Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Questions from the Grass Roots, 1948 (10)

Questions from the Grass Roots, 1948 (10)

By: Ardis E. Parshall - December 09, 2010

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. Is it permissible for a person living in one stake to go to another stake to receive a patriarchal blessing from the patriarch in that other stake? – J.L., Vernal.

A. Stake patriarchs may give patriarchal blessings to only those who reside in their respective stakes and only upon presentation of the applicant of a recommend and duly signed and approved by the bishop of the ward. However, stake patriarchs may give patriarchal blessings to members of organized missions by presentation by the applicants of a recommend signed and approved by the branch president and the mission president. In such cases the applicants come into the stake for the blessing. The patriarch is not to go into the mission.  Stake patriarchs are permitted to bless their own blood relatives wherever they may reside presiding that such relatives shall be duly recommended by the bishop of the ward and president of the stake where they reside. In cases where patriarchs have died or have become incapacitated or are absent from the stake so that patriarchal blessings are not available to members of the stake, in such circumstances and until such time as the services of the patriarch of such stakes may be made available by a new appointment, or the return of a patriarch on leave, members of such stakes may, upon proper recommendation of their bishop and the president of their stake, receive the patriarchal blessing from the stake patriarch in an adjacent stake to whom they shall have been recommended. In such cases the applicant is to go into the patriarch’s stake for the blessing; the patriarch is not to go into the applicant’s stake.

Q. Is a young mother overstepping her bounds when she attends sacrament meeting with her children? I have been harshly criticized by persons in our ward who maintain that my place is at home until my children are old enough to understand. This was not due to any disturbance that the children caused. – W.S., Murray.

A. It is the feeling of the General Authorities of the Church that mothers and fathers should bring their little children to sacrament meetings instead of leaving them home, so you are doing exactly right in starting in their infancy to bring them to sacrament meeting. Let us hope that as they grow up they will continue to follow this custom.

Q. If a patriarch declares a man to be a descendant of the tribe of Levi, does that entitle him to serve in the Church as a bishop without counselors?

A. There have been men in the Church who have been blessed and pronounced descendants of Levi, but they have not laid any claim to the office of bishop. Let us call attention to the fact that the revelation says literal descendants of Aaron, not of Levi. There are evidently great hosts of men who are descendants of Levi but not Aaron. The revelation of the Lord declares that the man who has a right to this priesthood or rather to the keys of this priesthood (for this has reference to the one who holds the keys of the Aaronic priesthood) must not only be the first born of the descendants of Aaron but he must also be called by revelation of the Lord through the First Presidency of the Church. So we see that the revelation must come to the First Presidency and not alone to a patriarch in order to establish the claim to the right to preside and hold the keys in this office. Remember that this is not spoken of in relation to the right of anyone to be a bishop; it is the right of the one who is found worthy and by revelation appointed to this presiding office.

Q. Where was the Garden of Eden and what proof do we have? – W.W., Brigham City.

A. We believe that the Garden of Eden was located in what is now the general area of Jackson County, Missouri. Brigham Young is quoted in Journal History, page one, for March 15, 1857 as having told Orson Hyde that the Prophet Joseph Smith declared the Garden of Eden was in that area. The valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman is referred to in several places in the Doctrine and Covenants wherein the Lord Himself locates it in Missouri. If you will look under that name of Adam-ondi-Ahman in the index of your Doctrine and Covenants, you will find the references there and you will be interested in reading the revelations referred to. See references under Adam-ondi-Ahman in the “Way to Perfection.”

Q. Do we baptize children of excommunicated persons? – P.L., St. George.

A. The following instruction was issued in April, 1935 by the First Presidency covering this subject: “We advise that the children of men and women who have been excommunicated from the Church because of their having entered into illicit relations under the guise of plural marriage be not baptized until they have sufficient understanding to apply intelligently for baptism and can give assurance that they accept the teaching and doctrines of the Church and express regret for the opposition manifested by their parents to the rules of the Church. There is no consistency in baptizing a child and having him re-enter a home, the spirit of which is antagonistic to the authorities of the Church and out of harmony with its principles.” This same ruling would apply in cases where parents had been excommunicated for other reasons.

Q. Is it permissible to pay tithing in kind? For instance, if we were farmers, could we pay tithing in part of crop or must we sell the crop and pay the tithing in cash? – S.R.W., Rupert, Idaho.

A. Tithes are of two substances, cash and kind. In the latter category fall the first fruits of the fields, flocks and herds. It is permissible to pay tithing in kind. Heretofore bishops and branch presidents have given credit for tithes in kind based on wholesale market price the credit to the tithe payer being given in dollars and cents. Pursuant to instructions of the First Presidency, bishops and branch presidents are now asked to discontinue crediting tithes in kind in terms of market values, or dollars and cents, and to issue credits on the basis of weights, numbers, and measures. Where farmers raise a diversity of crops such as hay, grain, potatoes, etc. they should tithe each separate crop; and if they happen to raise livestock they should tithe the increase of the herd. A full tithing on varied crops should nto be paid entirely in one particular crop. The law of tithing if properly interpreted as it applies to commodities is one tenth of each crop or kind. Furthermore, that which is paid as tithing should represent the best of the crops or the herds. The bishop will dispose of the tithes in kind in the usual way: first endeavor to convert them into cash within the month in which they are received or if there is no sale for them, transfer them to the Welfare Program. Bishops should receive a storehouse receipt in terms of weights, measures, and numbers for commodities transferred. These storehouse receipts are to be forwarded to the Presiding Bishop’s office with the monthly tithing report. The tithe payer need not be concerned about the cash value of his contribution as long as it represents the firstlings of the field, herd, or orchard. If he pays a full tithing in kind he is listed as a full tithe payer. If he pays only a part tithe he is listed as a part tithe payer.

Q. What does the Church think about Sunday work? I know boys who are indifferent toward their Church on this account. – G.S., city.

A. As you obviously know already, the Church stands for a sacred Sabbath. It is a well-established fact that persons who undertake work on Sundays for commercial gain often suffer in their faith. however, it should be remembered that there are some activities that must be engaged in every day. Dairymen must milk their cows, which cannot skip Sundays; farmers must feed their stock; custodians in Church buildings must heat the chapels for the use of you and your family, etc. All the facts should be known before we condemn anyone on the matter of the Sabbath or any other subject.

Q. Is the Word of Wisdom a commandment? If so, why does the revelation say “not by commandment or constraint”? – K.B., Salt Lake City.

A. On the first page of chapter 16 of the “Discourses of Brigham Young,” President Young is quoted as follows: “I know that some say the revelations on these points are not given by way of commandment. Very well, but we are commanded to observe every word which proceeds from the mouth of God.” On the next page he says, ‘Now, elders of Israel, if you have the right to chew tobacco, you have a privilege I have not; if you have a right to drink whiskey, you have a right that I have not; if you have a right to transgress the Word of Wisdom, you have a right that I have not. I said to the Saints at our last annual conference, the Spirit whispers to me to call upon the Latter-day Saints to observe the Word of Wisdom, to let tea, coffee and tobacco alone and to abstain from drinking spiritous drinks. This is what the spirit signifies through me. If the Spirit of God whispers this to His people through their leader and they will not listen or obey what will be the consequences of their disobedience? Darkness and blindness of mind with regard to the things of God will be their lot; they will cease to have the spirit of prayer, and the spirit of the world will increase in them in proportion to their disobedience until they apostatize entirely from God and His ways.” On the same page President Young said this: “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ I command the elders of Israel to cease drinking strong drink from this time henceforth.”

When people question the Word of Wisdom as to whether it is a commandment or not, do you not really think they are just quibbling? After all the revelation says that it is given as the word of the Lord – a Word of Wisdom by revelation, and likewise says that it is the will of God. See Section 89:2. If you read Section 84 concerning some of the covenants we are under with our Father you will see that we are under covenant to “live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.” Verse 44. As long as we know that the Word of Wisdom is the will of God we should observe it because we are expected to observe the will of God in all things.



  1. My great grandfather was a patriarch in the mid 20th century in a stake that included temple square in SLC. He was asked many, many times to give patriarchal blessings for visitors from areas with no patriarch. It had never occurred to me, but I don’t think he was ever asked to leave the stake to do so. Interesting.

    Comment by Bruce Crow — December 9, 2010 @ 9:18 am

  2. Evidence for the shifting view of Sacrament Meeting participation. Awesome.

    Comment by J. Stapley — December 9, 2010 @ 10:26 am

  3. I, for one, was kind of hoping for an excuse to avoid the hassle of getting the kids dressed and off to Sacrament Meeting on time…

    The answer on tithing is interesting to me, as I know of no scriptural commandment on the tithing being the “firstlings” a term usually associated with blood sacrifice. Similarly, the insistence on giving the church the very best, and in exact proportion to what was harvested seem extra-scriptural. I’m glad current church policy is less Mosaic, and leaves it between the payer and the Lord.

    Comment by Clark — December 9, 2010 @ 11:00 am

  4. The first question about patriarchal blessings makes me think that we as a church today are much less preoccupied with these blessings and much less preoccupied with the person tasked with giving them than we were 60 years ago. When I was a kid, late 60s and early 70s, the stake patriarch was on par with the stake presidency in my mind. He was on the stand at stake conference, he spoke at most conferences, and people regularly spoke about their patriarchal blessings in lessons, talks and conversations.

    I honestly don’t know who the patriarch is in my stake. His name is never mentioned, he never speaks in conference. People don’t talk about blessings with the same frequency, they don’t encourage them with the same fervor. I wonder what it will be like 50 years from now?

    Comment by KLC — December 9, 2010 @ 3:12 pm

  5. Tithing in kind still exists, but I think Bishop’s have to contact someone at church HQ for instructions on how to accept those kinds of things. I can’t imagine trying to give a member of the bishopric a bunch of yearling lambs in the fall between sacrament meeting and sunday school. I have a friend who collected some objects of art and donated some of them as tithing in kind, one of which I have seen on display at the church Museum of Art & History on West Temple.

    Comment by kevinf — December 9, 2010 @ 5:23 pm

  6. @#4 I think the decline in the perceived importance of the calling of patriarch is reflected at the general church level. in Joseph and Hyrum’s day, they were viewed as equal. In Utah, the office of “patriarch to the church” slowly but steadily declined in importance until, under President Kimball, the last holder of the office was given emeritus status and not replaced. Now he’s not even listed among the general authorities. So it’s no surprise to me to see a similar shift at the stake level.

    Comment by Clark — December 9, 2010 @ 7:49 pm

  7. Signature published a book about the last church patriarch, Eldred Smith. It was the last vestige of inherited office in the church. Quinn made a point in one of his books that correlation concentrated power in the church in the quorum of the 12.

    Comment by KLC — December 9, 2010 @ 8:28 pm

  8. Our stake patriarchs are very visable. They sit on the stand at conferences, have given prayers and talks.

    My mother and mother-in-law did not go to Sunday School, but stayed home with the youngest children and prepared the Sunday meal. My husband thinks that his mother and father took turns going to Sacrament Meeting while the other one stayed home with the kids. I can’t remember what my mom and dad did for Sacrament Meeting when I was young. By the time was was in my teens, mom and dad both attended both meetings.

    Comment by Maurine Ward — December 9, 2010 @ 9:19 pm

  9. @4: In our stake the patriarch sits on the stand for stake conference and is recognized (always as “our beloved patriarch…” — a child might wonder if that is his title) and he is regularly asked to speak in conference and in wards in the stake.

    Comment by Paul — December 10, 2010 @ 8:43 am

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