I Have a Question

Elder Loren C. Dunn

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    Questions of general gospel interest—answered for general guidance, not as official statements of Church policy.

    Should all young men who are worthy go on missions?

    The scriptures speak of missionary service more in terms of an expression of the soul than just a particular period of time.

    “Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work” (D&C 4:3) might well be a call to all Church members to serve God by thinking and praying and acting like missionaries in their everyday lives.

    The admonition “… it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor” (D&C 88:81) can and should be fulfilled by every family in the Church through friendshiping a nonmember family until such time as the hearts of that family are ready to hear the gospel. Then they can be taught by either stake or full-time missionaries or the two working as a team.

    When a young man approaches the age of 19, he should be interested in preparing for a full-time mission, both spiritually and financially. He should go if he is worthy, if he is emotionally and physically able to stand the rigors of full-time missionary service. In this context, every able and worthy young man should be willing to go on a full-time mission providing his local priesthood leaders recommend him and the Lord through the President of the Church extends the call.

    What have our authorities said about the account in Joshua 10:12–14 about the sun standing still? What is known about it by anyone? [Josh. 10:12–14]

    In his book Evidences and Reconciliations (Bookcraft, Inc., 1960), pp. 129–30, John A. Widtsoe says that: “A miracle is an occurrence which, first, cannot be repeated at will by man, or, second, is not understood in its cause and effect relationship.” If it is repeatable at will by man or explainable to the mind of man, it loses its miraculous connotation. Oddly enough, we take for granted today that man can walk in space or on the moon, control space probes millions of miles from earth, destroy a city by the use of a single bomb, save lives by controlling disease, and we regard these as nonmiraculous! But if we had lived one hundred years ago and someone had told us that he had heard his brother’s voice from a distance of one hundred miles or had seen a picture of him moving about at the very time he was talking to him, we would have accepted these as miraculous, if we felt that we could even believe our informant. It seems that we only feel uncomfortable mentally when we, by human power, cannot understand.

    Elder Widtsoe continues: “A miraculous event, properly authenticated, must be accepted as any other occurrence. An explanation of a miracle must however be held in doubt until fully confirmed by acceptable knowledge. … There is no good reason to doubt the historicity of this event, that during the battle between Israel and the Amorites, daylight was extended far beyond the usual limits of day. …

    “Divine power may stop the rotation of the earth, let that be clearly accepted, but it certainly may have at its command other means for extending the hours of light in a day.” Daylight lasted through a night in the Book of Mormon on another occasion. (3 Ne. 1:15–21.)

    “The real quibble in the field of miracles,” says Elder Widtsoe, “arises over the intervention of divine power in the affairs of men. As to this, Latter-day Saints can take but one side, for they believe in the existence of God, whose intelligence permeates the universe. They believe that divine power and intelligence may and do help weak humanity, true sons and daughters of God.”

    It is interesting that prophets in both the Book of Mormon and the Old Testament warn against adopting a monarchy. Why didn’t a system of kings work out in the Old Testament period?

    As one reads the brief records in the books of Kings and Chronicles, most of the kings are introduced with a phrase such as “and he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord,” or “and he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord.” Saul, David, and Solomon each had their periods of righteousness, and each fell because of evil practices. However, the divided kingdoms really explain why the kings did not succeed in the Old Testament. Of the 17 kings who reigned in divided Israel, Jeroboam, the first to reign, did both good and evil. Thirteen others are labeled as evil, and no comment is made of the other three, but their reigns were short. Of the 20 kings who reigned in the divided kingdom of Judah, nine are labeled as good and nine are labeled as evil. The two who are not labeled also had brief reigns. Each kingdom was destroyed and captured following a number of successive evil kings.

    The Book of Mormon gives us a further explanation of this form of government in King Mosiah’s great sermon. (Mosiah 29.) The principles involved include:

    1. If it were possible to have “just men to be your kings, who would establish the laws of God, and judge this people according to his commandment,” it would be “expedient that ye should always have kings to rule over you.” (Mosiah 29:13.)

    2. Because all men are not just, it is not expedient that a king should rule over them, for one wicked king causes much iniquity and great destruction. (Mosiah 29:16–17.)

    3. You cannot dethrone “an iniquitous king save it be through much contention and the shedding of much blood” because of his having “friends in iniquity and his guards about him; and he teareth up the laws of those who have reigned in righteousness before him. …” (Mosiah 29:21–22.)

    4. The king enacts laws according to his own wickedness and destroys those who do not obey or rebel against him, thus perverting the ways of all righteousness. (Mosiah 29:23.)

    The book of Ether is a second witness to these principles. The brother of Jared, when his people desired a king, protested: “Surely this thing leadeth into captivity.” (Ether 6:23.) His prophetic warning was fulfilled in the second generation of monarchy.

    Thus, monarchy in the Old Testament period did not work primarily because evil men rose to the throne.

    My son does not want to go to college. I would like him to go to Brigham Young University or Ricks, or at least someplace where there is an institute of religion, so he can find LDS friends. If he chooses not to go to college, what avenues are open to him for association with other LDS youth?

    I have often thought that the response the Prophet Joseph Smith made to the question on how he governed his followers applies equally well to our associations with our children. Remember, his statement was, “I teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves.”

    Every parent hopes and prays his teachings have been adequate when the time arrives for his children to assume the responsibility of making their own personal decisions. Teaching and encouraging our children is a continuing process but should not go beyond the point where it is necessary for them to make their own personal decisions.

    College is not for everyone. However, planning, preparing, and determining a course which will allow us to make a contribution to mankind must be a part of everyone’s preparation for life. It is the untrained who finds difficulty in obtaining employment.

    One of the charges given to the leaders of the Melchizedek Priesthood MIA was that equal opportunities must be provided for both the student and the non-student alike. Religious training, service, and social programs are to be available to all single members of the Church through their priesthood quorums, Relief Societies, or combined activities. A structure has been established in every ward or branch of the Church that will make certain the needs of each member are served.

    Perhaps not many realize that we have institutes of religion associated not only with colleges and universities, but also with trade, technical, and business schools. In addition, approximately 250 of our 436 institutes of religion offer night courses for those who work during the day.

    Remember, it is not important where your children have the opportunity to associate in the programs and activities of the Church—it is only important that they do participate.

    Every individual should be encouraged to avail himself of the programs and associations which will cause him to mature spiritually, in order that he may find the joy and satisfaction of a well-balanced life.