Q&A: Questions and Answers


These answers are printed to give help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine.

“How do I get my parents to understand that I feel differently than they do about some things?”

Answer/Brother Ernest L. Eberhard, Jr.

Generally speaking, parents and children always have had and will likely continue to have different points of view on certain matters. But please remember that your parents know this. It does not have to be brought to their attention. When significant differences come up, the question we need to ask is, How can these few differences best be resolved for the good of all concerned?

Some differences may arise because parents can see the slippery, rocky, and faintly marked sections of the road that perhaps you cannot see. It has been very impressive to me to see how each generation, when it is grown, expresses strong gratitude for the wise counsel and guidance of their parents—yet it was this guidance that seemed so restrictive only a few years earlier.

Occasionally, when and if a serious difference of opinion exists, parents and youth might ask themselves, What is right from the Lord’s point of view? It might help for you to be acquainted with the advice given to parents by the Lord in Doctrine and Covenants 68:28 [D&C 68:28]: “And they shall also teach their children to pray, and to walk uprightly before the Lord.” This is a commandment to parents, “or the sin will be upon the heads of the parents.” If your differences with your parents come because you are deviating from the teachings and practices of the gospel, conscientious parents will feel keenly about pointing this out to you. The problem then becomes not one of disagreement with your earthly parents but one of disagreement with your Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.

Here are some ways to positively and happily resolve differences of opinion in a family.

1. With a desire to learn the Lord’s will, pray sincerely that the Holy Ghost may assist you in reaching a solution that is good.

2. Enter wholeheartedly into family home evening in your home, where opportunity is given for each member of the family to express himself in a spirit of constructive comment.

3. If other kinds of differences suggest discussion at other times, bring them up when your family is in a period of peace, goodwill, and happiness.

4. Be sure your differences are more than molehills—items only temporarily important. Don’t destroy the love you have for each other over matters that likely will not be very important to you ten years from now.

5. Keep your discussions low-key, and don’t wait until you are angry and upset.

6. Listen to your parents. Hear them out; then ask them to hear you out. But remember that sometimes parents and youth talk too much about their problems. Silence properly used is golden.

7. Let your parents think over your point of view. You shouldn’t ask them to make hasty, ill-advised decisions.

8. When all else fails, be patient. Remember the great comment, “This too will pass.” If you really do feel like rejecting their counsel, weigh and examine your own conclusions. I’ve always found it a good thing to take each reason I think is a good one on my side and ask if it really holds up. And sometimes it doesn’t. You’ll probably find this same thing true when you examine some of your reasons.

One last thing: My answer here is to a question about the differences that exist. It’s always easy to see or sense some of these differences. But don’t forget all that you hold in agreement with your parents—the gospel, your love for each other, many good experiences, countless choice times together, many memories, many sacrifices, common beliefs and ideals on many matters. When you add it all up, you’ll be amazed at how much you and your parents agree upon. It would be so foolish to take a difference that may represent only 1 percent of your total contact with your parents and blow it up out of proportion, especially when you agree on the remaining 99 percent. How sad that some youth have done this and have destroyed their relationship with those who are really their best friends, especially in a day when real, honest, and eternally true friends are hard to come by.

Manager, Aaronic Priesthood Department, Presiding Bishopric’s Office

“Should a young girl date boys who are not members of the Church if she lives in a small branch or ward where there are few Latter-day Saint boys?”

Answer/Sister Lenore Romney

Dating means acceptance by one’s peers and helps one to gain not only friends but also confidence. From personal experience with our daughters who lived in an area where there were not many Latter-day Saint boys, I know the feelings and reasons behind such a question.

But in this matter, each girl’s own standard of conduct and her long-term goals are of prime importance! To be married in the temple of our Lord is an aspiration of the highest priority for Latter-day Saint girls, and thus your dating ultimately revolves around the way you can make your dream a reality.

In every relationship, one receives and gives. The standards to which a girl adheres will be honored by her date and will influence his own thinking and conduct. As followers of Christ, we are to be in the world but not of it, and it is important that those around us are aware of our conduct and principles.

of the Chevy Chase (Maryland) Ward

“Is there anything wrong with boys wearing their hair long?”

Answer/Brother C. LaVar Rockwood

Judgments of right and wrong are often imposed on questions that are not really moral issues. The length of the hair, the wedge of a shoe, or the style of a suit are not moral issues in the sense of rightness or wrongness in the eyes of God. However, they may be indications of the wearer’s attitudes and his feelings about himself.

Since time immemorial, youth have had their own styles, sometimes widely different, sometimes not too different from those of the adult generation. At one time it was moleskin pants, bulldog haircuts, wedged shoes for men, long skirts for women. All of us are caught in the constantly changing styles of clothes, homes, cars, and a thousand other things. Today many young people like their hair longer and thicker. Even some adults are wearing their hair thicker and fuller.

But in recent years, long hair has come to be associated with revolutionary, often rabble-rousing protesters and people from the drug culture who are overexposed on the television and in newspapers. As a result, other youth pick up these symbols of nonconformity and adapt them to their lives in an attempt to be different. Adults may then label these youth as being part of that revolutionary scene. Others from that scene may also think that you are a part of what they represent and assume you are a brother in sympathy with them, ready to be involved in rabid dissent or drug experimentation.

It is easy to see that it is the association by appearance that causes the problem. Anxiety of parents is created by the suspicion that you may be associated with that different culture. Thus, they feel cause for concern.

As Latter-day Saints, both you and your parents stand for that which is of “good report or praiseworthy.” To your parents, long hair represents the negative aspects of youth rather than the positive.

Excesses in almost any human behavior generally indicate a kind of unsureness. Of course, it would help if adults realized that this may be a part of growing into maturity, a part of one’s desire to discover a workable value system for himself. As a Latter-day Saint, however, you have received the gospel of Jesus Christ, and it has a value system within it, one that can truly give you happiness here and forever. All of us need to keep in touch with this value system of the gospel so that we do indeed become the “light on the hill” to those around us, and not the “salt that has lost its savor.”

If all of us will think about the role of the gospel and its meaning to us and others, such matters as different hair styles will fall into place for both adults and youth; gaps of misunderstanding need not develop for those within the circle of the gospel. And you will be able to select the kinds of styles that represent the kind of person you want to be.

Director, Division of Drugs, Utah State Department of Social Services

“Why is genealogy so important?”

Answer/Elder Theodore M. Burton

Genealogy per se is only important to the Latter-day Saint as a tool for accomplishing something vastly more important. We believe that we are literally spirit children of our Father in heaven and that eternal family relationships can and do exist. We believe that families can be bound together, not just for this life only, but for all eternity.

We gather the records of our families as far back as we can trace them in order to verify these family relationships. This is genealogy. Then we go to the temple and there tie or seal these individuals together into eternal family relationships by performing the saving ordinances of the priesthood that God has prescribed.

The sole purposes of genealogical and temple work are to perpetuate family life throughout eternity and to gather our family members together as resurrected glorified beings into the presence of our Heavenly Father, whom we love, honor, and revere.

Genealogy as a practical research tool, therefore, is important as a means of accomplishing the far greater purpose of tying or sealing together all those who are willing and qualified into the one great family of God, the Eternal Father, through Jesus Christ, his Only Begotten Son. That is why genealogy is so important.

Assistant to the Council of the Twelve

“I don’t feel ‘in’ with religion. So what if I do enjoy X-rated movies and novels of contemporary morality standards?”

Answer/ Arthur R. Bassett

I suspect that many of us find it difficult to feel totally “in” with religion 100 percent of the time. True religion demands the best that is in us, and a total effort is not always easy to give. It is a very human quality that leads us to become discouraged when the requests of the religious life begin to seem excessive. For some, the problem may be the claim religion makes upon their time; for others, the problem may come in the form of personality conflicts with someone in the Church; for still others, the lure of forbidden fruit may seem almost too strong to resist. It can be difficult during the times one feels “out of it” to resist such feelings of resentment or allurement without help. However, aid has been offered by the Savior, who, with his total awareness of our problems and also of our desires to have the best in life, is perhaps the only one qualified to render assistance.

Let us consider, for example, one of the most important teachings of Jesus in connection with the problem you have suggested. I refer to his teaching concerning the power and importance of thought. Because our thoughts ultimately determine our actions, Jesus repeatedly emphasized the need for good thoughts and proper motives if one is ever to come to peace with himself. Any activity that creates improper thoughts has the potential to destroy our happiness.

It is in this context, perhaps, that we should give careful consideration to the types of amusements we seek, recognizing their potential influence on our thought. If we seek complete happiness, we must face squarely the problem created by contemporary standards in the entertainment and art media. Many of the standards employed in the creation of contemporary movies and novels, for example, are clearly antithetical to the major thrusts of the gospel, and exposure to them may be a very large part of the reason some do not feel “in” with religion. Instead, they find themselves divided and torn, desiring the good life but also being unwilling to put aside that which is directly opposed to it; they find themselves like Augustine of old, who prayed, “Lord, give me chastity, … only not yet, For I feared lest Thou shouldest hear me soon, and soon cure me of the disease of concupiscence, which I wished to have satisfied, rather than extinguished.” (The Confession of St. Augustine, Book VIII.) Inner peace flees them and they find that to restore it, they must make a choice between the two.

How then, at times like these, does one find strength to give up that which he seems to enjoy so much? A partial solution to our problem, it seems to me, lies in another of the teachings of Jesus—the important truth that one can drive out bad thoughts with better thoughts. I suspect, for example, that anyone who enjoys X-rated movies and novels with contemporary morality standards would also enjoy a better quality of movie or a better novel, and both are available if one is willing to look for them. Therefore, why not decide in favor of the best within us and seek out higher forms of entertainment and instruction, thereby elevating our thoughts and ultimately our lives, letting our recreational moments become literally moments of re-creation. As Marcus Antonius remarked many centuries ago, “The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thought.” The Master has added in our own time, “Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly.” (D&C 121:45. Italics added.) Ultimately this seems the only way to truly feel “in” with religion.

Instructor, Institute of Religion, University of Utah