Q. We have received communications at different times asking questions about raffling, and the propriety of the practice.
A. In answering them, we do not wish to make any application to any particular case or to any association or society that may have gotten up raffles or that may be engaged in doing so for the frequently good purposes with which such proceedings are associated. But speaking in general upon the practice of raffling, we wish to say that it is not approved of by the authorities of the Church. We think it ought not to be encouraged among our people, no matter how worthy the various purposes or persons that may be urged as beneficiaries from its profits or proceeds. We regard it an especially bad practice to introduce among children. It comes very close indeed to a form of gambling – it at least teaches those who engage in it to build hopes on mere chances, the great majority of which, of course, cannot help but be futile in the very nature of things. If it does not actually come within the definition of gambling as prohibited by present law, we recall a time in this community when it was so regarded. This shows that it is a questionable practice, even from this point of view.
But there is no need to multiply words in discussing this phase of the subject, or to advance reasons for the views above expressed. It is sufficient to say that it is not regarded as a good practice; it is not attended with good results and ought not to be encouraged among our people.
Q. An Idaho correspondent submits the following question: “Why do we ordain boys twelve or fourteen years old to the office of Deacon, when Paul says to Timothy in his first Epistle, iii, 12: ‘Let the Deacons be the husbands of one wife’?”
A. Paul in referring to the branches of the Church as then organized had in mind adults who had been ordained. Probably in those branches, the most of the members, if not all, were newly converted, none had been born in the Church who were at that time old enough to hold the Priesthood. With our Elders even in these days it is a very uncommon thing to ordain, while out in the world, very young men to any office. Mature men are frequently ordained as Deacons and act as such. But the circumstances which surround us here in Zion are entirely different form those which surrounded the Saints in the days of Paul, and of which he wrote. There is no impropriety whatever in young men, even as early as at the age of twelve or fourteen years, acting as Deacons. They receive a training that is very valuable to them, and we know of many who have been and are greatly benefitted by acting in this position, meeting with the Deacons’ quorum and receiving such instructions as are proper to be imparted to them in this capacity. The cases to which Paul refers, therefore, and those that exist in Zion, are not at all parallel. All who have had experience among the young Deacons of the Church are doubtless convinced of the propriety of ordaining our boys early, if worthy, that they may become thoroughly familiar one by one with the duties of the various offices and grades of the Priesthood.
Q. We are requested to give answers, through the columns of the Instructor, to the following questions:
“1.– Has a Priest, Teacher or Deacon a right to lay on hands for the healing of the sick, alone, or in connection with others?
“2. – On page 126 of the Doctrine and Covenants, paragraph 58, it says: ‘But neither Teachers nor Deacons have authority to baptize, administer the sacrament or lay on hands.’ What does ‘lay on hands’ mean in this connection – for the sick or for the gift of the Holy Ghost?”
A. If the correspondent offering these questions had been a careful reader of this paper he would have seen, less than a year ago, a reply to his first query, which may also be taken as an answer to the second.
Q. Would it be advisable to have a teachers’ class during the Sunday School?
A. It is seldom practicable, because during the Sunday School session the teachers are required to be with their own classes, and it is very rarely that there are any more of them than are thus needed. The advisability of teachers’ classes will not be disputed – there is always much to learn and the true teacher will be always learning. The hours of Sunday School, however, should be by teachers devoted to giving, rather than to receiving, instruction.
Q. Would you not encourage the children of those who are not of our faith to attend our Sunday Schools?
Q. Most assuredly. Hundreds of Elders go abroad to the nations of the earth each year bearing a message of salvation for the souls of mankind, young and old. Shall our own neighbors who are not of our faith be neglected in this regard merely because they are near at hand and are not utter strangers to us? The thought is absurd; and no teacher who realizes the value which the Father places upon a human soul will be indifferent to a single one of these little ones; be their parentage or training what it may.
Q. Is it necessary for a male teacher in the Sunday School to hold the Priesthood?
A. Perhaps not absolutely necessary; but inasmuch as a man who is fit to be a Sunday School teacher is also worthy of some portion of the Priesthood, there would seem to be very little reason in raising the question. A case can hardly be conceived in the organized Stakes of Zion where such an anomaly cannot be avoided.