I Have a Question

Print Share

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

    What kinds of nonchurch activities are proper in Church meetinghouse facilities?

    Elder John H. Vandenberg, Assistant to the Council of the Twelve Church meetinghouses are provided for worship, religious instruction, and for the educational and cultural development programs of the Church. Most of these buildings include a chapel for worship services, classrooms for instruction purposes, and a cultural area for drama, music, dance, and sports activities. When the schedule of the cultural hall, multipurpose area, or classrooms allows, local priesthood leaders may authorize their use by organizations or individuals for one-time occasions such as wedding receptions, family reunions, civic events, etc. These activities should be scheduled on days other than the Sabbath. The arrangements should not interfere with the regular Church use of the building.

    Civic or charitable groups may use the facility, provided their meetings and activities conform to the standards of the Church and in no way produce subversive actions toward local governments. Meetinghouse facilities are not to be used for political rallies or for meetings by political parties or candidates, directly or indirectly, for the purpose of promoting their candidacy. This restriction also applies to organizations posing as nonpolitical, but which in fact promote controversial issues or promote or oppose candidates for public office.

    On occasion, permission for temporary usage has been given to school districts whose facilities have been damaged by fire or natural casualty. The Church and its people have extended support to community needs in this manner.

    Each request for any of these uses is considered and authorized on an individual basis according to procedures outlined in the Physical Facilities Handbook provided to local priesthood leaders. The users are invited to share actual expenses for such use. It is expected that Church standards of behavior will be maintained in the buildings and on the grounds at all times.

    I don’t want to delve into mysteries, and I realize that this may be a matter of speculation, but I would like to know, is Jesus the Creator and Redeemer of other worlds besides this one?

    Robert G. Mouritsen, college curriculum writer, Church Education System When we seek to better understand the life and ministry of the Son of God, we are not delving into the mysteries, nor is it a matter of speculation. The scriptures inform us that “this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3; italics added.) The Prophet Joseph Smith said of this passage that “if any man does not know … he will realize that he has not eternal life; for there can be eternal life on no other principle.” (Teachings, p. 344.) Searching to know God and Christ, to learn their will, and to submit thereto is the paramount quest of our religion. Of this, President Marion G. Romney has written: “All who have a true concept of Jesus Christ and who have received a witness by the spirit of his divinity … see in all that he said and did confirmation of his universal Lordship, both as Creator and Redeemer.” (Improvement Era, November 1968, p. 48.)

    Jesus was the firstborn of the Father from the beginning. In a statement issued in 1916, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve said: “Among the spirit children of Elohim the firstborn was and is … Jesus Christ to whom all others are juniors.” (James R. Clark, ed., Messages of the First Presidency, Bookcraft, 1971, 5:33.) He was the birthright son, and he retained that birthright by his strict obedience. Through the aeons and ages of premortality, he advanced and progressed until, as Abraham described, he stood as one “like unto God.” (Abr. 3:24.) “Our Savior was a God before he was born into this world,” wrote President Joseph Fielding Smith, “and he brought with him that same status when he came here. He was as much a God when he was born into the world as he was before.” (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:32.) In that premortal estate, Jesus was, under the Father, the Creator and Redeemer of the Father’s worlds. Enoch had learned, “were it possible that man could number the particles of the earth, yea, millions of earths like this, it would not be a beginning to the number of thy creations.” (Moses 7:30.) The Lord taught Moses: “Worlds without number have I created; … and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten.” (Moses 1:33.) Moses was not given an account of all these worlds, but he was told who their Creator was. Joseph Smith was told who their Savior was: “The Lord is God, and beside him there is no Savior. … By him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God.” (D&C 76:1, 24.) The Prophet clarified these passages in a poem that he published in 1843:

    For the Lord he is God, and his life never ends,
    And besides him there ne’er was a Saviour of men. …
    He’s the Saviour, and only begotten of God—
    By him, of him, and through him, the worlds were all made,
    Even all that career in the heavens so broad,
    Whose inhabitants, too, from the first to the last,
    Are sav’d by the very same Saviour of ours;
    And, of course, are begotten God’s daughters and sons,
    By the very same truths, and the very same pow’rs.”

    (Times and Seasons 4:82–85.)

    Elder Bruce R. McConkie has written a clear statement on the universal Lordship of Jesus: “Now our Lord’s jurisdiction and power extend far beyond the limits of this one small earth on which we dwell. He is, under the Father, the Creator of worlds without number. (Moses 1:33.) And … the atonement of Christ, being literally and truly infinite, applies to an infinite number of earths.” Again, “Just as the creative and redemptive powers of Christ extend to the earth and all things thereon, as also to the infinite expanse of worlds in immensity, so the power of the resurrection is universal in scope. Man, the earth, and all life thereon will come forth in the resurrection. And the resurrection applies to and is going on in other worlds and other galaxies.” (Mormon Doctrine, Bookcraft, 1966, pp. 65, 642.) President Marion G. Romney summarized the whole concept of Jesus’ universal ministry in these words: “Jesus Christ, in the sense of being its Creator and Redeemer, is the Lord of the whole universe. Except for his mortal ministry accomplished on this earth, his service and relationship to other worlds and their inhabitants are the same as his service and relationship to this earth and its inhabitants. … Implicit in the scriptures is the fact that the surest, if not the only, way to understand Jesus the Lord of the universe is to obtain an understanding of his relationship to this world and its inhabitants. … I bear my own witness that these great testimonies to the fact that Jesus Christ is the Lord of the universe are true, that he is also our Savior, and that the gospel of Jesus Christ is universal—the only plan by which men ever have been or ever can be exalted.” (Improvement Era, November 1968, pp. 46–49.)

    Some of my friends think it is acceptable to drink water while fasting. Is this so?

    Russell M. Nelson, General President of the Sunday School Fasting is a very personal matter, usually done with a specific concern in mind. Therefore, the purpose of the fast and the special considerations of the individual involved govern the motivation and the nature of the fast.

    Most of us fast in conjunction with our membership in the Church and its law of the fast. Generally speaking, there are three purposes for such a fast. First is to increase humility and spirituality of the individual fasting. Second is to provide assistance to the needy by contributing fast offerings equivalent to the value of the food which has not been consumed. Third, physical benefits may be derived personally.

    In the General Handbook of Instructions (1968, p. 40), we read, “A proper fast day observance consists of abstaining from food and drink for two consecutive meals, attending the fast and testimony meeting, and making a generous offering to the bishop for the care of those in need.” Thus, the use of water is excluded in this kind of a fast.

    Now, a word of caution—some fallaciously reason that if a little of anything is good, a lot is better. The inadvisability of excessive fasting was explained in some detail in the June 1972 Priesthood Bulletin, “We are informed that some … engage in rather lengthy fasting. It is not advisable that they do this. If there is a special matter for which they should fast, if they would fast one day and then go to the Lord humbly and ask for his blessings, that should suffice.” Moreover, Joseph F. Smith wisely counseled, “Many are subject to weakness, others are delicate in health, and others have nursing babies; of such it should not be required to fast. Neither should parents compel their little children to fast.” (Gospel Doctrine, p. 244.)

    The generous offering to the bishop is understood to represent the financial equivalent of at least two meals. A liberal donation so reserved and dedicated to the poor is ennobling to the soul and helps one develop charity, one of the greatest attributes of a noble human character. (See 1 Cor. 13.)

    The personal benefits derived from fasting are substantial. The scriptures tell us that a certain kind of devil goes not out except by fasting and prayer. (See Matt. 17:21.) The supremacy of the spirit over the appetites of the body is affirmed by the mental discipline of fasting. This strength fortifies us in our combat with other temptations prompted by physical appetites that, if uncontrolled, would be destructive to our welfare. While some have physical conditions that preclude fasting, most people are not excluded on this basis. To me, a successfully completed period of fasting from food and drink on fast day brings a degree of self-confidence. Fasting is real evidence to oneself and to his maker of gratitude for the gift of health and strength which permits one to be able to fast. Surely this is a great privilege and blessing.

    Should mentally retarded children be baptized?

    Josiah Douglas, supervisor of Special Curriculum for the Church The Lord has said that a normal child begins to become accountable before him “when eight years old.” (D&C 68:27.) He is held accountable before God for his acts because he knows right from wrong and can use his agency to choose and do good or evil.

    The Lord said in D&C 29:46–47: “But behold, I say unto you, that little children are redeemed from the foundation of the world through mine Only Begotten;

    “Wherefore, they cannot sin, for power is not given unto Satan to tempt little children, until they begin to become accountable before me.” Children who develop normally begin to become accountable at eight years old and should be baptized. What should be the procedure for those children who are mentally retarded?

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints General Handbook of Instructions given to the priesthood leaders gives the following information concerning persons who are not accountable. “Persons who are not accountable and cannot knowingly repent need not be baptized, no matter what their age. They should be included as members of record with the notation ‘Not accountable’ recorded under the heading for baptism. If they become accountable, they can then be baptized.” (1968, p. 85.)

    Mental retardation includes a large range of abilities and disabilities from almost normal to completely incapacitated. Many mentally retarded persons are above the mental level of eight years, and as the General Handbook of Instructions directs, if such persons become accountable “they can then be baptized.” Other, more severely retarded, children will never be accountable. It is the responsibility of those who are appointed “Judges in Israel” to make inspired decisions concerning accountability. When this judgment is made, parents should feel assured that the Lord will give the retarded person every opportunity and blessing promised to the faithful.

    It appears that those who pass through mortality without having become accountable retain the status of innocence spoken of by Mormon: “For behold that all little children are alive in Christ, and also all they that are without the law. For the power of redemption cometh on all them that have no law; wherefore, he that is not condemned, or he that is under no condemnation, cannot repent; and unto such baptism availeth nothing.” (Moro. 8:22.)

    The Prophet Joseph Smith described the condition of children who die and have not reached the age of accountability. “And I also beheld that all children who die before they arrive at the years of accountability are saved in the Celestial Kingdom of Heaven.” (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2:381.) Temple ordinances for mentally retarded persons who are deceased, however, are performed on the same basis as they are for any deceased person—without consideration of mental retardation.

    The Lord leaves us with the final answer: “And, again, I say unto you, that whoso having knowledge, have I not commanded to repent?

    “And he that hath no understanding, it remaineth in me to do according as it is written.” (D&C 29:49–50.)