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)