Q&A: Questions and Answers


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

“Where and when should we manifest a sustaining vote in the Church, and where and when should we not manifest such a vote?”

Answer/Bishop H. Burke Peterson

Each Church member is entitled to vote for officers of any Church unit to which he or she belongs.

A member may vote to sustain officers of the ward or branch in which he lives. However, he is not expected to vote for officers of wards or branches in which he does not live, although no objection is likely to be raised if he does.

A member may vote to sustain officers of the stake, district, or mission in which he lives. He may sustain these officers whenever they are presented for a vote in any meeting held within the stake, district, or mission in which he lives. However, he is not expected to vote for officers of stakes, districts, or missions in which he does not live, although, again, no objection is likely to be raised if he does.

A member may vote to sustain General Authorities of the Church in any meeting held anywhere within the Church at which the names of the General Authorities are presented for a vote.

When a member is called to a Church position and he is presented to the congregation for a sustaining vote, he should manifest his personal sustaining vote for himself in that calling.

Voting by the uplifted hand to sustain someone in a Church position is a sign of our personal commitment to uphold the Lord’s choice of that person in that calling. President Harold B. Lee identified the commitment, the covenant, inherent in voting to sustain. In the solemn assembly called to sustain Joseph Fielding Smith as prophet, seer, and revelator to the Church, President Lee said:

“Everyone is perfectly free to vote as he wishes. There is no compulsion whatsoever in this voting. When you vote affirmatively you make a solemn covenant with the Lord that you will sustain, that is, give your full loyalty and support, without equivocation or reservation, to the officer for whom you vote.” (Conference Report, April 1970, p. 103.)

We are free to exercise our agency to sustain or not sustain, but we should consider prayerfully the counsel of President Joseph Fielding Smith:

“No man, should the people decide to the contrary, could preside over any body of Latter-day Saints in this Church, and yet it is not the right of the people to nominate, to choose, for that is the right of the priesthood. The priesthood selects, under the inspiration of our Father in heaven, and then it is the duty of the Latter-day Saints, as they are assembled in conference or other capacity, by the uplifted hand, to sustain or to reject; and I take it that no man has the right to raise his hand in opposition, or with contrary vote, unless he has a reason for doing so that would be valid if presented before those who stand at the head. In other words, I have no right to raise my hand in opposition to a man who is appointed to any position in this Church, simply because I may not like him, or because of some personal disagreement or feeling I may have, but only on the grounds that he is guilty of wrong doing, of transgression of the laws of the Church which would disqualify him for the position which he is called to hold. That is my understanding of it.” (CR, June 1919, p. 92.)

The right to call members to Church positions rests with the presiding priesthood authorities under the guidance of divine inspiration. The right to sustain rests with the individual members of the Church. President John Taylor said, “God appoints, the people sustain.” President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., outlined this principle in a general conference of the Church:

“When the presiding authority has so ‘nominated’ or chosen, or called any man to office, that man is then presented to the body of the Church to be ‘sustained,’ in political language to be ‘elected.’

“Thus the body of the Church has no ‘calling’ or ‘nominating’ power, but only the sustaining, or politically speaking, the ‘electing’ power.

“When the presiding authority presents any man to the body of the Church to be sustained, the only power which the assembly has is to vote, by uplifted hand, either to sustain or not to sustain.

“Obviously, neither the body of the Church, nor any of its members can propose that other men be called to office, for the calling of men is the sole power and function of the presiding authority.

“Therefore, all debate, all proposals of other names, all discussions of merit and worthiness, are wholly out of order in such an assemblage.” (CR, October 1940, pp. 28–29.)

Our presiding authorities at all levels of Church government present to us the Lord’s choice; we then have the opportunity to cast our vote with the Lord. President Spencer W. Kimball confirmed this principle at the time of the calling of President Harold B. Lee as the Lord’s chosen to be prophet, seer, and revelator:

“It is reassuring to know that President Lee was not elected through committees and conventions with all their conflicts, criticisms, and by the vote of men, but was called of God and then sustained by the people.” (CR, October 1972, p. 28.)

We have, then, a sacred responsibility to manifest our sustaining vote according to correct principles as taught to us by our presiding authorities and as witnessed by the Spirit.

First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric

“My parents are not active in the Church and will be unable to attend my temple wedding. Since I am a girl and did not serve a mission, and because I have no other relatives who are members, will there be someone in the temple to help me with everything so that I will know what to do, where to go, etc.?”

Answer/Sister Mary Deane Clark

Your first experience in the temple is very important. A special effort is made by the temple workers to make it a happy and a spiritual experience so that you will be anxious to return again and again to the temple to refresh your memories regarding the covenants made there and to deepen your knowledge of the endowment given you by your Father in heaven in his holy house. In the Doctrine and Covenants 88:119 [D&C 88:119] we read, “Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God.”

It is a beautiful thing to have a mother share this experience with you, but when this is not possible, you may come with an aunt, a sister, your future mother-in-law, or a friend. If you come alone, the most important thing to keep in mind is that you are actually in the house of the Lord where there are humble, inspired workers waiting to serve you. The Lord can and will bless you there, even though you may be alone.

The minute you enter the temple you are greeted by these workers, and someone is assigned to be with you from then until you leave the temple. If you come with your partner as bride and groom, you will stay together for your interview and the final checking of recommends. After a preliminary, separate ordinance, you are brought together again for the remainder of your stay.

The temple worker accompanying you is aware that this is the first time you have been to the temple and is careful to be understanding, answering any questions and giving step-by-step instructions as the holy ordinances proceed. If the girl does have her mother with her, the mother may help her with her wedding dress and be with her to hear the instructions given to the bride. She remains by her side until the endowment is finished and she meets her groom for the wedding.

If a girl is alone and wishes to have someone by her side through the instruction and endowment, she may bring a friend, or we will ask one of the sister patrons on the session to accompany her. Very often this experience turns into a beautiful and lasting friendship between the girl and her companion. If the girl prefers to be alone, the temple workers are always there to direct and assist her. These provisions are taken to help you feel at ease and be in the right spiritual frame of mind to understand and appreciate the great blessings given to you that day in the temple.

Parents who are nonmembers or inactive but who wish to be near the temple when their daughter is married are made to feel at home in the comfortable outer foyer of the temple during the time of the endowment and marriage. While there, the matron and a member of the presidency of the temple usually welcome them, visiting with them and answering any questions. When possible, the person performing the marriage or sealing also visits with the parents. After the marriage, the bride and groom may go to the outer foyer of the temple where the parents can share in the loveliness of their daughter in her wedding gown. Picture taking and friendly greetings are conducted outdoors in front of the temple, with both members and nonmembers of the Church participating. This part of the temple experience frequently plants a desire in the hearts of nonmember parents to want to know more of what has made their daughter so happy in the temple that day.

Former Matron of the Provo Temple

“After a person marries, how much is he responsible to his parents?”

Answer/Brother Ben Bloxham

In one of the most moving scenes recorded in the New Testament, Jesus looked down from the cross at his mother. Before he could proclaim from that torturous Roman cross that he had finished his Father’s business, he knew that there remained one final responsibility. An eye witness reports:

“When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!

“Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.” (John 19:26–27.)

Our Redeemer was then able to say, “… It is finished; and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.” (John 19:30.)

The Savior once asked the Nephites, “… what manner of men ought ye to be?” And then he answered: “Verily I say unto you, even as I am.” (3 Ne. 27:27.)

It would seem, then, that if we are to be like Jesus, our answer to the question at hand should be that we are always responsible to or responsible for our parents and our children.

Through the wisdom of the Almighty we were assigned to our parents for what must have been very good reasons. Paul said in his day that God “hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.” (Acts 17:26.) President David O. McKay stated, “By the operation of some eternal law with which man is yet unfamiliar, spirits come through parentages for which they are worthy … each was satisfied and happy to come through the lineage to which he was attracted and for which, and only which, he or she was prepared.” (Llewelyn R. McKay, Home Memories of President David O. McKay [Deseret Book Co.: 1956], p. 230.)

The fifth commandment, and the first one to carry with it a promised blessing, reads as follows: “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.)

Our family ties and associations represent the most serious of stewardships. Until we are released from these ties and associations by that same power and authority that granted them in the first place, we are not at liberty to disassociate ourselves from them. In many cases that disassociation will come only too soon, and then there will undoubtedly follow the worst kinds of sorrow and regret.

In a recent news report we learned of the release of the grandson of one of the world’s wealthiest men by his drug trafficking captors for the incredible amount of nearly $3,000,000. The ransom money was paid by the boy’s mother, who had a love for her son that far exceeded any monetary consideration. As the mother was reunited with her son, she hugged and kissed him repeatedly. She was quoted as saying, “Only now I’m beginning to live again.”

How much would we be willing to pay to bring back a loved one? What price would be too great to pay to have our children in the next life or to be able to claim our parents as our own in that eternal world?

Possibly the greatest story ever told of the love parents have for their children is the parable of the Prodigal Son, who demanded his inheritance and then wasted it in “riotous living.” When he returned home penniless, his father did not hesitate to forgive him and to welcome him back.

The Lord, of course, doesn’t expect parents to be tyrants. We see in this same story of the Prodigal Son that the father endeavored to teach his sons correct principles but allowed them the freedom of choosing their own course in life.

This same principle was taught by the Prophet Joseph Smith. A certain man asked Joseph Smith, “How do you govern such a vast people as this?” “Oh,” said Joseph, “it is very easy.” “Why,” said the man, “but we find it very difficult.” “But,” said Joseph, “it is very easy, for I teach the people correct principles and they govern themselves.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 10, pp. 57–58.) Wise parents will do the same by teaching their children while they are young and then allowing them to exercise their own free will and choice.

Fundamental to the patriarchal order of priesthood is the principle that husbands and wives are sealed together for all time and eternity, and their children are sealed to them as they are sealed to their parents. Inherent in such an order is an obvious reciprocal stewardship between parents and children. Parley P. Pratt expressed the following words regarding this order of priesthood:

“The order of God’s government, both in time and in eternity, is patriarchal; that is, it is a fatherly government. Each father who is raised from the dead and made a partaker of the celestial glory in its fullness, will hold lawful jurisdiction over his own children and over all the families which sprang of them to all generations, forever and ever.

“We talk in this ignorant age, of children becoming of age, as it is called; and we consider when they are of age they are free from the authority of their father. But no such rule is known in the celestial law and organization, either here or hereafter. By that law a son is subject to his father forever and ever, worlds without end.” (Sermons and Missionary Letters of Parley P. Pratt, pp. 52–58.)

We belong to our earthly families now, but whether we will enjoy membership in our families in the eternal world will depend upon how strong the bonds of love and priesthood are developed here. After this probationary life we will either be sealed for all time and eternity as a family or we will in effect be excommunicated from our families and remain single forever and ever.

Joseph Smith learned early that the great condemnation of the wicked will be that they will be left without “root” (ancestry) and “branch” (posterity) in the eternities. The angel Moroni said to him, quoting from Malachi:

“For behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly shall burn as stubble; for they that come shall burn them, saith the Lord of Hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.

“… Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.

“… And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.” (JS—H 1:37–39.)

The turning of the hearts of the children to their fathers does not involve the dead only. If we are to follow the example of Jesus, it will be necessary to become one with our wives, husbands, children, and parents before we can say, “It is finished.”

Instructor in the College of Religious Instruction Brigham Young University