I Have a Question


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

I am thinking of donating some organs for transplantation. Am I wrong in wanting to do so?

Cecil O. Samuelson, Jr., regional representative and physician. Organ transplantation is one of the true medical wonders of our age. Medical science has progressed to the point that the replacement of an injured or diseased body part, such as a kidney, cornea of the eye, heart, liver, bone, bone marrow, skin, or pancreas is becoming fairly routine. Most of these tissues come from people who have arranged that they be so used following death. However, some organs—such as kidneys—can be donated to someone in need by a living family member.

As is the case with many other technological advances, questions with profound economic, ethical, moral, and religious dimensions have arisen concerning organ transplantation. And, as with many other important aspects of life, we have been counseled to study the information, make decisions, and pray for wisdom about our choices. (See D&C 9:7–9; D&C 58:26–28.)

The Church has taken no official position on organ transplants. It seems obvious, however, that organ transplantation does not affect one’s resurrection, since the organ would soon have returned to the basic elements of the earth following death anyway. Whatever happens to an organ following death, we are promised that “every limb and joint shall be restored to its body, yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost.” (Alma 40:23.)

In the meantime, tremendous blessings have come to countless thousands and their families through organ donation and replacement. Several physicians involved in transplantation have shared with me inspirational stories and letters from those who have received this special service. Families grieving from the death of a loved one have been greatly comforted by the knowledge that other lives have been saved or measurably improved through receipt of a vital organ transplant. Other families have been spared debilitating illness or death because a living family member was able to donate an organ to a loved one.

As I work with donors and recipients and witness the selfless love that is evident in this gift of life and health, I am often reminded of Peter and John’s encounter with the lame beggar as the two Apostles made their way into the temple. The lame man asked only for alms but instead was healed. To the one in need, Peter said, “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee.” (Acts 3:6.)

Those who are considering donating a kidney to a loved one should find comfort in knowing that only those who meet strict criteria will be considered as donors. Because of careful screening, and because of advances in transplantation techniques, donors do not face the risk they did just a few years ago. A healthy person can donate a kidney, for example, and continue to live a normal life, sustained by the remaining kidney.

While the matter of vital organ transplantation remains a highly personal one, it deserves prayerful consideration.

I recently ran across a reference to our Church’s beliefs in a textbook. Much of what it said is accurate, but some of it is blatantly wrong. Should I write to the author or publisher and explain the inaccuracies?

Richard P. Lindsay, managing director, Church Public Communications/Special Affairs. Unfortunately, we occasionally run across inaccurate information about the Church in textbooks, classes, the media, and even in the minds of non-LDS family members, friends, neighbors, and associates. Often these inaccuracies result from people innocently repeating misinformation.

If you feel that it’s possible to convey accurate information to others in a helpful, kind manner, without contention or debate, use that opportunity. But make sure that you’re generating light, not heat. There is no place for heated debate or hostility in talking with nonmembers about the Church. The Savior warned the Nephites that “he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.” (3 Ne. 11:29.) Generally, in responding to inaccurate information about the Church, we should keep in mind four points:

  1. 1.

    Most historians’, educators’, and writers’ motives are good, and we should try not to become defensive in dealing with such people.

  2. 2.

    We need to maintain good relationships with those who publish information about the Church, and we need to assist in their efforts to provide honest, accurate information.

  3. 3.

    All Church members can convey accurate information about the Church by the way they live.

  4. 4.

    Truth will ultimately prevail.

Often, the best defense is a good offense. Local Church leaders and ward and stake public communications directors are called, set apart, and trained to convey accurate information to the media by bringing positive, newsworthy stories about Church members, activities, and programs to the attention of journalists. To help local leaders and public communications directors develop the necessary skills to do that, two public communications training sessions have been broadcast over the Church satellite system.

In most cases, contact with the media is best left to local public communications directors or local Church leaders. But if a member has ideas he or she feels might be helpful in clearing up misinformation, he or she should feel free to discuss such matters with his or her ward or stake public communications director.

Of course, not all people who publish information about the Church have good motives. There are a few groups that purposely and maliciously present inaccurate information. In such cases, we need to remember the Savior’s admonition to turn the other cheek (see Matt. 5:39; Luke 6:29; 3 Ne. 12:39) and to “pray for them which despitefully use [us]” (see Matt. 5:44; Luke 6:28; see also 3 Ne. 12:44).

One of the best sources of information about the Church is the lives of faithful members. The Lord has said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:35.) There is no substitute for the example of Latter-day Saints who follow the Savior’s teachings in loving and serving the Lord and their neighbors.

My daughter is interested in working as a nanny. Do you have any information about the subject I could discuss with her?

W. Steven Rubow, former bishop of the Littleton First Ward, Nashua New Hampshire Stake, currently serving as a high councilor in the Schaumburg Illinois Stake. As a father of six daughters and a former bishop of several nannies, I appreciate parents’ concern for their daughters’ welfare. Because of the Church’s emphasis on family life, many affluent couples see young LDS women as ideal caretakers for their children. Hundreds of young LDS women are working as nannies, many in economically well-to-do, urban parts of the United States. Yet many young women take jobs as nannies without a good understanding of what is expected of them.

Caring for children is an important responsibility. Parents who employ nannies want to hire someone who truly loves children and enjoys taking care of them. If a young woman does not particularly like caring for children, she should not even consider a job as a nanny! But even those who do enjoy caring for children may see work as a nanny only as an opportunity to live in a new area in luxurious surroundings and to be on their own away from home with a salary, room, board, and sometimes a car.

The job may sound glamorous, but reality is often far different. If a young woman is not prepared adequately for the experience (and sometimes even if she is) she may experience, as some nannies have, personality conflicts, overly demanding employers, conflicts between her own and her employer’s standards—even courtrooms and moral transgression.

One way interested parents can help their daughter prepare is to find out all they can about the job before she takes it. Neither the Church nor Brigham Young University is affiliated with or endorses any of the agencies or informal networks that place nannies or governesses. The Church does not license them, nor does it review their contracts or placements. Such agencies are like other businesses. There are good, reputable ones, and there are poor ones. Many provide contracts and screening; others do not. Few of them provide training; all of them need to make money to stay in business.

Check out the agency, the family who will employ your daughter, and the contract. If you have questions about the contract (and it is a good idea to have one), ask an attorney about it before your daughter signs it. Ask questions about the employer and the job’s requirements; don’t assume anything. Know what she will do, what the employer will do, and what you will do if the plan doesn’t work out. Is your daughter covered by health insurance? If not, and she becomes ill or is involved in an accident, who will pay for medical care?

Before your daughter takes the job, make sure that she understands what will be expected of her. While her primary responsibility may be child care, her employer may also expect her to prepare meals, do housework, and travel with the family. How many children will she be caring for? How many days off will she have each week? Will she be required to work evenings? If housekeeping is involved, what chores will she be expected to do, and how often? Will she be responsible for preparing the children’s—or even the whole family’s—meals? If she will have access to a car, does the family have rules about when and how often she may use it? Does the family have pets for which she will be expected to care?

You also might want to discuss with your daughter the reasons she wants to be a nanny. Too many young women view such positions as a chance to get away from home, from the Church, and from apparent restrictions. Is she accepting a position as a nanny with the objective of earning money to attend college or to serve a mission? If she already has a college degree or job skills in a chosen career field, it might be wiser for her to enter that field and obtain valuable job experience (and higher pay) rather than to accept a position as a nanny, in a kind of “postponement” of life decisions.

There is much one can do to prepare a daughter early in life for being away from home, whether as a nanny or otherwise. Four points to consider:

1. Prepare your daughter for life. Share with her your testimony of the gospel and help her build a strong testimony. The scriptures tell us that “inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized, that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents …

“And they shall also teach their children to pray, and to walk uprightly before the Lord.” (D&C 68:25, 28.)

Have regular family prayers and encourage regular individual prayers, in which your daughter can build a meaningful relationship with her Heavenly Father. Hold weekly family home evenings and family councils. Study the scriptures together—particularly the Book of Mormon—and teach how they can help her find solutions to life’s many problems.

The auxiliary programs of the Church can also help. Seminary, where each of the standard works is studied in detail, can be valuable in preparing young people for life. The Young Women program also offers fine lessons and social opportunities that help parents teach the gospel.

2. Work with your daughter in setting goals. Unfortunately, some parents may view their daughter’s position as a nanny as an opportunity to unburden themselves of responsibility. Help your daughter understand her purpose in life and her purpose for wanting to be a nanny, and help her set worthy, righteous goals for the next step in her life—whether it be school, a mission, temple marriage, or a career. Encourage her to counsel with the Lord so that she can know what that next step should be.

3. Be supportive. Treat the position as a nanny as a job and the family for whom she will be working as an employer. Encourage her to give an honest day’s work for a day’s pay and to do as the employer asks (as long as it is in keeping with her standards). Never leave her stranded—emotionally, spiritually, or physically. Let her know, always, that you love her unconditionally.

4. Counsel your daughter to contact the bishop in her new area as soon as she arrives. The same Church teachings, organization, and concern for the individual exist in Church units all around the world. But your daughter may need to make the first contact. Home teachers and visiting teachers should be assigned immediately. If they are not, your daughter should ask for them. She should let her new bishop know that she is eager to serve, and her bishop should be prepared to involve her with a meaningful assignment. Association with Young Single Adult or Single Adult groups in her area can help her meet many of her social needs, as well as help her overcome any homesickness she might feel.

All in all, how a young woman’s experience as a nanny turns out depends on several things. If she approaches the job with a shallow testimony, selfishness, weak family ties and support, and vague or unknown goals, the experience can be shattering—and may lead to discouragement and sin. If, on the other hand, she approaches it with a strong testimony, an eye toward service and personal growth, and a supportive, loving family, she will long remember the experience as character-building and testimony-strengthening—a worthy means to a worthy end.