affairs of the Church throughout the earth. He speaks and acts under divine guidance from Jesus Christ, who is the head of the church.

Presidents of the Church serve for life and are not released because of age or health. The authority to designate a successor after receiving revelation from the Lord, rests in the hands of the Twelve Apostles, who meet for that purpose after the death of the President. Once a new president has been designated and approved by the unanimous vote of the apostles, he selects his counselors, who are also sustained by the Twelve. These actions are then sustained by the Church membership at the next general conference. (See Succession in the Presidency)

The leaders of the Church are drawn from its lay membership (See Lay Participation and Leadership). While the Church is often thought of as an "American Church", the Church is actually experiencing it's highest growth rates in countries outside the United States. As of 1997, there were more members living outside the United States than inside. Church leadership generally reflects the composition of the Church body. It is certainly possible that a future President of the Church will be a member of a Black race.

Are there any Black members of the Church? Yes. In my ward (or local congregation), the number of Black members seems to reflect the general population. Also, the First Councilor in my ward's Bishopric is a Black man. Do they have full access to the church in all of its manifestations? Yes, dependent upon personal worthiness, the same as all other members. (See Temple Recommend)

Your questions probably arise because prior to 1978, Blacks of African descent were not eligible to hold the priesthood or participate in certain temple ordinances. It should be noted that the issue was one of genealogy and not skin pigmentation. For example, Black men from non-African descent were allowed to hold the priesthood. On the other hand, Caucasian, Asian, and Hispanic men who had some Black African ancestry were not allowed to hold the priesthood. Since 1978, all members of the Church have been eligible to participate in all priesthood and temple blessings.

(See Blacks and the Priesthood; Blacks home page; The Church in Africa; Are Mormons Prejudiced?; Official Declaration--2)

80: On 6/8/97, Darla asked: What is the official stand the church has on delaying having families in order to finish an education?

President Spencer W. Kimball taught: "And, John and Mary, tomorrow when I repeat the phrases that will bind you for eternity, I shall say the same impressive words that the Lord said to that handsome youth and his lovely bride in the Garden of Eden: "Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth." The Lord does not waste words. He meant what he said. You did not come on earth just to "eat, drink, and be merry." You came knowing full well your responsibilities. You came to get for yourself a mortal body that could become perfected, immortalized, and you understood that you were to act in partnership with God in providing bodies for other spirits equally anxious to come to the earth for righteous purposes. And so you will not postpone parenthood. There will be rationalists who will name to you numerous reasons for postponement. Of course, it will be harder to get your college degrees or your financial start with a family, but strength like yours will be undaunted in the face of difficult obstacles. Have your family as the Lord intended. Of course, it is expensive, but you will find a way, and besides, it is often those children who grow up with responsibility and hardships who carry on the world's work. And, John and Mary, do not limit your family as the world does. I am wondering now where I might have been had my parents decided arbitrarily that one or two children would be enough, or that three or four would be all they could support, or that even five would be the limit; for I was the sixth of eleven children. Don't think you will love the later ones less or have fewer material things for them. Perhaps, like Jacob, you might love the eleventh one most. Young people, have your family, love them, sacrifice for them, teach them righteousness, and you will be blessed and happy all the days of your eternal lives." (See John and Mary, Beginning Life Together, emphasis added)

President Ezra Taft Benson taught: "The first commandment given to man was to multiply and replenish the earth with children. That commandment has never been altered, modified, or canceled. The Lord did not say to multiply and replenish the earth if it is convenient, or if you are wealthy, or after you have gotten your schooling, or when there is peace on earth, or until you have four children. (Conference Report, April 1969, Pg.12, emphasis added)

(See Birth Control)

(See Question and Answer 6; Question and Answer home page; Question and Answer 4)

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