Q&A: Questions and Answers


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

“If a bishop in the ward has just been released and another bishop put in, do you refer to the former bishop as brother or as bishop?”

Answer/Brother Roy W. Doxey

Because of the importance of the office of bishop, considerable space is devoted to this calling in the scriptures and in the writings and sermons of the General Authorities. As far as I am aware, the answer to your question is not available in these sources. This may suggest that the custom of referring to a released bishop by this title is acceptable.

There should be no compulsion to continue to use the title over a long period of time, however. Certainly, the first few weeks or months after a bishop’s release is the period when the members of the ward will call him by that title. It is probable that as time passes the inclination to use the title bishop will be replaced by brother.

The axiom “once a bishop always a bishop” is correct because the office of bishop is an office of ordination conferred by the laying on of hands, the same as the Melchizedek Priesthood office of elder or high priest.

As a stake president, I always referred to a released bishop as bishop, and even to this day, years later, the same salutation is used. Such a relationship continues to bring back memories of times spent in a very special calling. Latter-day Saints use the titles of bishop and president as names of respect. When they do so, they are recognizing that the Lord has called the person to a noble calling and their sustaining help is constant. They also know that when a bishop is released he no longer presides over the ward. The concern which one might voice in calling a former bishop by that title would be if members of the ward believed that he was continuing in the bishop’s role of counselor. Wise released bishops understand that when ward members come to them as though they were active bishops they refer them to their present bishop.

If I were introducing a former bishop to a congregation or audience, I would refer to him as brother and then possibly mention he is a former bishop.

Director of Correlation Review

“How important is my calling as a home teacher, and how can I magnify this calling more fully?”

Answer/Brother Elden Clark Olsen

I don’t believe one calling in the Church is more important than another. Whatever our assignment, our goal should be the salvation and exaltation of those for whom we are responsible—the stake president for all living within the boundaries of the stake; the home teacher for all members of the families under his care. And I can have more influence on the lives of individuals as a home teacher than as a stake president. The reason is simple. The most effective teaching is done on a person-to-person basis, and during my calling as a stake president, I cannot hope to interview each of the thousands of members of the stake more than once or twice. Even then I cannot know as much about them as I would like in order to properly prepare for a discussion. As a home teacher, however, I can learn intimately the hopes, problems, and special needs of each of those in my families; and I can see them as often as necessary, at least once a month, to meet those needs.

The Lord has said, “The teacher’s duty is to watch over the church always, and be with and strengthen them; And see that there is no iniquity in the church, neither hardness with each other, neither lying, back-biting, nor evil speaking; And see that the church meet together often, and also see that all the members do their duty.” (D&C 20:53–55).

This is what you are supposed to accomplish. Surely no assignment could be greater or more challenging. If every priesthood home teacher responded anxiously to this call, everyone would live righteously, attend their meetings, participate in the welfare program, do genealogy and temple work, and be missionaries by inviting nonmember friends to join in family and ward activities. The Church would really grow and prosper.

How are you supposed to do it? A stake president has many meetings and interviews, with a specific objective to be accomplished in each. I get all the information available about each person involved, then prayerfully plan how best to achieve the objective of each interview. During the meeting I use my best skills, and afterwards I review the results to determine how I can do better the next time. Thus I can continue to improve and eventually become very effective. This is truly magnifying my calling in the priesthood—it is the Lord’s plan of progression. I need to use the same procedures as a home teacher.

The Lord has placed on fathers and mothers the prime responsibility of the eternal welfare of their children. The home teacher’s role is to encourage fathers, who preside over the home, to establish short- and long-range goals for each family member. This is best done in a private interview. Then the home teacher should assist in every way possible in attaining these goals. A few examples may illustrate some ways in which members can be strengthened and encouraged to do their duty.

On learning that we were his home teachers, one father who understood this relationship came to me with a planning and report form listing challenges given by previous home teachers. Six-year-old Michael had been given a dollar to start a mission fund and had been asked to find a hobby. Eight-year-old Dianne was to learn the names of her grandparents and fill out a family group sheet. Both children were encouraged to play the piano. Father and mother were challenged to develop some common interests in preparation for the future. “Just something to workust something to work on,” he wrote.

These we followed up on, and new goals were established. We showed filmstrips from the meetinghouse library on books of remembrance and temple marriage. Once we asked permission to bring a girl investigator to our next visit so she could feel the spirit of an ideal Latter-day Saint family—indirectly teaching both missionary responsibilities and the importance of good family relationships. Dianne and Michael were reading the Book of Mormon. Every time they saw us, at home or at the chapel, they would report on their progress. If there was time, we would ask about some story or the meaning of a verse, and we would always say, “That’s wonderful! We’re proud of you.”

Once when reading the New Testament, Dianne had not read very much and said she just hadn’t found the time. We replied that you never find time for worthwhile things, you have to make time by planning a definite schedule for each day. The father said, “We’ll all spend a period together each morning reading the scriptures.”

You too can experience the thrill of success enjoyed by these home teachers by following these six steps.

1. Be convinced that you have an important divine calling and are in a better position than any other Church officer to help families attain salvation and exaltation.

2. Become well acquainted with each family member, discovering his talents, aspirations, and concerns.

3. Ask the head of the family about goals for each family member and how he would like you to help in achieving them.

4. For each visit select with your companion a specific objective for some member of the family and prayerfully plan how to achieve this objective. Feel free to use all the resources of the community and the Church, including scheduled meetings, people with special abilities, and the audiovisual aids in the ward meetinghouse library.

5. In the presentation use all your personal powers. Bear your testimony on the importance of the points discussed. Observe and sincerely commend every evidence of progress.

6. After the visit, evaluate your success and determine where improvements can be made. Discuss your progress in oral evaluation with your priesthood leader.

Regional Representative of the Twelve

“What difference does a temple marriage make in this life?”

Answer/Brother Dean Jarman

It has been said many times that the most important thing a person does in life is to worthily marry the right person, at the right time, and in the right place, which is, of course, in a temple of the Lord. One of the central purposes of life is to organize one’s own little kingdom on earth by the authority of the priesthood. Life’s purpose is not simply fulfilled by any kind of marriage. It must be the right kind of marriage. The scriptures teach the absolute necessity of temple marriage in order to reach the highest degree of the celestial kingdom.

We read in the Doctrine and Covenants:

“In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees;

“And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage];

“And if he does not, he cannot obtain it.

“He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase.” (D&C 131:1–4.)

We also read of the promises given to those who worthily marry and who honor their covenants in the temple:

“Ye … shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths … and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever.” (D&C 132:9.)

Having thus stated the importance of temple marriage, many reasons can be noted as to the difference such a marriage makes in this life. Three major areas will be considered: preparation for marriage, the marriage ceremony, and marriage itself.

Preparation for Marriage

As individuals prepare for temple marriage, they are taught early in life the standards of worthiness that are prerequisite for entering a temple. Through the growing years, the dating years, and the courtship period, the determination to qualify for temple marriage serves as a motivation to protect virtue and to avoid any improper use of the sacred power of creation. With eyes fixed on the temple, it is easier to make decisions to live a higher standard than that accepted by the world. Young men and women accept full Church participation as a norm. Young men are taught that part of their preparation for temple marriage includes full-time missionary service. Young ladies are taught to develop their domestic skills and to select a marriage partner from those who honor their priesthood.

Because of the seriousness of selecting an eternal companion, inspiration should and usually does become a part of the decision-making process. A couple preparing for eternal marriage ponder more seriously if their love is the right quality to establish a celestial union. Prior to marriage the couple have several opportunities to receive counsel and guidance from their parents, bishops, and stake presidents. The couple not only receive direction as to worthiness, but they also receive counsel on the importance of commencing a family, of raising a righteous posterity, and of establishing a priesthood-directed home.

In short, the couple who are preparing for temple marriage have opportunities for a more thorough preparation. Their goal is not only marriage, but also to receive the blessings of the temple and to lay the foundation for eternal association.

The Marriage Ceremony

I cannot think of any better way to commence marriage than to have the assurance in your heart that your course of action has the approval of God. To be in the temple and to have that assurance provides a powerful foundation on which to establish the marriage relationship. Nothing surpasses the simple beauty of a sealing room. There a couple kneels, not as a bride and a groom, but as a son and a daughter of God who have made some solemn covenants of obedience and dedication. As the young lady is sealed to her husband, she has the assurance that he has pledged himself to walk in the ways of the Lord. The young man is impressed with the responsibility that is his to preside in righteousness. The couple appreciates that their union is not just with each other, but also with the Lord. Words cannot describe the feelings of joy and enlightenment that occur in the life of each properly-prepared couple that kneels at the altar. In this experience alone, temple marriage makes such a difference in this life.

Married Life

The hope of eternal life with loved ones continues to be a rich source of joy and encouragement through the years. Parents who have had spiritual temple experiences will try to teach and to motivate their children toward those same blessings.

As challenges arise in married life, what comfort to recall the experiences and feelings associated with your own marriage! We are also promised continued assurances of hope and peace as we live according to our sacred covenants.

The opportunities to return to the temple, to witness other marriages, and to participate in endowment sessions all serve as restraints against yielding to the enticements and temptations of the adversary. The perspective of the temple helps one to keep his eyes fixed on eternity while trying to resolve the problems of mortal living.

In summary, I would say to young people everywhere that every effort to know the Lord, every restraint against temptation, every worthy act, every decision to date properly, every choice to associate with young people with high ideals, and every prayer to make proper mate selection will someday be rewarded manyfold in the house of the Lord. You will live to know that every effort you have made has been worth it.

Former member Young Men General Board