Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » I Have More Questions, 1902

I Have More Questions, 1902

By: Ardis E. Parshall - September 28, 2011

George Q. Cannon, who was primarily responsible for answering queries in earlier volumes of the Juvenile Instructor, died in April, 1901. It is unclear who is providing the answers to queries in 1902.

If a sister is sick and desires to be administered to, is it right for another sister to anoint her and call on an Elder who may be present to seal and confirm the anointing?

If it is an ordinary anointing of the head, according to the established ordinances of the Church, it should be done by one holding the Priesthood; not by a sister when an Elder is present. It is clearly out of order to do so. The Scripture says: “is any sick among you, let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith shall save the sick.” James 5:14, 15.

There may be occasions of disease or accident when it is desirable that other parts of the body be anointed. it would be obviously improper for any but a sister to attend to such an anointing; but when this has been done, it is quite consistent for the Elders to anoint the head in the usual form, and then to seal the anointing.

If a child becomes eight years of age in the winter and baptism is postponed until warm weather, and the child dies in the meantime, is it necessary for that child to be baptized for, by proxy?

Yes, and the parents should not delay having the ordinance attended to. if they omit to do so, they place themselves under a very grave responsibility, for the Lord will not hold them guiltless, and they will have to bear the burden resulting from their neglect.

In some places good water for drinking purposes is very scarce, and as a consequence some of the Saints have got into the habit of drinking very weak tea, cooled with ice. Is this breaking the Word of Wisdom?

It was held by competent authority in the days of the Prophet Joseph Smith, was so preached by President Brigham Young, and is a doctrine of the Church today that the drinking of tea and coffee as beverages is contrary to the spirit and meaning of the Word of Wisdom and that they are the “hot drinks” more especially referred to in that revelation.

With this understanding it would be fair to presume that if the practice in the early days, when this revelation was given, had been to drink tea and coffee cold instead of hot, the wording of the revelation would have been slightly different from what it is, as the essence of its meaning, without doubt, is the habitual drinking of tea and coffee or any other stimulating beverage. Therefore to drink tea or coffee cold instead of hot with the idea that it is not a violation of the word of Wisdom because it is a cold drink, and not a hot drink when thus indulged in, would simply be an evasion.

But it is one thing to make a practice of drinking tea and coffee, and especially of taking those beverages strong, and another thing to drink tea or coffee as a medicine. All such things were created in the beginning for the wise use of man, and it is for the Saints to know what constitutes a wise use and to govern themselves accordingly. This is the spirit in which the revelation called the word of Wisdom should be understood and taught. But human nature is so frail that many are easily led to believe that they cannot do without certain things declared by the Lord to be not good; and the giving way to weaknesses of this kind generally results in the formation of habits which, too often indulged in, are injurious to the body.

There are in the Church children who have been baptized before they were quite eight years of age, the time varying from a few days to a month. Should such baptisms be considered valid, or should they be set aside and the ordinance repeated?

In reply we will say that it has been decided by the general authorities of the Church that such baptisms are valid; but they advise that all children should be baptized as near as possible when they are eight years old. It occasionally happens that the monthly baptism day comes a day or two before the eighth birthday of certain children, in which case their parents, eager to have their children baptized, have the ordinance performed. Some children are more advanced, both mentally and bodily, even at seven than others are at eight years old, consequently in our opinion a few days either before or after the eighth birthday makes but little, if any, difference. Indeed we would prefer to have a child baptized a few days before its eighth birthday than to have it go without the ordinance being attended to for some indefinite time after it had reached that age. None of us know what a day may bring forth, consequently we do not feel that it is wise or proper to put off or postpone any known duty.

Is order heaven’s first law?

No, obedience is heaven’s first law. Without obedience order cannot exist. Many seem to suppose that the saying “Order is heaven’s first law” is to be found in the Bible. This is a mistake; it is a quotation from the writings of the English poet, Pope.

This question has already been answered more tan once in our columns. Many questions sent in do not appear for this same reason – they have already been answered, in some cases again and again.

Paul (1 Cor. 14:34, 35) says: “Let your women keep silence in the churches; for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home; for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.”

Why do the Latter-day Saints ignore the apostolic instruction and encourage the women to speak, exhort and bear testimony in the public meetings of the Church?

The following is the version which the Prophet Joseph Smith gives of the passage quoted above:

“Let your women keep silence in the churches; for it is not permitted unto them to rule, but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home, for it is a shame for women to rule in the churches.”

The Apostle Paul here addresses himself to a custom which obtained in his day. In those times the Jewish women wore veils in public, and when they entered the synagogue they removed the veils, since a separate place was provided for them which kept them from the gaze of those from without the places reserved for women. They were simply asked to respect the law and customs of the Jews.

The Prophet Joseph uses the word rule instead of speak. This change is important when it is known that in those days women, Greek priestesses, presided at the oracles and other religious rites and therefore ruled in certain religious ceremonies. The Apostle Paul was addressing the Corinthians who lived in the center of Greece and no doubt a large part of those he addressed were of Greek nationality and disposed to confound the order of worship in their new faith with practices which existed in pagan Greece and by which women presided or ruled in the exercises of their religious rites.

Matthew 22:11 reads, “And when the king came to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment.” What is here meant by a wedding garment?

The wedding garment is the knowledge of having done all required of a saint to be worthy to enter the kingdom of heaven; that kingdom being typified in this parable of our Savior by the king who made a marriage for his son and invited the people to come to the wedding feast.

Should teachers prepare lessons during devotional exercises in the Sunday School?

No; preparations for the lesson should always be made at home. If a teacher’s attention is not with his class, he loses the influence and control that he would otherwise exercise over the students. Class discipline is always disturbed or greatly diminished when teachers allow their thoughts and feelings to dwell on matters foreign to the students and the class work. In other words, the teacher should always be with his class in thought and feeling. The teacher who sits before his class with his thoughts on them individually and collectively will be much more likely to gain the sympathy of his students and retain their attention. If he is with them, they are likely to be with him.

Does the Church sanction the marriage of cousins; if not, why are the Saints not advised to abstain from such marriages?

There are generally laws of the land that limit marriages to certain degrees of consanguinity; and within and including the third degree, marriages are prohibited by law in this country. The Church has never felt it necessary to be more strict in regard to the matter than the state. Whether cousins marry or not is largely a matter of their own feelings and views on the subject.



  1. But it is one thing to make a practice of drinking tea and coffee, and especially of taking those beverages strong, and another thing to drink tea or coffee as a medicine. All such things were created in the beginning for the wise use of man, and it is for the Saints to know what constitutes a wise use and to govern themselves accordingly. This is the spirit in which the revelation called the word of Wisdom should be understood and taught

    Wow. Allowing medicinal use of tea and coffee and early (pre-age 8 ) baptisms.

    Comment by Paul — September 28, 2011 @ 9:35 am

  2. Er — somehow my numeral 8 was converted into a snarky smiley face….

    Comment by Paul — September 28, 2011 @ 9:36 am

  3. What? We are supposed to prepare our lessons at home? That is sooooo 1902. I thought that’s why we have sacrament meeting first.

    Comment by -MMM- — September 28, 2011 @ 10:01 am

  4. Fixed. An “8” immediately followed by a “)” always does that. You have to leave a space or insert a period or something like that to prevent Mr. Wise Guy from showing up uninvited.

    Excedrin, with its heavy dose of caffeine, is the only over-the-counter remedy that seems to help my headaches. In the days before caffeine could be extracted from natural sources and added as an ingredient to other products (I assume that 1902 was before that was possible, although I don’t know for sure), I no doubt would have been very grateful for the reassurance that coffee could be used medicinally without violating the Word of Wisdom (and of course it’s *coffee*, not *caffeine*, that is barred by the WoW — identifying caffeine as the ingredient that puts coffee beyond the pale is an interpolation every bit as much as the old idea that it was the temperature that did, which led some people to avoid hot soups and other hot liquids of any kind. (I don’t mean to lecture you, Paul, who probably knows that as well as I do — I’m just using you as an excuse to air one of my pet peeves about the claims of people who add banned substances to the WoW because of caffeine content. And I hate carbonated beverages, so it isn’t my dependence on Coke or Mountain Dew or any other such that drives my peevishness!)

    The pre-age 8 baptisms surprised me — not necessarily the “rulings” on whether or not to accept them, but that parents sometimes jumped the gun, as well as this answer’s emphasis on performing the baptisms on the 8th birthday or as near after as humanly possible. I hadn’t realized that “baptize at age 8” meant, for some people, that absolute promptness the moment a child turned 8.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — September 28, 2011 @ 10:05 am

  5. MMM: Pffft! Why prepare in Sacrament Meeting? You have all that time while people are straggling into your class, reluctant to come because they know what to expect!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — September 28, 2011 @ 10:08 am

  6. The bit about women administering is interesting because it is anamolous. In 1901-1902 there were several such statements published in manuals and periodicals, which represented a dramtic change in policy of previous years and also were generally ignored in subsequent years.

    Comment by J. Stapley — September 28, 2011 @ 11:43 am

  7. In what way is the statement anamolous, J.? The part about preferring elders? Or the line about sisters anointing, um, other parts?

    I enjoyed your so-called peevishness about adding to the Word of Wisdom, Ardis. That paragraph expounding the whole cold vs. hot drink thing made my head swim (which isn’t necessarily hard to do, but still)!

    Comment by David Y. — September 28, 2011 @ 1:02 pm

  8. There was a Stake President in a land of Zion not too far from Utah and only 12 years ago who advised it was OK to issue a Temple recommend to an elderly sister who had a doctor’s note that she should drink coffee for medicinal reasons. I was fine with that once the Stake President said it was OK. The principle here being, I think, follow your authorized priesthood leaders- not some arbitrary list you got from your seminary teacher.

    Comment by Grant — September 28, 2011 @ 1:09 pm

  9. David Y., both men and women anointed body parts, though mentioning the propriety of intersexual anointings is pretty rare. The real anomoly is in the strong statement of the primacy of Elder’s over women.

    Comment by J. Stapley — September 28, 2011 @ 1:54 pm

  10. Ah, got it. Thanks, J.

    Comment by David Y. — September 28, 2011 @ 2:39 pm

  11. re:interpretations of the Word of Wisdom: there was a genealogy documentary shown here a while ago- ‘Going Home’- in which Donny Osmond went to Merthyr in Wales to learn about his ancestors who lived there before one family joined the Church and emigrated.

    Turned out that the membership in the town grew very fast when it emerged that the Mormons somehow managed to survive the typhoid which ravaged the town in the middle- to- end of the 1800’s. Donny was all excited, waiting for an opportunity to launch into an explanation of the WoW, when the researcher explained that the reason for the high survival rate was that the Branch met in the local pub and didn’t touch the water, but drank only ale as the result of instruction from the Branch President. Avoiding the local water saved their lives, the source of typhus not then being understood, but it was a very entertaining moment!

    Comment by Anne (UK) — September 28, 2011 @ 3:21 pm

  12. Oops!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — September 28, 2011 @ 3:36 pm

  13. My third child was anxious to be baptized as soon as she turned eight. Stake baptism day fell on her birthday. I thought she had been born in the late evening. For several years I thought she was technically baptized several hours before she actually turned eight. A month or so ago I found her birth certificate that listed time if birth pretty much exactly the time her baptism was scheduled. Way for her to plan that out in advance! Her nature is to attend to every last detail.

    Comment by Dovie — September 28, 2011 @ 8:22 pm

  14. The good Dr. Pepper can cure what ails me. While a bit off subject, what would be said/is said about medicinal marijuana? Would the same advice apply?

    I found the statement on baptizing the almost-eights interesting. It reminded me of when we were baptizing my son and planning a date when my in-laws could come out. My mother-in-law suggested we baptize him a couple of weeks before his birthday so that it would fit their schedule better. We told that couldn’t be done. Her reply, in all seriousness, was well, you are in a branch so I thought they could baptize early in branches. News to us. :-)

    Comment by Steve C. — September 28, 2011 @ 8:34 pm

  15. Great stuff here. I din’t know that the fixed custom of monthly baptisms existed so early. I thought the reference to the JST was interesting, too, as I thought the JST wasn’t available to the Church until the 1970’s or so.

    I guess that’s why I’m the least of the commenters here.

    Comment by The Other Clark — September 29, 2011 @ 10:43 am

  16. The monthly baptism bit surprised me, too, because it goes against what I’ve seen in some places much later than that. There used to be periodic round-ups in central/southern Utah, for instance, into the 30s at least, to corral kids who were 9 or 10 but hadn’t been baptized, to take them down to some irrigation ditch and do a mass of baptisms. The monthly service may not have been permanently established, or only became a custom in certain areas, until some later point when it became a church-wide thing.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — September 29, 2011 @ 10:53 am

  17. Some children are more advanced, both mentally and bodily, even at seven than others are at eight years old, consequently in our opinion a few days either before or after the eighth birthday makes but little, if any, difference.

    This brings to mind Heber J. Grant’s baptism, although he was baptized more than five months prior to his eighth birthday.

    Comment by Justin — October 3, 2011 @ 2:49 pm

  18. Interesting that this discussion is coming up again. I spent some time last night checking to make sure that my genealogical records are accurate and noticed a couple of late seven year old baptisms. In one case, the ancestor was baptized and confirmed in “Jan” and the person who recorded that in the genealogy program changed it to “Jun,” which was after the eighth birthday. I guess whoever did that figured the baptism couldn’t have happened before the child turned eight and that it must have been a typo. (Which it wasn’t.)

    Comment by Researcher — October 3, 2011 @ 3:12 pm

  19. @ Justin #17. Considering his prowess at checkers, it’s obvious he was mentally mature enough for the ordinance :-)

    Comment by The Other Clark — October 3, 2011 @ 3:26 pm

  20. “Church-wide” should not be understood as meaning that it happens everywhere. Here in New York, where most of the children go inactive before reaching eight years*, baptisms usually are held the weekend after a child turns eight, and each ward or branch holds separate baptismal services.

    *Ok, what really happens is that their parents leave the city, and take their children with them. So, they’re not “active” in our ward anymore.

    Comment by Mark B. — October 3, 2011 @ 3:33 pm

  21. I’m not the only one who jumps when Justin shows up — look at the conversation he can start with an old post!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — October 3, 2011 @ 3:39 pm

  22. #19, ’tis likely so (child of promise, etc.). Plus, he avoided a cold baptism in late November.

    Comment by Justin — October 4, 2011 @ 8:19 am

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