Q&A: Questions and Answers

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

The Q&A: Questions and Answers department features questions asked by youth. This month, however, we are departing from the previous format—youth not only ask the questions, they answer them as well.

Since many questions have been asked about the morality of various work situations, we felt it best to ask some of our readers how they would react if they were faced with these same problems. We are doubly proud this month to print the following counsel.

I work for a music store that provides instrumental instruction. After a few lessons, the standard procedure is to sell the student an expensive guitar or set of drums. My boss couldn’t care less if the kids have any talent or not; the object is to sell instruments. Not one kid in ten stays with it more than a few months, and then they’re stuck with hundreds of dollars’ worth of equipment. I’m expected to spiel off the “party line” to all potential customers, whether in the store or over the phone.

“It’s too bad you haven’t been the victim of such a scheme yourself; there wouldn’t be much question about what to do. If you don’t like people justifiably hating you with a passion, don’t do it.”

Roy Stanford, Age 24 Calgary, Alberta, Canada

“Sell the way you are taught, but add the part that says that less than 10 percent of the kids stay with the instrument. Don’t emphasize a talent that a child is supposed to have, especially if he doesn’t have one. Chances are that even if told honestly that their boy has no talent and that he won’t stay with the instrument longer than a few months, the parents will still buy it. They yield in this case to social pressure and their child’s desires and not to a dishonest sell.”

Ann Bradley, Age 22 Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

“Personally I would give the potential customer the sales talk on the quality of the instruments and then mention that this is a great deal of money to be invested in an instrument that may not be used after a short period of time. Therefore, I would urge the customer to seriously consider the talent and desire of the student to continue in his music. This genuine approach would more likely be appreciated by most customers, and, most important of all, you would be completely honest in your approach. The responsibility of the decision as to whether or not to buy the instrument would then be on the shoulders of the customer, where it belongs.”

Jolene Pitcher, Age 20 Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada

I’ve worked at a plush restaurant for some time now. Yesterday the boss asked me to be the new cigarette girl. He’s really been good to me, and I feel very loyal to him. He says I’m the only current employee who can effectively take Sally’s place. If I don’t take the job, he’ll be forced to hire a new girl and let one of the others go.

“If she has worked at the restaurant for some time and is on such good terms with the manager, I think it would be easy for her to influence him. She could talk over the situation with the manager and tell him that it is against her convictions to sell cigarettes. If she is as important to him as an employee as he says she is, he will probably give the job to another girl.”

Marjean Gutzman, Age 17 Albuquerque, New Mexico

“The question that you pose is basically a question of your loyalty to your boss and employee friends as opposed to your loyalty to yourself and your Heavenly Father. Assume that you become the new cigarette girl. Your job requires that you make your merchandise as attractive as possible to the customer. If you decide to simply sell cigarettes passively, that is, wait for a person to summon you before asking him if he wants cigarettes, you will not be doing your job effectively. In other words, your job will be to convince people to purchase and smoke your cigarettes. First Corinthians 3:16 states: ‘Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?’ [1 Cor. 3:16] By encouraging people to destroy their bodies, you will be encouraging them to defile a temple of God; and thus you will be indirectly defiling a temple of the Lord. First Corinthians 3:17 continues; ‘If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.’ [1 Cor. 3:16] I submit that you have much to lose by taking the job and very little to gain.”

Carl Wuebker, Age 18 Atlanta, Georgia

“If a boss has really been kind to you and you know and he knows that you have done your best on the job, then it shouldn’t be too hard to explain to him your views on not wanting to be a cigarette girl. To me it would be hard to go up to a person and encourage him to buy a product I know will hurt him physically and spiritually. The boss will respect your feelings.”

Rhonda Leath, Age 19 Albuquerque, New Mexico

My boss is always asking me to tell lies for him. Usually It’s just a routine thing like, “If anybody from Consolidated Engineering calls, I’m not in.” Sometimes, however, he involves me in seemingly more serious falsehoods. This morning he said, “If Mr. Sanford calls, tell him his account is at the auditors.” I know that everything came back from the auditors days ago. Am I guilty along with him, or is it none of my business?

“I would talk to my boss about it and tell him how I feel. Get it out in the open. If he doesn’t do anything about it, look for another job. But first, get other peoples’ opinions about it—your father, mother, or even the bishop. It will help you make the right decision.”

Gary Stahler, Age 15 Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

“You are guilty along with him because his lies become your lies when you tell them. If there are chances of your finding another job, do it and let someone else handle your boss’s business.”

Marolee Williams, Age 16 Raymond, Alberta, Canada

“If you are any part of a lie, it is on your record until you repent of it. There are scriptures that go as far as to say that you will be thrust down to hell, or “he that lieth and will not repent shall be cast out.” My advice would be to go to your boss and ask him why he does such things. Tell him that it really bothers you and you don’t want to pay for his lies in the hereafter. Ask him to pray with you to help him overcome this weakness. If you are a real Latter-day Saint, you will go as far as to quit your job if it doesn’t clear up.”

Wayne Bushey II, Age 16 York, Pennsylvania

“The Lord tells us in one of the Ten Commandments that we should not bear false witness against our neighbor. In Proverbs 6:16–19 it states the following:

“‘These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:

“‘A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,

“‘An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,

“‘A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.’ [Prov. 6:16–19]

“It is said that all liars and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie shall not have part in the first resurrection. In 2 Nephi 9:34 it says: ‘Wo unto the liar, for he shall be thrust down to hell.’ [2 Ne. 9:34] Those who lie for someone are also guilty of the falsehood, and it is their business not to lie for anyone.”

Laurie Salmon, Age 16 Clarksboro, New Jersey

My secretarial position requires me to be alone with my boss in his office at all hours. Actually, nothing at all is going on, but I wonder sometimes if indiscretion is itself a sin. It’s a very good job in terms of pay and valuable business experience.

“Even if nothing is happening, the prophet has told us to avoid even the appearance of evil. Also, although you think nothing is happening, how do you know what your boss is feeling?”

Robert Charles Ackroyd, Age 16 Raymond, Alberta, Canada

“Some people will talk about anything and will spread gossip when there is no truth in it whatsoever. As Latter-day Saints we should be careful of situations we get into because they can look bad when we are innocent. If you have a clear conscience and you let your boss know that your standards are high, you should not regret your position nor fear working closely with your boss. Actually, you are your best critic and judge. If you feel that you are in a bad situation, then you should quit; otherwise, don’t worry about your position as his secretary.”

Darrel Blair, Brenda Wilson, Lezli Park, Ann Park, Cathy Millerd, Fay Perschka Atlanta, Georgia

“A secretary, especially a private secretary, must work on a very close one-to-one basis with her boss. No matter how much talk could and often does come out of such situations, I have always noticed that those girls who obviously uphold high standards of modesty and morality are never snickered at in this relationship. If a girl is an obvious flirt and dresses to advertise her feminine qualities, then she will be talked about even if she goes into the boss’s office for only five seconds at a time. A girl who carries herself well, is friendly and charming without being a flirt, dresses to please her Father in heaven, and commands the respect of those around her will never be the subject of lead-ins to dirty jokes or even thoughts.

“There are several things that can be done to insure discretion. A talk with an understanding boss is the first way to clear up any problems and the quickest way to arrive at satisfactory solutions. However, if you feel that he cannot be approached about it, then whenever you go into his office, leave the door slightly ajar on the pretext of hearing visitors when they enter your office. This is good to do anyway. Most important of all, command the respect of your boss so that he would never do anything toward you that would cause either of you to lose the respect of each other or those around you.”

Patricia Stewart, Age 22 Las Vegas, Nevada

I worked last summer as a carhop at a drive-in. This year the management has provided all of the girls with uniforms having mini miniskirts. All of the other girls think the new outfits are super. Frankly, I look just as cute in them as anybody else. I’m the only Mormon, and I don’t want to seem extreme or a prude. What should I do?

“If the question ever comes up and I have to decide what to do in a circumstance like this, I will just think about what I would do if the bishop ever came to the drive-in. If I could proudly walk out to take his order, I would keep the job. But if I felt like I would have to get one of my girl friends to go out and wait on him, I would quit my job and look for a more respectable one.”

Doreen Casey, Age 15 Audubon, New Jersey

“When I first began looking for a job in hopes of paying my college expenses, the only available jobs seemed to be as carhops. In this city a carhop’s character is usually very questionable; so I declined the jobs. Shortly I found work in a nursing home, caring for old people. The work is demanding but my services are needed, and the self-satisfaction I receive is the most beautiful reward I could ask for. I also feel I am serving the Lord as I go about my work. Until now I had never been aware of the blessings that come from following these words of the Savior: ‘Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.’”

Anne Campbell, Age 18 Albuquerque, New Mexico

“You should quit the job. I’m sure that if you worked well last summer, the boss will give you a good recommendation, and you will be able to get a good job elsewhere. Besides, the other employees probably expect you to stand up for your beliefs and standards even if they don’t outwardly show it.”

Christine Evans, Age 14 Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

“Often we fail to seek the advice of our parents and our local bishop or branch president. Knowing that styles are forever changing, you would not look out of place if you wore a pantsuit. It would be worth approaching the manager and explaining your situation, stating that you believe in modesty and would not care to appear in the uniform that has been provided. You may even go so far as to offer to pay for a new, more modest uniform. You may get some ribbing from the other girls for a short time, but it might be that they too would prefer a different outfit but are afraid to speak up because of group pressure.”

Barry Barge, Dorsey Sweat, Debra Bond, Deborah Cook, Janice Millsapp Atlanta, Georgia

The noon card game is an established tradition where I work. I’m the only holdout, and my position is threatening my rapport with the others. Should I play a little penny-ante?

“No. I had a similar experience at a summer job one year. For a while the rapport with my fellow workers was not great. But after a few days of excusing myself after dinner when the cards came out, one of my fellow workers asked me why I didn’t play. Maybe I avoided the issue, but I said that I enjoyed walking outside or reading a book or writing a letter more. She came with me the next day, and by the end of the summer all of us were eating our lunches outside in the sun, and we became close friends. They have said several times since that summer was more fun and that the days went faster when they used their lunch break to appreciate others and nature.”

Ann Bradley, Age 22 Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

“I don’t think that she should feel obligated to her friends at work. She should know the Church is against card playing and should not lower her standards. She should pray about the situation and discuss it further with her bishop. She should try her hardest to overcome the present temptation and tell her friends about her standards. She should ask them to try to understand her situation and should still remain friends with them.”

Dennis Stahler, Age 16 Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

“Often it is easier to consider a problem by first looking at the possible results. This is not so much a question of playing cards, but of what comes next. Would you, having given in once, be able to stop short of their other, possibly more evil practices? Once you are accustomed to giving in, it becomes increasingly easy to justify your actions, and you fall into the pattern of yielding to Satan’s compounded temptations.”

John Merrill, Age 17 Annadale, Virginia

I sell cosmetic products door-to-door. We are trained to use a scientifically calculated approach and presentation. It is deceptive. The products, however, though presented dishonestly, are of good quality.

“Sell their good qualities. Your trained approach is not mandatory like honesty is.”

Roy Stanford, Age 24 Calgary, Alberta, Canada

“A cosmetics saleswoman recently demonstrated her product in my home. She seemed to know only what she had been ‘fed’ in her training sessions, and she gave what appeared to be a memorized speech. Although her product was a fine one, my mother and I could both see that she did not tell the complete truth. We refused to buy because we prefer to deal with another woman who does not push us into buying her cosmetics by misrepresenting them. It is not good to assume that you can sell your products only by using the deceiving, scientific approach you were taught. It would be better for you to be truthful, to undersell rather than be pushy, and to consider your customers’ needs and apparent financial circumstances.”

Georgia Dillon, Age 18 Albuquerque, New Mexico

“I also sell cosmetics door-to-door and had to decide the tactics that I would use to accomplish my goals. I felt very keenly the pressure put on by the manager and by the competition between the salesmen. Thus came the impulse to use dishonest claims in order to sell the most. But a very important point to remember is that you want customers who will buy repeatedly, not just once. And customers of this nature only come to you if they feel that the products perform as you say they will. If you feel that the approach the manager teaches you is deceptive, modify it to coincide with your feelings. Pick out a couple of items that you believe do measure up to the company’s claims, and center around those products. If asked about other items, simply describe their good selling points as your judgment and knowledge of the product directs. The company wants results, and if you become effective in your honest method, they’ll do more than let you continue—they’ll ask for pointers.”

Richard Winget, Age 21 Las Vegas, Nevada

I was so excited when I got my first fashion modeling job I couldn’t contain myself. But most of the contracts require me to pose in swim suits, lingerie, or clothing of questionable modesty. I can’t afford to be too selective or I’m afraid the agency will just stop calling me. I’m never identified by name or religion in the ads.

“Even if you aren’t going to be identified, you still are being immodest. You are hurting yourself more than anyone else. If I were you, I would find another job or else model clothing such as winter wear—coats, boots, and winter outfits.”

Kay Williams, Age 16 Raymond, Alberta, Canada

“Somehow or other we have calloused our thinking to the point that we accept partially clad young ladies in newspaper advertisements and catalogues but decry such action in nude magazines. We should be prepared to take a stand on such issues. We are accepting too much in the way of double standards.”

Larry Bates, Age 24 Calgary, Alberta, Canada

“Even though you might think religion doesn’t enter into your modeling job, it enters in the most important way it can. Your Heavenly Father knows that you are compromising your dress standards for a part of your life that should not be the most important accomplishment to you.”

Brenda Done, Age 18 Albuquerque, New Mexico

“I am seventeen, and I will answer with my personal experience. I love modeling and upon receiving an invitation to model for a well-known store, I was overwhelmed with excitement. I went to the store and found the outfits I was to model already chosen for me. They were not within Church standards and so my decision was very hard to make. The job was important to me and I did not want to say anything that would hurt my chances in any way. After a lot of serious thought and prayer, I told them I could not model something that I myself would not wear. They thanked me for being honest and let me choose other outfits that met my standards. This was a testimony-strengthening experience, teaching me that by standing up for my standards I can never lose because I am continually blessed.”

Marsha McAdams, Age 18 Hampton, Virginia

I work for a theater chain, and on any given night I am expected to report, without quibbling, to whichever theater I am assigned. Some of the houses show X-rated films. Am I wrong to keep this job?

If there is anything that is worth close scrutiny, it would be the influences that we consciously allow to enter our lives. If there is no opportunity for you to keep your job and not work at X-rated movies, then my suggestion would be to find employment in some other sphere where evil is not so prevalent. Money just can’t be worth the price one pays for any loss of virtue or good qualities of character.

Larry Bates, Age 24 Calgary, Alberta, Canada

“One of the first steps would be to seek the advice of your branch president. Coupled with this, an approach to the management would not be out of place, but fasting and prayer should take place before meeting with them. If the management won’t help you in your schedule so as to avoid the X-rated movies, you should seek employment elsewhere. Working at a place doesn’t mean that you watch the movies, but association often implies that you agree with what is going on.”

Barry Barge, Dorsey Sweat, Debra Bond, Deborah Cook, Janice Millsapp Atlanta, Georgia

There are three aspects to consider in deciding whether or not a certain employment is worth maintaining. First, any work situation, in addition to providing important income, should provide for some type of increased knowledge concerning either technical skills or the mechanics of business procedures that are used in the public world. Second, personal growth should be a possibility from any job. I mean an increased understanding of oneself as an individual and as a member of a larger social structure with an enhanced appreciation of one’s position as a son or daughter of God and a personal recognition of the overall value of His standards. Personal growth is often sorely hindered and usually cannot occur in an environment that is not of acceptable quality. The third aspect is whether or not other people are being hurt by what one is doing.

“While you might learn something about the theater business and about human nature, the X-rated environment, if encountered very often at all, cannot be beneficial to your own growth. In addition, working in such an environment implies acceptance of it to those who may come in contact with you under such circumstances. I would not keep the job, explaining my position to the managers, and I would trust in the Lord to help me in my own efforts at finding other suitable employment and in keeping his commandments. Such decisions are often difficult to make, especially in light of some very practical necessities, but a righteous life requires that a very full, firm, and active commitment be made. If we have a working faith in the gospel principles and in the Lord’s concern for us, we can do whatever is required to maintain that commitment.”

Lorelei Crompton, Age 23 Albuquerque, New Mexico

[photos] Barry Barge, Dorsey Sweat, Debra Bond, Deborah Cook, Janice Millsapp; Roy Stanford; Ann Bradley; Jolene Pitcher; Marjean Gutzman

[photos] Carl Wuebker; Rhonda Leath; Marolee Williams; Darrel Blair, Brenda Wilson, Lezli Park, Ann Park, Cathy Millerd, Fay Perschka

[photos] Laurie Salmon; Robert Charles Ackroyd; Patricia Stewart; Anne Campbell; John Merrill; Georgia Dillon; Marsha McAdams

[photos] Richard Winget; Kay Williams; Larry Bates; Christine Evans; Brenda Done; Lorelei Crompton