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.