Q&A: Questions and Answers


Readers are welcome to send in questions, which will be given to one or more persons for opinion and insight. Answers are printed to give help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine.

Why are medical doctors so important if the priesthood has the power to cure diseases?

Answer/Elder Delbert L. Stapley

The source of all knowledge comes from God to man for man’s benefit, guidance, and blessing. God expects man to use wisely the knowledge, scientific or otherwise, that he releases for man’s benefit. Nephi taught: “… it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” (2 Ne. 25:23.) We can appropriately paraphrase and relate this statement to the healing of the sick or afflicted by the power of the priesthood by saying, “By grace are ye healed by the power of the priesthood after all ye can do.” If medical men have acquired skills and medical cures for the ills of man, shouldn’t they be used as part of the healing requirement?

Medical science is just a link in the whole plan and process of healing. The advances in medicine and medical treatment are providing cures for diseases and afflictions that in the past may have been terminal. An afflicted body fortified with medical help has great natural power to heal itself.

Man’s life is based upon many significant factors. The body is made up of many complex, inter-relating parts, all of which must function normally to assure good health and physical endurance. Disorders, diseases, afflictions, injuries do occur in the lives of people and require the skills and treatment medical science is capable of furnishing.

In discussing good health, we should examine the Word of Wisdom, the physical law of health given by the Lord. In this revelation (D&C 89) the Lord gave us knowledge of the physical substances that are not good for man and knowledge of the produce of the earth that is good for man. Meat is to be used sparingly. If we obey this natural law, we are promised good health.

If we accept the Word of Wisdom and abide by it, can we not also accept the use of medicines and the professional services of doctors to good advantage? The power of man is limited; the power of God is unlimited. When man’s capabilities fail, God’s holy power through his faithful priesthood takes over and miracles often result.

The Lord has counseled:

“And whosoever among you are sick, and have not faith to be healed, but believe, shall be nourished with all tenderness, with herbs and mild food. …

“And the elders of the church, two or more, shall be called, and shall pray for and lay their hands upon them in my name. …

“And … it shall come to pass that he that hath faith in me to be healed, and is not appointed unto death, shall be healed.” (D&C 42:43, 44, 48. Italics added.)

We can be grateful that the ordinance for the healing of the household of faith is in the gospel plan of our Lord.

The following examples will explain the medical link between doctors and the priesthood healing power.

The fourteen-month-old son of a doctor became very ill. During the course of his treatment many consultants were brought in, but their contributions resulted only in a symptomatic approach to the disease. The result was that the child’s condition steadily worsened. His temperature was 104 degrees and the family had entirely given up hope for his recovery; his death was expected momentarily. At this point, a number of miraculous things happened. On their own and without a previous appointment, the bishop and his counselors came to visit the family. At the request of the family, they administered to the child. Almost immediately following the blessing, an intern, who was a friend of the family, stepped into the room and said, “Why not give him a transfusion?” The intern was a universal blood donor, and blood was taken from him immediately and given to the child. The child’s temperature dropped from 104 degrees to normal and remained at normal throughout his hospital stay. This is a case where medical aid had essentially failed; and on the basis of what medicine could offer, the child’s life had been despaired. The priesthood came into the picture, and the administration was followed by additional medical steps that previously had not been projected. The child’s life was saved. Today he has matured and has a lovely wife and family.

Another case pertains to a man who had a serious heart condition. At two o’clock in the morning it appeared as though efforts to control the disease preying upon his body were ineffective. At this time a General Authority came into the room and administered to him; his heart action immediately improved, and his life was saved. His health has continued excellent to the present time.

Thus you can understand that there can be a correlative effort between medical practice and priesthood administration, one aiding the other, and together forming an effective approach to the healing of the sick.

Yes, medical doctors are important. But it is through the priesthood that we receive that extra power by which miraculous cures and healings occur.

Of the Council of the Twelve

What is the war involving Gog and Magog?

Answer/President Bruce R. McConkie

Gog and Magog are the prophetic names given in the scriptures to that combination of nations which will fight against the purposes of the Lord on two separate and future occasions:

1. At the time of and incident to the second coming of the Lord and the ushering in of the millennial era; and

2. At the end of the Millennium, plus a little season, when the final overthrow of evil and the destruction of the wicked shall take place.

The Lord has not revealed who the nations are, but his prophets have described, in general terms, what they will do in the great battles that shall hereafter be fought.

Because we are living in the last days, immediately preceding the second coming of the Lord, our chief interest in Gog and Magog centers in the pre-millennial war. The following quotation summarizes what is to take place:

“Our Lord is to come again in the midst of the battle of Armageddon, or in other words during the course of the great war between Israel and Gog and Magog. At the Second Coming all the nations of the earth are to be engaged in battle, and the fighting is to be in progress in the area of Jerusalem and Armageddon. (Zech. 11; Zech. 12; Zech. 13; Rev. 16:14–21.) The prophecies do not name the modern nations which will be fighting for and against Israel, but the designation Gog and Magog is given to the combination of nations which will seek to overthrow and destroy the remnant of the Lord’s chosen seed.

“The 38th and 39th chapters of Ezekiel [Ezek. 38; Ezek. 39] record considerable prophetic detail relative to this great war. It should be noted that it is to take place ‘in the latter years’; that it will be fought in the ‘mountains of Israel’ against those who have been gathered to the land of their ancient inheritance; that the land of Israel shall be relatively unprotected, a ‘land of unwalled villages’; that Gog and Magog shall come ‘out of the north parts’ in such numbers as ‘to cover the land’ as a cloud; that the Lord will then come, and all men shall shake at his presence; that there will be such an earthquake as has never before been known, which will throw down the mountains; that there will be pestilence, blood, fire, and brimstone descend upon the armies; that the forces of Gog and Magog will be destroyed upon the mountains of Israel; that the Supper of the Great God shall then take place as the beasts and fowls eat the flesh and drink the blood of the fallen ones (Rev. 19:17–18; D&C 29:18–21); and that the house of Israel will be seven months burying the dead and seven years burning the discarded weapons of war.

“In the light of all this and much more that is prophetically foretold about the final great battles in the holy land, is it any wonder that those who are scripturally informed and spiritually enlightened watch world events with great interest as troubles continue to foment in Palestine, Egypt, and the Near East?” (Mormon Doctrine [Bookcraft, 1966], 2nd ed., pp. 324–25.)

The second and final great war involving Gog and Magog is referred to by John in Revelation 20:7–9 [Rev. 20:7–9] and by the Lord in Doctrine and Covenants 88:111–116 [D&C 88:111–116].

One final word: When considering items of this sort, it is exceedingly important to stay close to the revealed word and not stray off into those speculative realms that engender strife and do not increase faith in our hearts.

of the First Council of the Seventy

Why should I get a degree when I’ll spend the rest of my life raising children?

Answer/Sister Emma Lou Thayne

Last night was Thursday and everyone was home (untypical), and everyone was busy (typical). Rinda, seventeen, had to write a paragraph for English using a wild list of vocabulary words, and she wanted some ideas. Dinny, twelve, was struggling with a report on Treasure Island to be given orally and wondered how to make it interesting. Shelley, fifteen, was sandwiching geometry theorems between preparations for a report in American Problems on movie ratings and pornography, and she wanted my views. Becky, nineteen, wanted to know a good book to read and asked what I thought about the issue of faculty tenure as reported in the college newspaper that day. Megan, eight, needed some poems to take for library day and asked where to find some information on planets.

On a night like that, I am especially glad for some resources provided by my past to bolster my pretty-tattered present.

This was not an unusual night, either. It’s like that most of the time—everyone wanting a quick hand with some homework or, more important, a little advice on this or that—an opinion or an idea or a way to go. Ever since I started “spending the rest of my life raising children,” I have been constantly challenged to keep alive my children’s interest in learning by drawing on my own. Never once have I wondered about the value of those years spent in the classroom and on campus that prepared me in unexpected ways to meet this so-called easy challenge of being a mother.

But at the time I certainly never planned my education around motherhood. When I majored in English, it was not with any thought concerning my future offspring and stories they might like to hear; nor did minoring in speech have anything to do with the fact that in years to come I would be wistfully listening to small voices at the pulpit echoing beginnings and endings born of classes taken “just because.” And little did I dream that registering for Greek Mythology or Anatomy 1 or tennis would prepare me for times ahead when myths would soothe sick tummies, naming of bones would help construct “The Visible Man” in the play room, and swinging rackets in Little League would unite a family in happy play. Also, in addition to the specifics gained from subjects, the essence of them sank in somewhere and gave me a feel for finding and using facts and organizing ideas and material. And how was I to know that such skills could also help in organizing a household or a birthday party, locating answers to algebra problems, or supervising the remodeling of a basement sewing room?

Besides classes, there were other aspects of college that intrigued me and later colored my whole life as a person, a wife, and a mother. Everywhere there were new people, new ideas, committees and causes. A university is a uniquely focused, moving, generating, smashing, and building thing that can pry open latent abilities and creative thinking, while it squeezes out prejudice and shallow-mindedness. It exposed me to respect for the past, awareness of the present, and concern for the future. More than anything, the university gave me a feeling for my own potential, together with a genuine reverence for the skill, knowledge, and possibility in others. I learned there the most valuable lesson of all—to listen and to give other people’s ideas a chance.

Now I ricochet through any night before any morning like thousands of other mothers, trying to supply incentive, sources, and satisfaction for minds that wonder and seek and ask. And I unconsciously utilize then, as in every other challenge of my life, the tools that help me to help my children because of getting that “useless” degree.

Emma Lou Thayne mother, housewife, and member of the YWMIA general board

Because we believe in the principle of service, shouldn’t a Latter-day Saint orient his vocation more to the field of public service?

Answer/Elder Marion D. Hanks

Faithful members of the Church should try to govern all aspects and facets of their lives in accordance with gospel principles, and all of their major decisions should be made with reference to those principles. This would also be true with respect to their choice of a vocation. We should not select a vocation that would involve goods or services clearly in violation of those principles; we should choose a vocation consistent with those principles.

Within the framework of principles, however, there are many possibilities for the expression of preference. One should select his vocation on that basis. Preference should involve not only what one thinks he would like to do, but that which by disposition, talent, preparation, and qualification he is likely to do successfully.

Not every person is particularly disposed toward or especially suited to those occupations usually thought of as public service. Teachers, medical people, lawyers, merchants, civic workers, and many others offer services that are obviously indispensable; but in our interrelated, interdependent society, countless other vocational and professional pursuits are equally, if not so obviously, indispensable. The researcher who perfects the vaccine and the physician who diagnoses its need and administers it are both vital contributors, and so are the technicians, distributors, salesmen, and others involved.

Any honest work involving goods or services consistent with principles of decency and integrity would seem to be acceptable for a member of the Church. Much help is presently available in determining our individual capacities and predilections with respect to various types of vocations. Multitudes of diverse employment opportunities exist; new ones are constantly coming into existence, and excellent preparation and training opportunities are available. One seeking help in selecting a vocation would be wise to make use of testing and counseling services, seek advice from persons of experience and wisdom, and invoke the help of the Lord in choosing and confirming a course to follow.

Good preparation, ambition, determination to give one’s best, and good hard work will then lead to success in the undertaking one chooses.

Within the framework of gospel principles, selection of a vocation would seem to be a matter of individual disposition, inherent capacity, and preference.

Assistant to the Council of the Twelve