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Question and Answer 7

158: On 10/18/97, Christy asked: What are the Church's standings on Euthanasia? It was recently told to me that the church donated 50,000 dollars to help the Euthanasia society.

A person who participates in euthanasia—the deliberate, intentional putting to death of a person suffering from incurable conditions or diseases—violates the commandments of God. There is a difference between allowing a terminally ill person to die of natural causes and the initiating of action that causes someone's death. The application or denial of life-support systems must be decided reverently, usually by competent and responsible family members through prayer and the consultation of competent medical authorities. It is not wrong to ask the Lord, if it be his will, to shorten the physical suffering of a person whose afflictions are terminal and irreversible.

Since the Church condemns the practice of euthanasia, you know that whoever said the Church donated money to the Euthanasia Society did not convey accurate information. (See Murder; Suicide; Death and Dying; Prolonging Life)

157: On 10/18/97, Greg asked: Can you tell me what's the churches view on interracial dating and marriage?

While the Church does not consider it a sin, leaders have discouraged interracial marriage because of the inherent difficulties involved. (See Teachings About Marriage home page; Are Mormons Prejudiced?)

156: On 10/18/97, Derik asked: I am doing a report on intolerance in a certain religion. Since I have had a certain intrest in the mormon religion I thought that maybe I could do this report on this religion. So the reason I'm writing this letter is to see if you have any information that would be useful to me about intolerance in mormon religion.

The LDS principles of tolerance are rooted in the teaching that all who have lived, now live, and will yet live on this earth are spirit children of God and are responsible only to God for their religious beliefs and practices. "We claim the privilege of worshipping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience," says Article of Faith 11, "and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship, how, where or what they may. (See Interfaith Relations home page)

155: On 10/18/97, Ron asked: Should we rely on the feeling of the spirit or should we rely on what the scriptures tell us about the teachings of the church?

Latter-day Saints believe that the Holy Spirit reveals truth to man. However, we do not believe that such personal revelation will contradict the Standard Works (aka Holy Scriptures). "Any doctrinal teaching that is out of harmony with the standard works is false, no matter who sponsors or promulgates it." (Elder Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, Vol.1, p.56) The scriptures are the Lord's measuring rod [or standard] against all other sources of information. (See Scriptural Writings home page; Prayer, Fasting, and Personal Revelation home page)

154: On 10/17/97 a vistor asked: Who was or is your leader? Did you have a leader by the name of Brigham Young?

The President of the Church at the present time is President Gordon B. Hinckley. (See Church Leaders; Following the Prophets home page) Brigham Young served as the second president of the Church.

153: On 10/17/97, Lorena asked: I am doing a culture paper for my CLS class and I decided to write it on your religion the Mormons. I would like to ask you a couple of questions if you don't mind! 1. What is one important value to your religion? 2. How is the up bringing of the children that you have? 3. What is one important moral of your religion?

Honesty is an important value to us. Familes are very important to Latter-day Saints. We consider parenthood to be a sacred stewardship from God. We believe that God will hold us accountable for how we treat his precious little ones. Latter-day Saints do not believe in sexual relations outside of lawful marriage. (See Teachings about the Family home page; Parenting home page; Teachings About Sexuality home page)

152: On 10/17/97, Lorena asked: what are the three worlds that you believe exist afterlife???? Can you please explain those to me????

Latter-day Saint prophets and scripture teach that other worlds similar to this earth have been and will be created and inhabited in fulfillment of God's eternal designs for his children. As explained in revelations to the Prophet Joseph Smith, God has in operation a vast plan for the eternal progress of his children. In a vision given to Moses, the Lord said, "Worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose,…there are many (worlds) that now stand, and innumerable are they unto man" (Moses 1:33, 35). This same many-worlds [not just three] view is echoed in other scriptures (see Heb. 1:2; D&C 76:24; Moses 7:30; Abr. 3:12). (See Worlds)

However, Latter-day Saints believe that all those who are reclaimed from Hell will live in one of three kingdoms of glory. In the Celestial Kingdom, the inhabitants enjoy the fellowship of all members of the Godhead (i.e., Father, Son, and Holy Ghost). Exalted personages enjoy the blessings of eternal marriage and eternal increase. In the Terrestrial Kingdom, the inhabitants enjoy fellowship with the Son and the Holy Ghost, but not the Father. In the Telestial Kingdom, the inhabitants do not fellowship with either the Father or the Son, but receive of the Holy Spirit. Eternal families exist only in the Celestial Kingdom. (See Teachings About the Afterlife home page)

151: On 10/17/97, Susie asked: Can you give me a rough estimate of how many people are members of Mormonism - U.S. and worldwide?

Of the 10 million Latter-day Saints world-wide, 4.8 million live in the United States.

150: On 10/17/97, a visitor asked: I heard that Mormons contribute 10% of their incomes to the Church. Is that correct? How is the money used - for charity or for church business?

Members of the Church may make financial contributions in several ways, including payment of tithing, donation of fast offerings, and contributions to missionary work. 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). Tithing is used to pay most of the operating expenses of the Church and also now funds the construction of buildings, including meetinghouses and temples. Fast offerings are cash or in-kind donations given to the bishop to help the needy following a short period of fasting.

Member contributions are not used to fund Church businesses. It should be noted that Church businesses make contributions from their pretax earnings to fund community needs such as the arts, education, and charitable groups, and other beneficiaries. The LDS foundation coordinates the distribution of major portions of the charitable contributions designated by Church-owned businesses. In recent years, the Foundation has been a significant contributor to the new LDS Hospital wing, the new Primary Children's Medical Center, the new Holy Cross Hospital, the Salvation Army, Saint Vincent De Paul Center soup kitchen for the homeless, the Salt Lake City Homeless Shelter, the Utah Symphony, Ballet West, the United Way, and related organizations. Income from Church business operations permits participation in local community causes without using the tithing of members from around the world. Those tithes are dedicated to continuing the primary work of the Church, which includes teaching the gospel to the world, building faith and testimony and promoting activity among the membership, and helping members to complete sacred temple ordinances in proxy for the deceased. (See Church Participation in Business)

149: On 10/13/97, JC asked: Can you give me the church position on cremation. That question may be need to be answered soon. Thanks!

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).

148: On 10/13/97, Cleo asked: I'm doing a term paper on the mormon trail, and am having a little difficulty finding sources, if you have any info could you mail me

I suggest you review the Faith in Every Footstep section on the official Church internet site.

147: On 10/10/97, Josh asked: Are women allowed to sing in front of the church during a church service?

Yes. Since Latter-day Saints believe that musical talents are gifts from our Heavenly Father that should be cultivated, we are a very musically inclined people. From time to time, members [both men and women] are asked to share their gifts in public performances. If these performances occur during Church services, the music is selected in keeping with the principle of reverence. (See The Arts home page; Teachings About Motherhood and the Role of Women home page)

146: On 10/10/97, Jonathon asked: I'm am a homeschooler, in ninth grade. This week for my bible class I have to write a report on a religious organization and the reasons they give for their doctrine of baptism. What is your belief on the doctrine of Baptism?

The fourth Article of Faith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints declares that "baptism by immersion for the remission of sins" is one of the "first principles and ordinances of the Gospel." Latter-day Saints believe, as do many Christians, that baptism is an essential initiatory ordinance for all persons who are joining the Church, as it admits them to Christ's church on earth (John 3:3-5; D&C 20:37, 68-74). It 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 (e.g., Mark 16:15-16; 2 Ne. 31:13-21; D&C 22:1-4; 84:64, 74; MD, pp. 69-72). (See Baptism)

145: On 10/10/97, R. Sullivan asked: May a person join the Church of the LDS if they are African, Asian or Hispanic descent?

Yes, Church membership has never been restricted because of racial background. There are millions of Latter-day Saints of African, Asian, and Hispanic racial backgrounds.

(See Are Mormons Prejudiced?; The Worldwide Church home page)

144: On 10/7/97, someone asked: I find this page very interesting, and I would like to come again, but I have a problem that I would like to ask. I don't feel the spirit very much at all anymore. I feel like my soul is being starved and there isn't anything I can do about it. Please help me, or tell me what is wrong. I really miss the calming spirit.

In order to feel the Holy Ghost, we need to take proactive steps to invite him into our lives. Here are a few things that may help. First, if you do not already have one, obtain a copy of the Book of Mormon. Then, every day find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed and read the messages it contains. Reading the Book of Mormon will help you draw nearer to God. It doesn't matter if you have read it once or many times in the past. Reading it everyday will invite the Spirit into your life.

Second, every day approach your Heavenly Father in prayer. God lives! And he will draw near unto you if you draw near unto him. Pour out all of your troubles to him. Ask for his help. If you do so sincerely, then you will feel the arms of his love around you.

Other things may be helpful as well. Subscribe to Church magazines like the Ensign and New Era. They contain monthly messages that will inspire and edify you. Are you receiving regular visits from Home and Visiting teachers? If not, call your Relief Society President and Elder's Quorum President to tell them how you feel. Ask them to ensure that other members visit and fellowship you. Don't worry about bothering anyone. They have a sacred responsibility to help you find happiness and spiritual fulfillment. Attend Church every Sunday to partake of the Sacrament. Pay careful attention to the Sacrament Prayers.

Finally, I suggest that you talk with your Bishop. Ask him this same question and tell him your problems. Listen to the counsel that he gives. Don't worry about bothering him or taking up his time. The purpose of his life is to help you obtain that most important of all gifts, the companionship of the Holy Ghost.

Also read the talks on Teachings About the Holy Ghost home page and Prayer, Fasting, and Revelation home page. In the next few days, I will try to add more relevant talks to those sections.

143: On 10/05/97, Alex asked: who is Oliver Granger?

An early Church convert, Oliver Granger reportedly had a vision in which the angel Moroni appeared to him and testified that the Book of Mormon was true. He is an example of one who reaps the blessings of faithfulness to the more weighty matters. He was told by the Lord "... that his name shall be had in sacred remembrance from generation to generation, forever and forever (D&C 117:12) (See Otten & Caldwell, Sacred Truths of the Doctrine & Covenants, Vol.2, p.283 - p.284)

He was also the father to Sarah Melissa Granger Kimball (1818-1898), who was founder of the Ladies' Society of Nauvoo, a suffragist, an advocate of women's rights, ward Relief Society president for forty years, and a strong presence in the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for much of the nineteenth century.

(See Visitations of Moroni)

142: On 10/5/97, Mark asked: Could you tell me any more about Melchizedek, I've read through everything the Bible has to offer.

The Joseph Smith Translation (JST) of the Bible states:

"Now Melchizedek was a man of faith, who wrought righteousness; and when a child he feared God, and stopped the mouths of lions, and quenched the violence of fire. And thus, having been approved of God, he was ordained an high priest after the order of the covenant which God made with Enoch, It being after the order of the Son of God; which order came, not by man, nor the will of man; neither by father nor mother; neither by beginning of days nor end of years; but of God; And it was delivered unto men by the calling of his own voice, according to his own will, unto as many as believed on his name. For God having sworn unto Enoch and unto his seed with an oath by himself; that every one being ordained after this order and calling should have power, by faith, to break mountains, to divide the seas, to dry up waters, to turn them out of their course; To put at defiance the armies of nations, to divide the earth, to break every band, to stand in the presence of God; to do all things according to his will, according to his command, subdue principalities and powers; and this by the will of the Son of God which was before the foundation of the world. And men having this faith, coming up unto this order of God, were translated and taken up into heaven. And now, Melchizedek was a priest of this order; therefore he obtained peace in Salem, and was called the Prince of peace. And his people wrought righteousness, and obtained heaven, and sought for the city of Enoch which God had before taken, separating it from the earth, having reserved it unto the latter days, or the end of the world; And hath said, and sworn with an oath, that the heavens and the earth should come together; and the sons of God should be tried so as by fire. And this Melchizedek, having thus established righteousness, was called the king of heaven by his people, or, in other words, the King of peace. And he lifted up his voice, and he blessed Abram, being the high priest, and the keeper of the storehouse of God; Him whom God had appointed to receive tithes for the poor." (JST Genesis 14:26-38)

(See Melchizedek: LDS Sources; Melchizedek: Ancient Sources)

141: On 10/3/97, Loyd asked: Where does Mormon (the man) come into the picture of abridging the plates, before or after Moroni?

Moroni is the son of Mormon. Mormon was a prophet, an author, and the last Nephite military commander (c. A.D. 310-385). The Book of Mormon bears his name because he was the major abridger-writer of the gold plates from which it was translated. Moroni is the last prophet and author of the last book in the Book of Mormon. His life spanned the latter part of the fourth century and the early fifth century.

140: On 10/3/97, Loyd asked: What kind of offices exactly are there in the church?

The Church is administered according to the principles of individual involvement, service, and self-government. There is no paid ministry in local wards or stakes, and the work of the Church is carried out through volunteer service by the members, who are called by priesthood leaders to contribute in various capacities. Callings may be general requests or assignments to follow some particular instruction for the benefit of the Church, assignments to serve in the priesthood, or requests to fill specific administrative, teaching, or service-oriented positions. (See Callings)

(Also see Church Organization and Priesthood Authority home page; Priesthood Organization home page)

139: On 10/3/97, Loyd asked: According to the polity of the church do you have to do what the authorities tell you or are do they give advice which can be taken or not?

The Church believes in teaching correct principles and letting the people govern themselves. While Church leaders give good counsel, they believe it is wrong and immoral to coerce anyone to follow that counsel. To see real examples of how Church leaders give counsel, please review our Conferences section.

(See Do Church leaders compel members to obey their teachings?; Following the Prophets home page)

138: On 10/3/97, Loyd asked: Can you procreate in Heaven?

"Eternal lives" is a term that refers to the right and power to beget children after the resurrection, granted to those who are exalted in the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom. (See Eternal Lives, Eternal Increase)

137: On 10/3/97, Loyd asked: What kind of ceremonial dress do the Latter-day Saints include while in the Temple?

"When we do ordinance work in the temple we wear white clothing. this clothing is symbolic of purity, worthiness and cleaniness." (President Boyd K. Packer, The Holy Temple, p. 71) In the Endowment, all participants wear white temple robes symbolizing purity and the equality of all persons before God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ. (See Teachings About Temples home page)

136: On 10/3/97, Loyd asked: According to your history, what exactly happened to the smaller plates when Joseph Smith was translating them? Were they stolen? What happened to the larger plates?

Nothing happened to any of the plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated (See Book of Mormon Translation By Joseph Smith; Gold Plates). However, the first 116 pages of Joseph Smith's translation of the plates were stolen. The loss of the 116 pages taught Joseph Smith and his associates several lessons: that one should be satisfied with the first answers of the Lord, that keeping one's covenants is a serious matter, that God forgives the repentant in spite of human weakness, and that through his caring foresight and wisdom the Lord fulfills his purposes. (See The Lost 116 pages)

After Joseph Smith finished his translation of the Book of Mormon, the gold plates were returned the Angel Moroni and presumably taken into heaven. (See Why Don't You Have the Gold Plates Anymore?)

135: On 10/3/97, Stephen asked: If my wife and I are sealed in the temple and one of us lives a better life or one of us leads a lesser life, what happens to our sealing? Will we have an opportunity after death to be sealed to someone else? How fine of a line are we walking here to determine if we will be together after our physical death?

For a sealing to be a valid, it must be sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise. To be sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, both parties must be faithful to their gospel covenants. If both parties are faithful, they have the promise of God himself that their relationship will continue forever. (See Eternal Marriage) If neither party is faithful, then their sealing is not ratified by the Holy Spirit and it is of none effect. Neither party will receive exaltation and eternal life.

The unfaithfulness of one spouse will not deprive the other of eternal blessings, if he or she continues faithful. The faithful spouse will have the opportunity to be sealed to a more worthy partner in the afterlife. The only person who can keep another from enjoying the blessings of the gospel is himself. Our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have both the desire and power to redress any losses caused by others.

It should be noted that despite our previously sinful lives, if we will repent and turn unto God, then he will joyfully welcome us back into his presence. Alma the Younger is an excellent example of the power and rewards of true repentance. In the early part of his life, he was "a very wicked and an idolatrous man" (Mosiah 27:8). Yet, he later repented and joined the Church. In fact, he went on to become one of the greatest of all the prophets of God.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught:

"There is no soul here, not one, who, if from this hour, he will turn to the Lord with all his heart, but what can be saved in the celestial kingdom of heaven. If we will do the things that we already know we should, we can gain an eternal inheritance. All of us have the agency and power and ability, if we will keep the commandments, to gain eternal salvation in the presence of God." (Doctrines of the Restoration, p. 355)

On the other hand,

"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." (The Book of Mormon, Alma 34:32-35)

Now is the time for all of us to decide in which degree of glory we desire to live. Jesus Christ would have not one soul be lost, but he will not force us to follow him.

134: On 10/3/97, Stephen asked: I am to go into the temple and expected to make eternal convenants on things without any for thought. Why can't I have an idea as to what exactly I am promising to beforehand so that I can have an absolute conviction that I can live up to these promises?

Even among themselves, Latter-day Saints do not talk about the details of the temple ceremony outside the Temple, because they are sacred [not secret]. Of course, the Church does not expect you to enter the Temple and make covenants without any thought. Such a course of action would be a violation of the sacred and solemn nature of the Temple itself.

A faithful Latter-day Saint is prepared to make Temple covenants by his Church experiences. First, before a person goes to the Temple, he general takes a Sunday School class entitled Temple Preparation. This class will better prepare him for the wonderful experiences of temple worship. Second, excellent resources are available to enhance your preparation. For example, you should read The Holy Temple by President Boyd K. Packer and The House of the Lord by Elder James E. Talmage. Both are available from Deseret Book. Third, a candidate is required to have a temple recommend. The prerequisites necessary to obtain a recommend also prepare one to enter the Temple.

President Benson talked about the covenants that Latter-day Saints are expected to keep, as follows:

"We covenant to live the law of consecration. This law is that we consecrate our time, talents, strength, property, and money for the upbuilding of the kingdom of God on this earth and the establishment of Zion. (See Law of Consecration)

Until one abides by the laws of obedience, sacrifice, the gospel, and chastity, he cannot abide the law of consecration, which is the law pertaining to the celestial kingdom. "For if you will that I give you place in the celestial world, you must prepare yourselves by doing the things which I have commanded you and required of you" (D&C 78:7). ("Temple Blessings and Covenants," Temple Presidents Seminar, Salt Lake City, Utah, 28 September 1982.)

Notice that these covenants are not all on the same level. Each leads one into a higher form of discipleship. The covenant of consecration takes all of the lesser covenants and adds depth and meaning.

If you will think about your Church experiences, you will find that you are already being prepared to make these covenants. For example, compare the law of consecration [as explained above] with the covenant of baptism and the oath and covenant of the Melchizedek Priesthood. Both of these covenants are required to be kept before a man enters the Temple. These covenants are simply restatements of the eternal principles taught in other forums.

In summary, if you are prepared to " live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." (Matthew 4:4), then you are prepared to enter the temple.

(See Covenants; Teachings About Temples home page)

(See Question and Answer 8; Question and Answer home page; Question and Answer 6)

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