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Question and Answer 8

177: On 11/05/97, Ted asked: How does one interested in converting go about it?

All who are interested in joining the Church must know and understand the responsibilities that Church membership will bring. To this end, they receive a series of lessons from LDS missionaries or from members of the Church. (See Joining the Church) There are a number of ways that you can invite missionaries into your home. First, you can attend a local LDS service on Sunday and request further information. Second, you can call (U.S.) 1-800-453-3860 and request the Missionary Department. Third, you can send me your address and I'll call for you [it's not a bother -- I do it all the time].

176: On 11/05/97, Chenea asked: Are Mormons polytheistic?

No, Latter-day Saints believe in one God, as taught in the Book of Mormon:

"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 31:21)

(See Teachings About the Godhead home page; Are Mormons Polytheists? by Elder Bruce R. McConkie; The Doctrinal Exclusion: Trinity and the Nature of God by Dr. Stephen E. Robinson)

175: On 11/05/97, a visitor asked: Why are hot liquids prohibited in the Mormon diet? Does this include soup?

Latter-day Saints do not drink hot drinks because they are prohibited in a revelation entitled the Word of Wisdom. In the revelation, the Lord does not fully explain why the products are prohibited, but he promises great blessings if we obey as an act of faith. Church leaders have consistently defined the prohibited hot drinks as coffee and tea. The prohibition does not apply to soup or other drinks served hot.

In addition to hot drinks, all tobacco and alcohol products are also prohibited. In the 150 years since we received the Word of Wisdom, medical science has shown certain dangers in using these particular products. Perhaps, at some future point, the reason for the prohibition against hot drinks will become as readily apparent. While some people have speculated that the presence of harmful drugs like caffeine are the reason for the prohibition, the Lord has not given us an authoritative explanation.

174: On 11/05/97, Matthew asked: I am a fully devout Presbyterian. I believe in the only true God, his son Jesus Christ, and the Spirit he sent on the Pentecost. What I want to know is how Mormonism specifically is different from other mainstream denominations, and, in your opinion, what is my destiny. All I want are clear, concise answers, not propaganda and not long-winded explanations. Please tell me in simple English why you think that my beliefs are wrong and what exactly must change for them to become correct.

How is Mormonism different from other denominations? The Church was founded personally by the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ, who called a living prophet named Joseph Smith as its first leader. Since that time, the Church has been continually led by living prophets and apostles who have constant communication with God and carry his authority. (See Overview of the Church; Restoration of the Gospel home page)

What is your destiny? That is entirely dependent upon you and how you choose to live your life. In our Teachings About the Afterlife section, we have many articles that explain the LDS view of salvation.

How must your beliefs change for them to be correct? You must accept the divine calling of Joseph Smith and each of his successors, especially President Gordon B. Hinckley and the present members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. (See Church Leaders home page)

In addition, you must repent, be baptized, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end. If you do these things, you will receive the gift of eternal life. (See The Gospel of Jesus Christ home page)

173: On 11/05/97, Annette asked: Do you really believe what Joseph Smith said . . . that God is a man just like us?

Latter-day Saints perceive the Father as an exalted Man in the most literal, anthropomorphic terms. They do not view the language of Genesis as allegorical; human beings are created in the form and image of a God who has a physical form and image (Gen. 1:26). And, yes, I certainly do believe it. (See Teachings About the Godhead home page; The Doctrinal Exclusion: Trinity and the Nature of God by Dr. Stephen E. Robinson)

172: On 11/04/97, LaRae asked: When you refer to Jesus Christ are you referring to Jesus Christ the Son of Man, God's Begotten son or are you referring to just a man also named Jesus Christ?

Latter-day Saints believe in the Jesus who was the pre-existent Word of the Father; that was the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; that was the God of Abraham , Isaac, and Jacob; that was the Only Begotten Son of God who was born to the virgin Mary in the town of Bethlehem; that was baptized by John; that healed the sick and raised the dead, that walked on water and multiplied loaves and fishes; that set a perfect example for human beings to imitate and that humans have an obligation to follow his example in all things.

Most important of all, we believe that he suffered and died on the cross as a volunteer sacrifice for humanity in order to bring about an atonement through the shedding of his blood. We believe that he was physically resurrected and that he ascended into the heavens, from which he will come at the end of this world to establish his kingdom upon the earth and eventually to judge both the living and the dead. Finally, we believe in the Jesus who is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations.

(See Teachings About Jesus Christ home page)

171: On 11/04/97, Mike asked: My daughter recently converted to the Mormon church. I am interested in purchasing the bible called the quad (book of Mormon, pearl at great price and D & C , and the regular bible. Some missionaries gave me and order form and it has been misplaced. However, I do remember that I wanted to get her the brown covered version and have her name engraved on the cover. Can you direct me how to get to an order page on the internet or better yet an 800 number I could call to order this item for her

The Church Distribution Center can be reached at 1-800-537-5950 for U.S./ 1-800-453-3860, ext. 2031 for Canada. In addition, you can order scriptures at Deseret Book at

170: On 11/04/97, Nathan asked: Why isn't the Church General Handbook available for member's use?

The General Handbook of Instructions is the official book of instruction for Church leaders, mainly stake presidents and bishops. Why isn't the handbook available for members' use? Actually, since members may examine the handbook with the permission of their bishop, the handbook is available to them. A related question might be: Why isn't the handbook distributed to everyone?

The handbook has been specifically designed for ecclesiastical leaders to assist them in their callings. It is a handbook of Church policy and practices, not doctrine. Also, since Church policies are frequently updated, a wide distribution would make it more difficult to ensure that all copies were up-to-date. (See Policies, Practices, and Procedures)

169: On 11/04/97, Jamie asked: I am currently doing some research on Mormonism for a religion class that I am taking in college. I have read much about the golden plates that Joseph Smith, jr. translated into the Book of Mormons. What I have not yet found is...where the plates are now. Do you have them locked up in one of the Mormon temples or something???

The gold plates from which the Book of Mormon was translated were returned to the angel Moroni and presumably taken into heaven. (See Why don't you have the Plates?; Book of Mormon Translation by Joseph Smith; Teachings About Temples home page)

168: On 11/04/97, Joe asked: Please reference where in the KJV Bible it states that Jesus Christ is the judge.

The Holy Bible states:

"For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: That 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 5:22-33) (See The Final Judgment)

167: On 11/04/97, a visitor asked: What is the church's standing on artificial insemination? What about other forms of infertility treatments? If I were as a single person to be artificially inseminated would that be a sin? What if I were married and the sperm was not my husbands?

The Church does not approve of artificial insemination of single women. It also discourages artificial insemination of married women using semen from anyone but the husband. For further elaboration on this topic and infertility treatments in general, I suggest you talk to your Bishop. (Also see Teachings About Sexuality home page; Policies, Practices, and Procedures)

166: On 11/03/97, Carlos asked: In what year did our church start to ordain children to the Aaronic Priesthood, Deacons at 12 Teachers at 14 and and Priest at 16?

President Joseph Fielding Smith answered your questions as follows:

"From the records of the Church, there seems to be no definite time when the Aaronic Priesthood was first given to boys. Some ordinations were given to very young men who showed aptitude as far back as the days of Kirtland; for instance, Don Carlos Smith, youngest brother of the Prophet Joseph Smith, was ordained and labored as a missionary when only fifteen years of age. George A. Smith, father of John Henry Smith, was active in the ministry when about fifteen years of age, and also was a member of Zion's Camp in 1834. He was ordained a seventy when the first seventies were chosen in 1835 and was called into the Council of the Twelve when twenty-one years of age. Other young men who were worthy were ordained in those early days and sent out to preach the gospel. President Joseph F. Smith was ordained an elder and sent on a mission when he was fifteen. So we see the conferring of the priesthood was not completely confined to men in the days of Kirtland, Nauvoo, or in the Salt Lake Valley.

There is ample evidence that boys were called and ordained in ancient times. In antediluvian times, when the lives of men were greatly prolonged, some were called to act at comparatively tender years. Enoch was but twenty-five when he was ordained by Adam; Lamech was but thirty-two; and Noah received the priesthood when he was but ten years of age. How old Joseph, son of Israel, was when he received the priesthood is not recorded; but it must have been when he was very young. He was sold by his brethren when he was only seventeen, and he must have had the priesthood before that time, for he exercised it in the land of Egypt. We do not know the age of Nephi when he left Jerusalem but he must have been in his "teens." We gather this from his remark that he ". . . being exceeding young, . . ." nevertheless "large in stature." He held the priesthood, otherwise he could not have had the authority to rebuke his brethren and have the wonderful manifestations which were given to him. We may also conclude that Mormon received the priesthood at a very tender age. He was only ten years old when Ammaron counseled him and placed in him the wonderful trust as guardian of the sacred plates. Moreover, when he was fifteen years of age he had a visitation by the Lord and "...tasted and knew of the goodness of Jesus."

It is true that the Lord revealed to Moses that the priests of Aaron and Levi were to be men thirty years of age. This custom was followed in Israel down to the days of Paul. Therefore, it was in keeping with the law that Paul instructed Timothy that a deacon should have a wife, for a man thirty years of age holding the priesthood should be married. It was in harmony with this law given to Moses, that John the Baptist waited until he was thirty years of age before entering the ministry, and the same is true of the ministry of our Savior. What was practiced in the days of Paul and the ancient apostles, however, does not necessarily apply always and under all conditions in the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times any more than it did with those living before the days of Moses. Therefore, it is due to ignorance of the facts that some maintain that only mature men should hold the priesthood.

We see that boys were ordained from the time of the organization of the Church, when the priesthood was restored; but our records are not quite clear as to the extent of such ordinations, although we do have some light revealed on this question. At the general conference in October 1854, President Brigham Young made the following remarks:

When you have got your Bishop, he needs assistance, and he ordains counselors, priests, teachers and deacons, and calls them to help him; and he wishes men of his own heart and hand to do this. He says, 'I dare not even call a man to be a deacon, to assist me in my calling, unless he has a family.' It is not the business of an ignorant young man, of no experience in family matters, to inquire into the circumstances of families, and know the wants of every person. Some may want medicine and nourishment, and to be looked after, and it is not the business of boys to do this; but select a man who has got a family to be a deacon, whose wife can go with him, and assist him in administering to the needy in the ward.

The remarks of President Brigham Young in 1854 can hardly be interpreted to the extent that boys should not receive the priesthood at any time. The duties he mentioned are not the duties of a deacon, and even then some boys had been ordained. However, it required men of experience to carry on the work of taking care of the sick and the needy and administering to those who were in difficulty. This is true today as much as in 1854. In July 1877, the First Presidency, who were President Brigham Young, John W. Young, and Daniel H. Wells, issued a circular in which we find the following:

. . . When priests and teachers visit the Saints, according to the instruction in the Book of D&C, the experienced priests or teachers should have as a companion a young man, so that the latter may have the opportunity of learning the duties of his calling, and becoming thoroughly wise and efficient in the discharge thereof.

It would be excellent training for the young men if they had the opportunity of acting in the offices of the lesser priesthood. They would thereby obtain very valuable experience, and when they obtain the Melchizedek Priesthood they would be likely to place a higher value upon it.

This same year (1877), there was a general reorganization and setting in order of the wards of the Church, and counsel was given regarding the activities of the quorums of the priesthood. President John Taylor, in the First Ward, Salt Lake Stake, said that the First Presidency and apostles had been organizing stakes of Zion in various parts of the Church. "The servants of God being moved upon to place every man in his place, that all may work in their proper order." Quorums of the lesser priesthood were set in order. In the Twelfth Ward, Elder George Q. Cannon said:

We have found the priesthood alive in their duties and a good spirit generally prevailing among them. We have felt especially blessed in ordaining the young men to positions in the priesthood and the results, so far, have proved satisfactory, not only to those ordained, for their example gave others a great regard for the priesthood.

At this same time a correspondent of the Juvenile Instructor asked why boys were ordained to the priesthood, when in the days of Paul, only married men were chosen. President Cannon answered:

With our elders even in these days it is a very common thing to ordain, while in the world, very young men to any office. Mature men are frequently ordained as deacons and to act as such. But the circumstances which surround us here in Zion are entirely different from those which surrounded the Saints in the days of Paul, and of which he wrote. There is no impropriety whatever in young men, even early as at the age of twelve or fourteen years, acting as deacons. They receive a training that is very valuable to them, and we know of many who have been and are greatly benefited to act in this position, meeting with the deacons' quorum and receiving such instructions as are proper to be imparted to them in this capacity

Addressing the deacons in the Council House, June 28, 1877, Bishop Alexander McRae said:

I am pleased to meet with you; owing to the position I hold, I feel I am associated with the lesser priesthood. I feel your quorum will be better attended than it has been, this re-organization will be good. I was a middle-aged man before I obeyed the Gospel and then took it to my parents, and these little boys can't be expected to have the knowledge of an older person, but if they use the office of a deacon well, they will by and by be raised to the office of a teacher…. You have a better opportunity than I had. The first office I held in the Priesthood being that of a Seventy, and I was very poorly prepared to fill it, but Joseph [Smith] called me and I was pleased to do as I was told.

In a meeting held in the Nineteenth Ward, Salt Lake Stake, June 1, 1877, President Alfred Solomon admonished the young men of the lesser priesthood and counseled them in their duties. He was followed by Elder William Asper, who said, "I am glad that the time has arrived when the young men of the Latter-day Saints are being called to the priesthood" and he demonstrated in a "lucid manner the benefits to be derived by magnifying and living faithful to the requirements of the priesthood.''

Other meetings were held in other wards throughout the Church in the summer of 1877, where brethren of the Council of the Twelve and others admonished the boys holding the priesthood to be faithful in the discharge of their duties. These minutes indicate that there had been a universal movement throughout the Church to have the boys twelve years of age and upward organized in quorums of deacons, teachers, and priests. Previous to this time the ordination of boys of twelve was not the universal practice, although such had been the practice in certain places.

165: On 10/19/97, Scott asked: I am struggling as of late with all of the things I have to do. Attending meetings, fulfilling church callings, supporting programs, home teaching, member missionary work, temple attendance, family history and genealogy work, keep a clean yard, support scouting FOS drive, pay your tithing, fast offerings, get up at 5 am to get your kid to seminary, have family prayer and scripture study everyday. etc. etc. I feel that I am collapsing under the load, and I am feeling guilty about it. I have a confession to make. I tend to feel the spirit more when I am home reading the scriptures and praying, than when I am out "serving my fellow-beings" Am I wrong in my thinking?

After listing some of the many responsibilities incumbent upon disciples of Jesus Christ, King Benjamin states:

"And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order." (Mosiah 4:27)

Our leaders today also recognize the importance of this principle. In October 1997 General Conference, President Boyd K. Packer said:

"No service in the Church or in the community transcends that given in the home. Leaders should be very sure that a call to serve in the Church will not weaken the family." (See Called to Serve)

Also President James E. Faust taught:

"Many years ago when I was a bishop, a conscientious father came to me for counsel. He felt that the many and frequent activities of the Church made it difficult to have as much family togetherness as he and his wife deemed necessary. The children had the idea that they were not loyal to the Church if they did not participate fully in every recreational activity. I told this caring father that Church activities were to help him and his wife rear their children. They as parents had not only the right but the duty to determine the extent of their family's involvement in social activities. Family unity, solidarity, and harmony should be preserved. After all, a family is the basic, permanent unit of the Church." (See The Weightier Matters of the Law: Judgment, Mercy, and Faith)

Since there are limitless opportunities to serve our fellowman, we will quickly be worn out if we try to meet them all. Therefore, we must use good judgment in deciding where to apply our limited resources in meeting these limitless needs.

At the same time, we should not try rationalizing away our responsibilities. If we shirk from our responsibilities, then we will not be valiant in the testimony of Jesus and will lose the prize of eternal life. If we are experiencing the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, then we will know when the Lord is expecting us to be on "active duty".

Certainly, we all need times of renewal. Each of us must find the time for personal prayer and scripture study. These are the times when we will most feel the spirit and grow closer to our Heavenly Father. Remember that even Jesus grew weary and needed to rest.

(See Activity in the Church home page)

164: On 10/19/97, Steven asked: I have a question about the different degrees of glory. If one spouse achieves a higher degree of glory than the other, will they still recognize each other or will the one in the lesser degree recognize the one in the higher degree, while the one in the higher will not recognize the one in the lesser? I don't understand yet how the deciding factors are determined as far as which degree of glory one will achieve. No one,except Jesus, has ever been or ever will be perfect. We are to strive to be as perfect as we can, and to try to follow his example. Are any laws or covenants more important to keep than others in deciding which degree of glory we achieve? My heart tells me not, that they are equally important. Thanks for your time.

There is nothing in official Church teachings to suggest that members of different degrees of glories will not recognize one another. However, only temple marriages where both spouses have been true and faithful to their gospel covenants [i.e., those who inherit the highest degree of glory in the Celestial Kingdom] will continue after the resurrection. (See Eternal Marriage)

It is certainly true that only Jesus lived a mortal life without committing sin. All other men and women sinned and made mistakes. However, through the Savior's atonement we are able to be cleansed from our sins through obedience to his teachings.

Instead of worrying about which laws may be more important than others, may I suggest that you focus your efforts on developing a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. If you focus all of your efforts in developing this personal relationship, then everything else will take care of itself. Remember what Jesus said:

"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." (Ether 12:27)


"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." (Moroni 10:32-3)

(See Teachings About the Afterlife home page)

163: On 10/19/97, Steven asked: I hope to take out my endowments in the near future. My wife has already taken hers. She says that when I go that she wants to invite her family (my family is non-LDS) and some friends (both local and from out of state). I feel strongly that when I go that I want to go alone. This is a very personal act and I don't want it treated like a big party. My wife had almost 30 people go with her to take out her endowments. I can't see where I need everybody there. My question: Is it necessary that my wife go thru with me? Is there any doctrine that states that you must have family and friends go thru with you? I know this may sound selfish but I am a very private person and I would feel very uncomfortable with all the attention.

It is customary, but not required, for someone receiving their own Endowment to take along a member of the same sex as a guide. The guide can help the person with temporal issues (i.e., where is the dressing room? where am I supposed to be now? etc.) freeing the participant to concentrate on the spiritual events. If you do not bring a guide with you, then the Temple will usually assign an ordinance worker to accompany you. There is no requirement that your wife, family, or friends must accompany you.

Since the Endowment is an important event in someone's life, it is customary for participants to invite family and close personal friends to share the experience. However, reverence should be maintained at all times. You should only invite people with whom you feel you can share a deep, personal, and spiritual experience in a reverent manner. I suggest you discuss your concerns with both your wife and your bishop. (See Teachings About Temples home page)

162: On 10/19/97, Prue asked: I am currently in my final year at high school in Australia. The purpose of this letter is to kindly request any articles or information you way have comparing the Catholic religion and the Mormons regarding morality in these faiths.

I am always hesitant to speak for other faiths since I might inadvertently distort their beliefs. I suggest you browse this site for an understanding on LDS beliefs and look up a Catholic site in a search engine and then make your own comparison. (Also see Catholicism and Mormonism)

161: On 10/19/97, Chenea asked: Hi, I was wondering the of the Church's official standpoint on Christ and Lucifer being brothers, and where in the standard works are the references? I couldn't locate it on your site.

See Is Satan the brother of Jesus?

160: On 10/19/97, Kate asked: Speaking strictly hypothetically, do members of the Church who already hold temple recommends need permission from bishops/stake presidents to marry in a temple?

Yes, members wanting to marry in the temple must be issued a separate and distinct temple recommend authorizing that ordinance. There are presently three different types of temple recommends: (1) for members to receive their own Endowment, to be sealed to a spouse, or to be married in the temple for time only; (2) for members who have received their Endowment to participate in all temple ordinances for the dead (see Salvation for the Dead); and (3) for unendowed members to (a) be baptized on behalf of the dead, (b) be sealed to their parents, or (c) witness sealings of their living brothers and sisters to their parents. The same standards of worthiness apply for all recommends.

The recommend allowing members to participate in all temple ordinances for the dead (number 2 above) will not authorize a person to partake of living ordinances like temple marriage for themselves (number 1 above). Therefore, when a couple enters the temple to be sealed for time and all eternity, they each need to have two separate recommends (i.e., numbers 1 and 2 above). (See Eternal Marriage; Teachings About Temples home page)

159: On 10/19/97, RAD asked: Let say somebody wants to make a donation to your organization. What if that donation is a house in Florida that needs some roof and interior repair? What if there are no liens on the house? What would be the procedure in order to transfer the Title to your organization? (paperwork, attorney, etc, etc...)

The person making the donation would need to contact a local LDS bishop, who can work out all the necessary arrangements. To find the ward or branch nearest you (in the U.S. and Canada), search at

You can also look up The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the yellow pages under churches.

(See Question and Answer 9; Question and Answer home page; Question and Answer 7)

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