The source of these questions and answers can be found in the first installment of this series. It bears repeating for newcomers that the person(s) answering these questions is/are not identified, and that the answers given here are not necessarily current teaching. The chief value of these columns today is in seeing what issues were on the minds of ordinary Church members 60 years ago, and in noting what has changed since then, or what issues we consider modern concerns were being discussed that long ago.
Q. When a person is being confirmed a member of the Church, is it proper for the elders doing the confirming to put both of their hands on the candidate’s head, or put one hand on the person’s head and the other hand on the Elder’s shoulder who is standing at the left. – C.A., Petaluma, Calif.
A. There is no set rule on this in the Church. Ordinarily, however, when only a few Elders officiate in this work, they put both hands on the head of the candidate. However, if there are too many men officiating to allow them to comfortably put both hands on the head of the candidate, then the right hand is usually placed on the head of the candidate and the left hand on the shoulder of the Elder next. It is the number of the elders participating which would govern in a case like that.
Q. In our Sunday School class we have been talking about the Urim and Thummim and would like to know just what it is. We all had a different point of view on it. – R.W., Schofield, Utah.
A. The Urim and Thummim consisted of two transparent stones, set in bows of silver and attached to a breast plate. They were mentioned anciently in connection with priestly functions as outlined in the bible under the law of Moses. They were to be used in making the will of the Lord clear and comprehensible to the priests. Aaron wore the Urim and Thummin upon his heart when he went to obtain the judgment of the Lord. His successors did also. See [long list of scriptures not transcribed; consult Topical Guide.] The Prophet Joseph Smith said that the use of the Urim and Thummim, which were deposited with the gold plates and delivered to him with the gold plates, “constituted seers in ancient or former times and that God had prepared them for the purpose of translating the book.” The Prophet Joseph Smith received some revelations through the Urim and Thummim. The Urim and Thummim was used ancient not only by the people in the days of Moses, but later on by the Book of Mormon people. Reference is made to them in Mosiah 8:13-19; Ether 3:23-28. There is a discussion on this subject in Dr. Widtsoe’s book entitled “Evidences and Reconciliations.” This discussion will prove of interest to you.
Q. We in our ward are planning to build a new chapel. A ballot was taken in the ward to determine the location on which to build. We have a two-thirds majority to build at our present location. Will this vote be the final decision? – H.M., Idaho.
A. Recommendations as to building sites are made by the ward bishopric and the stake presidency, and are submitted to the building committee at the Presiding Bishop’s Office. The final decision will have to await approval of the General Authorities of the Church through the General Building Committee of the Church.
Q. When minors are married under the civil law, they must have the consent of their parents. Is it likewise necessary when they are being married in the temple? – HCS, Phoenix, Ariz.
A. All legal requirements under civil marriage are also requirements of temple marriage. Temple marriages are legal marriages in every sense, and all requirements of the law must be met.
Q. What is our belief regarding children who died before they are blessed and named by the Elders of the Church? – PC, Pocatello, Idaho.
A. We believe that infants who die go back to the presence of God, whether or not they have been blessed and named. We do not believe an infant is handicapped so far as eternal progress is concerned, merely because of his not having been blessed before death ensues. When children in the Church die before they are blessed, details of the birth and death are entered in the ward record of members in the same manner as children who live to be blessed, and are included in the Church records and statistics just the same as if they had been blessed. However, stillborn children are not reported or recorded with ordinary births and deaths.
Q. I have heard that Joseph Smith the Prophet predicted that there would be stakes throughout the United States. Is this true?
A. On page 363 of the book entitled “The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith,” by Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, there is a paragraph which reads as follows:
“I have received instructions from the Lord that from henceforth wherever the elders of Israel shall build up churches and branches unto the Lord through the States, there shall be a stake of Zion. In the great cities, as Boston, New York, etc., there shall be stakes. It is a glorious proclamation and I reserved it to the last, and designed it to be understood that this work shall commence after the washings, anointings and endowments have been performed here.”
Q. Do we baptize persons of unsound mentality when they arrive at the age of 8 years as we do normal children? – H.S., Salt Lake City.
A. Those who are mentally deficient do not need to be baptized, no matter what their age may be. They are not in a position to understand, nor are they capable of repentance, and therefore they cannot be held accountable. Should they ever become mentally responsible, the ordinances of the gospel may then be administered.
Q. Will the Saints escape all the judgments that are to be poured out upon the earth? – M.C.F., Idaho Falls, Ida.
A. No. At one time the Prophet Joseph Smith discussed this and said: “I explained concerning the coming of the Son of Man; also that it is a false idea that the Saints will escape all the judgments whilst the wicked suffer; for all flesh is subject to suffer and the righteous shall hardly escape; still many of the Saints will escape for the just shall live by faith; yet many of the righteous will fall prey to disease, to pestilence, etc., by reason of the weakness of the flesh, and yet to be saved in the Kingdom of God. So that it is an unhallowed principle to say that such and such have transgressed because they have been preyed upon by disease or death, for all flesh is subject to death, and the Savior has said, Judge not lest ye be judged.” (Doc. Hist. of Ch. 4:11.) In this connection read Doc. & Cov. 112:24-26 and “The Teachings of Joseph Smith,” page 162.
Q. Why is the bishop the president of the priests’ quorum, instead of a priest? We have deacons as presidents of deacons’ quorums, the same on the teachers’ quorums, but why is it different in the priests’ quorums?
A. Through direct revelation from the Lord to the Prophet Joseph Smith, the ward bishop is made the president of the Aaronic Priesthood of his ward. (Doc. & Cov.
101 107:87-88.) This presidency is shared by his counselors. (Doc. & Cov. 107:15.) In this same revelation, which names the bishop as president of the Aaronic Priesthood, it is also specified that he “is to preside over forty-eight priests and to sit in council with them, to teach them the duties of their office, as given in the covenants.” (v. 87.)
Q. In administering the sacrament, is it right and proper for both priests to kneel at the same time while giving the blessing? – J.H., Salt Lake City.
A. It is customary for only the one priest to kneel at a time, the other priest remaining seated.
Q. Is it ever considered permissible to hold the sacrament tray with the left hand while partaking of it with the right hand and then pass it with the left hand to the next person? – C.O.S., Chicago, Ill.
A. Yes, it is permissible. There is no set rule on this procedure. It is customary for the individual to partake of the sacrament with the right hand.
Q. Is it right to deduct the payments from your tithing which you make to your building fund and ward budget or is tithing a separate and distinct thing from all other contributions? – P.R.L., Logan, Utah.
A. Tithing is separate and distinct from all other contributions.