Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » I Have a Question, 1892

I Have a Question, 1892

By: Ardis E. Parshall - June 29, 2011

From the pages of the Juvenile Instructor, presumably written, or at least approved, by George Q. Cannon —

It becomes a question of some importance in these days whether the Latter-day Saints can divide on politics and still be Latter-day Saints, still have fellowship for one another, and still preserve that respect one for the other that the gospel requires.

The discussion of politics has brought to the surface many strange exhibitions of feeling among members of the Church. Such exhibitions would have been deemed incredible a short time ago. Many have yielded to a spirit that produces anything but harmony and love, and there is considerable danger that this agitation may almost prove too strong an ordeal for the faith of many men who have passed through a good many trials in the past and been undisturbed thereby.

Some of us can speak with the utmost confidence and say that it was not and is not contrary to the will of the Lord that this division on party lines should take place. This being the case, it necessarily follows that members of our Church can take sides in politics without doing anything that is inconsistent with their character as Saints of the Lord. Because evil passions arise, because men grow angry and contend, because men even descend to falsehood and defamation, and resort to tricks to gain their ends, this conduct does not prove that there is any defect in our religion, or that a division on party lines is not proper; it only shows the fallibility of men and their failure to practically apply the principles of their religion to the affairs in which they are engaged. Our religion would not have the value we place upon it if it should fail us in a case like the present. If men cannot retain the Spirit of God, and cannot treat each other as Latter-day Saints, then there is some failure in the men who place themselves in such a condition. There is no failure, neither can there be, in our religion. But we must learn sooner or later to perform all that we do in the spirit of our religion. We have learned to do this in a great many other directions, and now it seems necessary, in the providence of the Lord, that we should have a lesson in this new direction; and I, for one, am compelled to confess that there appears a great necessity for it. I have heard things concerning brethren and their words and actions that I would not have believed possible if they had not come to me in a way that I could not question them. It seems that some have acted upon the idea that is conveyed in the story told concerning a certain Quaker. He had a controversy with a man, and one word led to another, until the Quaker deemed himself so aggrieved that nothing but a recourse to blows would satisfy him; so he pulled off his coat, and remarked as he did so, “Now, religion, lay thou there until I whip this man.”

Some appear to have that feeling in regard to politics. They lay aside their religion and its principles until they can accomplish the ends they have in view.

Now, however sincere and well meaning we may be, and however much we may feel that we are justified in taking this course, it is wrong, and is sure to lead to bad results. We have been taught from the beginning to be governed by the principles of our religion in all the relations of life – in our buying, in our selling, in our trading; in fact, in every department of human transactions. The whole burden of the teachings of the leaders of this Church has been to this effect. We have been informed that our religion is a practical religion – an every-day religion; not to be put on with our Sunday clothes, nor to be laid off when we assume our working apparel. And these teachings will apply to politics as well as everything else.

If members of the Church should be guilty of conduct in politics that would not be justified in other transactions and in the ordinary affairs of life, then they step out of the path which as Saints they should walk in. Men can grieve the Spirit of God by overstepping the bounds of right in political matters as well as in other directions. Because a man is engaged in politics he has no right to break the divine laws which have been given to us for the regulation of our lives as the children of God; and those who do this will lose His Holy spirit. After the experience of sixty-two years it ought not to be necessary to argue this.

”And it came to pass that when man began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair, and they took them wives of all which they chose.”

Our correspondent says these daughters of men could not have been of the seed of Cain, because they were fair. Who, then, were they?

By reference to the Pearl of Great Price we find that the new translation says:

“And Noah and his sons hearkened unto the Lord, and gave heed, and they were called the sons of God. And when these men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, the sons of men saw that their daughters were fair, and they took them wives, even as they chose. And the Lord said unto Noah, The daughters of thy sons have sold themselves; for behold mine anger is kindled against the sons of men, for they will not hearken to my voice.”

A careful comparison between the new and old translations will show that it was the sons of men, and not the sons of God, who took the fair daughters, and these daughters were of the seed of Noah, and not of the seed of the wicked. The sons of men here referred to were doubtless what we would term people of the world, and not of the covenant, Noah’s children being called the sons of God in contradistinction to them.

We have received the following questions, answers to which we are requested to publish in the Juvenile Instructor:

“Why was Abel’s offering accepted and Cain’s rejected?

Our correspondent gives three theories in regard to this question:

First: – Cain offered inferior fruit of the ground.

Second: – His heart being evil also lacking faith.

Third: – An improper offering, being fruit of the ground instead of animal life.

In the Pearl of Great Price it is made plain that it was at the suggestion of Satan that Cain made an offering unto the Lord; but we are not told whether Satan suggested to him the kind of offering he should make. His offering, when he did bring it, was of the fruit of the ground.

It is not made entirely clear that the fruit of the ground was not acceptable; yet the language of the translation there given is: “and the Lord had respect unto Abel, and his offering; but unto Cain, and his offering, He had not respect.”

In making the suggestion to Cain to offer sacrifice unto the Lord, it is quite probable that Satan would desire to have Cain offer something different from that which the Lord required. That the Lord had not respect unto the offering as well as unto Cain is clear from the language used; while He had respect both to Abel and to his offering.

In the new translation in the Pearl of Great Price we find this: “And He [the Lord] gave unto them [Adam and Eve] commandments, that they should worship the Lord their God, and should offer the firstlings of their flocks, for an offering unto the Lord. And Adam was obedient unto the commandments of the Lord.”

Here the commandment is confined to “the firstlings of the flock,” which was typical of the great sacrifice of the “Only Begotten of the Father.” This was the sacrifice which Adam offered. We have no intimation that he offered the first fruits. So in the case of Abel; his offering conformed strictly to that which the Lord had commanded. Both the offerings of Adam and Abel were acceptable; and there can be no question that if Cain had offered the firstlings of the flock, and done it in the right spirit, it would have been accepted; neither can there be any question that if he had offered animal sacrifice and done it at the suggestion fo Satan, and in the spirit which he evidently possessed, the Lord would not have had respect to it.

An intelligent Stake Sunday School officer in a northern stake asks, “Is it necessary for a Sunday School teacher to have the Priesthood?” He says that he was asked this question and he answered it as follows: that while he did not consider it absolutely necessary to have any Priesthood to teach in Sunday school, he certainly considered it better for the teacher to hold some portion of the Priesthood.

This is the correct view to take of this question.

He says that in one of the wards a young, worthy brother was told that he had no right to teach, on account of not holding the Priesthood.

Such action is entirely too technical. No man should be forbidden to do good. There may be young men who are capable of teaching in Sunday School who do not hold the Priesthood; but young men of that character ought to have the Priesthood conferred upon them. Of course, there is an authority connected with the Priesthood and blessings bestowed upon those who hold it which add to the qualifications of a teacher. At the same time we do not think that persons should be excluded from teaching in Sunday Schools because they do not hold the Priesthood; for if that were done, what would become of the many efficient lady teachers among us?

We are asked if the firstborn son of a family should die before his parents were sealed over the altar, would he not stand in his place in the resurrection as the firstborn, if the sealing ordinances by which children are sealed to parents were attended to after his death?

The deceased firstborn son, when sealed to his parents by the ordinance which God has given, would stand in his father’s family as the firstborn.

The same correspondent asks another question to this effect: Is it necessary that a husband and wife sealed by President Young in his office before they had their endowments be afterwards sealed over the altar?

There is no doubt that the sealing ordinance when pronounced by the man having the authority is binding, and all the promises, if the conditions are observed, will be fulfilled. But for reasons which need not be explained here, it would be better in such cases for the sealing to be performed again when the opportunity offers to have it done over the altar.



  1. Other than being able to boss my little brother around, I’ve never been quite sure what my rights as the firstborn son were. Too bad that George Q. isn’t around, because I’d like to hear the answer.

    Comment by Mark B. — June 29, 2011 @ 9:11 am

  2. The comments about extra-temple sealings are somewhat interesting as it seems to me that is one where the position of the FP varied a bit over time.

    And let me say how happy I am for this continued series! For some reason I thought it was done.

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 29, 2011 @ 9:46 am

  3. The plaint of the little brother: You aren’t the boss of me!

    J., the specific series of 1948questions from Church News readers is complete, but there are still lots of questions from other sources. Yay!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — June 29, 2011 @ 10:02 am

  4. The last question about extra-temple sealings had to be dealt with in my wife’s family. Her great-grandfather, the adopted son of Joseph F. Smith, was sealed to his wife in Pres. Smith’s home, but the ordinance apparently was not recorded. However, Joseph Fielding Smith resisted having the proxy work redone and recorded for decades, until my wife’s father finally prevailed in getting permission to do the work in the early 60’s.

    J, were these extra-temple sealings a common event among the general authorities in the latter 19th and early 20th centuries? And when did they stop?

    Comment by kevinf — June 29, 2011 @ 12:10 pm

  5. It is my perception that they were common enough that you often see mention of them in source materials (diaries, correspondence, etc.); but as you can imagine, getting reliable frequency numbers may be impossible. It is my understanding that they became no longer a feature of Mormon liturgy after the second Manifesto, when Church leaders were trying to crack down on illicit marriages.

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 29, 2011 @ 2:49 pm

  6. J, thanks.

    Comment by kevinf — June 29, 2011 @ 3:39 pm

  7. An intelligent Stake Sunday School officer” … I guess they only answered questions from “intelligent” people… I have no claim to ask anything then due to the fact that as I get older, the more I learn, the more I know that I know nothing at all!

    Comment by Cliff — June 29, 2011 @ 3:45 pm

  8. Oh, I loved this: “Such action is entirely too technical. No man should be forbidden to do good.”

    Comment by David Y. — June 29, 2011 @ 4:51 pm

  9. I really enjoy these question and answer series. I was glad to see that women Sunday School teachers were mentioned, although it seemed like it was a weak add on.

    Comment by Maurine Ward — June 30, 2011 @ 1:30 am

  10. I ran across a sealing in 1892 done by John Henry Smith in Manassa Colorado – definately outside a temple. As far as I can tell it was not polygamous. Interestingly there was a letter later sent to the family by George Albert Smith saying the marriage and sealing were valid.

    Comment by Bruce Crow — June 30, 2011 @ 8:28 am

  11. Bruce, I’d love to know where that is documented. I am keeping a file on extra-temple temple stuff with the eye to perhaps write something up at some point.

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 30, 2011 @ 10:30 am

  12. All of the sources I found were quotes of Edith Westbrook Hunnicutt who had the Westbrook family records in her possession. She passed away 21 years ago, and I don’t know which of her children the records was passed on to. Since it was only tangentially related to my research at the time I didn’t track it down. But I’ll look around and see if I can find who has the records now.

    Comment by Bruce Crow — June 30, 2011 @ 12:02 pm

  13. Thanks Bruce.

    Comment by J. Stapley — June 30, 2011 @ 12:20 pm

  14. “. . . . politics has brought to the surface many strange exhibitions of feeling among members. . . .” I’m going to have to frame that and hang it on the wall. Maybe one of those painted-wood quotes for above the door. Ardis, were you just trying to provoke me?

    Comment by Grant — June 30, 2011 @ 12:31 pm

  15. Grant, I *was* a little surprised that nobody had jumped on that part of this column. Update the flowery language a little bit, and don’t you think it could be published as an editorial today?

    I was thinking of cross-stitching a pillow with that particular quotation … I could throw it at members who surfaced their strange exhibitions of feeling!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — June 30, 2011 @ 12:34 pm

  16. Yes. I may end up quoting it on my blog and I will certainly link back with due credit!

    Comment by Grant — June 30, 2011 @ 1:04 pm

  17. I just compared my copy of the journal of Lorenzo Brown (my third great-grandfather) with the records in New Family Search. The journal records his marriage to Frances Crosby on March 24, 1844, in Nauvoo as follows:

    We were married by President Joseph Smith for Time and Eternity, (a thing uncommon) on Sunday before meeting . . .

    New Family Search shows that the couple received their endowments on 12 January 1846 (which Lorenzo recorded in his journal: “Received my endowments also my wife[.] got this date from Bishop A H Raliegh* [sic]”) and sealed on 6 February 1846. But there’s no journal entry for the sealing.

    Which raises a couple of interesting questions–was the marriage by Joseph Smith somehow considered ineffective since it was performed outside the temple? Or is there something amiss in the records–is that 6 February 1846 date “good”? But I don’t know the answers.

    *I presume that this was Alonzo Hazelton Raleigh, who was later a bishop in Salt Lake City (and who also says that he received his endowments on that same date).

    Comment by Mark B. — June 30, 2011 @ 1:42 pm

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