Q&A: Questions and Answers

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

    “Is there any reason a young woman should not ask a young man on a date?”

    Answer/Sister Arlene B. Darger

    It’s a little like asking, “Is bread fattening?” The answer might be “No, unless you eat it!” or “It depends. What kind is it? Thin sliced, low calorie? Or thick date nut with a generous layer of cream cheese on top? What is your motive? Are you eating it to fill a nutritional need or just a hollow sweet tooth? What effect will it have on your caloric intake for the day?” In other words, this is not necessarily a yes/no question. There may be some considerations you would want to look at.

    Girls’ choice dances have been around for a long time, and girls have gathered up their courage to ask a boy to these once-a-year occasions, so I assume we are talking about something apart from these.

    In preparation for writing this article I asked approximately 50 people, selected at random, what they thought. Some were parents; most were 16- to 18-year-olds, boys and girls, ranging all the way from shy to outgoing, and all capable and attractive. The responses ranged from, “It’s great! Takes the pressure off me” (cute 16-year-old young man) to negative shrugs from four 17-year-old young men. Most of the girls responded with, “I think it’s okay once in a while, if it’s something really special.” There were some competent and confident young women, however, who said that they would not ask a boy for a date. One mother of a 16-year-old young man said, “I don’t like it when the girls call too often asking for casual dates or just to talk. My boy is busy with sports and a part-time job to earn money for his mission and education. At this time of his life I would rather he spent his extra time in family-related activities or doing things with his boyfriends.”

    In making decisions about dating, you might want to consider some of the following questions.

    Why do you date?

    Dating is something that some girls dream about and some boys tolerate. It provides opportunities to practice social and relating skills that will eventually help you to sustain a happy and lasting marriage. It also provides opportunities to learn what qualities and characteristics you admire in different people you date and ultimately to select the one you will share this life and eternity with.

    When do you date?

    Circumstances vary, of course, in different parts of the world. In some cultures youth leave the protective environment of the home and are required to find their way in life at a fairly young age. In most western cultures, there is opportunity to take more time to prepare ourselves and to make wise decisions regarding our life’s work and our life’s companion. President Spencer W. Kimball has said: “Any dating or pairing off in social contacts should be postponed until at least the age of 16 or older, and even then there should still be much judgment used. … Young people should still limit the close contacts for several years, since the boy will be going on his mission when he is 19 years old.

    “Dating and especially steady dating in the early teens … distorts the whole picture of life. It deprives you of worthwhile and rich experiences; it limits friendships; it reduces the acquaintances which can be so valuable in selecting a partner for time and eternity.

    “There is definitely a time for the dance, for travel, for associations, for the date, and even for the steady date that will culminate in the romance which will take young people to the holy temple for eternal marriage. But it is the timing that is so vital. It is wrong to do even the right things at the wrong time in the wrong place under the wrong circumstances” (“President Kimball Speaks Out on Morality,” New Era, Nov. 1980, p. 42).

    The teen years are a unique time of life. During these years you will have more time for yourself, to do the things you want to do, than you will have again for a long time. Use this time to find out about yourself and who you really are, what it means to be a “chosen” daughter or son of our Heavenly Father, part of a noble generation saved for this time. Find out what is important for you. What are your goals? What do you want to accomplish in your life? What standards and values are important to you?

    How do you date?

    Use your teen years to extend your friendships. How about doing things in groups rather than as couples? Have group cookouts, group study sessions, and group sing-ins. You may have to take the initiative at first to plan such boy-girl get togethers, but the others will love it, especially if there’s food involved. Be creative. Try to include some group activities in your ward and stake dances, like square dancing, folk dancing, and group mixer dances. Attend church socials as a group and go home as a group. These teen years can be rewarding, meaningful, and fun without ever having a date.

    It seems to me that the important thing in dating, as in everything in life, is to keep things in the proper perspective. Ask yourself, What impact will this have on me? my family? friends? those who look to me for example? How important is it in light of my goals and plans for the future? What will be the consequences of my action for me and for others? What would my Heavenly Father have me do?

    Remember that dating is not an end in itself. It is a means to an end. It is not even a true test of popularity. You can be very popular with your friends and still not have many dates.

    As in all important decisions, think about the people you admire—your church leaders, teachers, family, and friends—and look to them as role models. Realize that the situations and values you see portrayed in many of the movies and television shows are contrived. They are not real life. Real life is what you create for yourself by the decisions you make.

    Consult with your parents. They have a sacred stewardship for your life and are anxious to help you in any way they can. Seek guidance from your Father in Heaven. He knows all your frustrations and your heartaches. Seek to understand his plan for you, and he will remove your fear and give unto you the spirit of “power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7). He has said, “Ask, and it shall be given unto you; seek, and ye shall find” (3 Ne. 14:7). Build your house [life] upon a rock so it will be strong and will withstand the pressures of the world (see 3 Ne. 14:24–25). Watch and pray always, lest you be tempted to stray from his plan (see 3 Ne. 18:18). “Hold up your light [your standards] that it may shine unto the world” (3 Ne. 18:24).

    While you young women wait for your special men to return from their missions or while you are preparing to be the right one rather than looking for the right one, work to increase your own knowledge and understanding of the gospel. Then when you do meet him you will be on the same high level of spiritual maturity and enthusiasm and can go from there, growing together in commitment and love for the Lord.

    Always remember how important you are. Have a good image of yourself. Know what your strengths are and also your weaknesses. Have purpose in your life. Set your goals high, and always be working to achieve them and to become the best person you are capable of becoming. This means practicing self-discipline to keep yourself on target. Seek for protection in all you do, and don’t let anything or anyone lure you into doing something that would compromise your standards or keep you from reaching your goals. You have been promised that all things will work together for your good if you love God (see Rom. 8:28).

    So we come back to our original question, “Is there any reason a young woman should not ask a young man on a date?” The decision must be your own. The Savior said, “It is not meet that I should command in all things. … Men [and women] should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves” (D&C 58:26–28). I hope you can see that I feel this is a matter of free agency. The decision is up to you to make with the proper perspective, proper motives, understanding, and the help of all those who love you.

    “Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail.

    “… perform with soberness the work which I have commanded you.

    “Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.

    “… be faithful, keep my commandments, and ye shall inherit the kingdom of heaven” (D&C 6:34–37).

    “Is bread fattening?” Maybe! But after giving it very careful consideration, I think I’ll go fix myself a big slice of warm bread—with cheese.

    Former First Counselor, Young Women General Presidency

    “What are the most important events that must take place before Christ returns?”

    Answer/Brother Joseph F. McConkie

    The scriptures explicitly prohibit the speaking of the time of Christ’s return in terms of the day and the hour. It is clear that the calendar we use is not to be one of months and years but rather one of events. There are unconditional prophecies that must be fulfilled before Christ will return. These events are described in the scriptures as the “finishing of his work” and are to take place primarily “in the beginning of the seventh thousand years [of the earth’s temporal history]—the preparing of the way before the time of his coming” (D&C 77:6, 12).

    In Revelation 9 [Rev. 9] we read of the wars and plagues to be poured out during the seventh seal. By revelation, Joseph Smith told us that these things “are to be accomplished after the opening of the seventh seal, before the coming of Christ” (D&C 77:13).

    The faithful Saints can recognize these events and thus be prepared to receive Christ when he returns. Let us briefly consider six key events (not necessarily in chronological order) that must be accomplished before the Second Coming. They are (1) the preaching of the gospel in all the world; (2) the gathering of Israel; (3) the building of temples; (4) the appearance of Christ at Adam-ondi-Ahman; (5) the battle of Armageddon; and (6) signs and wonders in the heavens.

    1. The preaching of the gospel in all the world. It is the destiny of the gospel restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith to be preached among every nation, kindred, tongue, and people before Christ returns. Those of every nation, family, and language must have the opportunity to accept or reject Christ as he is testified of in the Book of Mormon (3 Ne. 21:11). Included are the peoples of Russia, China, India, and the Moslem nations. All are to be taught the restored gospel in their own language and by their own peoples (D&C 90:11; Alma 29:8). In all these nations will be found congregations of Latter-day Saints “armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory” (1 Ne. 14:12, 14). It would appear that great changes must take place among the governments of men before such prophecies can be fulfilled.

    2. The gathering of Israel. Through the teaching of the gospel the prophecies about the gathering of Israel will be fulfilled. This applies to Lamanite, Jew, or those of the lost tribes alike. All were lost or scattered because they rejected Christ and his laws. They will have claim again upon their ancient inheritances when they have returned to Christ and his everlasting covenants. After they have been “restored to the true church and fold of God,” they will return under the direction of the prophet who holds the keys of the gathering of Israel to the lands of their inheritance (2 Ne. 9:2; D&C 110:11).

    3. The building of temples. As Israel is gathered Zion will be established, and as Zion is established temples will be built. Temples have as their purpose to prepare people to meet God. Malachi promised that in the last days the Lord would suddenly come to his temple (Mal. 3:1). Isaiah identified temple building as a sign of the gathering of Israel preparatory to the coming of Christ (Isa. 2:1–3). Prophetic promises include the building of temples in both the Jerusalem of old and the New Jerusalem of Jackson County (D&C 84:4; D&C 124:36).

    4. The appearance of Christ at Adam-ondi-Ahman. Before the great and dreadful day when Christ will come both to claim his own and to bring judgment upon the wicked, before he descends openly and publicly, he will appear privately and quietly to some of the faithful Saints of all ages in the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman. Here those who have held keys and powers from the time of Adam to the present will account for their stewardships. They will return their keys to Adam, who in turn will return all keys to Christ. All will thus be readied for Christ to commence his millennial reign (D&C 116; Dan. 7:9–14; Dan. 7:21–22).

    5. The battle of Armageddon. When Israel has returned to her land, having come from all the nations of the earth, and the Old Jerusalem has been rebuilt with the temple of the Lord, then will come a time of great wickedness and destruction which will culminate in the battle of Armageddon.

    It has been falsely supposed that it will be a state of righteousness that ushers in the millennial era. Such is not the case; the whole world will be wallowing in wickedness. Two of God’s prophets will be slain in Jerusalem, and their bodies will lie in the street for three and a half days before God brings them forth from the dead (Rev. 11:8–11).

    According to divine providence Jerusalem’s tribulations will parallel her sins: the city shall be taken, the houses rifled, the women ravished (Zech. 14:2). It appears that only the righteous will escape this destruction and depredation.

    Such is the setting of the last great battle, the battle of Armageddon. This culminating battle in a religious war, a war which pits the cause of Israel and their Christ against the forces of Gog and Magog, will be waged on the plain of Esdraelon in the ancient land of Palestine. According to Revelation 9:16 [Rev. 9:16], here some “two hundred thousand thousand” (that is two hundred million men and more) will be involved in a battle which will embrace and extend to all the nations of the earth. During this battle Christ will place his foot again upon the Mount of Olives and the sacred mount will split in twain. He will rescue his people and stand in judgment on the wicked. The defeat of Gog and Magog will represent the final destruction of the enemies of Israel and the end of earthly nations and kingdoms. Soon thereafter, Christ will reign as King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev. 9; D&C 45:48; Rev. 19:14–16).

    6. Signs and wonders in the heavens. Some 2,000 years earlier while on the Mount of Olives, Christ had told his disciples of the destructions that would come again upon Israel in the last days. He then promised: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven shall be shaken” (JS—M 1:33).

    This then is the final great sign, for “then,” he promised, “shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven, and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn; and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory” (JS—M 1:36).

    Associate Professor of Ancient Scripture, Brigham Young University