Q&A: Questions and Answers

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    Answers are for help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine.

    “In my particular college environment where I am exposed to strong attitudes of atheism, how can I protect my religious beliefs and still get good grades?”

    Answer/ Lowell G. Tensmeyer

    Protecting grades from a prejudiced instructor is usually not difficult if we study a subject with interest and energy and without fear that learning will ruin our testimony. As a great man once told his now famous son, Henry Eyring, “You don’t have to believe anything that isn’t true to believe the gospel.” But some of the things we religiously believe may need some alterations.

    One of the purposes of college is to make us aware of what people throughout the world believe and why they believe it. We should learn to weigh evidence and remember its source, to know what we believe and why we believe it. College life and activities can help us get to know ourselves and our potential. They can also speed our fulfillment of the Lord’s command to “seek ye diligently … out of the best books words of wisdom … things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth … the wars and the perplexities of the nations.” (D&C 88:118, 79.)

    In state-supported schools, of course, church and state are legally separated, and instructors are supposed to give grades without respect to religious belief. Sometimes, however, a professor will teach a secular course almost as an expression of his own religion or lack of religion. The instructor may feel that a student hasn’t really seen the point of the course unless he loses his faith in God and places it elsewhere.

    It may help to realize that intellectually we are not required to believe every theory or explanation that is presented to us. It is always good practice to include in class discussions and test answers such phrases as “fossil remains provide evidence that,” or “Bertrand Russel taught that,” or “We can infer from the similarities in proteins in living animals that.” True-or-false and multiple-choice questions can be answered from the point of view of the evidence presented in the course.

    If such questions have a meaning for religious faith, a wise person will weigh all the evidence he has from all sources and patiently seek more before changing his life-style. Religious faith is larger than any college course or series of them.

    We must remember, however, that destructive personal behavior is much more dangerous to religious faith than new ideas are. Wherever we are, we must avoid the actions that make us irreligious. Rationalizing wrong behavior can lead a person to “harden his heart.” Then he no longer wants to listen to the voice within that tells him that God is his father. “Live so that you are not ashamed to be in the company of good people, and I’m sure the gospel will seem pretty wonderful to you.” (Edward Eyring again.) So, seek out good companions.

    Remember that the gospel is the truth—and there is nothing weak about it. In contrast, though, a person’s understanding of the gospel may only be a tender plant that needs to be fed with information and faithful associations.

    Our souls must come to know who we are through meditation and prayer. Only then can faith grow beyond the Junior Sunday School and junior high school levels.

    Stake Executive Secretary, Indianapolis Stake; physical chemist

    “Are four years of college necessary?”

    Answer/ William R. Siddoway

    The answer is, it depends.

    It depends on you, your individual interests, ambitions, talents, strengths, and weaknesses.

    Only if your personal objectives are such that four years of college will contribute directly towards the achievement of your goals should you plan to spend four years pursuing a college degree.

    Many people are of the mistaken opinion that a four-year college degree automatically guarantees success. Consequently, many students feel unnecessary pressure to enroll in a college, with a bachelors degree as the target. Often a two-year program (associate degree) or a technical program of one or two years length would be much more appropriate for the individual.

    Keep in mind, however, if you are interested in professions such as engineering, teaching, law, social work, medicine, and other similar fields, you will need at least four years of college—often quite a bit more.

    Each Latter-day Saint youth should take seriously the counsel of the First Presidency when they said, “The Church has long encouraged its members, and especially its youth, either to obtain a college education or to become well trained in some vocation. The positions that do not require education or training are decreasing from year to year. We, therefore, strongly urge all young people to engage and continue in formal study of some kind beyond high school. Of equal importance is the selection of an educational program that takes into account each individual’s interests, talents and goals.”

    Regardless of the nature of the formal educational program that you pursue after secondary school, whether it be two or four or more years, the important thing is that you dedicate yourself to learning as much as possible. Learning is exciting and a lifelong experience. Remember that the glory of God is intelligence.

    Elder Hugh B. Brown of the Council of the Twelve sums it up this way: “Education has always been recognized by the Church as the number one obligation of each generation to its successor and of each individual to himself. Learn and continue to learn everything possible about ourselves, our fellowmen, our universe, and our God—who is our Father.”

    President, BYU Fourth Stake; Assistant Academic Vice-President, Brigham Young University

    “What should be accomplished during the courtship period, and what is the ideal length of time a couple should go together before they get married?”

    Answer/ William Rolfe Kerr

    Successful marriage is not a matter of two faultless or perfectly matched people marrying. It is a matter of the mutual adjustment of two people possessing good qualities who are willing to work together for success. This process of working together for success begins during the courtship period.

    The courtship period needs definition. Some consider courtship to be the period between engagement and marriage. Others view courtship as a process of involvement, running from the time a couple begins to sense a mutual love for each other on through engagement and marriage. My response deals with the latter definition.

    Ideally, courtship is a time when a young couple establishes a foundation for a celestial relationship. This involves, of course, working together in worthiness toward temple marriage and all that goes with it. Celestial courtship provides an opportunity for the young couple to build a common bond of trust for each other. This is the time to look beyond physical feelings and superficial impressions. There ought be an acquaintance with and acceptance of individual interests, personal habits, families, friends, ambitions, plans for the future, outlook on life, and commitment to important values in life. A couple will want to identify and discuss together their reasons for being in love and also develop that bond of love that goes beyond expression.

    Courtship is a time when a couple will want to learn to communicate openly and freely. Ideas, attitudes, and feelings should be discussed without hesitation. If communication is difficult before marriage, it is not likely to improve after marriage. A married couple must be more than man and wife; they must have developed a common bond of friendship. Ideas on everyday clothes, interests, and attitudes ought to be shared. Learn all you can about each other’s thoughts and attitudes.

    Courtship is a time to consider other possible questions. What are your feelings toward children and family size? Where do you want to live? What occupation will the husband engage in? Will the wife work, and if so, for how long? What are your recreational interests? Do you share a commitment to be totally active in the Church? If so, are you prepared to lend support while meetings are attended and duties accomplished? Will family prayer and family home evening be a regular part of your family life? How well do you handle money? Do you share ideas on how it should be spent? Do you believe in arguing in front of children? How do you handle arguments that arise? Are you both ready to face and accept the responsibilities that marriage will place upon you? How well do you know each other’s family? Will there be a good relationship there?

    These and many more questions need to be considered.

    Determining the most desirable length of courtship is similar to determining how long a piece of string should be. Both should be long enough to accomplish the purpose for which they are intended. The courtship period and the engagement period provide a time of transition from single to married status. Therefore, it follows that the courtship should not linger on indefinitely. It is my opinion that couples should not get engaged until they can see far enough ahead to set the approximate date for their wedding. Being engaged with no end in sight often creates difficult problems. And a very short engagement often interferes with the completion of the necessary functions of the courtship.

    Length of precourtship acquaintance, one’s age, emotional maturity, financial security, and many other factors may affect decisions about the length of courtship. Just bear in mind that time is needed to adequately test your compatibility by checking such matters as those discussed above, to prepare yourselves for the acceptance of the responsibilities of marriage, to plan your wedding, and to fully initiate your celestial relationship.

    Member, Sunday School General Board Youth and Young Adult Committee; Assistant to the President, Utah State University

    “What can you do when you and your parents don’t get along?”

    Answer/ Max W. Craner

    A fifty minute solution

    SIT DOWN … and think for 3 minutes.

    3 minutes

    Then cut out a paper airplane (girls can cut out yellow roses). Buy a candy bar.

    10 minutes

    TAKE THEM TO YOUR ROOM. Think honestly of the things your parents have done for you, and make a list. (If you can’t think of anything to make a list from, write down the things you have done for them.) Squeeze everything on one page, okay? If after 10 minutes the paper is blank, start over with the timing.

    10 minutes

    WRITE—“I LOVE YOU” on the plane or yellow flower.

    1 minute

    TALK—To your father about when he was your age. Let him share with you … ask questions …

    8 minutes

    GO BACK TO YOUR ROOM. Wrap the candy bar in bright paper.

    1 minute

    HELP YOUR MOTHER—and just visit with her. Ask her about her favorite date, or ask her to fix your favorite meal because she makes it better than anyone else … maybe even help her.

    8 minutes

    GO BACK TO YOUR ROOM. Tie a ribbon around the wrapped candy bar.

    1 minute

    THINK—About your own future children. Write “Dad” on the candy bar. Write “Mom” on the plane or yellow flower.

    3 minutes

    SURPRISE! Put these under their pillows at 10:00 P.M.Any Night.


    1. Be interested; do something for them.

    2. Understand that they were teenagers once.

    3. Realize that you’ll be a parent with kids like you someday.

    TURN OFF THE LIGHTS. Kneel down and think of your parents as your pre-earth friends, of how you probably loved them especially, and of how you wanted to work with these friends here on earth because you thought you could work with them to return to your Heavenly Father.

    2 minutes (if you’re slow)

    FINALLY—Thank your Father in heaven for your pre-earth point of view and ask him to help you to remember more often your extra special friends—Mom and Dad.


    High Councilor, Idaho State University Stake; Divisional Coordinator for Seminaries and Institutes

    “Does the Church want the Indian or Polynesian (or other national heritages) to give up his culture to be a good member of the Church?”

    Answer/ Frank M. Bradshaw

    The Church has provided wonderful friends for me, no matter where I have gone in the world. Wherever I am, all I have to do is look up the Church, and immediately I have many brothers and sisters to whom I can relate because we both embrace the gospel. These persons might be Indian, Japanese, Chilean, South African, French, or American, but the most important thing about them is that they are members of the Church and love the Lord.

    Without exception, the gospel can make a people better if they let its influence come into their lives. Through the gospel, life becomes different and richer. Even so, the gospel does not require that we abandon anything in our cultures that is “virtuous, lovely, or of good report, or praiseworthy.”

    The following ideas should be weighed:

    1. This is the Church of Jesus Christ. It is not an American church or a Utah church. It is a universal church and crosses all national and racial boundaries. The Savior makes this point clear:

    “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

    “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the ends of the world.” (Matt. 28:19.)

    In August 1971, President Joseph Fielding Smith shed more light on this matter in an address given at the area general conference in Manchester, England:

    “The day is long since past when informed people think of us as a peculiar group in the tops of the Rocky Mountains in America. It is true the Church headquarters are in Salt Lake City, and that the Lord’s house has been erected there. … But now we are coming of age as a Church and as a people … and not only shall we preach the gospel in every nation before the second coming of the Son of Man, but we shall make converts and establish congregations of the Saints among them. … So I say we are and shall be a world church. That is our destiny.”

    President Smith went on to bless the Saints in the British Isles to grow and flourish in their own land.

    2. With respect to our own cultures, the Lord expects us to be “in the world but not of the world.” There are in the background and culture of most peoples many wonderful and enlightening traditions. There are also some traditions and behaviors that would be better forgotten. It is the responsibility of the member of Christ’s church to draw upon the good and turn from the evil. Therefore, if there are good traditions, we should preserve or develop them in our lives; if there are bad traditions that violate the principles of the gospel, then we should turn from them.

    We should remember that when we accept the gospel we are not required to leave our homeland or give up our culture; “… what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6:8.)

    Closely related to this is the commandment, “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” (Ex. 20:12.) This not only means honor of our immediate parents, but also implies looking to our ancestors and our people and showing appropriate honor and respect to them.

    Certainly, part of honoring them is to find out about them, to emulate the good in their lives, and then to do the genealogical and temple work for them so that they too might enjoy the blessings of the gospel.

    All nationalities are children of our Father in heaven. We all should strive to be a good influence in the world and in our own culture. For the gospel to spread throughout the world, it will need members of the Church setting a proper example in the area and cultures in which they live.

    Priest quorum adviser; Assistant Administrator for Seminaries and Institutes