Q&A: Questions and Answers


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

“In the Church young women are encouraged to marry. How should this affect a girl’s educational plans?”

Answer/Sister Shirley Burnham

The fact that a young woman plans to marry should stimulate her to make education a way of life.

“Too great care cannot be taken in educating our young ladies. … Let the women of our country be made intelligent and their children will certainly be the same. The proper education of a man decides his welfare; but the interests of a whole family are secured by the correct education of a woman.” (George Q. Cannon, Gospel Truth, Deseret Book Co., 1974, 2:138.)

All wholesome skills and studies are useful and beneficial to a mother. She will be regarded by her young ones as the fountain of knowledge. A young girl should prepare a vast reservoir of knowledge prior to marriage and continue learning throughout her life. During child-raising years she will be drawing far more from this reservoir than she puts into it. A woman who puts her knowledge to use in the home produces an enriched home environment and becomes a wise, richly experienced woman.

I will list three things one can do to make education a way of life.

1. Develop your curiosity. Ask questions and plan to retain what you learn. We let many learning experiences slip by, thinking perhaps that the information isn’t valuable or that we’ll learn it another time. The girl who eagerly shares with her mother the household chores—cleaning, cooking, washing, and sewing—recognizes the valuable training opportunity at hand. The girl who shuns these chores or does them carelessly will live to regret the loss of a training experience.

2. Be prepared to learn good things from anyone. I recall a new convert being asked by our five-year-old to offer prayer at family home evening. The brother said, “I don’t think I can.” The child replied, “I’ll teach you.” This brother who was willing to learn from a child serves effectively on a high council today.

3. Plan and save money for as much formal schooling as your circumstances will allow. When the chance to take a course or class or to study a trade or go to a university occurs, seize that opportunity.

Finally, I would like to add a word about priorities. “Can you see that the spiritual knowledge may be complemented with the secular in this life and on for eternities but that the secular without the foundation of the spiritual is but like the foam upon the milk, the fleeting shadow?” (Spencer W. Kimball, cited in Life’s Directions.)

Daily scripture study takes first place. “But to have a race of capable women, they must be healthy. … If the choice must be made between the mind and the body, and only one of these can receive proper training, we would say, much as we would deplore the absence of mental cultivation, let it be the body. It would be better for posterity and the future of the world for the physical portion of woman’s nature to receive the proper care than for the mind to be developed at the expense of everything else.” (Gospel Truth, 2:138.)

Happy, healthy, and blessed is the home where the wife and mother has and is conscientiously taking care of her spiritual, physical, and secular education.

Mother of nine, wife of Stake President, Vernon, British Columbia, Canada

“Why wasn’t Jesus baptized when he was eight years old?”

Answer/Bishop J. Richard Clarke

Baptism was first instituted to enable Adam and his posterity to be redeemed from the fall through obedience to God’s commandments. Though apostasy obscured its significance and meaning, baptism survived, in form at least, and became part of the Levite practice. (Lev. 8:5–6.) I know of no scripture in the Bible or Book of Mormon where the age for baptism is indicated. In the Doctrine and Covenants, section 68, verse 27 [D&C 68:27], the Lord fixes the age of accountability at eight and instructs parents that “children shall be baptized for the remission of their sins when eight years old, and receive the laying on of hands.”

We read that John the Baptist received a special call and was “ordained by the angel of God at the time he was eight days old unto this power, to overthrow the kingdom of the Jews, and to make straight the way of the Lord before the face of his people, to prepare them for the coming of the Lord.” (D&C 84:28.) The record also says he “was baptized while he was yet in his childhood.” It is not likely that John was immersed in water when only an infant of eight days, but the scriptures do not tell us his exact age at the time or by whom he was baptized.

From the deserts of Judea, after years of austere discipline and divine teaching, John came among the Israelites. He called all men to repentance and announced that the “kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 3:2.) He made it clear that his mission was to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord. The repentant he baptized with water, but he proclaimed that one mightier than he would come “whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.” (Matt. 3:11.)

Age 30 was, significantly, the age at which the Levites began their ministry and the rabbis their teaching. When Jesus “began to be about thirty years of age,” he went to be baptized of John at the river Jordan. (Luke 3:23.) This would be appropriate because we have no account in the scriptures of Jesus acting in his ministry until he had attended to this important ordinance. He went to John to be baptized because, as the Prophet Joseph Smith taught, “John, at that time, was the only legal administrator in the affairs of the kingdom there was then on the earth, and holding the keys of power.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Deseret Book Co., 1973, p. 276.)

Additionally, Jesus was not baptized, as other accountable candidates were, for the remission of sins. His was an act of simple submissive obedience that had no motive beyond itself. Nephi records four reasons for the Savior’s baptism whereby he complied with the law to fulfill all righteousness:

“But notwithstanding he being holy, he showeth unto the children of men that, according to the flesh he humbleth himself before the Father, and witnesseth unto the Father that he would be obedient unto him in keeping his commandments.

“And again, it showeth unto the children of men the straightness of the path, and the narrowness of the gate [entrance into the Kingdom], by which they should enter, he having set the example before them.” (2 Ne. 31:7, 9.)

In summary, then, my view is that Jesus was not baptized in his childhood because he had no need, as we do, for remission of sin, for he is the author of our salvation and provider of the means by which we may have our sins remitted. He began his official rabbinical ministry at age 30, as was the custom, by being baptized to “fulfil all righteousness.” (Matt. 3:15.) He came to John in recognition of John’s role as an Elias who was the only one authorized to perform the baptism and witness before men that Jesus had “come not to destroy, but to fulfil [the law] in every way. (Matt. 5:17.)

Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric

“What is the difference between a father’s blessing and a patriarchal blessing—should all persons receive a patriarchal blessing from a patriarch or would a father’s blessing given worthily be the same?”

Answer/Patriarch Robert C. Fletcher

I recently had the opportunity of giving my son his patriarchal blessing followed immediately by a father’s blessing since he was planning to leave home for the next two years. The contrast was interesting. The patriarchal blessing put his whole life in perspective, identifying his lineage, and giving blessings and admonition to provide guidance and comfort for the rest of his life. The father’s blessing pertained primarily to the near future, intended to sustain him over the next two years. The patriarchal blessing was recorded, transcribed, and will be preserved permanently in the archives of the Church. In order for him to receive it, a recommend had to be obtained from his bishop. The father’s blessing was also transcribed, and will be kept in the family record but not in the Church records. No recommend was required.

President Spencer W. Kimball has issued the following policy statement: “Certainly we should give new and additional emphasis to the role of the father in giving blessings to children in the family. I think we should generally leave to the ordained patriarchs in the stakes the responsibility of declaring lineage in connection with an official patriarchal blessing, but still we could leave unlocked the door so that any father who felt inspired to pronounce the lineage in connection with a father’s blessing he was giving to his children should not be prevented from doing so.” (Suggestions to Patriarchs, p. 3.)

Thus in my case, since I was both patriarch and father, I could have given a patriarchal blessing that included the father’s blessing or I could have expanded the father’s blessing to include the greater perspective of the patriarchal blessing. I chose not to do either, but instead to keep them separate. The patriarchal blessing I expect to be contemplated for my son’s whole life. Eventually he may want to share it with his wife and his children, or even grandchildren. If he loses his copy, he can procure another from the Church Historian’s Office. Thus it becomes a document with considerable stature, to be treated with respect and reverence, something like a personal scripture.

Patriarch, Morristown New Jersey Stake