Q&A: Questions and Answers


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

“What kind of a person do you think would make an ideal husband for your daughter?”

Answer/ Stella H. Oaks

Most women, especially mothers, are matchmakers at heart, differing only in the finesse with which they examine a young Mormon man as they look for both practical and eternal values.

I will look for one who is comfortable with the family when he calls for our daughter, who communicates his plans for the evening so we know when they will return, who will let us know by a call if there is an unavoidable change; in short, one who has sincere awareness of others’ feelings.

I will look for one who is at ease with himself and his manhood—his masculinity—neat in dress and appearance, who is kind and gentle, having warmth and interest. Without these qualities, femininity cannot fulfill itself. Woman was created to be a helpmate at man’s side—but he evokes this devotion by his loving concern.

I would like him to be “dashing”—fulfilling a girl’s yearning for colorful romance. Shakespeare put it concisely, “All the world loves a lover.” He will have an inclination for some of the fine arts—music, literature, dance, and drama—which will become part of his personal refinement.

I will look for potential, not perfection, in the young Mormon man, and will delight in seeing potential skills and abilities unfold, for he will have been born of goodly parents who have set an example and have been models for him to follow.

He will be one who honors his priesthood and has a growing faith that he is a son of God, that he can become head of a household and part of the eternal family chain. He will be in the right places on the Sabbath, at ease with spiritual things and at ease with others in spiritual work.

He must have ambition and initiative, be capable of hard work, and be making progress toward earning a living. The scriptures make plain a man’s duty:

“But if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” (1 Tim. 5:8.)

Preparing to earn a living in a competitive world calls for courage and early habits of responsibility. A young man who is content to do nothing more original than watch television will find it difficult to build confidence in the watchful mother.

He will love children and welcome the responsibility of guiding them in the ways of the Lord. Every mother yearns in time to be a grand mother.

He will be unafraid of the future for he is prayerful and believes in the guidance and whisperings of the Spirit. He will follow spiritual promptings and in due time bear testimony, sharing the strength of his manhood with his community.

Stella H. Oaks, Supervisor of General and Adult Education, Provo City Schools

“What kind of person do you think would make an ideal wife for your son?”

Answer/ DeWitt J. Paul

As a Latter-day Saint parent contemplates the new permissiveness between the sexes, the rising divorce rate, and the breakdown of the home, he cannot help but be deeply concerned about just what influence this trend might have in relation to the marriage of his own sons and daughters. Under these alarming circumstances it is more important than ever to choose a proper mate.

I have five sons. If society gave me, as their father, the responsibility of selecting their respective wives, I would look for a faithful, active member of the Church. Ideally this someone would understand what a faithful, active Latter-day Saint home is like. Although such a daughter-in-law would very likely fall short of the model helpmate I am about to describe, I feel certain that the above background would help her come the closest to it.

It would ease the problem of adjustment and compatibility if my son and his wife had a number of common interests and, in addition to their common religious background, somewhat comparable backgrounds educationally, socially, and economically. A girl with a college degree and a specialized vocation would be desirable, but more important than this would be her desire for continual growth and development. It would be good if she possessed certain talents and skills—an interest in music or other art forms and the ability to sew and cook. It would be worthwhile, too, if this bride-elect knew the value of a dollar.

For a son of mine I would select a wife with a cheerful, happy personality, one with warmth and affection and the ability to show it at appropriate times. I would look for someone from a loving home. She should be understanding, kind, and thoughtful, but most of all unselfish. I would like her to be intelligent and spiritually minded. She should be without hang-ups, healthy, and physically attractive. This latter attribute means different things to different people and does not necessarily mean being a beauty queen; but certainly this prospective wife should be pleasing to her husband’s eye. Ideally she might be a little younger than the man she is to marry.

In the final analysis I would want my son’s wife to be primarily a homemaker. Thus she should not frown upon housework. Motherhood should be her highest priority—her principal mission. Hence she should love children and have a strong desire to raise a family of her own. To be ready for this she must be mature enough and her mother sensible enough to loosen the bond that has held them so closely together.

I would hope that this sweetheart and my son would fall hopelessly in love with each other—a love so beautiful they would want to seal it in the temple of the Lord for time and all eternity. I would not want them to miss the joy of the romantic love of youth, but I would want them to realize that this is only the first step to a mature partnership in which they will work together with the Lord in fulfilling his great purpose of immortality and eternal lives.

I have taken personal purity for granted from this faithful Mormon girl. Have I assumed too much in this generation when premarital indulgence is widely condoned as a desirable trial before entering into a permanent, certificated marriage relationship? I think not, for this ideal mate I have pictured would have no need for this approach. She and my son would have formed their courtship, engagement, and eventually their marriage on a sounder foundation, part of which would have been to call upon the Lord for guidance in the decision as to whether they were right for each other.

And now, after all these words, I’ll say once again, simply and briefly, if I were to choose a wife for one of my sons, I would choose a good Latter-day Saint girl who is loving, healthy, and intelligent. But even more simply I would say to my sons, “Your choice is mine.”

DeWitt J. Paul, Patriarch, Short Hills Stake, New Jersey

“How do you know if you have received the Holy Ghost?”

Answer/ Leonard J. Arrington

Psychologists tell us that a fundamental problem with young people today is identity. Apparently, young people go through what is called an identity crisis—a crisis in which they seek to determine who they are or what they are. This seems particularly hard for many young people to do today because of the rapid changes to which they are exposed and the speed with which identities are transformed.

Of most significance to each person is that fundamental and crucial stage at which he establishes a viable relationship with his fellow creatures, with the universe, and with God. In religious terms this process of identity realization sometimes corresponds to, or is equivalent to, what we may call the second baptism, or baptism by fire. The Apostle John wrote that in order to gain salvation every person must receive two baptisms—the baptism of water and the baptism of the Spirit. (John 3:3–5.) For most of us, the water baptism took place when we were eight years old. Upon our confirmation, usually a day or two later, we were told to receive the Holy Ghost. The vast majority of us, however, felt no miraculous transformation; nor were we mature enough at that time to acquire a firm conviction of the gospel’s truths.

This awareness of the presence of the Holy Ghost and firm testimony of the truth of the gospel usually comes between the ages of 15 and 25. Indeed, a young person raised in a home where the Holy Ghost is present might feel its presence from birth. Thus, President Joseph Fielding Smith stated that he couldn’t remember when he didn’t have the Holy Ghost. President McKay, on the other hand, stated that as a young man he prayed for the Holy Ghost, and it came to him over a period of time in the performance of his duties. With some of us, it creeps up almost imperceptibly, until in one meaningful moment of insight we see ourselves as part of a great divine plan. We then understand who we are, why we are here, where we are going, and what we must do. We establish an identity that confirms to us that God lives, that he is aware of us and loves us, and that we are acceptable to him.

This realization of selfhood, this moment of self-discovery, this awareness of God and his interest in us, sometimes moves us to tears, sometimes inspires us to exalted rhetoric or poetry, and almost invariably motivates us to adopt praiseworthy goals. As we look back on it, the establishment of our identity—our acquisition of a testimony—our second baptism—was determinative; it led us to happy activity in the Church, in school, and in our chosen occupation. Paul had such an experience on the road to Damascus; Joseph Smith had one in the sacred grove in Palmyra; many of you had such an experience during your last year in high school, first year of college, or during the first few months of your mission. My own experience came when I was reading in the library at the University of North Carolina where I had gone to pursue a Ph.D. in economic history.

If it is a true visitation of the Spirit, our second baptism causes us, in the words of Helaman, to be “filled as if with fire.” (Hel. 5:45.) The fountain of our soul explosively gushes forth as if from a secret spring whose overburden has suddenly been pushed aside.

The letters, diaries, and autobiographies of past Church leaders contain many descriptions of this baptism of the Spirit. One of these was written by Lorenzo Snow, later an apostle, and still later a president of the Church. Elder Snow wrote that immediately following his immersion in the waters of baptism at the age of twenty-two, he expected to receive the Holy Ghost, and to have the promise fulfilled that he would “know of the doctrine, whether it be of God.” (John 7:17.) But Elder Snow did not receive this assurance immediately. He began to worry whether he had done wrong—whether God was displeased with him. Several weeks later, while studying the scriptures, he felt depressed and disconsolate. He left the house and walked outside, tormented by uncertainty and enveloped by “an indescribable cloud of darkness.” He had been in the habit of going to a small grove every evening to have secret prayer. On this particular day he was so dejected that he “felt no inclination” to pray. “The heavens seemed like brass over my head,” he wrote. Nevertheless, he forced himself to pray, and soon he heard a sound “like the restling of silken robes” above his head:

“… immediately the Spirit of God descended upon me, completely enveloping my whole person, filling me from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet, and O the joy and happiness I felt! No language can describe the instantaneous transition from a dense cloud of mental and spiritual darkness into a refulgence of light and knowledge … I then received a perfect knowledge that God lives, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and of the restoration of the Holy Priesthood, and of the fulness of the gospel. It was a complete baptism—a tangible immersion in the heavenly principle or element, the Holy Ghost; and even more real and physical in its effects upon every part of my system than the immersion of water.”

God had conferred upon him, he concluded, “that which is of greater value than all the wealth and honors worlds can bestow.” 1

Lorenzo’s sister, Eliza, author of some of our favorite hymns and later the president of the Relief Society of the Church, had a similar experience:

“On the 5th of April, 1835, I was baptized by a ‘Mormon’ Elder, and in the evening of that day, I realized the baptism of the Spirit as sensibly as I did that of the water in the stream. I had retired to bed, and as I was reflecting on the wonderful events transpiring around me, I felt an indescribable, tangible sensation … commencing at my head and enveloping my person and passing off at my feet, producing inexpressible happiness.” 2

The records of the Church contain numerous stories of these second baptisms—these attainments of identity, these intimations of the divine presence. From these moments onward, the person thus blessed knows for certain that God lives, that the gospel is true, that the Church is a divine institution, and that one’s personal potential for exaltation is strengthened by his wisdom and righteousness. If one has such a conviction, he has received it through the ministrations of the Holy Ghost.

Leonard J. Arrington, Church Historian

    Notes

  1.   1.

    “How He Became a Mormon: From Lorenzo Snow’s Journal,” Juvenile Instructor. XXII (January 15, 1887), pp. 22–23.

  2.   2.

    Eliza R. Snow: An Immortal (Salt Lake City, 1957), p. 6.

“Is it proper for a nonmember to partake of the sacrament when I invite him to church with me?”

Answer/ James E. Faust

During the Lord’s visit to the Nephites he instructed that the sacrament should be given “unto all those who shall believe and be baptized in my name,” (3 Ne. 18:5) for his blood was shed “for as many as shall believe in my name” (JST, Matt. 24:29).

The sacrament is, therefore, basically a renewal of those covenants made in the waters of baptism. It is a renewal for those who have taken upon themselves the name and cause of Jesus, those who are trying to direct their lives to personal righteousness in harmony with him.

While the sacrament is intended for members of the Church only, partaking is a matter of individual conscience, and care should always be exercised to not give offense to investigators and guests by forbidding them to participate. In most instances guests will understand that partaking of the sacrament is symbolic of membership in the Church.

James E. Faust, Attorney, Regional Representative