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Questions from the Grass Roots, 1948 (18) (end of series)

By: Ardis E. Parshall - June 07, 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. I am an 18-year-old girl and I desire to go through the temple. I have been advised that I was too young to do so. What is your advice? – A.M., Idaho.

A. We suggest that you talk this matter over with your own bishop. Admission to the temple is based entirely upon worthiness. The bishop will be in a position to help you decide whether you are stable enough and mature enough to make certain that you will be true to the covenants that you make to serve the Lord and keep his commandments. No worthy sister who has perfect faith should be denied when 18 years of age if she desires to be endowed.

Q. We lost three little boys ranging in age from one day to four months. Is it required of us to have the work done in the temple for them such as being baptized and ordained to the priesthood? – R.L.A., Lovell, Wyo.

A. If these children were born under the covenant there is nothing to be done. If they were not born under the covenant and you and your wife subsequently go to the temple and are sealed for eternity, then the children should be sealed to you so that you will have an eternal claim upon them. However, no additional ordinances are necessary.

Q. Did Jesus, himself, perform baptisms? – K.B.C., Honolulu.

A. Yes, the Savior did baptize some of his disciples. The revised scriptures by the prophet in John 4:1-4 is as follows:

“When therefore the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, they sought more diligently some means that they might put him to death; for many received John as a prophet, but they believed not on Jesus. Now the Lord knew this, though he himself baptized not so many as his disciples. For he suffered them for an example, preferring one another.”

Q. Did the Church own and operate the paper known as “The Morning and Evening Star” and has the Church owned and operated a newspaper from that time until now? – R.S., Roy, Utah.

A. Yes, the Church did own and operate a periodical called the “Evening and Morning Star.” It was a strength to the Church in the days of the Prophet Joseph Smith, who wrote of his happiness at its establishment. From its early history, the Church has published papers, and as you know, for 98 years The Deseret News, which is Church owned and operated, has been in continuous publication. The Millennial Star has been published constantly since 1840.

Q. In Alma 14:8 we read that records were cast into the fire and burned, during a persecution. As metal does not burn, did those people make records on other things? – S.H.J., Duncan, Ariz.

A. It is not stated in the Book of Mormon whether things other than metal were used for making records, but it is stated clearly that metal was used. In the scripture to which you refer, it says that the records were “burned and destroyed by fire.” Metal records could, of course, be destroyed by fire, since metals melt under heat. It is very likely that other materials were used for writing, such as skins of animals, which custom dates back long before the days of the Nephites.

Q. I have been told that children who die in infancy must have their temple work done if they are to be holders of the priesthood. Is this true? – E.A., Rock Springs.

A. No. We perform no temple work for children under eight years of age, except to seal them to their parents in case the parents desire this to be done. Other ordinances of the gospel are not required for children who die before the age of eight years. It was the Lord himself who set this age as the “age of accountability,” after which baptism and other ordinances are to be performed. See D. & C. 68:25-28; 93:42.

Q. Is temple marriage a guarantee that a person will go to the celestial kingdom, even though he may commit all manner of sins afterward? – R.L.S., Burley.

A. No. The only guarantee of going to the celestial kingdom is in being obedient to the commandments of the Gospel, and remaining faithful unto death. “There is a possibility that man may fall from grace and depart from the living of God; therefore let the church take heed and pray always lest they fall into temptation.” (D. & C. 20:32; see also section 76:79; also references under “faithful” in index to Doctrine & Covenants.)

Q. Please explain where the lost tribes of Israel are believed to be at the present time. Does the term “lost” refer to the Gospel? – R.B., Provo.

A. The lost tribes are lost as to location, and we do not know where they are. The term “lost” does not necessarily refer to their being “lost” so far as salvation is concerned, for we do not believe they are without salvation. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that John the Beloved was among those people teaching them in preparation for their return to Zion. The Book of Mormon tells us they have records among them which will be read among us sometime. (2 Nephi 29:13; Jesus apparently went to visit them after his resurrection (3 Nephi 15) and they evidently have prophets among them. (See D. & C. 133:26 and 110:11).

Q. I would like to know when the Hill Cumorah was given its name and by whom. – Mrs. R.B., Provo.

A. See Mormon 6:1-6.

Q. Does our Church believe in pre-destination? I get it confused with fore-ordination. – L.C.R., Salt Lake City.

A. Our Church does not believe in pre-destination. We believe in the doctrine of free agency, which is one of the fundamental and most important features of the entire Gospel plan. Without free agency we could not progress, for we would be compelled in all things. Pre-destination is a doctrine which teaches that regardless of man’s actions, in mortality, his final destiny in heaven or hell was pre-determined. This is not a Christian doctrine. Man is saved or not, according to his own free agency, and his own determination to live or not live the commandments of God. Fore-ordination is a doctrine which says that a man might have been chosen before the creation to do a work when he arrived in mortality, but whether he did it or not was left to his discretion and free agency. He was not compelled.

Q. Why does the Church Welfare Program have meat projects, when we are not supposed to eat meat? – J.A.P., Nyssa, Ore.

There is nothing in the revelations which forbids the eating of meat. The Word of Wisdom (D. & C. 89) counsels us to eat meat sparingly, and then only in winter or in famine, but the revelations also say “Whoso forbiddeth to abstain from meats, that man should eat the same, 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.” (D. & C. 49:18-19.) Some have asked why we of today eat pork, when the Bible spoke against it so far as the people of Moses were concerned. There were definite health reasons why people in the hot countries, then without any knowledge of refrigeration, should abstain from pork. However, none of the modern revelations of the Lord condemn the use of pork as food.

Q. Does verse 121 of Section 88 of the Doctrine and Covenants mean that it is sinful for people to laugh or does it just apply to the solemn assembly mentioned in verse 117 of the same section? – E.N., Preston, Ida.

A. We suggest that you turn to verse 69 of the same section of the Doctrine and Covenants and read there where it says, “Remember the great and last promise which I have made unto you; cast away your idle thoughts and your excess of laughter far from you.” Another scripture says that “man is that he might have joy.” The Lord also advises us to be of a cheerful attitude with a happy countenance. Obviously, he is urging us to avoid light mindedness and excess of laughter.

Q. Will you please tell me what is the correct method of paying tithing as concerning income tax? Should the tax be deducted and then the tithing paid on the remaining amount? – V.P., Salt Lake City.

A. We suggest you take this matter up with your bishop. The paying of tithing is a matter between the individual and the bishop. However, we will say if you start making deductions for taxes on income, where will you stop? Will you also make deductions for all other expenses, and if you happen to be living on more than you earn, would that mean that you would count yourself as being exempt from the payment of tithing?

Q. I would like to know if the drinking of chocolate drinks and eating of chocolate candy is against the teachings of our Church. – R.L., Sandy.

A. The Church teaches no such doctrine as this.

Q. Should a farmer pay tithing on what he takes in from his crops before taking out for the expense, or should he first take out for labor and materials to work with? – E.R., Provo.

A. We suggest you take this question up with your own bishop. Read carefully, Doc. & Cov. Sec. 119.

Q. I would like to know what are the duties of the genealogist in a family organization? – F.T., Pleasant Grove, Utah.

A. The duties of a genealogist in a family organization are that he should direct the members of the family in performing research work, or if the family commissions him to perform the research work himself, he should get in touch with such an organization as the genealogical society of the Church who will give expert advice and assistance in working out the genealogy of the family. Then the genealogist normally would have the sheets prepared for the performance of temple work so that the members of the family would then be able to go to the temple and carry on that activity.

Q. In these days when everybody is so busy, why do we not merely take the sacrament in the Sunday School and not bother going to sacrament meeting? – O.T., Mesa, Arizona.

A. It seems that your question involves more than the matter of your attendance at sacrament meeting. It would seem to involve the whole Sabbath day. If you are so busy that you want to go to Sunday School only and there get the sacrament, what would you do the rest of the day? We suggest that you read Section 59 of the Doc. & Cov. It discusses the sacrament and also the Sabbath day.

Q. Is baptism into the Church valid without a witness? – L.A.H., Twin Falls, Ida.

A. If the elder who performed the baptism was a duly authorized representative of the Church with power to perform baptisms under the established authority of the Church, the baptism would be valid.There have been some missionaries in the Church, particularly in olden days, who had to travel alone and who did baptize. They performed that ordinance by the power and authority they held as missionaries inasmuch as all missionaries are authorized to perform baptisms of persons who have been converted to the gospel. If the baptism took place in a ward or stake the ordinance would have to be authorized by the bishop of the ward who would issue the recommend for baptism or by the regular stake missionaries. Under the latter circumstances, there would be sufficient witnesses to remove any question as to the validity of the ordinance. Whenever it is possible there should be witnesses to a baptism. In the case of baptism for the dead in the temple, it is mandatory that a witness be present. See Doc. & Cov., Sections 127-128.

Q. Is it the policy of the Church to urge young men to go on missions when they have been away in the service for two or three years and when they would rather stay home and have a family? – C.A.W., Ogden.

A. It has been the practice of the Church not to encourage returned servicemen to go on missions if those young men preferred to stay home and have families. It is felt that to marry well and to rear a good Latter-day Saint family is the principal responsibility of any member of the Church.

Q. I have been told that if a person has a tattoo mark on him he is not allowed to go to the temple. Surely if he is worthy otherwise this would not hold him out, would it? – H.J., Salt Lake City.

A. Admission to the temple is based entirely on the person’s worthiness.

Q. Can temple ordinances be performed for people of Hebrew or semi-Hebrew descent in the event a person discovered some Jewish blood in his lineage? – T.G.S., Pocatello, Ida.

A. People of Hebrew lineage are Israelites. What objection is there to Israelitish blood? Temple ordinances can be performed for anyone except those who are of the blood of Cain, and even in the latter case, vicarious baptisms have been performed for such as those, although no additional ordinances are given. Persons of the Hebrew blood are as much entitled to all of the ordinances of the gospel as anybody else.

(end of series)



19 Comments »

  1. Thanks for the great series!

    Comment by Craig M. — June 7, 2011 @ 7:26 am

  2. Yikes! on “Hebrew descent.”

    And the one on being too busy on Sunday was just too funny because I thought we were all too busy going to church! (before consolidated meetings schedule.)

    Comment by Grant — June 7, 2011 @ 8:05 am

  3. Glad you’ve enjoyed it. This has really opened my eyes to the kinds of gospel misunderstandings and concerns that were floating around the church in 1948. Some of them surprise me, some appall me, some make me laugh, all of them make me realize that my grandparents had the same real need to find answers to their questions as I do, even if their particular questions sometimes seem odd to me.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — June 7, 2011 @ 8:05 am

  4. Grant, I saved that one for last because it was so very — well — you know …

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — June 7, 2011 @ 8:08 am

  5. I would like to know what are the duties of the genealogist in a family organization?

    So would I! It was an honor to be asked, but I’m still trying to figure out what I’m doing as the Family Historian of the George and Ann Prior Jarvis Family Association. I’ve been serving for about a month, and it’s a bit of a challenge to figure out how to direct my energies. Some of the things I’m currently doing:

    * compiling a documented family tree of the first three generations (children and grandchildren and their familes, and it’s 575 people so far)

    * encouraging descendants to use New Family Search correctly by adding sources and only making changes if they have documentation

    * answering questions sent by the officers of the organization and other descendants and tracking down resources and documents and pictures

    * brushing up on the sources and resources available on the family, the history of St. George, etc.

    * giving a presentation on the family genealogy at the upcoming family reunion

    The Grass Roots answer is a nice reminder to keep the big picture in mind and to use my time wisely since it is so easy to get lost in the multitudes of details.

    Comment by Researcher — June 7, 2011 @ 9:13 am

  6. Was this installment originally printed as one article or have you combined several? I’m intrigued at multiple questions (but, thankfully, consistent answers) on the same topic (such as ordinances for deceased infants).

    Glad to have those meat and chocolate questions resolved once and for all… :-)

    Comment by Paul — June 7, 2011 @ 9:45 am

  7. And in your spare time, Researcher? Oh, I know — you’re embroidering family trees for each of those 575 people! (Really, your active family organization is lucky to have someone like you who knows what needs to be done and can do it.)

    Paul, generally the questions in a post appeared together in the same article — but it took more than one article to fill out a post, and toward the end I was doing some indiscriminate cutting and pasting to make the posts come out approximately equal, so there is also considerable scrambling at some points. How’s that for a muddy answer?

    And yeah, I’m sure there has never been another question about meat or chocolate since this appeared in 1948! ha!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — June 7, 2011 @ 10:11 am

  8. On witnesses for a baptism,”…inasmuch as all missionaries are authorized to perform baptisms of persons who have been converted to the gospel” were there no sister missionaries at all at this time?

    Comment by charlene — June 7, 2011 @ 10:32 am

  9. Ah, the invisible (but incredible!) LDS women! charlene, my aunt, the one whose papers I have been using for Keepa’s “Sister Missionary” series, was serving at the very time this paragraph was published!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — June 7, 2011 @ 10:56 am

  10. So sad to see this series end. It was consistently interesting and often the conversations that came from it were enriching. Thanks Ardis.

    Love the Temple quesitons.

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 7, 2011 @ 11:04 am

  11. Grant, I loved your comment about being too busy “going” to sacrament meeting when the question was about being too busy to “go” to sacrament meeting.

    And yes, the chocolate and meat questions just keep coming and coming because someone heard someone who talked to someone who read on e-mail that a general authority claimed these were against the word of wisdom.

    Comment by Maurine Ward — June 7, 2011 @ 11:10 am

  12. I’m surprised that the person answering these questions did not know the current location of the lost tribes. In every gospel doctrine and priesthood class I have ever attended, there have always been several people who knew with certainty where the lost tribes are.

    Comment by Mark Brown — June 7, 2011 @ 11:23 am

  13. I don’t care what anyone says about the location of the lost tribes, I’m still voting that they are on the moon! :-) GREAT Series Ardis. Thank you!

    Comment by Cliff — June 7, 2011 @ 12:19 pm

  14. Ardis,
    I recall the posts from your aunt’s mission experiences. I’m thrilled that her hard work was recognized with this authorization to perform baptisms…maybe just the unwitnessed ones. :)

    Comment by charlene — June 7, 2011 @ 1:10 pm

  15. I’m going to miss this series. A few comments:

    →Age of attending the temple: Current policy says that full temple recommends should not be issued to members in their teens or early twenties (whether 23 or 24 is early twenties or not is undefined) unless they’ve received a mission call or are going to be sealed. Was there a stated age policy before the current handbooks? Clearly, in 1948 the policy was different.

    →The question about The Evening and Morning Star seemed very, well, specific. Interesting that the answer given was yes, when the content of the answer means that the answer was actually no.

    →The question about whether the Nephites had non-metal records is of a class of scriptural questions that annoy me—questions that assume that something unstated in scriptural accounts must not have occurred. This, of course, is how Cain and Seth had children without any women around.

    →You know, given the content of the sealing ceremony, you can understand questions like the one asked about it in this list. Maybe it’s due for a tweaking of the wording?

    →I would like to know when the Hill Cumorah was first called that by English speakers, myself.

    →I quite appreciate J.A.P.’s willingness to phrase their question about meat in quite that way—nothing like a “Have you stopped beating your wife?” to brighten up our days.

    →What exactly counts as “excess of laughter”, though?

    →I see that answers to questions about gross vs. net tithing have generally stayed the same, namely “You have to decide for yourself with your bishop, and whatever works for you is good, but if you don’t go for the ‘gross’ approach, you’re a heathen.”

    →I may be wrong, but i don’t think that unwitnessed baptisms count as valid anymore.

    →What would semi-Hebrew descent be? Someone descended from a Jewish person and a registered member of the Seminole tribe?

    <rimshot /> I’ll be here all week. Don’t forget to tip your server.

    Comment by David B — June 7, 2011 @ 1:17 pm

  16. Yeah, the hill cumorah answer was a dodge. And the tithing answers were too. The Hebrew temple work question implies that temple work for one’s own ancestors is “more valid” than that done for strangers, an attitude other posts on this blog have helped me to understand.

    And as to the lost tribes, #13, they’re not on the moon. In the news today is the fact that they’re on Mars :-)

    Comment by Clark — June 7, 2011 @ 2:51 pm

  17. Aw, that’s just apostate nonsense, Clark. Those gentiles wouldn’t know the City of Enoch if GoogleMarsStreetview showed the “Welcome to Zion” sign at the city limits!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — June 7, 2011 @ 2:58 pm

  18. Clark, you’re forgetting that Steve P over at BCC knows where the lost ten tribes are. Comes complete with a picture of one of their favorite pets.

    Comment by kevinf — June 7, 2011 @ 3:28 pm

  19. These are always so fascinating! What a time capsule such Q & A’s are!

    Comment by Mina — June 7, 2011 @ 4:59 pm

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