The “Saved by Grace” Issue

I appreciated the answer by Jack Weyland to the question “When nonmembers say we’re not Christians” (January 1985 issue). I have found an additional approach to be effective when dealing with the “saved by grace” criticism of our doctrine.

I concentrate on Paul’s statement in Ephesians 2:8–9, [Eph. 2:8–9] making sure that my friend understands the two key words in the scripture—“through faith.” I emphasize that Paul was telling us that only through faith is Christ’s grace effective in our behalf for our salvation. Then I use an analogy. If Paul were talking about buses, he might have said, “By this bus you can get to Los Angeles (grace) but only through getting on it (faith).”

When my friend and I can agree that faith is integral for Christ’s grace to be effective in our quest for salvation, I refer to James’ statements on faith and works. I mention that when Paul spoke of works, he referred to the works of the law of Moses, while James referred to Christian service.

If my listener and I are still communicating well, I lead into the Book of Mormon and the scripture in 2 Nephi 25:23, “For we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do,” and point out that Paul, James, and Nephi are all in perfect agreement. [2 Ne. 25:23]

Gerald G. Steorts Placentia, California

Popular Music

The March 1985 issue was excellent. It had so many appropriate and helpful articles—especially the inspired article by Lex de Azevedo on popular music. I gave my copy to a nonmember friend who has been discouraged about her children listening to rock music. We also used the article for our family home evening. It caused our twelve-year-old son to reflect, and then to voluntarily erase some of the music he felt was objectionable on his own tapes. Thank you for this insight into such timely issues.

The Ensign plays a vital part in the lives of those of us who live so far from Church headquarters. The conference issues are like gold to us, since we don’t get to see general conference on television. Thank you for continually lifting our spirits.

Pinkie Ratliff Brussels, Belgium

The Return of Joy

In March, I found myself going through one of the most trying times of my life. My patriarchal blessing assured me that I had a “joyful” spirit, and I had always thought of myself as a happy person and a good mother. Yet for months I had been in the depths of despair, thinking that my husband and children could never fulfill my needs. I didn’t like being a mother any more. The joys of marriage and motherhood had left my home.

One morning as I was groping for hope, I opened my February Ensign and turned to Faye Daley’s article on motherhood. There was a beautiful picture of a mother’s joyous face as she hugged a chubby-cheeked little girl about the age of my own baby boy. The magical message of that picture awakened a familiar feeling in me that had, until then, lain dormant for some time.

Suddenly, I felt the happy, contented feeling that I used to feel often, when my children were the light of my life. I read the article through tears of regret and appreciation that another mother could have feelings so like my own—and that she would take the time to write them and send them in for publication to uplift my wounded spirit so far away.

I realized then that the joys of marriage and motherhood had not left my home, but only my heart, and that the power and potential was within me to once again create the cheerful, loving home that we had once enjoyed.

For the first time in months, I found myself singing, “You can make the pathway bright, Fill the soul with heaven’s light, If there’s sunshine in your heart …”

Jeanne Pierson Cardston, Alberta

The Alice Clark Story

I want to thank you for the article on Alice T. Clark in the March Ensign. You will never know how that article influenced me in decisions I have been trying to make following my own painful divorce after thirty-five years of marriage.

Thank you for “saying it like it is” rather than glossing over actualities. I appreciate your talking about Sister Clark’s divorce and not just saying that she’s “been alone” for years. We are all inspired by Alice Clark’s accomplishments.

Norma Dee Ryan Bellevue, Washington

Are Secretaries in the Presidency?

In the March 1985 Ensign, in the article “Striving Together: A Conversation with the Relief Society General Presidency,” is a picture of Sister Winder; her counselors, Sister Evans and Sister Doxey; and Sister Spencer, secretary-treasurer. The caption for the picture reads: “Members of the Relief Society General Presidency gather in President Barbara W. Winder’s office.” Isn’t it true that in priesthood quorums and auxiliaries, the secretary is not considered a member of the presidency?

John W. Gross Brandon, Manitoba

Ed.: Secretaries and secretary-treasurers of organizations within the Church are not set apart or sustained as members of presidencies.

Risks of Amniocentesis

The article “A Doctor Looks at Amniocentesis” in the April issue didn’t talk about the risks or the pain involved when amniocentesis is performed, nor did it mention the faith that we should all have.

My last child could have been miscarried had I had this procedure performed. If my next child is to be born with a birth defect, I don’t think it will benefit me to know that at three-months’ gestation time.

Anita Burkett San Juan Capistrano, California

Ed.: We asked Dr. Clark about possible risks involved in the procedure:

All diagnostic and therapeutic techniques in medicine involve both theoretical risks and benefits. Recent studies of amniocentesis from Great Britain suggest a possible very small risk of miscarriage secondary to this procedure. However, other large studies involving thousands of patients in the United States and Canada could not detect any increased risk of infection or miscarriage. If a risk exists, its magnitude appears to be at most one-half of one percent.

For most women who are at high risk for having a child with a birth defect, the substantial benefits of amniocentesis outweigh this possible small risk. It is true that the actual percentage of procedures which result in life-saving information about the fetus is small—primarily because for most women who have the procedure performed, the results bring welcome, reassuring news.

In one case, a woman at high risk for Down’s Syndrome underwent amniocentesis and was informed that her child was affected. The patient then had a specialized ultrasound examination, which detected the presence of a severe abdominal defect common in such children. With this knowledge, the patient did not deliver at her community hospital, but rather at a referral center, where prompt corrective surgery was lifesaving. Although mentally handicapped, the child is now an important member of a loving family.

Dr. Steven L. Clark, M.D. Los Angeles, California

More …

I find amniocentesis a wonderful blessing to be able to offer parents further opportunities to diagnose and sometimes treat abnormalities in utero. Having carried a child for six months with much difficulty, I would have welcomed the peace of mind this test could offer, instead of the unnecessary concerns many parents face. Dr. Clark made a point of stating that “not all pregnant women need specialized testing.” However, his open discussion of the “whens” and “whys” should help many in the future. I thank Heavenly Father for sending medical knowledge to us and pray we all use it wisely.

Ann K. Dautre, R.N. South Pasadena, California