Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » He Had a Question, 1894-95

He Had a Question, 1894-95

By: Ardis E. Parshall - August 21, 2009

The young men of the church also had a query section in their journal, The Contributor, which they called “Department of Inquiry.” The answers to their doctrinal questions were “submitted to the authorities of the Church who have approved of the same and consequently they may be considered authentic.”

Alas, the young men seemingly lacked the curiosity, or the problems, of the young ladies. They couldn’t accumulate enough questions to fill the column more than once a year, and there are no questions regarding how old they must be to go a-courtin’. The young men had not even the slightest interest – apparently – in promiscuous kissing … if the absence of evidence is evidence of absence …

Should the local officers of the Mutual Improvement Associations be set apart for their labors?

The understanding of the officers is that this is a purely local affair, and a matter which is left to the discretion of the Presiding Officers in the Stake and Ward.

By what methods are the Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Associations expected to raise funds for the payment of necessary expenses connected with the work of Mutual Improvement; that is, means with which to pay traveling expenses of visiting brethren, light, fuel, and other things for which cash is required?

The officers of the Y.M.M.I. Associations desire that dancing parties should be invitational and non-speculative, and that serial parties with their regular admission fee for the purpose of raising means or for recreation open to all who ay desire to pay for a ticket, are entirely antagonistic to the great cause of Mutual Improvement and the mission of the Associations. Funds can and should be raised by donation, the giving of concerts, sociables, etc., and occasional special parties. These being as the officers understand it, the simpler, general and legitimate way of raising revenue. Association interest in dividend paying enterprises; bestowment in the form of perpetuities, and members’ memorial gifts are really the more permanent sources, only waiting executive ability on the part of the officers to establish.

Has a deacon of the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints any authority to assist a teacher in the laying on of hands for the healing of the sick, though a deacon is not mouth? For example, the teachers of a certain block were called to administer to a sick person. There were also two deacons in the room at the time, and the head teacher called upon them to assist in the administration of the ordinance. Now, has a teacher the right to call upon a deacon to assist him, or has a teacher any right to lay on his hands for the recovery of the sick, even though he be full of faith which is burning within him. Of course in Section 20 of the Doctrine and Covenants, paragraph 57, it says that a deacon is to assist a teacher if the occasion requires it, but in paragraph 58 it plainly states that neither a teacher nor a deacon has authority to baptize, administer the sacrament or lay on hands; but does not this latter mean that he is not to lay on hands for the bestowal of the Holy Ghost after baptism?

A deacon or a lay member of the Church has the privilege to lay on hands for the recovery of the sick where they are asked to do so, or are led by the Holy Spirit to take this course, though in such cases they have no right to use the authority of the Priesthood. There are instances where little children have laid their hands upon those who were sick, praying at the same time for the Lord to heal the afflicted one. Their simple, child-like faith has prevailed with God, and those in whose behalf they have prayed have been healed. it is not infrequent for leading officers of the church to call upon teachers and deacons to join them in laying hands upon the sick; women, too, have been invited to join in this holy ceremony, but such persons have not been asked to be mouth in administering, nor to anoint with oil. There is not the least impropriety in teachers and deacons, or even lay members who have faith, taking part to the extent above mentioned in the holy ordinances of the gospel, though it can be readily understood that such persons have no authority to lay on hands for the reception of the Holy Ghost.

In the instance mentioned above the teachers who requested the assistance of the deacons undoubtedly held the Melchisedek Priesthood and were merely acting as teachers. Otherwise, if they were only ordained teachers, they had no more authority than did the deacons to lay on hands.

Can a man holding the Priesthood of God, who has committed sin and thus defiled himself, and who is known to be impure through sinful and filthy habits, bestow the Holy Ghost upon any who have been baptized? We are told in the Scriptures that an impure person cannot have the Holy Ghost, and if such do not have it, how are they able to bestow it upon others by their administration?

There are any instances on record which confirm the fact that the Lord acknowledges the authority a man holds in administering the ordinances of the Gospel, even though the man himself at the time be a transgressor. So long as a man maintains his position in the Church and holds the Priesthood, he has the authority to act in his calling, and all proper administrations will be acknowledged of God. Where men are known to be sinful, however, and to have violated their covenants, they should not be requested to take part in the ordinances of the gospel, but should be called to repentance. nevertheless whatever has been done by properly authorized servants of God will be acknowledged of Him, so long as such acts have been in conformity with the laws of His Church.

Are men from twenty-five to fifty years of age supposed to belong to the Mutuals? If so, what is the best plan to adopt to get them to join and take part in the associations? Should boys under fourteen years of age be enrolled in the Mutuals?

It is quite proper for men from twenty-five to fifty years of age to be members of the Mutual Improvement Associations, and where boys under fourteen years of age are capable of understanding the instructions given in the associations and are orderly in their conduct, there is not the slightest objection to their being enrolled as members.

The only means of which we know to induce attendance at the association meetings is the presentation of instructive and interesting exercises, together with promptness of opening and conducting the services, and early closing. These characteristics together with labor on the part of officers and members with those who seem indifferent or careless we believe will have the effect of inducing both young and old to attend Mutual Improvement Association meetings. There should, however, be systematic labor undertaken with those who fail to attend, and these efforts should be persistent until the officers are convinced that further labor is useless.



  1. Wow. Which church is this?

    Comment by Reed Russell — August 21, 2009 @ 7:26 am

  2. Definitely more impersonal than the ladies’ version. I wonder if a young man ever wrote in to the young women’s journal under an assumed name to get the answer to a touchy question. Men probably got felons too, but The Contributor obviously wasn’t the place to admit it.

    Comment by Tamary — August 21, 2009 @ 7:43 am

  3. The paragraph on blessing the sick was very surprising. I can’t imagine hearing that today (thought several people seem to be lobbying for it).

    Comment by kew — August 21, 2009 @ 7:56 am

  4. Ha. I think the answer to the kissing question is that the YM “thought it better to ask pardon than permission.”

    On a serious note, it is interesting that the writer differentiates between priesthood administrations and “laying on of hands.” I had always thought the two synonomous, but I guess that hasn’t always been the case.

    Comment by Clark — August 21, 2009 @ 9:21 am

  5. Re: The young men’s apparent uninterest in asking questions/permission/advice:

    Maybe this is akin to the perceived inclination of men to never ask for directions?

    Comment by Hunter — August 21, 2009 @ 9:44 am

  6. There are any instances on record which confirm the fact that the Lord acknowledges the authority a man holds in administering the ordinances of the Gospel, even though the man himself at the time be a transgressor.

    I assume that’s supposed to be “many”? Also, it’s interesting to note how this same very questions keeps arising in the Church.

    Great post, as always. I repeat my book suggestion. :-) ..bruce..

    Comment by bfwebster — August 21, 2009 @ 11:37 am

  7. Yeah, it seems that men even then only asked about boring stuff. Nothing that would evoke a stern lecture on promiscuous kissing or the propriety of calling upon a young lady though only recently introduced.

    Hunter beat me to the punch on the similarity to men’s apparent reluctance to ask for directions.

    As to kissing, I suspect that Clark was referring to asking pardon from the Lord if any wrongs were committed–or is he a “kiss her first, ask pardon (if slapped) later” school? :-)

    Comment by Mark B. — August 21, 2009 @ 2:13 pm

  8. Or, insert “from the” wherever it fits. It must be the approaching thunderstorm.

    Comment by Mark B. — August 21, 2009 @ 2:14 pm

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