Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » Questions from the Grass Roots, 1948 (17)

Questions from the Grass Roots, 1948 (17)

By: Ardis E. Parshall - May 12, 2011

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. If a man and a woman are married by civil law only, and they have children, and die, do they have claim upon those children in the eternities? – C.P., Gunnison.

A. The whole purpose of the sealing ordinances of the Church is to bind the children to the parents, and give the parents claim upon their children in the eternal worlds. If parents do not value the sealing ordinances sufficiently to comply with them, how can they expect to obtain the blessings which are predicated upon them? In all our experience, we must obey the law upon which blessings are predicated, otherwise we cannot claim those blessings.

Q. We read in Genesis that Adam died at the age of 930 years. Did he have to lie in the grave until the death and resurrection of the Savior? – M.M.K., Gardena, Calif.

A. Jesus was the first fruits of the resurrection, as the scriptures so abundantly teach. No one was resurrected before him. So even Adam, although the first man, had to wait for his resurrection until after Jesus had come forth.

Q. Is there any reason why a person who is hard of hearing should not do temple work for the dead? – A.T., Spanish Fork.

A. The Church has never taken the stand that one who is hard of hearing should not do ordinance work for the dead. If, however, a person cannot hear, or, if he is blind and cannot see, he labors under a handicap in his endeavor to officiate as a proxy, vicariously for the dead. In ancient Israel the Lord commanded that those who were not in possession of all their powers should not officiate in the ordinances in the House of the Lord. (Lev. 21:16-24.) We have not felt restricted to this extent in this dispensation. We think, however, that it is only natural that the person who has passed to the spirit world, would prefer to have someone representing him and standing in his stead who is capable of hearing all that is said and seeing all that is done. Moreover, that such a person in every way should be physically fit. The idea anciently was that the one officiating should be in the similitude of the Savior – without blemish and without spot.

Q. Will you please tell me what the attitude of the Church is regarding cremation of the body after death? – D.H.V.D., Salt Lake City.

A. The official handbook of instructions issued for bishops and stake presidencies has this to say regarding cremation: “The Church has never encouraged cremation as a proper method of disposing of the remains of the dead. It is considered proper to consign them to the earth. That has always been the custom. The attitude taken is that nothing should be done that is destructive of the body; that should be left to nature. If bodies are cremated no prayer should be offered during or after the cremation ceremony.”

Q. Will you please tell me the meaning of the expression “original sin”? – J.B., Salt Lake City.

A. Our first parents disobeyed the command of God by partaking of the forbidden fruit. As a result they suffered the consequences of the fall and sin came into the world. You recall from reading Genesis that the penalty the Lord placed upon the partaking of the forbidden fruit was that death should come into the world. Therefore the result of the original sin was death, and death passed upon all men. When Jesus brought to pass the atonement and the resurrection He overcame death or the result of the original sin. The resurrection takes away the effect of the original sin which was death. Some churches teach that baptism is for the remission of the original sin. This of course is not true because baptism has nothing to do with the resurrection, and of course never could take away death. Baptism was given for the remission of our own personal sins which we ourselves commit. We ourselves had nothing to do with Adam’s transgression, and the resurrection comes as a free gift to all men. As Paul expressed it, “As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive.”

Q. Can a person be baptized into our Church if he refuses to give up alcoholic drinks and tobacco? – E.G.W., Salt Lake City.

A. Sincere faith and repentance are prerequisites to baptism. Faith would include belief in the Word of God which includes also the word of Wisdom, and genuine repentance would be the abandonment of those habits which are contrary to the teachings of the Lord. Therefore a person who refused to give up alcohol or tobacco would hardly be considered truly repentant.

Q. What is meant by the expression “balm of Gilead”? – E.K., Salt Lake City.

A. In Gilead there was a balsam tree from which ointment was made and used for medicinal purposes. It was of a resinous nature having the consistency of honey. It was a fragrant gum, in color a pale yellow. It was used extensively in the East as a medicine and also as a cosmetic. It was very expensive. (See Gen. 37:25; Jer. 8:22, 46:11, 51:8.)

Q. I have heard that the Church does not approve of using the word Mormon when referring to the Church and its members. Is this correct? – R.M.R., Provo.

A. The application of the word Mormon to the Latter-day Saints or to the Church is strictly a slang or “nickname” expression. Naturally we should prefer to avoid the use of slang or “nicknames” with respect to our Church and its people.

Q. At the time of the transfiguration of Christ, as mentioned in the New Testament, was Moses a resurrected being or a disembodied spirit? – T.L.S., Portland.

A. He was not resurrected because Jesus had not yet died and been resurrected. We suggest you read Deut. 32:50; 34:5-7; Joshua 1:1-2.

Q. Will Judas be classed with the sons of perdition? – E.R.B., Fresno, Calif.

A. We suggest you read John 17:12.

Q. I have a son in the mission field and as my duties take me within a few hundred miles of his field of labor, at times, I wondered if it would be considered contrary to the policy or wishes of the authorities of the Church, if I should visit with him when on such trips. I thought that a visit from me might tend to encourage him in his work but I do not wish to go contrary to the judgment of the authorities. – J.S.

A. When a missionary is set apart to go into the world to preach the gospel, he is expected to lay aside all other matters and devote his entire time with all his “heart, might, mind and strength,” that he may “stand blameless before God at the last day.” (D. & C. 4:2.) When he is visited by relatives or friends he is bound to be taken from the routine of his work. Such visits usually last two or three days and it takes a period of time for the missionary to get back into his natural stride. Moreover, the visit of this kind interferes with the work of his companion and he, likewise, is retarded. Experience teaches that visits of this kind are anything but helpful to the missionary.

Q. What is the Church’s view regarding drinking cocoa and eating chocolate cake? Would it be all right to serve them at Church functions? – Mrs. K.W.D., Alhambra, Calif.

A. The Church has never taken any position against the use of cocoa or chocolate cake.

Q. Will there be any actual resurrection during the millennium? What evidence do we have? – R.A.C., Weiser, Ida.

A. The resurrection will go on during the millennium. See Doc. & Cov. 63:49-50 and 101:29-30.

Q. Would it be breaking the Sabbath if I accepted a job which requires Sunday work? I know of people who refuse to accept employment where the job calls for Sunday work while others consider it all right. What is your advice? – L.G., Salt Lake City.

A. This is a matter for you yourself to decide. Most Latter-day Saints believe that if they obtain employment which does not require Sunday work, that is preferable. Give some consideration yourself to the statements the Lord has given concerning the law of the Sabbath. You may read them in Exodus, 20th chapter and in Section 59 of the Doc. & Cov.

Q. What will be the boundaries of the center stake of Zion when it is established? – J.M.F., Mesa, Arizona.

A. The expression “Center Stake of Zion” is incorrect. Zion represents the tent and stakes the pegs to which the cords are tied to hold the tent. See Isaiah 33:20 and 54:2. See also “Essentials in Church History,” pp. 146-147. We do not know what the boundaries of the City Zion will be. It will likely expand as other cities do.

Q. In the resurrection will our bodies be raised in a perfect condition or will they have to gradually develop to perfection? – M.J.H., Idaho Falls.

A. We suggest that you read chapter 40 of the book of Alma and also that you read what Joseph F. Smith, former president of the church says on this subject in his book entitled Gospel Doctrine.



  1. I think chocolate cake should not be served at church functions.

    Comment by HokieKate — May 12, 2011 @ 6:41 am

  2. We think, however, that it is only natural that the person who has passed to the spirit world, would prefer to have someone representing him and standing in his stead who is capable of hearing all that is said and seeing all that is done. Moreover, that such a person in every way should be physically fit.

    Wow. That’s crazy. That’s cruel.

    Is a temple a place of public accommodation? Is the church subject to the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (Title III) in employment or in regards to access to its buildings or worship services?

    In any case, the Church in San Diego has a large deaf community, and several times when I attended the temple there, the service was provided in closed captioning, so this is definitely not current church policy. (Was it policy at the time?)

    Comment by Researcher — May 12, 2011 @ 7:12 am

  3. For the first 80 years of temples in the Restoration they were viewed as places for the sick, deaf, and blind to go and be healed. Heber J. Grants mother, who was hard of hearing went to the Logan Temple on its opening day and was baptized for her health. I think that after healing was removed from the temple there was a bit of a drift toward the old testament view of such things as indicated here. I’m glad that we make an effort now to have temple work be as accessible as possible and are more flexible than in the past.

    Comment by J. Stapley — May 12, 2011 @ 8:11 am

  4. Without interpreters or subtitles, deaf people in the temple wouldn’t know what was being said. Sitting there without knowing what was going on isn’t really participating. I think that’s what brought up the question. It’s a totally different experience now for handicapped people.

    When the Idaho Falls temple was built, every room was on a different level. Moving from room to room always meant climbing a few stairs. That has all been changed now. We still move through each room, but with ramps. Accessibility has changed with the times.

    Comment by Carol — May 12, 2011 @ 9:29 am

  5. I agree with HokieKate that chocolate cake should not be served at church functions. Please send all such cakes to me, and I will see that they are properly disposed of. Email me for mailing instructions.

    I think, Researcher, that the policy of the church has changed considerably on that issue since 1948. While I think it would be nice to have the name of the person for whom the ordinance is being performed said in a way that that person, in the spirit world, might actually hear and realize that it’s his or her name, temple workers have told me several times that their instructions are to do the best they can, but not worry about saying it right. (And I’ve heard some lovely non-English names slaughtered in the worst way.)

    I was in the bapistry once with a group from our stake, and the Ecuadorean brother performing the ordinances came upon the surname Fuchß, which is pronounced “fooks”, rhymes with “dukes” more or less, but he and most other temple workers wouldn’t have had a clue. But I suspect that the departed Brother Fuchß would have enjoyed the benefit of the ordinance no matter how the name had been pronounced.

    Policies on cremation have also changed substantially. It is telling that the answer (and the old handbook of instructions) refers only to “custom.” It’s about time that “custom” was consigned to the dustbin of history. Or the crematory.

    Comment by Mark B. — May 12, 2011 @ 9:30 am

  6. At least not without lots of napkins, HokieKate, and a reminder to use them!

    The handicapped-as-proxy question was the one I found the most interesting, too. Is the question one of whether or not the spirit of the deceased would get the full instruction if the proxy were blind or deaf? Or is it an extension of the symbolism of Christ as the perfect lamb cruelly expanded to all proxies? Either one is doctrinally and logically flawed, and a vivid reminder of the often unimaginable hurdles faced by the deaf and blind (and lame and so many others).

    This is a case where I’d really, really like to know who answered the questions, in order to guess better how widespread or “official” an answer like this was.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — May 12, 2011 @ 9:31 am

  7. Regarding the handicapped serving in the temple, we have a brother who is severely physically handicapped and confined to a motorized wheelchair here in our temple district. He usually is at the temple on a daily basis, and I believe he did between 400 and 500 endowments last year. I doubt there is any concern about his service on the other side.

    I once was talking to a member of our bishopric a couple of years back about the temple recommend questions, and we both agreed that this question should be added, though:

    “Do you floss?”

    HokieKate, no chocolate cake at church functions? Blasphemy!!!

    Comment by kevinf — May 12, 2011 @ 10:02 am

  8. Sorry, I meant to add that the bishopric member was my dentist. That was kind of important.

    Comment by kevinf — May 12, 2011 @ 10:03 am

  9. So are the stakes covering the geographical area of Jackson county, Mo. not called stakes? What do they call their conferences? “The Kansas City Missouri tentpeg of Zion”?

    These answers in this post are more strained than the others in the series, OMHO.

    Comment by Clark — May 12, 2011 @ 10:19 am

  10. Re cremation – “never encouraged” DOES NOT MEAN “discourages”. It just means the Church isn’t going around saying, “you really should cremate”.

    We’ve had this come up a bunch lately in our stake…

    Comment by queuno — May 12, 2011 @ 11:32 am

  11. Among the myriad social, political, and doctrinal changes of the intervening 50+ years, it’s comforting to know that the “Mormon” vs. “member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” debate remains a constant.

    Comment by E. Wallace — May 12, 2011 @ 2:05 pm

  12. Lots of modal-verb (e.g., would, should, &c.) weasel-wordness in this installment.

    Also, in regard to the whole discussion of the disabled in temples—it’s worth remembering that these weren’t binding statements of church policy, dogma, or doctrine (though they were likely normative). Also, that answer’s one of the principal locations of weasel words in this group.

    Comment by David B — May 12, 2011 @ 2:23 pm

  13. Re: Deaf people in the Temple

    I think this goes a long way in showing just how far we (as a people) and we (as a Church) have come in our understanding of the needs of those with disabilities. I have no stats to offer, but in the 1948-era I know mothers who had children with Down Syndrome, or were blind, or deaf for that matter, were actively encouraged to institutionalize their babies and forget they’d ever been born. How Christlike does that strike you?

    Perhaps I go a bit overboard with that last sentence, but let’s just say I’m so happy anytime I see a Church program that helps brings all God’s children back to their Savior. Are we not all imperfect in someway?

    Comment by Chad Too — May 12, 2011 @ 8:47 pm

  14. Re: 10 – I would certainly not recommend re-cremation. I don’t think it would accomplish anything!

    Comment by Eric Boysen — May 18, 2011 @ 8:52 am

  15. Ashes to ashes, Eric.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — May 18, 2011 @ 8:55 am

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