The Church News introduced a Q&A column in 1948, with this invitation:
This column is for the use of our readers. If you have questions on any Church problem, concerning doctrine, history, Church government or procedure, send them to the Church News Editor, Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah.
All questions must be accompanied by name and address. If a question cannot be answered in this column the author will be so informed by letter.
On the one hand, I like these questions as being more representative of the issues that were on the minds of ordinary Church members than the more formal organizational and doctrinal matters that have been the subject of earlier “I Have a Question” posts. On the other hand, it is impossible to know who provided the answers and therefore how “official” they were. Still, this reflects what people were thinking and asking and teaching.
You aren’t going to believe some of the oddities that will appear in this and future posts!
Q. If there is no olive oil available is it all right to use mineral oil in administering to the sick? – J.H., Logan, Utah.
A. No. We do not consecrate any oil but olive oil. This is in accordance with the teachings of the people of God even from ancient times. When, in the days of Moses, the Lord provided for a special ointment with which to anoint his servants under the Mosaic law, he specified olive oil (Ex. 30:22-33.) In our day, from the days of the Prophet Joseph Smith, we have followed the biblical custom of using olive oil in our administrations. The handbook of instructions issued by the general authorities for use in wards and stakes says: “Oil for this anointing should be pure olive oil which has been consecrated for the purpose.” (P. 91.) Under the instructions in this same handbook we read: “Olive oil is consecrated before it is used to anoint the sick. A good grade of pure olive oil should be secured and those holding the Melchizedek Priesthood should set it apart for its holy purpose.” if there is no olive oil available, then the elders might lay their hands on the head of the afflicted person and bless him for his health, and the Lord will hear the prayer of faith.
Q. To which people was the name “Jew” correctly applied? One of my friends says that Jesus was not a Jew. Was he? – H.R.L., Provo, Utah.
A. Technically, a Jew is a descendant of the tribe of Judah, and in ancient times, one of the Kingdom of Judah. (2 Kings 16:6; 25:25.) Following the captivity of Judah the word came into general use referring to anyone who returned from the captivity, and finally it was made to apply to anyone of the Hebrew race anywhere. In the days of the Savior, persons who lived in Judea were spoken of as Jews as distinguished from persons who lived in other sections of the Holy Land. For instance, in the first verse of the seventh Chapter of John we read “After these things Jesus walked in Galilee for he would not walk in Jewry because the Jews sought to kill him”; and in the fifth chapter of the same book, verses 10 to 18, are references which give a similar idea. In the seventh chapter of John, again, reference is made to the Savior going to Judea for a feast, at which the Jews sought him out, etc., illustrating that residents of Judea were called Jews, as distinguished from the residents of Galilee or Samaria. You recall that the locality in which people lived in those days gave them their designation; Jesus was a Nazarene; he was also a Galilean, and in this narrow sense, some say he was not a Jew. However, by blood he was a descendant of Judah, through the loins of King David, and therefore he was a Jew definitely, and was technically King of the Jews as Pilate said.
Q. Is there anything in our Church doctrines which says that it is wrong for an expectant mother to accept anesthetic from her doctor during the pains of childbirth? – L.D., American Fork.
A. No, of course not. If a mother in travail can get any comfort out of some anesthetic, she certainly should be entitled to it.
Q. Should tithing be paid on money received from the government in payment of insurance or upon money received from a family inheritance? – J.S.H., Salt Lake City.
A. All sources of income should be tithed. Those who are non-productive, or on relief are exempt from the payment of tithing. Insurance is not considered as a relief payment. It is something you have earned and paid for. An inheritance as a gift is an increase in your possessions and normally should be tithed.
Q. Is it the doctrine of the Church that all Latter-day Saints when they die must be buried with their faces toward the east? – J.H.J., San Diego.
Q. Does the Church recommend that Saturday night dances be disregarded? – R.W.E., Provo, Utah.
A. No. The recreational program sponsored by the Young Men’s and Young Women’s Mutual Improvement Association recommend that good, wholesome, clean dances be conducted under Church sponsorship on Saturday night, or any other night except Sunday. Many stakes in the Church conduct Saturday night socials for their young people. The understanding in all cases, however, is that the entertainment close well before midnight so that no one will be dancing on the Sabbath.
Q. It is the opinion of some that as long as a person holds the Melchizedek Priesthood he can gather a group together and go and live the law of consecration at any time without any higher authority. Is this true? – M.F.H., Los Angeles.
A. No, this is not true. The law of consecration was given in the early days of the Church, but it was taken away again by the act of the Lord Himself, and the law of tithing was substituted for it. The law of tithing therefore has become the order of the Church, and the law of consecration as it was given in the days of Joseph Smith is no longer to be observed at this time although later on it will probably again be given to the people of the Church. Anyone who attempts now on his own authority to set up a law of consecration is out of harmony with the authorities of the Church. Anyone who tries to gather a group together, whether for the purpose you mention, or some other purpose contrary to the rule of the Church is treading on dangerous ground which has led some to apostasy. the revocation and discontinuance of the United Order came during a time when the Latter-day Saint people were hunted, scattered abroad with their property gone, their organization largely broken up, wounded in mind and in spirit. The Lord gave what has been known as the Fishing River revelation (D.C. 105) in which He said among other things, “And let those commandments which I have given concerning Zion and her law be executed and fulfilled after her redemption.” The law of tithing was given in what we know as Section 119 of the Doctrine and Covenants and it is still in full force and effect. If you would like a comprehensive discussion of the United Order and law of Consecration write to the Editor of the Church News and one will be sent to you as prepared by President J. Reuben Clark, Jr.
Q. Are Sunday Schools in the wards supposed to be held on stake conference day? – W.E.R., Salt Lake.
A. Sunday Schools should not be closed on the day of stake conference. all classes with the exception of Gospel Doctrine and other adult classes should remain in session. This applies except where conference is being held in a ward building and Sunday School and conference cannot be accommodated in the same building at the same time. Attendance of all members of the Church, old and young, at stake conference should be encouraged. A member of any Sunday School class who desires to attend stake conference should be excused to do so, and any class in the Sunday School under proper supervision, may attend the stake conference in a body.
Q. Is it true that persons being ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood must be interviewed by a member of the stake presidency? – R.W.Z., Cedar City.
A. Candidates for ordination to the Melchizedek Priesthood must be interviewed by a member of the stake presidency who will question them carefully pertaining to their conduct, personal purity, and faith. The endorsements of the bishop of the ward is also required as is the approval of the high council, before the names of such persons are presented to the general priesthood of the stake for approval. All of this must be done prior to ordination.
Q. I have a son who is not in very good health. I feel that it would be a good thing for him to go away possibly on a mission so that he could recover his health. Are young people in that condition accepted for missionary service? – L.R., Salt Lake.
A. Before recommending any person for missionary service bishops are asked to make sure that the prospective missionary is physically fit. Extensive walking, irregular living conditions, and unusual physical and mental strain almost invariably result in accentuating physical weaknesses and impairments. Disability in the mission is expensive and often results in embarrassment and injustice to the missionary, his companion, and the Church. all missionaries must be examined by a doctor and unless the doctor pronounces them physically fit, they cannot be accepted for missionary service. Missionaries are not called to give service for their personal benefit, but as a commandment and duty to carry the message of salvation to the world.
Q. Why is it so much harder for people who have had an illegitimate birth to learn the principles of the Gospel than for other people? – E.M.W., North Carolina.
A. It is not necessarily so. The Lord is no respecter of persons. The individual illegitimately born was not to blame in any way for his plight, If he will study the Gospel and serve the Lord and keep his commandments there is no reason why he can not receive the blessings of the Lord just like anyone else.
Q. What are the qualifications to be married in the Temple? I am a member of the Church, but my wife is a member of another church. however, she is being converted to Mormonism and expects to join the Church in the near future. – W.V.M., Provo.
A. To be permitted to enter the temple a person must be a member of the Church for at least one year, and must be duly recommended by the bishop and stake president, the recommend attesting to the worthiness of the individual as to manner of life and obedience to the commandments of God. Only men holding the Melchizedek Priesthood are permitted to receive their endowments.
Q. When administering to a sick person, should the oil be given inwardly, and should the afflicted part be anointed? – Ed. S., Salt Lake City.
A. The answer is no to both of these questions. We do not give the oil inwardly. In administering to the sick person, we anoint the crown of the head, and not any afflicted part. There is no virtue, so far as the administration is concerned, in giving the sick person a spoonful of oil to drink. That is not a part of the ordinance, and should not be so regarded.
Q. Do persons who are ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood receive a certificate of ordination? – M.R.L., Ogden.
A. When a person has been ordained a high priest or an elder he should receive a certificate of ordination signed by the president and secretary of his quorum. Certificates of ordination of seventies will be issued by the First Council of Seventy. All such certificates should be carefully preserved as an evidence of ordination.
Q. Can you tell me where the city of Zarahemla was located? – F.W., Preston, Idaho.
A. No. Nobody knows. Attempts to locate it have been purely in the speculative realm.
Q. Should persons be set apart for offices in the Church in the general sacrament meeting or in some private meeting? Should teachers and secretaries be set apart as well as the heads of the organizations? – D.J., Oregon.
A. It is the custom in the Church that settings apart take place in small private meetings rather than in the regular sacrament meeting. it is also customary in many stakes and wards to have secretaries and teachers set apart as well as the executive officers.
Q. What is the attitude of the Church regarding the eating of pork? How is its modern use consistent with the word of the bible against eating swine? – Mrs. E.W.H., Salt Lake.
A. The restrictions on the use of pork as given under the law of Moses were not renewed to the latter-day Saints in our day by modern revelation. The Lord did say a good deal about meat and other foods, but he did not single out the use of pork. In Section 49 of the Doctrine and Covenants beginning with verse 18 we read: “whoso forbiddeth to abstain from meat, that man should not eat the same, that man is not ordained of God; for behold the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air and that which cometh of the earth is ordained for the use of man for food and for raiment, and that he might have in abundance.” You are familiar with what the Lord says in the Word of Wisdom, section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants. “Yea, flesh also of the beasts and of the fowls of the air I the Lord have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving. Nevertheless they are to be used sparingly; and it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter or of cold or of famine.”
Q. Would the Church raise any objection to one of its members holding the Priesthood marrying a Jewess? – W.V.S., Kellogg, Idaho.
A. No, if the Jewess is a member of the Church.
Q. A certain couple was not married in the temple. The man is not active. Can the woman take her children with her to the temple and have them sealed to her without the husband?
A. No. Children are sealed to both parents, and such sealings take place only after the parents themselves have been sealed together.
Next up: Questions from the Grass Roots, 1948 – Curse of Cain Edition