Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » I Have More Questions, 1895

I Have More Questions, 1895

By: Ardis E. Parshall - September 16, 2011

More questions presumably answered by George Q. Cannon as editor of the Juvenile Instructor

Is it permissible or according to the order of the Church for a widow who is sealed to her husband to be married by the Bishop? Can she do so without breaking her covenants which she made when in the Temple?

We answer: A widow can be thus married, if the man is a member of the Church, without breaking any covenant that she has made in the House of the Lord. Her new husband receives her for this life through the ministration of one holding the Holy Priesthood, and the Bishop’s act in thus uniting the couple does not infringe upon the rights or authority of the man who holds the keys of the eternal sealing blessings of the Church. Indeed, a question has arisen in some minds as to whether it is at all necessary for those to be united for time only to go to a Temple to be married, as all the rites and ceremonies performed in Temples naturally and properly belong to eternity, as do all things that pertain to God and the Gospel. the wording of a sealing ordinance that unites a man and woman in the covenant of holy matrimony (or celestial marriage) is evidently intended for eternal union, and it is not as appropriate when spoken to those who will only remain together in this life and will be united with others in eternity.

Indeed there are certain circumstances that make it permissible for even single persons who have received their endowments (or where only one has) to be united by a Church official; there, for instance, they reside at a great distance from a Temple and their circumstances are such that they cannot obtain the means to take them there. But such cases should be jealously guarded; no feeling should be permitted to grow in the hearts of our young folks that it is as well or equally proper to be married in this way as in the House of the Lord, and when such a ceremony is performed it should be with the full understanding that the couple thus married will at their earliest opportunity go to a Temple and have the sealing ceremony performed in their behalf.

We learn that a practice has sprung up in at least one of the wards, of reading the names at the fast meetings of those who draw donations and those who make donations to the poor, and that in consequence of this, some who are poor have their feelings hurt.

While it is proper that every encouragement should be given to the Saints to be liberal in their fast offerings to the poor, it is neither discreet nor necessary to read the list of donations in public meeting. To do so might bring us in conflict with the teachings of the Savior where He says:

“Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. * * * But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth.

“That thine alms may be in secret, and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.”

We have received a communication upon the subject of administering the sacrament to Sunday schools on fast days. The reason for asking this question, we are informed, is that it is contemplated by some of the superintendents of the Sunday schools to appoint the Sabbath as a fast day, and the question is asked, Would it be proper to administer the sacrament on those days, or should it be omitted?

There would be no impropriety in administering the sacrament on fast days to those who are entitled to receive it, and the partaking of the sacrament by those who are fasting would not be considered as a violation of the fast. The partaking of the bread and the contents of the cup under such circumstances would be quite proper, and has been the custom in the Church upon frequent occasions when fast days have been appointed.

As to the propriety of appointing Sunday as a fast day for the children we take the view that it should be very well considered before deciding upon it, as the children should be taught, where they can do so, to join in the fast that is observed by the whole Church, namely, the first Thursday in every month.

One of the brethren writes to us concerning the promise given in the revelation on the Word of Wisdom, “and shall run and not be weary and walk and not faint,” and asks whether this is to be understood as having a merely physical meaning, or, has it a spiritual meaning? He informs us that there has been some argument concerning this in Sunday School.

In answer, we say that this promise is intended to apply to both man’s physical and mental powers. The effect of keeping the Word of Wisdom is very great and beneficial upon man both physically and spiritually, and those who have seen those effects must be satisfied that the word of the Lord upon this point is fulfilled.

We are asked if it is true doctrine to teach that those who hold the Priesthood now in the flesh, held it in the spirit world before they came here. Our correspondent informs us that some are advocating in quorum meetings that all who hold the Priesthood now held it before they were born into this world.

We might ask: “Suppose this is true, of what use is it, and how are people benefited by teaching it?”

We know that men must be ordained by those having authority in the flesh, or they cannot legally officiate in any of the ordinances which belong to the Priesthood. Even the Prophet Joseph and Oliver Cowdery, after being ordained by the heavenly messenger, John the Baptist, to the Aaronic Priesthood, were commanded afterwards to ordain each other. But in reply to the question as to the correctness of this doctrine, we have to say that we know of nothing that has been revealed and written which warrants any one in teaching as doctrine, that men who hold the Priesthood here were ordained to the Priesthood before they came here. Such ideas should not be advanced in public or in private.



  1. “Suppose this is true, of what use is it, and how are people benefited by teaching it?”

    We have a winner!

    Comment by Mark B. — September 16, 2011 @ 7:23 am

  2. It’s interesting that the fast day used to be Thursday. I would think that would have been hard at a time when most people were presumably doing manual labor during the week.

    Comment by E. Wallace — September 16, 2011 @ 7:46 am

  3. We should have that embroidered and hanging on every classroom in the church!

    E., I remember reading something from the 1870s about farmers saving light tasks for fast day — mending harness or sorting nails or doing accounts — for exactly that reason. Probably the major reason for the shift from Thursday to Sunday was that more and more people were working for employers rather than themselves and therefore couldn’t get Thursday time to attend fast meeting. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the same loss of control of their own tasks and time — employers that didn’t necessarily allow light physical labor on a given day — was also significant.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — September 16, 2011 @ 8:03 am

  4. Oh man, there was a separate fast meeting on Thursday?? I need to stop complaining about the number and length of my church meetings… Hey, maybe that’s what reading the names of charitable givers and receivers was all about – incentive to show up!

    Comment by E. Wallace — September 16, 2011 @ 8:30 am

  5. Heh, heh! Yeah. IIRC, and I may not, the first fast and testimony meeting was held in Nauvoo, on a Thursday because the coming Thursday happened to be the most convenient day for Joseph Smith … and somehow monthly Thursday fasts became a regular feature. Thursdays were regular work days for most people — it wasn’t like a second day of rest — and they were asked to attend a fast and testimony meeting late in the morning before breaking their fasts.

    19th century Mormonism wasn’t for sissies!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — September 16, 2011 @ 9:12 am

  6. #1: Amen.

    Comment by Paul — September 16, 2011 @ 9:41 am

  7. I found the answer to the first question to be interesting. By inserting the caveat that it’s not a violation of sealing covenants for a sealed widow to remarry if she marries a church member, that implies that it would be a violation of the covenant if she marries a nonmember. While there are reasons that interfaith marriage is discouraged, I don’t see how marrying a nonmember after being widowed would violate any covenant. A marriage for time only is a marriage for time only regardless of the religion of the new spouse.

    Any idea what Brother Cannon is getting at here?

    Comment by Keri Brooks — September 16, 2011 @ 9:53 am

  8. I’ve seen several references to fast meetings in Kirtland. E.g., here is a bit from Lorenzo Snow’s family biography (ch. 2, p. 12):

    Public meetings were regularly held in the [Kirtland] Temple, after its dedication, on Sundays; and on the first Thursday in each month a fast meeting, commencing at or before 10 a.m., and closing at 4 p.m.

    Comment by J. Stapley — September 16, 2011 @ 10:08 am

  9. Keri, the wording of the endowment covenants used to be different.

    Comment by J. Stapley — September 16, 2011 @ 10:09 am

  10. I think Arrington in Great Basin Kingdom wrote about the economic activities of the saints on Fast Thursdays. I’ve not read as much as you have Ardis, so it may be it several other sources too.

    Comment by Bruce Crow — September 16, 2011 @ 10:30 am

  11. I have extracts from church leader correspondence of the 20th century constantly reassuring nosy brothers and concerned sisters-in-law that honorable marriage *is* honorable, regardless of whether a church member had been previously sealed to a spouse, or even endowed but never previously married. Apparently like many practices that have changed, this one lingered on for a few generations, creating consternation among many.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — September 16, 2011 @ 10:33 am

  12. Reading off the names of those who receive fast offerings, we don’t do that anymore?!?

    Wow, my branch is going to be in trouble then…

    Comment by Stan W — September 16, 2011 @ 10:41 am

  13. As far as reading the names of both those who drew on fast offerings as well as those who donated, I noticed that the answer really only shows disapproval of reading the names of the donors. I guess it’s still okay to read the names of those receiving? No shame in that, apparently. I wonder of GQC thought that the poor who couldn’t donate had their feelings hurt, not the poor who had to use fast offerings.

    Comment by kevinf — September 16, 2011 @ 12:34 pm

  14. Background info on Thursday (and any other day of the week) Fast Days. Looks like the changing thereof to Fast Sunday is partly our fault.

    Comment by Anne (UK) — September 17, 2011 @ 3:40 am

  15. That’s called “credit,” Anne, not “fault.” The switch was a good thing!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — September 17, 2011 @ 7:17 am

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