Q&A: Questions and Answers

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

    “Why does the Lord’s Prayer indicate that our Father in heaven would lead us into temptation?”

    Answer/Brother Jeffrey R. Holland

    The Prophet Joseph Smith helped us with this verse when he gave his translation of it in the Inspired Version of the New Testament. There he modified the language to read “suffer us not to be led into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (JST, Matt. 6:14. Italics added.)

    A loving Father in heaven does not maliciously “lead us into temptation” nor have any wish to ensnare us in evil. He has, however, allowed us to come to this mortal world in which we must face temptations of every kind, temptations from “men” and from “devils.” (See D&C 46:7.) This prayer is a prayer for strength, for the ability to endure such difficult times. It is a special plea for protection from excessive or unremitting enticement that would threaten our ability to withstand. It is an expression of our desire to remain clean.

    We do, of course, take comfort in knowing that the Lord will not allow us to be tempted beyond our capability to resist. Furthermore, for every temptation that an enemy places before us the Lord has made an “escape, that [we] may be able to bear it.” (1 Cor. 10:13.) If we then yield to temptation, it may well be that we did not recognize (or did not want) the opportunity to escape it. Nevertheless, if we do falter, the privilege of repenting is simply further confirmation that our Father in heaven does not wish us to be entangled in sin. Through the gift of his Son he has provided the means for us to be free from evil, even after the fact, if we are willing to pay the price.

    I think there is also a less obvious principle implied in this great prayer that should not be missed by those who wish protection from evil. It has been most clearly noted by Elder Bruce R. McConkie when he cautioned: “Obviously it would be nothing short of hypocrisy to utter this prayer and then go out where sin and lust and evil are found. Implicit in the prayer to avoid being led into temptation is the promise on the petitioner’s part to avoid the places where sin and evil are found.” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, Bookcraft, 1972, 1:237.) As Joseph of old learned, sometimes our only safety lies in how fast we can run and how far away we can get from the places and people that tempt us.

    Our own best efforts and good judgment coupled with honest prayer to our Heavenly Father will enable us to walk better the narrow path that is free from the heartache, sorrow, and despair that transgression inevitably brings. That is the personal ability and divine assistance for which Jesus prayed.

    [photo] Photo by Marilyn Erd

    Commissioner, Church Education System

    “Are you ever justified in disobeying parents in order to follow gospel principles?”

    Answer/Brother Victor B. Cline

    In the extremely unlikely instance where a parent might require or order his son or daughter to do something clearly evil, anti-social, or self-destructive, I would recall President Brigham Young’s counsel to the sisters of the Church to the effect that they should support and honor their spouses but that no woman should follow her husband to hell.

    Where one parent may suggest that his offspring do something clearly contrary to gospel standards, the young person would certainly be wise to seek the help and counsel of the other parent first. But I cannot imagine reasonably healthy, loving parents unitedly requiring or asking their children to do something truly wrong or evil. I have seen this only in the instance of mental illness or intoxication. These conditions should be reasonably apparent to the offspring.

    However, I can imagine, especially in part-member families, an occasion where a parent might ask his children to work on Sunday or break the Sabbath in other ways, not put his money into the tithing fund, drink “forbidden” beverages, or do other similar things that might be contrary to gospel principles. But we must recognize that by both spiritual and temporal law the parents are the children’s guardians and do have responsibility for their rearing. So the problem will not be solved by outright rebellion. I would suggest that the young person petition and request in a reasonable way that he be allowed to live Church standards. Solve the problem through peaceable negotiations, in a Christlike way. Certainly fasting and prayer will entitle the worthy young Church member to receive personal revelation that will assist him or her in solving the problem with the parent in a constructive way so that everyone wins. If the problem or conflict persists, I would seek counsel of the bishop on how to handle it.

    I remember a woman who constantly nagged her husband (an inactive elder) about not paying his tithing, saying again and again, “When you don’t pay your tithing, you deny me and the children the blessings that are associated with this commandment. … I want those blessings, even if you don’t.” She became so irate and her marriage became so disturbed over this issue that she went to the bishop trying to get his aid in forcing her husband to pay tithing. The bishop’s response was, “Overall your husband is basically a good and righteous man. If you sustain him in righteousness, even in his judgment not to pay tithing at this time, the Lord will sustain you, and you will be obeying God’s commandments and will not miss out on any of the blessings.” When the husband later learned of this bishop’s counsel, he was so moved and impressed that his Church activity increased and the marital relationship was much improved.

    So sometimes we obey a greater commandment that overrules a lesser one. And the test one might use in deciding what to do and how to handle a delicate situation (as posed in the question above) would be, “What would Christ have done in a similar situation?”

    [photo] Photo by Craig J. Law

    Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Utah

    “I want to write original music with a contemporary sound that will be acceptable to the Church. What guidelines should govern my efforts?”

    Answer/Brother K. Newell Dayley

    The first thing I always consider is the purpose for which I am writing a particular piece of music. I ask, “What will this music be used for? Will it be used for entertainment, for concert audiences, or for worship?” Each of these purposes requires a unique approach and rather different skills and talents on the part of the composer. A piece of music that is appropriate for entertainment will not find acceptance by the Church in worship services no matter how excellently it is fashioned. And the piece that speaks of sacred things will not be acceptable when we are gathered together for purposes of entertainment. Know your purpose and write for that purpose.

    The second thing that I consider is the audience for which I am writing. “How much do they know about music? What is their musical language—country-western, classical, hymns, pop and rock, choral anthems? What sounds can I use that will communicate with them? What sounds will they understand?” Many fine pieces of contemporary music are little used because they fail to speak the musical language of the audience for which they are intended. Know your audience and write for that audience.

    The third thing I consider is the effect that certain “contemporary sounds” may have on my audience and, therefore, on my purpose. In the area of popular entertainment music, I might ask, “What do most people associate with this contemporary sound? Is that what I want them to feel? How can I alter the sound to help them understand what I really mean?” In the area of concert or worship music, I might add, “How difficult will my music be? Will the performer(s) be able to adequately understand and convey my intentions? Am I writing ‘paper-music’ or ‘people-music’?”

    Some contemporary sounds are unacceptable because they are tied so strongly with activities and/or attitudes that oppose the gospel of Jesus Christ. Composers who seek to write acceptable music for the Church must recognize and accept this fact. Know all styles of contemporary music well and seek to understand how each style is understood by your audience.

    The fourth thing I consider is my own preparation for the task I have chosen. “Do I have the knowledge and skill to write for others? Will my contribution be at all unique? Have I prepared through thorough study, or am I full of desire but empty of know-how?” There are many ways for each of us to improve our preparation, and this should be a constant, lifelong pursuit. It is important, however, to recognize what we are prepared to do today and what we will be prepared to do tomorrow. Know yourself and the kinds of purposes and audiences you are prepared to write for.

    The fifth thing I consider is tied to me as an individual. “Am I being honest in my musical expression? Are my sounds contemporary because I feel and think contemporary, or am I simply trying to copy others?” Take the time to listen and to study the music of as many different contemporary composers as possible. Seek to understand what makes each of them unique. Observe the sounds that strike responsive feelings in you. Know yourself and have the courage to write music that honestly speaks from your heart.

    The sixth, and most important, consideration I have is, “Am I living the commandments so as to be worthy to write music that is acceptable to the Church? Am I prepared spiritually to request help in my chosen task? Am I prepared to accept the help when it comes?” It is so easy to fall into the habit of believing that we know what is best for the Church. It is the Church of Jesus Christ that we are seeking to serve. All of us should live so that we can know and please the Savior through our musical efforts. Then those efforts will truly be acceptable to the Church. Know the Savior and seek to please Him with your musical creations.

    [photo] Photo by Lonnie Lonczyna

    Chairman, Youth Music Committee