Q&A: Questions and Answers

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

“Is it advisable to wait for a missionary?”

Answer/President Loren C. Dunn

This question is a difficult one to answer, because the decision as to whether a young lady waits for a missionary is a personal matter and must be determined, of course, by the people involved. However, in making that decision some of the following matters might be taken into consideration.

To begin with, no formal poll has been taken that I am aware of, but it appears more often than not that an agreement to wait somehow gets sidetracked during the mission, and as a result the familiar “Dear John” letter is received by the missionary.

It should be realized that any two people, especially young people in this age range, change over a period of two years. The special nature of missionary service, of course, causes the missionary to change, but the young lady changes also. Sometimes these changes are rather dramatic on both sides, creating a situation where a young couple almost needs to become reacquainted following missionary service.

In light of this, three questions could well be asked: (1) Will waiting be good for the person at home during the time when dating and social activity should be a prime part of a young person’s life? Is it appropriate for a young person to avoid such associations for a two-year period of time? (2) Will waiting be good for the missionary? Does having a girl who is waiting at home cause the missionary to become preoccupied with thoughts of her? In order to be successful a missionary must serve the Lord with all his “heart, might, mind and strength.” Does the girl who is waiting encourage that kind of loyalty to the Lord, or does she unwittingly cause a division of loyalty? (3) Will waiting be good for the missionary work? If the missionary suffers, then the work suffers. Certainly every Church member will want to do all within his power to help missionary work succeed, and the way missionary work succeeds is for the missionary to succeed.

If a relationship can be mature and well-founded enough to take into account the above points, then it is likely that waiting for a missionary might be good, both for the work and for everyone concerned. Such a relationship would limit communication to a weekly letter and an occasional package from home. The tone of the letter should be uplifting and encouraging. Some missionaries have told us that sending tapes may well create problems. To actually hear the voice of the girl friend will often develop feelings of homesickness and cause the missionary to become diverted from his work. For the same reason it is recommended that family and friends should not telephone the missionary in the field except in dire emergencies.

of the First Council of the Seventy

“Do we have revelations given for our time as the Saints did in the early days of the restored church?”

Answer/President Marion G. Romney

The answer is yes.

Beginning in 1820 with the First Vision and continuing through the life of the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord revealed most of the great fundamental principles and ordinances of the gospel together with instructions concerning the organization and operation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These revelations apply to and serve the Church today as they did when they were first revealed to the Prophet. Obviously they do not need to be revealed anew.

Whenever there has been in the mind of the Lord a need for further revelation for the guidance of the Church, he has given it to the living prophet. For example, the Lord revealed to the prophet, President Heber J. Grant, the welfare program. President Grant’s first counselor, President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., one of the principal movers of the program, said:

“Now I say to you, that … revelation of the Holy Ghost, did come to President Grant. Not only in this case, but in others. And through that revelation, inspiration if you wish to call it, from the Holy Ghost, President Grant launched [the] great Welfare Plan.” (Address given by President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., at Central Utah Welfare Region, August 3, 1951.)

During my time as a General Authority, the Lord has revealed many things to the prophets. Two examples are the correlation program and an expanded program for supervising in the stakes and missions the rapidly growing membership of the Church.

Every presiding officer in the Church who is magnifying his calling receives revelation today to guide him in the performance of the duties of his office, just as in the early days of the Church.

Every member of the Church who will hearken to the voice of the Lord receives revelation for his own guidance. (See D&C 84:46–47.) “Ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (D&C 4:7) is not an idle promise. The Lord’s statement to Oliver Cowdery is applicable to all of us:

“… verily, verily, I say unto you, that assuredly as the Lord liveth, who is your God and your Redeemer, even so surely shall you receive a knowledge of whatsoever things you shall ask in faith, with an honest heart, believing that you shall receive. …

“Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.

“Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground.” (D&C 8:1–3.)

So long as the church of Jesus Christ remains on earth this principle of revelation will be operative; and we have assurance from the Lord that his church shall never again be taken from the earth nor given to another people.

Second Counselor in the First Presidency

“What do you think about the use of hypnotism?”

Answer/Brother Homer Ellsworth

Historically, the leaders of the Church have spoken against the Saints using or experimenting with hypnotism, as well as participating in mind control courses. In 1902 John W. Taylor of the Council of the Twelve said, “I want to lift up my voice and say, that it is an abomination in the sight of the Lord our God.” (Conference Report, April 1902, p. 76.)

Francis M. Lyman of the Council of the Twelve said, “From what I understand and have seen, I should advise you not to practice hypnotism. For my own part I could never consent to being hypnotized or allowing one of my children to be. The free agency that the Lord has given us is the choicest gift we have. As soon, however, as we permit another mind to control us, as that mind controls its own body and functions, we have completely surrendered our free agency to another; and so long as we are in the hypnotic spell—and that is as long as the hypnotist desires us to be—we give no consent in any sense whatever to anything we do. The hypnotist might influence us to do good things, but we could receive no benefit from that, even if we remembered it after coming out of the spell, for it was not done voluntarily. The hypnotist might also influence us to do absurd and even shocking, wicked things, for his will compels us.

“Hypnotism is very much like the plan that Satan desired the Father to accept before this earth was peopled. He would make them do good and save them in spite of themselves. The Savior, on the other hand, proposed to give free agency to all, and save those who would accept salvation. Our Father rejected Satan’s plan, and sacrificed a third part of his children for the sake of upholding this true principle, that men shall have the right to act for themselves, and shall be responsible for their own actions.” (“Shall We Practice Hypnotism?” Improvement Era, vol. 6, [April 1903], p. 420.)

An item in the Priesthood Bulletin of August 1972 says: “Reports have been received of unfortunate results to persons engaging in group hypnosis demonstrations or in popular mind control courses of study. There are reports that some Church leaders have arranged hypnosis demonstrations as a means of entertainment. Leaders should advise members of the Church against participating in such activities. Certainly, they should not be sponsored or encouraged by leaders of the Church as has been reported.”

I have seen hypnotism used with varied results, and having seen it used I am convinced that when a person submits to hypnotism, he surrenders part or all of his will to another person. In a real sense he loses his free agency for the period of time he is hypnotized and perhaps for periods of time in the future should he be given posthypnotic suggestion at the time of his hypnosis. No one really realizes how powerful an influence or how unusual a phenomena a hypnotic trance is, and contrary to many current expressions by hypnotists, people can be made to do things under hypnosis that normally, morally, they would not do. Furthermore, it is difficult to realize how great the temptations are to a therapist when he has total control of another human being.

It is even difficult to decide who to have care for your body. Some people with apparently good credentials may not be the best surgeons or physicians when judged by their peers, and yet, each of us must choose someone to care for his physical person on the basis of the best criteria he has and as carefully as he can. If his choice is poor, perhaps the worst that can happen is that his body may not be as healthy or heal as fast as it might have if he had made a better choice.

But to whom do you trust your immortal soul? How can you adequately choose someone to whom you can freely give your free agency? Your moral will? To what person do you surrender your moral will for the use of his entertainment, or for the entertainment of others, or for the purpose of supposedly helping you with your problems—for example, losing weight, rejecting bad habits, or recalling childhood problems? Who is that trustworthy? This is the basis and the real crux of the problem. Who is so trustworthy as to be allowed to tamper with the eternal soul? At the present time, as a direct answer to the question, “What do you think about the use of hypnotism?” it is my belief that hypnosis is not to be actively engaged in by members of the Church.

Melchizedek Priesthood MIA General Board