Face to Face with Elder Holland

CcPRXmhVAAIiqdhOn March 8, 2016 there was a worldwide “Face-to-Face” event for Young Single Adults (YSA) with Elder Holland. He was accompanied by Elder Donald Hallstrom of the 70, and Sister Carole Stephens of the general Relief Society Presidency.  All YSA’s were encouraged to submit questions on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using #LDSface2face. As you can see by the quote on the left, Elder Holland laments that he could not have more personal interaction with YSA’s but then offers social media as the next best thing.

On a Facebook post Feb 25, 2016 Elder Holland said:

“Elder Donald L. Hallstrom, Sister Carole M. Stephens, and I are thrilled to be part of the first YSA #‎LDSFace2Face‬ event on March 8 at 6 p.m. MST. We can’t wait to help you find answers to your questions. You can tune in live on LDS.org.- https://www.facebook.com/lds.jeffrey.r.holland/videos/845900825518729/

On a Facebook post March 7th, 2016, here is what Elder Holland had to say:

“I have been reading the questions you are asking for the #‎LDSFace2Face event tomorrow evening at 6 p.m. MST. I encourage you to keep asking them in the comments below. We will continue to watch the questions as they come in. In the meantime, I’d like to go ahead and answer one of the questions that I saw from a young man who asked about how he should feel after returning home early from his mission due to mental health problems.”https://www.facebook.com/lds.jeffrey.r.holland/videos/851129334995878/

Well, the questions poured in on that Facebook post. After the event was over, Elder Holland personally answered 9 of the very general Facebook questions but nothing after that. Elder Hallstrom replied to 5 comments, but nothing after that. Finally, on 3/17 Elder Holland posted on his Facebook page:

A few of your questions centered around depression, anxiety, mental illness, and even suicide. Some of those questions I saw came from individuals who were depressed and felt spiritually dull, even though they were going to church, reading their scriptures, praying, etc. To those of you who feel this way, I would say you simply have to fight through those periods and trust things will improve. They will! Old sailing ships had periods when the wind did not blow. They were “dead in the water.” But the wind will return. The sails will fill. You will come into port.

If I had the ability to answer all of your questions individually, I would. But the reality of the matter is that I cannot. However, I plead with you to continue to seek help from those around you who care.- Link to FB post

As you will see from some the questions posted below, there are individuals in the church who are suffering deeply, asking the some of the most heartfelt and sincere questions I have ever read. My heart aches for many of them and even though my beliefs may be different, I think they deserve answers to their questions. I hope Elder Holland takes some time out of his busy schedule to answer them. Since a void has been created there, other Facebook commenters have jumped in and responded to the questions posted on Elder Holland’s Facebook page. Quite a few commenters, some of whom believe they have such great advice to give, have responded to multiple threads. Some of that advice appears helpful and not so helpful in other cases.

In the meantime, I’ve thought about how I personally would respond to these questions. Since their questions were not directed at me, instead of posting on Elder Holland’s Facebook page, I’ve decided to write this post, with my answers.

I have no illusions that my responses will resolve the issues faced by the individuals actually asking the questions, nor that they will even see my responses. Perhaps it will be just more of an exercise for me. Perhaps it will give some of those close to me a glimpse into my world view. Perhaps it can help someone reading this post who has a similar question or concern. My answers will be unorthodox so some people might not find them very satisfying. For those willing to look outside the box a bit, maybe they will find something useful here.

Marrying or dating non-members:

12565625_10207009182885386_5289385504757653526_nTruly Brady I am engaged to a non member. He was my best friend way back in high school, my ex husband thinks so highly of him and my daughters absolutely adore him. We’ve dated for 3 years and been engaged for 1 and the reason we’re not married yet is because I’m scared. I’m terrified of my eternal exaltation. My bishop feels strongly that id be making a mistake to run because my fiancée is such a neat man but I am so worried about attending the temple again alone and not having the priesthood in my home and the lack of example it would be to my girls. I don’t want to only love his potential…as that’s not fair to him but I don’t know if I can really marry a non member. What if he never joins? When I think of my life without him it feels empty but when I think of my eternal goals I’m saddened and feel scared all over again.

12509022_1666618836926068_4109646138863434475_nErin Hancock Hey Elder Holland, how can we, as young adults looking for a spouse, stay positive and not get jaded from either the lack of dating opportunities or consistently picking the wrong people to date? I’m home from my mission and I know the next step is to look for a spouse, so how can we stay happy and hopeful when it seems like the Lord is making us wait?

11015106_10153667992820883_8477916999987333864_nCristian Daniel Gomez I’m in a difficult situation where I have a job lined up in a city with very little church activity and LDS dating scene. I currently live in Salt Lake and feel that I’m sacrificing the much more likely chance of finding a wife in Salt Lake by moving to this city to start a career. What do I do?

10400355_10156670215390492_8640029936911252839_nNicole Brown Elder Holland,
How does our Heavenly Father feel about dating people who are wonderful, kind, caring genuinely good people but who are not of our faith? I guess I have heard it go both ways where a women was patient and loving enough to help bring a man into the fold and become a worthy priesthood holder and stayed faithful until the day he died and praised his wife for being so patient and being an instrument in God’s hands to assist in bring him to the gospel. And then I have also heard of marriages that ended in divorce because the significant other never changed and there were conflicts and ended up getting divorced and I’ve also heard stories of people who get baptized and change their lives for their spouse instead of love for the Lord which doesn’t stick because they did it for the wrong reasons so they find them self unhappy and fall away from the church which could then lead to conflicts and divorce or an invalid temple marriage? Where only 2/3 of the people involved in making that sacred covenant are living up to it.
I have always had the goal to be married in the temple and still to this day this is a deep desire of my heart. Upon returning from a full time mission. I had set goals to continue being a member missionary and trying to invite others to come unto Christ, and I try not to judge others and see people through our heavenly father’s eyes as children of God whom he loves just with different sins than my own. I have dated guys both that are members of the church and those that aren’t and over a period of time have come to have a strong attraction to a man not of our faith, but as I have talked to him he actually believes a lot of our core doctrines and principles he just doesn’t understand that they are the same and why it is necessarily important yet but I feel like someday he will with God’s timing. He doesn’t use fancy words like agency but I have had conversations with him where he explains to me the exact concept of it and tells me that he believes in it. I really care about him and don’t want to hurt him and even though I really like him and enjoy his company the way he is now I have a strong hope that he will believe and be baptized one day so we can be sealed together but I don’t want him to change for the wrong reason (me) I would want him to change for him and for heavenly father and I don’t want to compromise my goal of being married in the temple.
Is the reasoning “He’s just not LDS” a good enough reason to break up with someone who is kind hearted and takes care of me?
The priesthood has also been super important to me as I have grown up and I have found there are people who marry “worthy priesthood holders” in the temple and their marriages still end in divorce. Marriages fail because one of the 2 people involved gives up and this guy that is not of our faith has shown me that he’s not going to give up. Is it better to be with a guy that says he believes in eternal marriages but could possibly give up at the first sign of hardship or a guy that I know we can problem solve together and stick things out through the thick and thin because we already have, and help be that person to assist him into coming into the fold even if it’s not in this life time. Is that too much of a gamble?
I don’t know I guess I just feel torn between two things that seem good, and I know which one I want more. Definitely the temple but how long is too much time to invest in someone to see if the will someday convert? How do you still continue to help someone progress towards the gospel if you have broken there heart and rejected them for not being taught to believe the same things you believe (his family also not LDS but very good people) I guess that’s a lot of questions but my heart is torn and confused and I wanted to know what your thoughts are about it. #LDSFace2Face

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Cheyanne Baker Oxford I am married to the only individual I will accept as my eternal companion. He has not yet accepted the gospel but is studying it out in his heart. He is very strong in the spirit and I see the potential for him to be a great priesthood holder. In the event that he rejects the gospel, what will that mean for my family in the eternal scale? Will I be resigned to spending the eternities alone or tied to some mysterious man whose marital relationship will mean nothing to me?
11269739_1087487171265888_1591608255830711980_n (1)Cheyanne Baker Oxford Amanda Stickney the apostles and prophets may not be perfect in the area of humanity or the natural man, but when it comes to the gospel and their revelations, they are spot on! I got the attention of plenty of people with this question, lol. I welcome your thoughts, but am eager to see what Elder Jeffrey R Holland has to say on the matter…
12734270_10102418788994439_5851213244360200135_nWhitney Fontoura Elder Holland, please answer
11269739_1087487171265888_1591608255830711980_n (1)Cheyanne Baker Oxford Whitney Fontoura He will get to it as he is able, no worries smile emoticon

 

12743583_10154009568202755_5932852240061458449_nValerie Larsen I have a question for any of you who may have some insight. As a YSA nearing MSA years I’ve been doing my best to trust the Lord’s timeline for me in regards to marriage. I’ve dated members and nonmembers alike, and have heard many rumors about the gender ratios in the church, particularly that there are more women than men. Recognizing that it’s not sinning, or breaking any sort of commandment to marry outside the faith, and considering that I would personally prefer to be in a healthy interfaith marriage and have the opportunity to be a mother in this life, than to spend my earthly mission as a single saint, I would ask you three what your thoughts would be on that? What kind of questions should I be asking the Lord as I entertain this possibility? Of course I would prefer overall a marriage in the temple. But if Heavenly Father sees a different path for me and one of His sons who hasn’t yet gained a testimony, what would be your advice for exploring that option in a healthy way?

12345454_878025542312639_398561038161617007_nJackrose Anu Lds Elder Holland please tell me is it ok to marry a person outside the church where he wants to get converted after marriage into the gospel while their parents are rejecting it as they are from different religion…..???

Non-apostolic response: It breaks my heart to see such angst expressed. I hope Elder Holland eventually give responses to these questions. This may or may not help, but 99.94% of the world does not actively participate in Mormonism in any meaningful way (see Mormon Math). Since Elder Holland hasn’t responded I will tell you that YES it is ok to marry someone outside of the faith. My advice would be to weigh out what means more to you, a loving and meaningful relationship or a temple marriage with a spouse that eventually converts to the church. If you value a temple marriage more, do not marry outside of your faith. Please don’t marry someone outside of your faith, expecting they will convert someday because they may not.

As far as your relationship in eternity goes? I’m quite confident if there is a next life, who you associate or do not associate with will largely be determined by you alone and not a symbolic ordinance which almost every human on earth will not have taken part in. You do know for sure you have this life, and it appears you are looking for love and companionship. Speaking as someone who lives in a mixed faith marriage I will tell you that you CAN find happiness, joy, and love but both parties have to be respectful and validate the faith choices of their spouse. PLEASE do not let fear of your eternal exaltation prevent you from being happy in this life.

 

The spirit of discernment: Is that revelation or my own thoughts/desires?

12106781_1662982700653595_4554593994510405071_nDarby Miller Elder Holland, I am facing a lot of decisions right now, and I feel like I am getting a lot of conflicting feelings about what direction to take. I know that Heavenly Father wants to help me make decisions, but also that He wants me to choose these decisions. I am really scared of making choices that effect me eternally. How can I get my answer more clear and sure and how can I know the line between what Heavenly Father has in plan for me and what things He just wants me to make a choice on.

1379841_10150004552801901_469209496895221757_nJana Nowlend Elder Holland, how are we able to discern whether the spirit is warning us or whether it is the adversary placing doubts in our hearts?…(specifically relating to the future/marriage)

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Samantha Layton I’m so grateful for the opportunity to have been able to listen to the face to face tonight. I have a follow up question for the one on spiritual promptings: what do you do when there is a choice to make (such as serving a mission etc) and don’t receive an answer? Is there anything more than just keep praying?

255586_344118495657323_871568470_nJessica Hamblin I want to know how to know whether Heavenly Father wants me to go on a mission, since I’m a girl so it’s not an expectation. Major decisions like this are really hard for me, and I don’t know how to recognize answers to my prayers, but I feel like I can’t make such an important decision without knowing what Heavenly Father has planned.

10606583_950170178372075_755423954383033160_nBecca Evans I know that all good things come from the Spirit, but when making major life decisions that aren’t necessarily matters of simply good or evil, how do I know if it’s the Spirit giving me an answer?

12512434_236948496640747_7014573656670081527_nNoah W Lee How can I recognize the Spirit confirming a decision or negating a decision as far as life choices like what school to attend, what job to take, etc? I am about to act on those choices and don’t necessarily feel that there was a specific confirmation yet for these choices, but still am waiting on the Lord. What can I do to receive that answer? #LDSFace2Face

12745793_10101095653530274_7858842531702848867_n (1)Ashley Sargeant Dear Elder Jeffrey R Holland,
I am overcome by emotion by your heartfelt video to all of us early returning missionaries. As one who returned home early from the Brazil, Brasilia mission 9 months early due to mental illness three years ago your words spoke a profound peace to my heart. I’m so grateful you addressed this issue of accepting our missions, no matter how long or short. It has been my personal mission over the past year to share hope and awareness with early returning missionaries and those fighting to overcome mental illness through a social media campaign called “Don’t Stop Sargeant” and have cited quotes from you on many occasions. Thank you for your empathy and concern for those of us who have felt like broken vessels — we love you! My questions come from the bottom of my broken 28 year-old single adult female heart. After the last eight dating relationships I have been involved in have ended because of serious pornography addictions and even abuse, I have been left feeling very discouraged that I will ever marry in this life — let alone ever have a long-term boyfriend. After being repeatedly objectified and lied to, I feel I can’t trust men in general and almost always find an excuse not to accept an invitation for a date. How can we better develop the gift of discernment to avoid abusive and codependent relationships? Will we need to lower our moral standards regarding pornography addictions in order to marry? How can those of us females who are “waxing older” in years maintain hope and confidence that the Lord will keep His promises of roles as wives and mothers when it is increasingly difficult to find someone who is worthy to marry in the Temple? Thank you for respectfully considering my questions as they have weighed on my heart and the hearts of many friends for years. God bless you for your service and goodness! Sincerely,
Ashley Sargeant
10155685_531204166988398_5617959086263260562_nJeffrey R Holland The gift of discernment is specifically a gift of the Spirit. The path that leads to discernment is therefore one and the same with the path that leads to spirituality generally. Trust that if you are trying to live worthily, the Spirit will be at work in your life, even if you don’t always recognize it. Therefore, what you feel will be spiritual discernment.
12745793_10101095653530274_7858842531702848867_n (1)Ashley Sargeant Elder Jeffrey R Holland, thank you so much for taking the time to respond — I’m so moved by your inspired answer. Someday I will tell my children that an Apostle of the Lord took the time to listen to and answer one of my life’s most challenging questions. Thank you, with all of my heart! 

528305_10151938041493881_1656903619_nSarahBeth Stott Thank you Elder Holland, Sister Stephens, and Pres. Hallstrom for your love to us YSA. We sure love you back. My question is about choosing and discerning between good choices and good choices. I appreciate your answers in saying whether it’s our own thoughts or of the Lord, if they’re good then they’re right. But when all the choices you are debating between are all good, but you can’t do them all.. Then what? Ive even tried choosing any of the good choices and going with it. But have been stopped by the spirit one after another. So for a long time now I have been stuck at home with no future prospects in career, independent living, education, etc. (and I’m getting older in the ysa age). How do I progress in these things? Am I following the spirit incorrectly?

11828755_10100953897385724_2893122287366269307_nKelsie Day I have been trying to make some very important decisions for my future. I have done everything that I know to do in order to receive an answer. I have fasted many times, prayed, read my scriptures, attended the temple and I still feel that I don’t know if I’ve received an answer. I’ve even fasted that I would be able to learn how the spirit speaks to me so that I will know the answer when I receive it. How do we go through the process learning how the spirit talks to us individually? I’m just so frustrated at myself for not being able to recognize my answer. Also, many people have said that if I haven’t received an answer yet that it is because the Lord is saying that it is my choice. How do I know if that is the case or if he’s just withholding his answer until the time is right to tell me?

11692731_10205694309974523_4400162203677566044_nKelea LaPreal Sorensen Elder Jeffrey R Holland, I really need help. I pray, and pray. I’ve been through the temple and I am temple worthy. But I don’t understand how to recognize answers I may be getting from my prayers. I don’t want to say that I never get answers, but sometimes it feels like that is the case. I pray fervently for answers to questions that I’ve studied out and pondered and I feel like I don’t receive answers. What can I do? I want to be close to the Lord but it is feeling so difficult!!! #LDSface2face

12718302_1010349499010800_3004414623724026982_nAnna TibbittsI feel like I’ve revceived confirmations to go on a mission. But other times, I feel good about not going on a mission as well. I know I need to be taking action to receive an answer, would your advice be to take an action towards going or staying? Because I can either start my papers or start looking for places to live in this fall. How do I know what to decide when I feel good about both?

12642820_10206950643178916_2430507847733837165_nMelissa White I have a difficult decision to make and both options seem good. How do you tell the difference between being uncomfortable to stretch and grow yourself and being uncomfortable because it’s not what you should be doing? #LDSFace2Face

12729071_10204197534016941_1230374717596194308_nJared L. Monasmith Elder Holland, I made a lot of mistakes throughout high school and got into some trouble spiritually. I tried to get away from it by serving a mission. I was at the MTC in Mexico City and I felt the spirit so much more than I ever thought I could but the whole time I couldn’t get out of my head your talk about “how could you as a missionary convince another to repent of a sin that you yourself haven’t” and that hit me really hard. I came forward with it and was sent home. Since then I have been going to church started taking the sacrament again but throughout all of that I haven’t had near the conviction of the spirit. My question to you is why? Why in this desperate time of depression and doubt would the spirit not be there? I want to continue to get better and I’m just struggling and I don’t know what to do anymore! Every day is an endless struggle and I don’t know what to do

12274375_10153360152078022_5954485364189898210_nGelise Chugg #LDSFace2Face Elder Holland, my dearest friend has struggled most of their life to receive spiritual confirmation of the gospel… to seemingly no avail. I have spent many late nights listening and asking and praying with my friend and I know how sincere their desire is to know. I ache so much to share my joy in the gospel with them and am feeling lost too, in knowing what to do. How can this be? How can someone try so hard and not receive an answer?

Non-apostolic response: Would it help you to know you are not alone in asking your question? Would it surprise you to know that in practically EVERY meeting with young people in the church, the leaders are asked these very same questions? Would it help if I told you that it’s not you that is broken, it’s the process? What if I told you that “spiritual witnesses” are not a reliable indicator of truth and that just about every religion claims to have spiritual confirmations of their own path, religious text and institution? See this video and this video.

What if I told you that feeling and recognizing “the spirit” is more a function of your biological and physiological makeup than anything else? For this reason, as you can see in the section below, those who experience depression or other mental illnesses have trouble “feeling the spirit” and feel spiritually blunted.

I spent quite a bit of time scouring lds.org and other faith friendly sources for messages, conference talks, etc that gives faithful answers to these very questions. I present that information, along with alternative points of view in a four part blog post. The first part is linked here- Part 1.

Keep in mind that you can still have a meaningful experience in Mormonism even if you don’t “feel the spirit” or recognize it in the traditional ways. This piece by Rosalynde Welch, who is an active Mormon, may assist you in doing so- http://www.fairmormon.org/perspectives/fair-conferences/2013-fair-conference/2013-disenchanted-mormonism

trackingp73_aLastly, with regards to the power of discernment, if it were real, it sure would have come in handy to detect the forgeries of Mark Hoffman, before the LDS church purchased them.

After this picture was taken, Mark Hoffman went on to murder two people to avoid detection of his forgeries.

Please don’t beat yourself up trying to understand if you’ve got it figured out right. Do your best and move forward.

 

 

 

Why does depression or mental illness prevent me from feeling the spirit?

12809798_1689497284668393_773989827706964778_nRyan Weiss I suffer from depression and have suffered from it since my childhood. I went on a mission and really struggled through it because at the time I hadn’t been diagnosed. A lot of the time I didn’t feel the desire to go out and serve and thought that something was spiritually wrong with me. I was finally diagnosed with depression when I was 25 and started receiving professional help. The struggle has been difficult, even with medication and therapy. Last October I was hospitalized because I was suicidal. These have been some of the physical side effects of this disease. The worst part is what it has done to me spiritually. When I’m depressed I don’t feel anything, I feel empty and hollow. There is no joy or sadness, just nothing. When I read the Scriptures, pray, go to church, go to the temple, I feel nothing. This has lead to an existential crisis in my life. We’ve been promised time after time that doing these things will allow us to feel the spirit, so when I do these things and feel nothing, it makes me wonder if any of it is true. If I can’t feel the spirit, a non-physical force that we’re supposed to feel no matter what, then I’m lead to believe that nothing is true and if the gospel isn’t true, then what’s the point of anything, if there’s no God and no Savior, then why even try to live a good life? I still have faith and still go to church and fulfill my calling, but I need an answer for why this happens. Depression affects our brains and feelings, so when I can’t feel the spirit when I’m depressed, it makes me think that the spirit is merely a feeling created by the brain and nothing else. This only adds to my existential problem. I know this is a lot and I’m not sure if any of it makes sense, but I hope you see this and can give me an answer because nobody has been able to yet. Anyway, thanks for taking the time to consider this.

12187781_1223537531005824_3331643191807760638_nSherrie Marz Jessee Thank you Elder Holland for answering our questions. My question: I suffer from numerous illnesses one being depression. I have read that having depression can depress the spirit entering your mind and heart. I believe this whole heartedly. As I have gone through my pain and depression for several years I have spent my hours in prayer, scripture study and doing all I know how to feel the spirit. I don’t. I keep going, but it gets hard when I never feel the comfort or guidance of my Savior. What do I do?

12552605_1701448523406913_7073619792159076801_nNathan Schaumann Dear Elder Holland, thank you so much for taking the time to read all of our questions! I have one: how does someone with a mental illness truly feel the Spirit? It’s hard to know what God’s plan is for you and how you can best serve him when you feel like you can’t even control your own thoughts, and sometimes, your own actions. Mental illnesses, however severe, hinder one from making righteous, valiant choices and from using the precious gift of agency. How does one proceed? Thank you!

 

12799101_10207283007046703_459919059008905543_nJenn Savage Elder Holland, your talk on depression hit me hard, in fact it saved my life at the time. I struggle with some mental illness, how am I able to push through? No matter what I do, I am so low I can’t feel Gods Love and spirit. I try my hardest, but how do I push through and not give up?

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Anne E Christensen When battling depression, because it is a battle, how do you face the spiritual side-effects? I haven’t been able to feel the spirit in quite awhile which makes it especially heartbreaking whenever I attend church, the temple, or anyplace I should feel the spirit and don’t. It also makes private personal religious practices or “primary answers” especially difficult to continue doing when all I feel is pain. How do I keep trying when the darkness is so spiritually suffocating? How do I keep fighting when I have fought for so long and am exhausted from my feeble efforts? What can I do when all I want to do and all I have strength for is laying down and admitting defeat? How do I go on? How do I keep fighting to keep the faith?

1379841_10150004552801901_469209496895221757_nAnn Lyons I tried to post before you did the face to face the other day, but it seems it didn’t work. For over 8 years I have struggled on and off with depression, since I was a teenager. I had a period of time not that long ago that was better. It was around the time I had applied to serve a mission; I had done my best in every aspect to prepare for one, including improving my mental health. In the end, I was honourably excused. It was very hard, and still is, but I gradually got better from that, even though it still affects me sometimes, like when friends or members of the stake leave on missions (I had wanted to serve a mission for my entire life). I am now currently serving in my local unit in the church.In recent months, however, I’ve had a relapse, and I’m having serious thoughts surrounding suicide. I don’t know that there is overly one thing that made me worse. But it hasn’t lifted. I’m back to where I was a long time ago. Medication hasn’t made me better, counselling hasn’t made me better, and living the gospel hasn’t either.
I feel like there is no one there; I feel like God has left me and no one in the church cares about me. There seems to be no prospects for me in this life. I would have liked at one point to get married and have a family. Now all I can think is how unfair it would be to my husband and children to have to deal with my illness. No one should have to put up with what I’m going through.
I have nothing left. Nothing in life seems worth it. It’s all just a waiting game until we die. There is no point to it. If I’m not better now, there really is no chance that I’ll ever get better, so what’s the point in trying to keep going when there’s nothing left? I would like my mortal life to end. We’re promised we won’t be tempted above what we’re able, but I’ve passed the limit of what I can take, and I just can’t do it any more. I don’t know what question it is I am trying to ask. I guess if I was to try and put it in question format, I’d ask how to get better when nothing has worked. I don’t know.

10846313_10153416974848084_3870119082407362716_nJanna DeVries Barnes I’ve had esclesiatic leaders in our church tell me that people with mental illness don’t need counseling, just the atonement. One bishop turned down multiple ward members who could have benefited from lds counseling services. I support my priesthood leaders but I feel that at times we (as leaders) may not be informed how counselors a can help apply the healing balm of the Savior’s atonement. What is the church doing to train and inform the leaders in cases of mental illness?

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Holly Blackham Hello Elder Holland. I haven’t been to church in a few years now. I served a mission once upon a time but it has become a painful memory and I avoid talking to anyone connected with it now. I don’t know how to explain everything I feel so that you could understand clearly why things are the way they are or why I am who I am, in such a short time as allotted to me in a Facebook post. I am gay, I struggle with depression and anxiety, I have attachment issues, I feel emotions pretty deeply, and I don’t FEEL God’s love for me. There is a disconnect between how I feel and what I believe. I believe the gospel, I believe the words of the general authority–I even have kind and caring feelings for many of them. But I feel like a lost soul. Even when I was going to church and doing what’s right I never felt peace or comfort. So I stopped going and I’ve fallen into a few vices, and I feel the pain less sharp. But I don’t feel whole and I wish I could feel God’s love and be in alignment with the gospel because it’s where I want to be in the eternal scheme of things. How do I heal my torn soul? How do I finally feel whole and not like a shattered object? When I pray and try to pour out my heart it feels like I am screaming in the middle of a fiery tornado. So I don’t like to pray too deeply because it’s very difficult to feel that pain, and not feel peace. I’m sorry if you don’t understand, but I do believe that the Spirit can help you, so I hope you can help me. #LDSFace2Face

 
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Kammi J Pyles Elder Holland, I recently read the article in the Ensign titled Depression by Rebecca J Clayson. As I have struggled with understanding and coping with depression, this was a very enlightening article concerning the spiritual effects of depression. I know this is a common struggle and many of us are just beginning to seek treatment and understanding. It is good to know that when I am struggling with depression and feel guilty and spiritually weak, it is not necessarily because of unworthiness. However, I don’t understand this: When “depressive feelings and the resulting depressed view of one’s spirituality are usually caused by a chemical imbalance” what of the promise to Always have His Spirit to be with me? I have full faith in the Lord’s promises, but often when I try as best I can to do what I should to keep the commandments as I fight through depression, I don’t feel the spirit at all. I feel somewhat hopeless not being able to fully control the depression and yet always wanting the Spirit to be with me. I don’t want to be left alone. How is the promise to Always have His Spirit with me applicable when I am so depressed? I feel like that promise doesn’t apply to me in those times.

12744290_1078461388872350_7585067666551472520_nChristian Scott Batchelor Well it’s a little embarrassing to say here, since my name and profile will be attached to this question. But it’s been something I’ve been looking for an answer to, for awhile now.
I’ve been struggling with feeling close to God. Before, when I prayed I’d feel close to Him and feel comfort, acceptance, and forgiveness. But now I don’t feel God in my life at all. And whenever I talk to someone about it they just say “pray more” or “read the scriptures”. And I’m getting really tired of that answer, because that’s exactly what I do and I don’t feel any different. I know that God exists, because I’ve seriously felt his presence when I prayed (in the past). I’m not 100% sure if this church is true though, but I trust the prophet and the apostles. I’ve been diagnosed with depression, I don’t know if that is what’s affecting me spiritually or what, but I feel like God used to help me with that and I don’t know what’s going on.

10154184_10202420563248874_3671251599058859407_nMackenzie Newby I battle with depression and anxiety. What are some ways you stay focused on Christ when the adversary is intently focused on knocking you down?

 

Non-apostolic response: Ryan Weiss has it right. Why would a God send you to earth and then bestow the Gift of the Holy Ghost upon you, which should allow you greater connection to him, yet create you in a way that you cannot feel the influence of that gift? As you can see above, SO MANY people question whether they are feeling the spirit or their own self-generated thoughts and feelings. Perhaps this is because they are one and the same? So instead of focusing on how you feel cut off from God, you can now start focusing on making personal connections with other human beings, exploring the world around you, investigating new therapy methods, trying new medications, or learning how to meditate. In the end, none of these may help, but just getting rid of the angst you have by understanding you are not spiritually broken, that you have been taught that the world works in a certain way, when it verifiably does not, may take you on the path to recovery and a better sense of well being.

How do I fit into The Plan of Salvation?

12651290_10208739980963640_4064106854838860043_nGregg Hammerquist How can a member of the Church who experiences gender dysphoria receive revelation as for how they should address the distress caused by it?

12821402_10153951566102192_2987342422904560544_nPamela Troeppl Kinnaird Please tell me how my non-binary gendered child fits into the plan of salvation.

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Lynsie Andreasky I am asexual (I do not feel sexual attraction to any gender). I often feel broken because I lack this essential thing that God has given to his children. What are your thoughts on asexuality in regards to the Gospel Plan?

10354686_10150004552801856_220367501106153455_nJoe Mormon I am a young man studying at BYU. I served an honorable full time mission. I struggle with same-sex attraction and have had problems with pornography in the past. I probably had unreasonable expectations that after my mission things would be a lot easier. Despite the deep desire to have a family of my own in a heterosexual relationship, I continue to feel a strong attraction to men. Even though I have come to terms with my own weakness, I feel held back by what I seemingly can’t control. I worry about the future. When/If I find a young woman I love enough to marry, how do I bring myself to tell her that I experience homosexual attraction? Sometimes I feel dishonest with myself and others because I feel attracted to some of my closest male friends. I can only imagine how they would react if they were to know about my attraction. Most of all I want a meaningful relationship that leads to marriage. I want something that will last for eternity. I know that eternal relationships only result from ordinances performed in the temple between a man and a woman. I go on dates with young women, but I never have feelings that are strong enough to pursue. This is only compounded by the fear that no respectable young woman would want to have a lasting relationship with a man who is more sexually attracted to men than women. What should my outlook for the future be?

12654295_104529283268530_2970945455090967131_nChris Smith Hey Elder Holland I want to take this opportunity to thank you for the wise words and council that you give. My question is a YSA law who struggles imensly with same sec attraction, how can I overcome this without feeling I’m being denied a loving relationship. I love and testify to the truthfulness of this gospel I’m inspired by the pioneers and am thankful for the word of wisdom and testify to the truthfulness to the proclamation of the family but continue to struggle with this attraction and it at times becomes a burden difficult to carry.

12801444_1244371272246070_4776410168885871738_nLevi Brennan As someone with Asperger’s Syndrome, dating is very hard for me. I don’t understand subtlety, I can’t read body language to save my life, how will I know when I find my future eternal companion?

 

Non-apostolic response: This may not help you but have you ever considered that the Plan of Salvation is just a best guess? That the visions of Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon were created in their own minds and do not represent objective reality? (to read a first-hand account of how D&C 76 was created, go here). Have you considered that current leaders of the LDS church are trying to do the right thing but feel bound by this plan, and the black and white nature of how people fit into it?

How do you know that the Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t have it right, or the Scientologists? Scientologists believe that 75 million years ago the leader of the Galatic Confederacy, Lord Xenu, brought billions of his people to earth, put them in volcanoes, and blew them up with hydrogen bombs. The spirits of those people, called Thetans, adhere to humans causing spiritual harm. Scientologists have an elaborate program where auditing sessions take place to help humans shed these Thetans and eventually “go clear.” How is that any less plausible than belief in a war in heaven, or evil spirits entering our bodies or tempting us, or living by a prescribed set of standards to eventually have your calling and election made sure, or the planet Kolob, or requiring a “Savior” to brutally die so we can be forgiven instead of God forgiving us directly? There very well may be a spiritual realm after this life, but why trust anybody else to tell you how it works, especially when there are so many gaps in the knowledge they have of this plan and how exceptions fit into it? Ambiguity make us uncomfortable but sometimes it needs to be embraced. Here is one healthy way to approach the idea of God, while embracing the unknown- http://www.patheos.com/blogs/faithpromotingrumor/2011/01/the-blessings-of-an-unknown-god/

Lastly, you don’t “struggle with same-sex attraction” any more than I “struggle with opposite-sex attraction.” We are who we are and we are perfect. I have no issue with suppositions, conjecture, or speculation on the purpose of life, where we go when we die, and what the Plan of Salvation entails. I DO take issue when the most abundant answers given to those who don’t fit neatly into that plan are “We don’t know,” or “God hasn’t revealed that to us.” Yet those who don’t fit are ASSURED that the plan is real and true and it is just a temporary “trial” or a “struggle” they have to endure. Elder Holland said in this meeting that we talk too much about gender and tendencies and we just need to focus on chastity, the behavior. That nothing different is asked of homosexuals that is not asked of heterosexuals. If that is the case can two homosexuals hold hands, can they dance together at a Stake Dance, can they kiss, all as long as they remain chaste? People young and old are TAKING THEIR LIVES over this issue and it needs to stop. Please take a moment and read this article which outlines the severity of this issue.

Heavenly Mother

12400455_10208209557700311_450000658286866870_nAmber Richardson I want to know who I am, Elder Holland. Who I am eternally. If the doctrine captured in The Family: A Proclamation to the World is true (and I believe that it is) then there is something about me, as a woman, that is both gloriously and eternally different than a male peer, but also needed, necessary. No matter where I look, (in the scriptures, in the temple, counseling with priesthood leaders) I can’t find her. What I do find is at the worst, discouraging, and at the best, veiled. In sum, I’m looking for my Heavenly Mother. Because I think that if I understand her and her roles, that me and my roles will finally become clear. I’m not sure how to reduce this struggle into a concise question. Perhaps, why don’t we know more about Heavenly Mother? Thank you! #LDSFace2Face

12669648_10153305745982109_4818162573921150283_nHarmony Shelene Child Roundy Why do we not speak more often and more openly about our belief in Heavenly Mother? There is so little spoken and understood about his doctrine, that members of the church almost feel fear or confusion about expressing their feelings about it or their love for her or desire to know her, etc. We never hear of her in someone’s testimony for example. I am one that desires a relationship with Her and a greater understanding of her and my connection to her, and whether I’m “allowed” to desire this or pursue it, and how? I am not one who advocates for women to be ordained to the priesthood, but certainly there is room for greater emphasis on and understanding for the role of women, their power, and their relationship to the priesthood. When I think about the idea of the order of things being completely reversed, can you imagine if all the roles currently only held by men in the church, were only held by women? What would it be like for a man to confess his sins of pornography addiciton to a female bishop? Probably no more uncomfortable than for a woman to confess her particular female specific sins to a male bishop. What about the fact that disciplinary councils are all men? Why is there not more equal representation in leadership and judiciary roles? We know so little of the apostles and prophet’s wives. Are they just a support? Why are their great talents, gifts, leadership and understanding not more shared and utilized for the good of the church? Why are women mostly expected to play the background role of support? I think there is a lot of room for the church to take these kinds of questions to the Lord. Once again, I’m not for “ordain women.” But I am for more women leadership, more women role models in the church, and women having a greater understanding of their role in the priesthood, and their connection to Heavenly Mother. I would like the church to consider what could be changed and improved regarding the treatment of women in the church, and the opportunities for them. For example, it seems absolutely ridiculously absurd that it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that a woman was even asked to PRAY at a general conference?! what in the world? Where else does the church keep women out culturally that has nothing to do with doctrine, but merely with tradition? I want to understand, truly understand, not in a vague, nuanced sort of way, my role in the priesthood. Can all members, male and female, access and call upon the powers of the priesthood? or only through a male priesthood holder? Do we have priesthood power but not priesthood authority? Do we hold priesthood power through temple ordinances? Or do we simply enjoy the blessings of priesthood power through male priesthood holders? Is priesthood power the same as the power of prayer?

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Danielle Justine Zimpel Can you tell us more about Heavenly Mother? #LDSFace2Face

 

Non-apostolic response: See response above under the Plan of Salvation. If there is indeed a Heavenly Mother, there would be no need to hide her away, or not disclose her name, for her protection. There is not much known about her because details about her haven’t been invented yet. There is sparse information because early religion, including the LDS faith were patriarchal in nature. If the LDS leaders do indeed talk to God or Jesus, they should have abundant information on who our Heavenly Mother is and how she fits into the Plan of Salvation. The church recently published an essay on Mother in Heaven, which may or may not be helpful to you- https://www.lds.org/topics/mother-in-heaven?lang=eng. Here is a podcast which explores this topic from a non-traditional standpoint- http://mormonstories.org/mother-in-heaven/. Here are two more resources-http://www.keepapitchinin.org/2015/10/28/guest-post-about-the-latest-gospel-topics-essays/ and http://www.wheatandtares.org/19412/will-the-real-heavenly-mother-please-stand-up/

 

The Role of Women

12243478_10206306777402177_5011926073371694458_nAusti Whetten If God is not sexist, why does it often feel like the structure of the church is? As a woman who has grown up in the church, I feel like many things are culturally and structurally designed for women to be in a position where we have less input, power, and information into things that directly affect us as half of the world and half of the church. Are these things left over from a cultural history of sexism or is there a doctrinal foundation? And, what can we do to make things better for the next generation of women?

12417991_10207076272939526_3797789066022944027_nShawna Marie Nadybal Hi Elder Holland. I was hoping you could answer a question that I have had in my heart for many years, but have been unable to find an answer to. I understand that as a woman, I have a divine responsibility and ability to be a mother. While I have every intention of doing that, I feel that I have also been blessed with abilities and talents for higher education and a place in the work force. These are two things that I greatly desire, but have been told are most likely not, and even should not be, in my future. Sometimes it feels like my gender has determined my life for me, and that I have to sacrifice talents and aptitudes. In a lot of ways, it breaks my heart, because I love college, learning, and the potential of establishing a career. However, if I do those things, I feel like I’m doing something wrong, and letting Heavenly Father and the Savior down. Almost like I am a failure or less of a woman. I have met some men who experience similar feelings in stepping outsider the role of provider. I guess the base of my question is how do people in these situations reconcile these feelings? Why do we have these rigid gender roles? What role does the savior want women and men of modern society to play, and how do we do that without feeling sad?

 

12241186_10204854048343001_465784195290008990_nSusan Gouett Burleson Elder Holland, as a not so young single adult who lives alone, how can I continue to feel and use the power of the priesthood in my home?

12744451_10153909545903648_4956597142650171854_nEmily Jean Smith Recently a Mormon Message was released that showed a woman having an extremely chaotic day as she continually sacrificed for others, didn’t set boundaries, and ultimately missed out on a planned night out with a cousin. While I understand that the message was “you haven’t failed, look at everything you accomplished” that was not the message that most sisters received. This video was received with frustration, anger, guilt, and many more negative feelings in most of the circles that I frequent online and off. Why? Because the video shows a woman who is killing herself to help others while not taking the time to care for herself, as if her welfare is not important at all as long as she fulfills all the service asked of her. She makes a second breakfast for a child that refuses to eat what was originally prepared, babysits for a neighbor who didn’t plan ahead for a doctors appointment and asks at the last minute, and other acts of service that really were other people taking advantage of her kindness to rescue them from their own poor choices. I feel that our church has created a culture in which service is so prized that individuals are unable to set healthy personal boundaries and are completely burning themselves out. We are made to feel like lesser servants that are failing our Savior if we ever say no to a service opportunity. Often we are asked to serve in ways that do not give any great benefit to those being served, such as creating fancy decorations for a Relief Society Dinner or spending hours and hours at unnecessary planning meetings. At the same time we have apostles like President Uchtdorf giving us talks about simplifying and putting family first (https://www.lds.org/gener…/2015/10/it-works-wonderfully…) How do we balance the need to prioritize and care for our own emotional health and other responsibilities, with the other messages of extreme self sacrifice that we find in most talks about service?

 
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Noah Bergevin Elder Holland – I have some friends and close family members who are members of the Church that are trying to convince me that the traditional roles of husband and wife within a marriage as outlined in the Family Proclamation, Daughters In My Kingdom, the Eternal Marriage Student Manual, Relief Society manuals, Elder’s Quorum manuals, and words of the modern prophets and aspostles are oppressive to women/LGBT/those that don’t fit into the “norm” of Mormon culture, are the product of the “Cult of Domesticity” that was popular in the 1920’s, the most important with we can do is _NOT_ in the home, the Family Proclamation was more political posturing than prophetic, and that the men and women who taught these doctrines of the importance of what many feel is mundane and unexciting for both sexes were just giving their opinions and not speaking eternal truths. They are also trying to tell me that the Prophets were just “good men, doing the best they could”, but that not everything that is published as doctrine from them should be considered the word of God, and that many of the early Church leaders were bigots, sexist, racist, and their counsel should be taken with a great deal of skepticism, (and they are teaching these same things to my children too). They say that they are not having issues of faith, but many of them do not support the council of local Church leaders, spend time in the the halls instead of attending their classes during Sunday services, spend excessive amounts of time in closed online forums/blogs/communities, and speak of the “Patriarchy” as if it were an oppressive totalitarian regime. I myself am trying to cling to the words of the Lord’s anointed as if my and my family’s lives depended on it. I’m torn between the voices of modern dissent (some of which are uncomfortably too close to me), and what I have a testimony to be true. Am I being too gullible, or are they sowing the seeds of apostasy under the guise of “finding the truth”?

Non-apostolic response:  For an example of a Mormon organization that has evolved and provides woman an equal opportunity in every way, check out The Community of Christ (formerly RLDS church). They allow females to hold the priesthood, to serve in leadership, and they currently have a female apostle. Will the LDS church be there someday? Perhaps. The church published a Gospel Topic essay on this which may or may not be helpful- https://www.lds.org/topics/joseph-smiths-teachings-about-priesthood-temple-and-women?lang=eng. Here are some resources where non-traditional views of the role of women can be explored: http://ordainwomen.org/, and http://janariess.religionnews.com/2014/08/11/just-mormon-women-hold-priesthood/, and “Women and Authority”- Maxine Hanks

The Second Coming

 
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Charlene Lindsey Paramore There are many opinions that have gotten confused with doctrine of the events leading up to the Savior’s Second Coming. What are all the signs we should look for from a doctrinal standpoint, especially concerning the government of the land?

563658_427427924025912_1269906253_nRyan Gillett Hi, I have a question…: I’m concerned for my mom and sister, who have been reading books written by people who say they’ve had “near death” experiences, and have seen visions of heaven or of the events leading to the second coming. Some of these books have been written by members of the church who remain in good standing, and who use quotes from latter-day prophets to support their visions. My question is what is the church’s view of these visions, and is it okay to believe in them, even though they didn’t come from the quorum of the twelve apostles and first presidency?

1798773_10202804662545015_1084187237_nKristen Mathers Elder Holland, We hear repeatedly that we are living in the last days. It sure feels like we are. In your opinion, do you think the years of tribulation that the scriptures talk about have started? Or will start very shortly? Many I know within the church believe so, and have had dreams/visions of events to warn them and their families. Some are talking about “a call out” that will come from our prophet, and I would love your opinion on this. Living here in Australia, I can’t see a call out happening any time soon, but I do wonder about my family living in the United States, and also how we will all get to Zion when the time comes.
I love you Elder Holland!

Non-apostolic response: Even Jesus thought the end would come and the millennium would be ushered in during his day (Mark 13:29-32). This belief was especially prevalent with Joseph Smith and other early church leaders who expected it would happen around 1890 or 1891- see herehere, and here. There are abundant examples of early patriarchal blessings promising the recipient would be alive when Jesus came again (see here). There is a reason it is not talked about much in the church any more, because like all the other issues/questions you see raised in this meeting with Elder Holland, the overarching answer is “We don’t know.” As far as faithful members of the church having visions of the last days and its imminent arrival, the church issued a couple statements, see here and here.

Stillborn Babies

1560420_10201084313027581_5479116324103519859_nMcKenzie Spears Garrison Elder Jeffrey R Holland: I don’t know if the “face to face” question and answers are over with or not. But, I have a very personal question about stillborn babies. I had a baby girl in June. And I have searched all over for church doctrine rewarding stillborn babies, and have found very, very, little information.Just a little background, I was almost 22 weeks pregnant, had lost most my amniotic water, and was dilated and contracting. I was given no other option than to deliver her.Do I need to have temple work done for her, will I be able to raise her; as a baby, when my time comes?? What do I need to do while I’m on this earth to have the opportunity to be with her and raise her??I could go on and on with questions regarding her. Any insight from you would be incredible. And so greatly appreciated.Thank you!!

Non-apostolic response: McKenzie, I’m not sure why Elder Holland did not respond to you. Hopefully you can get some answers from your local leaders. This issue appears to be pretty straightforward as far as Mormon theology goes. There does not appear to be a need for any ordinances for your child.  Here are a couple of quotes that may be helpful:

“Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, quoting President Brigham Young, wrote that ‘they are all right,’ … and nothing in the way of sealings or ordinances need be done for them.’ (Bruce R. McConkie, comp., Doctrines of Salvation, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1955, 2:281.)”

“The question of whether stillborn children will be resurrected and belong to their parents in the hereafter is really the crux of the matter. This question is, as yet, impossible to answer with certainty. Elder Joseph Fielding Smith wrote that ‘there is no information given by revelation in regard to the status of stillborn children. However, I will express my personal opinion that we should have hope that these little ones will receive a resurrection and then belong to us.’ (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:280.) He said nothing about miscarried children.”

The above sources can be found on lds.org here where Val D. Greenwood, manager of special services, Temple Department gives the response.

Winning Comment

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Michelle Llewellyn Dear Elder Holland, I watched the YSA Face to Face and while I agree Jesus the Christ is the Alpha and the Omega, His matchmaking skills for single adults SUCK! Sincerely, Michelle Llewellyn PS I’m not afriad of going to hell for writing that, for I have seen hell and its name is Singles Wards.

Non-apostolic response: This was my favorite comment. As a non-believer I look forward to seeing you in hell.

How do we demonstrate our path is superior without being a jerk?

12341309_10101037300520174_8591222311592091471_nRachael Keller Durtschi When a loved one is not keeping the commandments, how can we talk to them without coming off as judgemental or giving them the impression we are better than they are? What is the best way to approach the situation? Thank you for taking the time to answer questions and for your great example!

12705271_1076802642382497_7765033546960331963_nJoseph Hyde Stoddard What is the best way to help my friends and family who are floundering in faith and beginning the process of leaving the church and separating themselves from the Gospel? I don’t want to be overpowering and too “churchy” with them when we talk and spend time with each other, but I also don’t want to be silent and let them fall on the wayside while missing out on sharing my testimony and beliefs, in hopes it could potentially help them. How do you suggest finding a balance between these two extremes?

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Deborah Tardis Seaman I have family members and friends who don’t live their lives within the standards of the church. How can I show my love for them while still helping them see that what they are doing will never bring happiness?

11215827_10207242149267373_65260457973846689_nJames Brandon Justice Why is it that most of the LDS people I know, while kind, are judgmental a-holes? If you believe different from them they try and shut you up, if you speak different than them they try to shout you down. So, is fascism commonly taught in the LDS religion? Because a damn lot of you act like it is… please respond.

Non-apostolic answer: Rachel, Joseph, Deborah, please read what James wrote. That is all.

Book of Mormon geography

1798009_775743445816722_4168861885755333149_nDean Morrison with all the current information about Book of Mormon geography being confirmed in the heartland of America, how come we hear nothing from our Prophets and Apostles confirming Joseph Smith Jrs. affirmation of the same?

Non-apostolic answer: Like most other answers to the questions posed to Elder Holland, the official church answer is “We don’t know.” I don’t believe the Book of Mormon is a historical document nor do I believe there were actual Nephites and Lamanites, but to give you a little background, there are two competing theories among those who believe it’s historical. First is the Heartland model, which you reference, and which posits that South, Central, and ultimately North America is where these ancient people lived. The text of the Book of Mormon supports this view but the migration patterns and traveling distances don’t match up to anything realistic nor is there a shred of archaeological, DNA or anthropological evidence to back it up. Second is the Limited Geography theory, which holds that the Book of Mormon people were a small group of people absorbed into a larger group of people that already inhabited the Americas when they arrived. They believe the entire narrative of the Book of Mormon happened in a relatively small area in Mesoamerica. The text of the Book of Mormon doesn’t support this theory (remember the land was kept from the knowledge of other nations) and it makes it difficult if not impossible to reconcile where the Hill Cumorah was located (they try to say there were two Cumorahs), Zelph the Lamanite, statements from Moroni, etc.

This issue will never be solved satisfactorily because there will always be an apologetic way to explain the evidence, or better said, the lack thereof. There is absolutely no supporting evidence for a historical Book of Mormon or a group that migrated from the Middle East to the Americas, and populated or was integrated into the Americas. True believers will hold out for evidence. Non-believers are confident nothing will ever be discovered. Regardless of the amount of evidence discovered for the historicity of the Book of Mormon, it will continue to give strength to those who believe the words are inspired. For an extremely fascinating exchange on the historicity of the Book of Mormon, you can read the back and forth between Baylor University History and Religion professor Philip Jenkins and BYU professor William Hamblin (now retired). You can start with Professor Jenkins original post here (with over 400 comments), and subsequent posts here and here.  Within those three posts you will find links to Professor Hamblin’s responses on his own blog. Enjoy.

2016 Presidential Election

11959971_10206425122618107_1563447103539843685_nKeeley Muggle Farrell I’d like to know who I should vote for. I know the church has told us to vote with our conscience. But I have to say, I’m having a difficult time this election. The republican nominee (who I’d normally vote for) is quite hateful. And the democratic nominees stand for what our church does not. I am not sure at this point if I even should vote, but I’d hate to not vote. My question is not so much, WHO I should vote for, but some helpful advice I suppose. And I don’t think I’m the only LDS person who feels this way!

1176329_702131612491_775994889_nDouglas Taylor Elder Holland, we have learned that through modern-day revelation that in the last days prior to the second coming of the Lord the Constitution will be hanging by a thread. What does that exactly mean and how close are we to that event? I can’t help but feel that with the current crop of politicians running for president, save perhaps a couple of them, that we are on the doorstep and that our freedoms may be a breath away from being lost.

Non-apostolic answer: Douglas, you are perhaps referring to the White Horse Prophecy, for which there is no support.

“The so-called ‘White Horse Prophecy’ is based on accounts that have not been substantiated by historical research and is not embraced as Church doctrine.” – Kim Farrah, representative from Church Public Affairs.

There were other statements attributed to Joseph Smith which allude to the constitution being in trouble. If there is any truth to these, they were referring to the times of Joseph Smith, not our time. It is very well substantiated that the early Saints, including Joseph Smith, thought they were going to usher in the Millenium, and the Second Coming would happen in their day. In fact many early patriarchal blessings stated that the recipient would be alive to witness the Second Coming.

Keeley, two things. First, there are plenty of Democrats in the church. It’s not an either/or proposition. Second, please don’t vote for Trump. That is all.

Word of Wisdom

226588_1710210360545_2261885_nTravis S Moses Elder Holland I have a word of wisdom clarification. Is herbal tea ok? Also, what about soda and caffeine?

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Travis Roz Beus Some parts of the word of wisdom are confusing when it comes to tea & strong drink. What exactly are we trying to avoid, addiction, caffeine. Some teas have healthy properties and the energy drinks being consumed are scary. #LDSFace2Face

Non-apostolic response: According to D&C 89, this principle was given “not by commandment or constraint.”

Would it surprise you to know that less than a month before his death that Joseph Smith wrote in his journal about stopping at a bar for a glass of beer?

“Saturday June 1 [1844]. At home. Some gentle showers… Drank a glass of beer at Moessers.“- Millenial Star

Joseph and the others drank wine in Carthage jail just before he was killed.

“Before the jailor came in, his boy brought in some water, and said the guard wanted some wine. Joseph gave Dr. Richards two dollars to give the guard; but the guard said one was enough, and would take no more. The guard immediately sent for a bottle of wine, pipes, and two small papers of tobacco; and one of the guards brought them into the jail soon after the jailor went out. Dr. Richards uncorked the bottle, and presented a glass to Joseph, who tasted, as also Brother Taylor and the doctor, and the bottle was then given to the guard, who turned to go out. When at the top of the stairs some one below called him two or three times, and he went down.” – Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 6:616

How about Joseph smoking a cigar?

“Some desultory talk was now had in which the following truths were told: Joseph Smith tried the faith of the Saints many times by his peculiarities. At one time he had preached a powerful sermon on the Word of Wisdom, and immediately thereafter he rode through the streets of Nauvoo smoking a cigar.”- An Apostle’s Record, The Journals of Abraham H. Cannon

How about Joseph drinking tea on March 11, 1843?

“Saturday, March 11th Too cold last night as to freeze water in the warmest rooms in the city. River filled with anchor ice. 8 1/2 o’clock in the office, Joseph said he had tea with his breakfast. His wife asked him if it was good. He said if it was a little stronger he should like it better, when Mother Granger remarked, {page 2} ‘It is so strong and good I should think it would answer Both for drink and food.'”- Joseph Smith, An American Prophet’s Record:The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith, edited by Scott Faulring, Significant Mormon Diaries Series No. 1, (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books in association with Smith Research Associates, 1989), 331

If Joseph drank strong tea, I think both Travis’ will be ok. The Word of Wisdom has morphed into a strict health code and has evolved significantly over the decades, see herehere, herehere and here.

 

Have you seen Christ?

12347602_10102310693249179_1093268379412836805_nWeston Gleave I’ve heard you say something to the extent that you are a special witness of Jesus Christ. Have you personally seen him and talked to him in this life time? Does he personally lead and guide you along with the 12 apostles and prophet? I always taught on my mission a Prophet was someone who communicated directly with God who then fulfilled God’s will for his people on earth. If that indeed was the case, why are there still mistakes? Why wouldn’t God, being all knowing, run his church perfectly?

12208564_816833681760995_1534788212545983314_nDavid FindlayI am a active member, return missionary but I would like to know why the leaders of the church are not as bold as in Joseph Smiths time. If the leaders really talk to Christ face to face or receive revelation by his voice come out and tell us. We tell the world we have a prophet and apostles that are not different than in older times so this should still be happening and I think members would like and expect to hear more boldness. Thank you! 

Non-apostolic response: The obvious answer is, of course they don’t. I don’t believe Joseph Smith actually did, either. I’m not discounting that he believed he did, and perhaps had an inward visionary experience, but nothing external and objective. But David Findlay has a point, if visions are real and prophets, seers, and revelators are “special” witnesses of Christ (implying something not ordinary) then why not be bold about it? Here is what Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon stated boldly:

22 And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!

 23 For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father— D&C 76:22-23

In 1835, after Parley P. Pratt and others were ordained apostles, Oliver Cowdery gave this apostolic charge to all the apostles:

It is necessary that you receive a testimony from heaven to yourselves; so that you can bear testimony to the truth of the Book of Mormon, and that you have seen the face of God. That is more than the testimony of an angel. When the proper time arrives, you shall be able to bear this testimony to the world. When you bear testimony that you have seen God, this testimony God will never suffer to fall, but will bear you out; although many will not give heed, yet others will. You will therefore see the necessity of getting this testimony from heaven.  Never cease striving until you have seen God face to face. Strengthen your faith; cast off your doubts, your sins, and all your unbelief; and nothing can prevent you from coming to God. Your ordination is not full and complete till God has laid his hand upon you. We require as much to qualify us as did those who have gone before us; God is the same. If the Savior in former days laid his hands upon his disciples, why not in latter days? . . .  The time is coming when you will be perfectly familiar with the things of God. . . . You have our best wishes, you have our most fervent prayers, that you may be able to bear this testimony, that you have seen the face of God. Therefore call upon him in faith in mighty prayer till you prevail, for it is your duty and your privilege to bear such a testimony for yourselves. (History of the Church, 2:192-98.)

Interestingly, every time the above apostolic charge by Cowdery is referenced on lds.org, they put ellipses where it talks about seeing the face of God. It gets edited out! The above statements are quite the contrast to statements made by modern day apostles who proclaim they are special witnesses to the NAME of Christ. They are very careful to make that distinction:

“We lay no claim to being Apostles of the world—but of the Lord Jesus Christ. The test is not whether men will believe, but whether the Lord has called us—and of that there is no doubt!”

We do not talk of those sacred interviews that qualify the servants of the Lord to bear a special witness of Him, for we have been commanded not to do so.“-Boyd Packer 

Gospel Principles manual:
1997 Edition: “Twelve Apostles, who are special witnesses of Jesus Christ, teach the gospel in all parts of the world.”

2009 edition:
“Twelve Apostles, who are special witnesses of THE NAME OF Jesus Christ, teach the gospel and regulate the affairs of the Church in all parts of the world.”

Richard Turley: “Another claim we sometimes hear is that current apostles have no right to run the affairs of the church, since they do not meet the New Testament standard of apostles because they do not testify of having seen Christ.”

Dallin Oaks: “The first answer to this claim is that modern apostles are called to be witnesses of the name of Christ in all the world (D&C 107:23). This is not to witness of a personal manifestation. To witness of the name is to witness of the plan, the work, or mission, such as the atonement, and the authority or priesthood of the lord Jesus Christ, which an apostle who holds the keys is uniquely responsible to do. “Of course apostles are also witness of Christjust like all members of the church, who have the gift of the Holy Ghost. This is because the mission of the Holy Ghost is to witness of the Father and the Son.”- Boise rescue fireside

For additional sources see herehere, and here

How can I understand the Atonement?

11902261_10207212706658928_7971168851457943443_nConstanza Palominos#LDSface2face how can understand the atonement and feel free of my sins?
from Chile

12718323_1100807803292352_9206457541425279935_nJoshua Sykes How can I see/feel the Atonement take effect in my life as I live the gospel? In other words, I’m doing my best to live Gospel principles and I’m seeking the Lord’s guidance, but I still don’t feel that healing for my heart and mind like I thought I would.

Non-apostolic response: When you get it figured out, let me know. It doesn’t make any sense for God to require the agonizing torture and death of his only begotten son just so we can be forgiven. Why can’t he just forgive us when we ask? No one can explain this sufficiently because it’s doesn’t make any sense. The atonement is so vague and difficult to understand that Deseret Book is filled with book after book trying to explain what it is, how to access it, and how use it in our lives. All of those books have one things in common, when you are finished reading them, you will have no better understanding of why the Atonement was actually necessary or how it can be accessed.  Whether the atonement is real or not, the mere idea of someone intervening on our behalf and bestowing some ethereal power to us, can provide real strength and comfort to some individuals.

How to have a personal relationship with Christ

12715542_10153838010494462_9053602469621622700_nPetra ShipmanI really loved this clip! So many of us struggle with depression and anxiety- this was a really peaceful message. My question is- how do I get to know Jesus better? We pray to Heavenly Father, so we don’t really talk to Jesus..I’ve read the scriptures many times over and feel like I “know of Him” but I find it difficult to have a personal connection with Him directly when I can’t converse with Him the way I do with Heavenly Father.

12814251_10207458799441980_2955942356511469855_nMike OlsenPersonal relationship with Christ. When I think of meaningful relationships I think of certain people that have been mentors in my life. Those relationships and experiences are so tangible. Its so real. Is it naive to think that its possible to have a similar personal relationship with Christ in this life? And what would that look like? Or feel like? Or experience be like?

Non-apostolic response: This is a great question and one that bothered me for years as a believer. No one was ever able to give me a satisfactory response. The only thing that made sense to me, when I transitioned into a super dedicated believer and before transitioning to a non-believer, was to live so I could receive the Second Comforter, actual visits from Jesus Christ. Otherwise, how could I have a “relationship” with him if I never talked to him, on my knees or in person. How could I access this nebulous idea of Atonement without interacting with him?

Mike, the reason it doesn’t make any sense is because these are ideas created by men who are sincerely and acutely trying to approach the divine. Jesus was an actual historical figure but Christ is a literary figure, created by scribes who wrote the New Testament. There is a reason modern apostles don’t testify of seeing Christ (see above).

Why such inequality for God’s children?

10846328_10204752467825222_3141508446209439952_nMakenzie Boden Elder Holland, my question is why are some born into poor circumstances (war torn countries, poverty, abuse) while others are born into a better situation? Is it luck? Is there meaning in our earthly circumstances?

1010240_10201325556641585_1588878099_nJ.D. Ahmanson It sure would be nice to have a form to ask anonymous questions. Nevertheless, here is mine: How can I have faith that God is no respecter of persons when people are born into different circumstances, some with tremendous physical, emotional, psychological, social, etc. disadvantages that last a lifetime, and are thus unable to accomplish what we were sent here to do (form families, according to President Nelson)?

Non-apostolic response: These are great questions and are difficult if not impossible to answer satisfactorily if attributed to a preexistence, where different levels of “intelligences” or “spirits” were present. We all look at the world around us and try to make sense of it. We are taught, or derive our own systems of belief to explain the circumstances we see. If one believes in a premortal existence, where different levels of progression were possible, that is one way to explain why people were born into such disparate circumstances. It was (and still is in some cases) a very prevalent belief in the LDS church that premortal actions determine our status here on earth. After all, according to Joseph Smith, God said there were “many of the noble and great ones..these I will make my rulers.” So if there were many noble and great rulers, it necessarily follows that there were other less great and less noble spirits that need to be ruled. Of course, the Mormons were among the most valiant because they were born into Mormon homes and those of a different race or who are socially or economically disadvantaged are in those circumstances due to their choices in the premortal life. This belief is backed up by NUMEROUS statements of high ranking church leaders, including some First Presidency statements. The problem is that the church has now repudiated that belief, in the recent Race and Priesthood gospel topic essay.

“Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects unrighteous actions in a premortal life“- Race and the Priesthood

In the past, one could look at a starving, suffering black child in Africa and while having a heart full of empathy and love, still, in the back of their mind, believe it was due to their choices in the preexistence. What other reason could there be for such disparity between us and them? J.D. and Makenzie have picked up on this and want answers. If the church now doesn’t believe that the suffering child in Africa was put there due to his choices in the preexistence, then WHY was he put there? Why do we enjoy the luxuries of life while others suffer so deeply? There has been a void created here and the church has not filled it with any satisfactory explanations. The only explanation given now is “We don’t know, the lord hasn’t revealed that to us.” That is not a very fulfilling answer and this is why you see thoughtful young people asking this question. The more life experience they have, especially with other less developed countries, that question will only grow stronger.

What would my answer be? Life has evolved on this earth over billions of years. Whether one believes that was guided every step of the way, or one believes in a deistic God who initiated the process and then stepped away, or whether one believes in a completely naturalistic process where no hand of deity need be involved at all, it doesn’t matter. People are born into such disparate circumstances due to social and economic progression or lack thereof in their country of origin, decisions of their descendants, and sometimes just plain luck. What we see in front of us is reality. It matters less how we supernaturally explain the disadvantage some people face, but how we go about trying to remedy it, and alleviate that suffering.

 

Who is sealed to who?

12565397_10205307449838814_6409436202362111251_nDrake WalpoleSo my parents are divorced, my dad wants to remarried. I am sealed to both and both are active, my mom is semi active. If my dad gets remarreid what will happen in heaven. What well happen to me. We believe familys are together but what if they get divorced??? Please answer brother holland!!! I have been confuse about this my whole life!!! P.s your a beast!!!

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Chris Detro Contini I have served in the Young Women program and as a Seminsey teacher with the youth. I have served in our local Young Single Adult ward as my husband served in the bishopric. I have three children of my own. My question is one that I have heard repeatedly from this age group, and from one of my own hildren, and I am not sure how to answer it: We know that unless we are sealed together and inherit the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom, we will not be living in our family units for all eternity. I am trying to encourage our youth to make temple marriage their goal. But they wonder how God will be able to keep them apart if they are not sealed. They are happy living together here on earth and are sure that, if assigned some lesser kingdom, that they would find each other and cohabitate again there. What would be a good and appropriate response to their question? Especially when it comes to their children and those connections?

11012853_10206905756476227_2165767597782846733_nSusan Oakes When my first husband left me I was devastated. I have 5 children with my first husband. I then married again to (what I thought) was a wonderful man. I had my sealing cancelled to my first husband and was sealed to my second husband. My second husband left me and was sealed to the woman he left me for. Now after 5 marriages he is excommunicated. So now I’m not sealed to anyone except my parents. But what about my children and grandchildren. Am I to lose them? And what happens to me on the other side?#LDSFace2Face

Non-apostolic response: This is where you will get the response “It will all work out in the next life.” For as much as I hate that answer, if there is a next life I’m sure that will be the case. Temple ordinances are symbolic and that’s about as much weight as they should carry. If 99.94% of the world isn’t involved in Mormonism, then it doesn’t seem logical that temple ordinances in this life are required for salvation or keeping families together in the next. So, Chris, I would say the youth you are teaching are wiser than their years and you should probably pay attention to what they are saying.

To Susan, I would say that there is a handbook policy that covers your situation. According to LDS theology/handbook policy, your children remain sealed to you and your first husband.  Section 3.6.2 states:

Children who are born in the covenant or sealed to parents remain so even if the sealing of the parents is later (1) cancelled or (2) revoked by the excommunication or name removal of either parent.

 

Men can be sealed to more than one woman but not vice-versa?

 
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Sara Beth Howell What about the young widows? The ones sealed who’s husbands are called home in their twenties or thirties and are sealed for eternity? But all the YSA men shun them because they cannot be sealed to them. It’s very discouraging to watch a friend go through this who lost her husband to cancer at 26. No one will date her, let alone marry her because she’s sealed. #ldsface2face

12507507_10153273952706440_3675161042771444861_nSamantha Rentfro Williamson Dear Elder Holland, I love the church very much! I have a strong testimony in everything it teaches! However I have always struggled with polygamy! I have been able to put it aside and say I will have faith! But recently I have had several members tell me that in heaven we will practice plural marriage! That it is the higher law! This really breaks my heart and has really thrown me! I have been fasting and praying and trying to find some peace but I can’t seem to shake it! It goes against everything were taught and everything I believe! I don’t want it to keep bothering me if it isn’t true but can’t just let it go! Is there anything we know about the next life that can bring me peace? What is your opinion? I know we are told we will be happy in heaven but one of the members said that we will just be happy with it cause we will have more love in heaven! That bothers me too! Please help! I feel stuck cause I have so many experiences were I really feel this is the true church so I could never leave but I feel if we believe plural marriage in the next life I would be crushed! I love my hubby so much and can’t imagine it not being us! This issue has really damaged my relationship with my Heavenly Father! His opinion matters to me and I feel if this is what he planned for us then I don’t matter to him as much as I once believed! Please help me!

10847788_10152858742312645_6195033854237386285_n (1)Danielle Justine ZimpelI have a close family member who is struggling with her testimony, and one of the things that is bothering her is that men are still able to be sealed to more than one wife in the eternities. Can you speak a little bit on this? #LDSFace2Face

12743552_10153624699049215_733949100183784602_nAmanda Brown G’day I just wanted to understand more about this non relevent to my salvation question lol.. im just curious i know all will be revealed eventually So my Question: Men in the church are sealed to more than one wife . In the next life who becomes his queen?What happens to the rest of his wives ? Do we become Queens and share him as our King ? I hope this makes sense ?

Non-apostolic answer: The official party line of the church is that we don’t practice polygamy. In fact members face church discipline if they do. The children of polygamous couples are not allowed to partake of sacred ordinances until they are 18 and then repudiate the practice. But the strange this is, the principle is still active and the church still believes in polygamy. This is from the official handbook of instructions, section 3.6.1:

Sealing of Living Members after Divorce:

Women: A living woman may be sealed to only one husband.

Men: If a husband and wife have been sealed and later divorced, the man must receive a sealing clearance from the First Presidency before another woman may be sealed to him. A sealing clearance is not necessary if (1) the previous sealing has been cancelled or (2) the divorced wife is now deceased.

Sealing of Living Members after a Spouse’s Death:

Women: A Living woman may be sealed to only one husband.

Men: If a husband and wife have been sealed and the wife dies, the man may have another woman sealed to him if she is not already sealed to another man.

So indeed men can be polygamists in this life, that is they can be sealed to more than one person (although only one living person), but women are out of luck. So as you can see by Sara’s question if you have a young widow who is sealed to her deceased husband, she cannot be sealed to a new husband but the reverse is not true. Does that make any sense?

To further complicate things, let’s say in the above example that the young widow does remarry for time only and has children with the new husband. Those children are sealed to the young widow and her deceased husband, NOT the new husband.  Section 3.6.2 of the handbook states:

If a woman who has been sealed to a former husband remarries, the children of her later marriage are born in the covenant of the first marriage unless they were born after the sealing was cancelled or it was revoked due to excommunication or name removal.

Now, after your head stops spinning, you can take comfort in this statement in section 3.6.2:

Members who have concerns about the eternal nature of such relationships can find peace in the knowledge that Heavenly Father is loving and just. He will ensure that eternal family relationships will be fair and right for all who keep their covenants.

This is like a hand wave, which basically tries to erase all the convoluted machinations that can occur with the sealing policies. This is why I am adamant than none of this can really matter or have any binding effect on anything happening in the afterlife (if there is one). This is similar the Plan of Salvation, which sounds good in theory, if you fit nicely within the parameters, but as soon as you start applying it to real life situations and dealing with exceptions to the rule it breaks down, because it’s man made.

Can you progress from Kingdom to Kingdom?

11753644_10205999333795990_4515330102262828155_nNoah Milmont Is there progression between kingdoms of glory? I have always been taught and have taught that there is not but it has been brought to my attention that there is no official doctrine? Is that true?

 

Non-apostolic response: This is fascinating question and one that has been hotly debated by church leaders. The reason they don’t know for sure, is because…well how would they? How do they know ANYTHING about the kingdoms besides what Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, and Joseph F. Smith stated they saw in visions?

First, let’s look at the D&C 76:109-112

“But behold, and lo, we saw the glory and the inhabitants of the telestial world, that they were as innumerable as the stars in the firmament of heaven, or as the sand upon the seashore;…And they shall be servants of the Most High; but where God and Christ dwell they cannot come, worlds without end.”

Next, there has been a First Presidency statement on this matter, issued twice:

“The brethren direct me to say that the Church has never announced a definite doctrine upon this point. Some of the brethren have held the view that it was possible in the course of progression to advance from one glory to another, invoking the principle of eternal progression; others of the brethren have taken the opposite view. But as stated, the Church has never announced a definite doctrine on this point.” (In a 1952 letter; and again in 1965 (cited in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol. XV, No. 1, Spring 1982, p.181-183)

LDS church leader statements FOR progression:

The first statement below was given by James E. Talmage in the first edition of his book. It was changed in the 1919 edtion (see below)

“It is reasonable to believe, in the absence of direct revelation by which alone absolute knowledge of the matter could be acquired, that, in accordance with God’s plan of eternal progression, advancement from grade to grade within any kingdom, and from kingdom to kingdom, will be provided for. But if the recipients of a lower glory be enabled to advance, surely the intelligences of higher rank will not be stopped in their progress; and thus we may conclude, that degrees and grades will ever characterize the kingdoms of our God. Eternity is progressive; perfection is relative; the essential feature of God’s living purpose is its associated power of eternal increase.”- “The Articles of Faith”- James E. Talmage  Original Edition 1899

“I attended the Prayer Circle in the evening … In conversing upon various principles President Young said none would inherit this Earth when it became celestial and translated into the presence of God but those who would be crowned as Gods and able to endure the fullness of the presence of God, except they would be permitted to take with them some servants for whom they would be held responsible. All others would have to inherit another kingdom, even that kingdom agreeing with the law which they had kept. He said they would eventually have the privilege of proving themselves worthy and advancing to a celestial kingdom, but it would be a slow progress.” -Brigham Young, Journal of Wilford Woodruff, 5 Aug 1855

“The question of advancement within the great divisions of glory celestial, terrestrial, and telestial; as also the question of advancement from one sphere of glory to another remains to be considered.. In the revelation from which we have summarized what has been written here, in respect to the different degrees of glory, it is said that those of the terrestrial glory will be ministered unto by those of the celestial; and those of the telestial will be ministered unto by those of the terrestrial – that is, those of the higher glory minister to those of a lesser glory. I can conceive of no reason for all this administration of the higher to the lower, unless it be for the purpose of advancing our Father’s children along the lines of eternal progression. Whether or not in the great future, full of so many possibilities now hidden from us, they of the lesser glories after education and advancement within those spheres may at last emerge from them and make their way to the higher degrees of glory until at last they attain to the highest, is not revealed in the revelations of God, and any statement made on the subject must partake more or less of the nature of conjecture...”- B.H. Roberts , New Witnesses for God Vol.1, pp. 391-392

“I am not a strict constructionalist, believing that we seal our eternal progress by what we do here. It is my belief that God will save all of His children that he can: and while, if we live unrighteously here, we shall not go to the other side in the same status, so to speak, as those who lived righteously; nevertheless, the unrighteous will have their chance, and in the eons of the eternities that are to follow, they, too, may climb to the destinies to which they who are righteous and serve God, have climbed to those eternities that are to come.” -J. Reuben Clark, Church News, p. 3 , 23 April 1960

“You that are mourning about your children straying away will have your sons and your daughters. If you succeed in passing through these trials and afflictions and receive a resurrection, you will, by the power of the Priesthood, work and labor, as the Son of God has, until you get all your sons and daughters in the path of exaltation and glory. This is just as sure as that the sun rose this morning over yonder mountains. Therefore, mourn not because all your sons and daughters do not follow in the path that you have marked out to them, or give heed to your counsels. Inasmuch as we succeed in securing eternal glory, and stand as saviors, and as kings and priests to our God, we will save our posterity...I believe that every man and woman who comes into this life and passes through it, that life will be a success in the end.“- Lorenzo Snow, MS 56:49-53; Collected Discourses 3:364-65

If there was a point where man in his progression could not proceed any further, the very idea would throw a gloom over every intelligent creature.  God himself is increasing and progressing in knowledge, power, and dominion, and will do so, worlds without end.  It is just so with us.  We are in probation, which is a school of experience.”-Wilford Woodruff, Journal of Discourses Vol. 6:120, 6 Dec 1857

“…And I’ve also heard anecdotal evidence, right, can’t give names, but I know with pretty good authority that at least some of the Brethren on the Quorum today are universalists. They believe there’s no question, everyone will progress through the kingdoms until we’re all saved.“- Terryl Givens- “NEGOTIATING LDS HISTORY AND FAITH CHALLENGES”

LDS church leader statements AGAINST progression:

In a subsequent edition of “The Articles of Faith,” the underlined portion below was changed from the 1899 edition:

“It is reasonable to believe, in the absence of direct revelation, by which alone absolute knowledge of the matter could be acquired, that, in accordance with God’s plan of eternal progression, advancement within each of the three specified kingdoms will be provided for.  But if the recipients of a lower glory be enabled to advance, surely the intelligences of higher rank will not be stopped in their progress; and thus we may conclude that degrees and grades will ever characterize the kingdoms of our God. Eternity is progressive; perfection is relative; the essential feature of God’s living purpose is its associated power of eternal increase.”- “The Articles of Faith”- James E. Talmage  1919 Edition

In June 1980, Elder Bruce R. McConkie stated this:

“Heresy five: There are those who say that there is progression from one kingdom to another in the eternal worlds or that lower kingdoms eventually progress to where higher kingdoms once were.

They neither progress from one kingdom to another, nor does a lower kingdom ever get where a higher kingdom once was. Whatever eternal progression there is, it is within a sphere.“- “The Seven Deadly Heresies”

“The answer to this question may not be absolutely clear in the revelation…once a person enters these glories there will be eternal progress in the line of each of these particular glories, but the privilege of passing from one to another(though this may be possible for especially gifted and faithful characters)is not provided for.”- Joseph F. Smith, Improvement Era 14:87, November 1910

As you can see, with such contrasting opinions by top leaders of the church, again the only fall back answer is “We don’t know.” From the standpoint of some leaders, like Bruce R. McConkie, the church doesn’t want to take a universalist approach because it gives people a pass. If there is something after this life, I can’t imagine people will be rewarded based on their fidelity to a set of beliefs and standards which 99.94% of the world doesn’t adhere to. If there are rewards doled out, and there is a loving God, I can’t imagine him keeping his children away from him and not allowing them to eventually progress to become everything he is.

Can you repent in the Spirit World?

12278706_10156203081850551_6643160986349452789_nDelores DeVictoria I would be interested to hear more about if a person can repent in the spirit world. I read some things in the Book of Mormon, then I hear others talk about those who didn’t accept the gospel having the chance to repent and accept it. What about those who had the gospel? Can they repent in the Spirit world?

994124_656401664435102_3259980172026824663_nMartha Herbert I married a non member and was told if he has had the opportunity to except the gospel on earth he wont have the chance after death. Is this true Elder Holland? Also if a family member is excommunicated here on earth and has ample time to repent and claim membership , can their work be done after death?I was told they cannot.

Non-apostolic response: See quotes above for progression between kingdoms.

Healing the sick

12509169_10208517315758868_6892710023956565259_nDebbie Carson As I am reading in 4 Nephi, the Disciples went around healing people. Why is that not happening today? Or is it? The world really needs some healing. So many people in pain and suffering.

10653739_10204787200259165_5438344369910716483_nShelby Geurts Could you please explain blessings of healing and how they relate to power in the Priesthood? Is getting a blessing from a very spiritual Priesthood holder more effective than getting one frim someone who is worthy, but doesn’t have as much faith? And why? Why would God withhold blessings from someone because they don’t have access to a man with an Apostle-level testimony? But on the other hand, why would God give a man the same power to heal if he hasn’t obtained the same faith and power as the aforementioned hypothetically faithful man?

Non-apostolic response: Shelby really gets to the heart of the matter with her question. Since 99.94% of the world does not interact with Mormonism in any meaningful way, is the Priesthood power, which 99.988% of the world does NOT hold, really that important? Why would God give this power to so few and leave the vast majority of his children to fend for themselves? Additionally, the Priesthood is only effective when it is administered similar to a placebo pill. What I mean by this is that external, objective results are not possible. If someone has the capacity for self-healing, laying hands on a head and saying a blessing can help the individual if they truly think they can be helped, similar to a placebo pill. The placebo pill has no active ingredient but real physiological change can happen if the person thinks the pill has one. For this reason you don’t ever see a priesthood holder trying to restore a limb that has been lost, or heal someone who has burns over a large portion of their body, or raising an individual from the dead. These are visible, measurable results that cannot be achieved with any kind of priesthood power.

What is doctrine?

12718267_624986004320267_8896074740043998413_nSharissa Alder What is doctrine? What makes it doctrine vs. a principle or counsel? Where can we find it? #LDSface2face

 

Non-apostolic response: Defining Mormon Doctrine has been described as trying to nail jello to a wall. Definitive doctrine is rarely introduced. D&C 28:13 states that all things must be done by common consent. In others words, by a vote. Here is very detailed treatment of what doctrine is, found at staylds.com. There is only a snippet below, but there is a lot of good info on that page.

Since the Church was founded in 1830, new doctrine has been accepted six times. On every occasion, a three-step process was followed to add Official Doctrine: It requires the approval of the First Presidency, the concurrence of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, and then it must be accepted in a sustaining vote of the entire membership.

Only then is it binding on the membership of the Church. The change will then be made to the body of accepted (canonized) scriptures. Those occasions are:
1830, Bible and Book of Mormon were officially accepted with the organization of the Church
1835, Doctrine and Covenants, first 103 sections were officially accepted
1880, Doctrine and Covenants additional 32 sections were accepted along with the Pearl of Great Price
1890, Polygamy was repealed (Official Declaration, p. 291)
1976, D&C sections 137 & 138 were officially accepted
1978, The priesthood was made available to all worthy males regardless of race (Official Declaration 2, p. 292)”- http://www.staylds.com/docs/WhatIsOfficialMormonDoctrine.html 

“The Church has confined the sources of doctrine by which it is willing to be bound before the world to the things that God has revealed, and which the Church has officially accepted, and those alone. These would include the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price; these have been repeatedly accepted and endorsed by the Church in general conference assembled, and are the only sources of absolute appeal for our doctrine.”-Official Doctrine. Brigham H. Roberts, sermon of 10 July 1921, delivered in Salt Lake Tabernacle, printed in Deseret News (23 July 1921) sec. 4:7

Not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. A single statement made by a single leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, but is not meant to be officially binding for the whole Church. With divine inspiration, the First Presidency (the prophet and his two counselors) and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (the second-highest governing body of the Church) counsel together to establish doctrine that is consistently proclaimed in official Church publications. This doctrine resides in the four “standard works” of scripture (the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price), official declarations and proclamations, and the Articles of Faith. Isolated statements are often taken out of context, leaving their original meaning distorted.”- http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/approaching-mormon-doctrine

 

Temple Marriage: Non-members and 1 year waiting period

10614239_10100495240875503_4183429387432493439_nColleen Ochocinski I have a question Elder Holland. I submitted it on the other page, but I knew it would not be addressed last night. I’m a convert of almost 9 years (woot woot!), but I’m the only member in my family. Every single ordinance (baptism, endowment, etc) my family wasn’t there. I love my family so, SO much and they love me too. I received a really strong testimony of eternal families and being sealed in the temple before I served a mission at the Draper Temple open house back in 2009. So I know the importance of being sealed in the temple. I promise I do. I’d crawl on my knees across the entire county if I had to to get to a temple. And I know I need to get sealed to my future husband in the temple so that I can be the chain welder in my family and link us all together by doing family history and temple work.
But my question is this: Why does church policy require me to have to wait a year if I have a civil wedding/ceremony for my non member family and friends to participate in, when my worthiness won’t change during that time. I feel like I’m being punished sometimes for being a convert and the only member in my family. I just don’t want my family to get a bad feelings towards the Church for not being able to see me get married.
I can honestly say that I dont understand why this policy isn’t consistent across the entire Church in other countries. I don’t know if I am making any sense. I’m getting super emotional just writing this. I just don’t understand. I’m just scared that if I only do the sealing, it will be the happiest yet most sad day because my family isn’t a part of that day (minus the reception). If you read this, thank you. If you answer it, and it’s really you and not an assistant or something…Thank you even more. Because this is really the only thing that I struggle with in the church.

12741865_10153981095844306_8669517352099752002_nPablo Zamano My fiance’s family are not members and they seem very upset and offended to the fact that they won’t be able to participate in the sealing in the temple, how should we handle that? What can we tell them?#LDSFace2Face

10570507_1421253668168051_4656396220359295886_nPrincess Smeralda Thank you for your messages and guidance….Elder Holland this is my question, is civil marriage a sin?, because some people says that is not legal on the site of God..is this true? And by doing this did they broke the law of chastity?….I ask this question because I have a friend who got married for civil just to give his fiance his paper because he is illegal in this country.and since they didn’t know that after they got married by civil they had to wait a year and now their family are saying that she committed a sin by marrying civil and she put world things befores God’s..and she feels depress sad because of this situación.frown emoticon

Non-apostolic response: This is a policy that is applied unequally throughout the world. In most foreign countries, they don’t give sealers civil authority, so the couple must get married civilly first and then get sealed. They do not have to wait a year. For countries like the U.S. where sealers do have civil authority, if the couple get married civilly, outside the temple, they have to wait a year before they get sealed. It makes no sense. It’s unfair. It needs to change. There is an organization called Family First Weddings that have petitioned Salt Lake repeatedly to change this policy (http://familyfirstweddings.com/). There is unofficial word from those who know people serving in temple presidencies that they are already receiving preliminary instructions on this change. All I can say is, about damn time.

A spouse losing their faith

12249818_10208398135010142_4168531830844467841_nTifney McCleery Bailey There is alot of information about prodigal children. But how do we bear up when our spouses loose faith or leave the gospel outright. There is such a sense of betrayal and heartbreak from broken temple covenants how does the still believing spouse heal and hold on. We feel as though we have gotten a spiritual devorce. This spiritual separation affects every nook and crevice in our family life. We have many resources for the one that struggles with loosing their faith but what resources are there for thr heartbroken. We need hope.

Non-apostolic response: This is a big question, Tifney. Let me first say that I am in your spouse’s position. If this is new for you, don’t make any rash decisions. Go slowly through this process. There will be many bumps and twists along the way but it CAN still work. Here are a few resources to help:

  1. http://boydpetersen.com/2016/02/21/what-to-do-if-someone-you-know-is-going-through-a-faith-crisis/– His number one suggestion is “Don’t freak out.”
  2. The book “Planted: Belief and Belonging in an Age of Doubt,” by Patrick Mason
  3. The book “Navigating Mormon Faith Crisis: A Simple Developmental Map,” by Thomas Wirthlin McConkie

 

Dinosaurs and Evolution

1779840_10200556399391863_1754743978_nBradley Reeves Hello, Elder Holland. My name is Bradley Reeves and I’ve been investigating the church for a little over a year now. Met with quite a few missionaries and am still very hung up on the creation itself. I’ve read Genesis but I think the main problem I’m having is with the Dinosaurs. How did the come to be? If you could shed some light on this I’d really appreciate it! I was also curious about the Universe. How did it all get here? How could all of the wonders of the universe be made so eloquently? I struggle with these questions as I was raised an Evolutionist.

 

12369139_10206796212858403_7581148670348012780_nMichael Stewart I ran into you at the hospital parking lot about a year ago when my daughter was born, and I wanted so badly to stop you to ask this question. Unfortunately I hesitated, and never asked, but just said hi in passing. I doubt this will ever get responded to, as this is a subject that seems to be brushed under the rug. The thing is, I have been struggling with it for years (amoung many others). How does the church reconcile with the clear and numerous evidence of evolution? Is it possible that it could have happened, and the gospel plays it’s part in it too? It seems that the doctorine as it is written in the scriptures and taught elsewhere teaches it cannot, but with the amount of evidence we have supporting it nowdays, denying it would be comparable to closing your eyes and saying the sun does not exist.

Non-apostolic response: What is the church’s official position on Evolution? You guessed it, there isn’t one, in other words, “We don’t know.” Bradley, there is nothing wrong with your world view. Evolution is an established scientific fact and it is taught at BYU. In fact, BYU Biology professor Steven Peck has said more than once there are no creationists on the Biology staff. That doesn’t mean they don’t believe in God, just that God used evolution, over billions of years to get to humans (admittedly that leaves less room for an interventionist God). Of course, once this is understood, you will need to look at scripture, especially Genesis in a metaphorical way instead of taking it literally. The Bible is not a science book. Dinosaurs are tough to fit into the grand scheme, where God is behind everything, guiding the evolutionary process. If one believes the earth is 6000 years old, Dinosaurs would not fit into that model. They roamed the earth for 165 million years while mammals teetered on the verge of extinction during that entire time. It was only after the Dinosaurs were essentially wiped out by a catastrophic event that the mammals began to emerge as the dominant species. Why did God need to send a comet or asteroid to wipe them out?  Did God guide all of that? Perhaps, but it seems pretty inefficient. If all things were created spiritually before they were created temporally, as it states in the D&C, then why have life forms take million of years to evolve?

Evolution is one of those issue that many church leaders have absolutely viewed as one of Satan’s deceptions, while other leaders have embraced it as the reality that it is. Here are some sources to see these contrasting views.

http://en.fairmormon.org/Mormonism_and_science/Evolution/Official_stance

http://www.mormonthink.com/QUOTES/evolution.htm

So just what do Mormons think about evolution?

http://evolutionandmormonism.com/

 

Patriarchal Blessings

12522952_10153451020323940_2414935767768999023_nWladislaw Tomasini Should I necessarily follow my patriarchal blessing to the letter, even if it goes against the feelings and desires of my heart? Am I lacking faith if I choose to listen to my heart rather than every single word in this blessing?

12540687_3124303219534_6605138768092839085_nJackie Saumweber In the October 2014 conference, Elder Godoy repeated a question he was once asked—“if you continue to live as you are living, will the blessings promised in your patriarchal blessing be fulfilled?” How can we be living our lives in a way that we receive these blessings… Blessings that sometimes we feel we’ve done all we can to be worthy of, yet our life is still heading in a different direction? In Hebrews 12:1 we learn that patience is a a very active process (in fact, we are to RUN with patience), but how do we instill in ourselves the motivation to keep running when we feel we’ve done all we can do, or that we’re somehow running in the wrong race?

12801432_10153326881332073_2465070574643868099_nAllison Baker In my Patriarchal Blessing, it says that I if I am faithful I will meet a mate that will take me to the temple. The area I live in currently does not have a viable selection of eligible men. I am active in church, I am magnifying my callings to the best of my ability, I have a current temple recommend, I read my scriptures and pray daily. I feel that this problem can be somewhat solved if I just move to a different area, but this goes to my second dilemma of my career, or lack thereof.
Another statement in my patriarchal blessing says that I will be successful in the career of my choice. I have gained the education necessary and have been applying for about 8 years to jobs all over the country related to my field of study, but nothing has come of it. I have neither the funds or resources to just pick up and move without a job. The job I have now is not satisfying and barely gets me by, making it almost impossible to save in order to relocate.
I feel that I am stuck at a crossroads with two good, worthy options, but no prospects in either direction. What more can I do to choose the correct path for me at this time?

11223753_10206003990512751_7493674095069906600_nBriley BlissWhat are the responsibilities of the different tribes of Israel? Our tribe sets us apart for blessings and responsibilities in this life and the life to come, but the scriptures are very vague as to what those responsibilities are.

Non-apostolic response: First, to respond to Wladislaw, PLEASE follow your heart. One of the dangers of Patriarchal Blessings is that they have taken on the veneer of true prophecy that will be fulfilled one way or the other. These blessings are given with the assumption that they will be fulfilled IF we are righteous. Also, if a blessing doesn’t seem like it will be fulfilled in THIS life, then it is presumed it will be carried out in the next life. There is really no way to absolutely prove that this kind of blessing could be wrong. If something is not fulfilled, perhaps the recipient hasn’t been faithful, or the blessing is not for this life. Even when someone is promised they will be standing on this earth, or living when the second coming occurs, that can be re-interpreted to mean after the resurrection. Eldred Smith was the Patriarch for the entire church from 1947- 1979 and patriarch emeritus until his death in 2013 (nobody holds this position currently which makes for some fascinating history) and he wrote an article in 1962 titled, “What is a Patriarchal Blessing?”  Here are a few snippets from that article:

“The difference between the type of blessing that a father, being an Elder in the Priesthood, would give to his children and that which a stake patriarch would give is that the father in the home would not have the right to declare lineage, nor have the blessing recorded in the Church archives…the patriarchal blessing given by an ordained patriarch is the only that the Lord has required to be recorded by the Church.”

“A patriarchal blessing, in declaring lineage, does not always need to declare genealogy- it is not a short cut to genealogy. He declares the blessings. Consideration of genealogy may have its effect in assisting the patriarch, be we are mixtures. Many of us are mixtures of several tribes of Israel, and so it is the right of the patriarch to declare that line through which the blessing of Israel shall come.”

“Too often people get the idea that when they go to the ordained patriarch, he has some special power and that he can take out of an imaginary pigeonhole a special blessing that is for them. Some hold that he or any other patriarch at any time in their lives can reach in and get that one particular blessing and that it will be the same identical one, word for word, if a second one is given. That is not so.

In other words, that is putting down to the point of predestination- that we are given the promise of what will come. There is no such thing as predestination in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Predestination is linked with fortunetelling. Fortunetelling and patriarchal blessings are as far apart as light and darkness, as black and white. There is no relationship between a patriarchal blessing and fortunetelling. Fortunetelling is a declaration of what will happen, which implies predestination; and predestination is Satan’s doctrine.”

“…Some of the interpretations may be fulfilled by our descendants…We may not realize all the blessing in our lifetime. They may be fulfilled after our death or by our descendants. There is no particular time limit to the fulfillment of blessings…The fulfillment of all blessings in based on our faithfulness. We must earn what we get, but we get what we earn.”

This Dialogue article from Irene Bates, titled “Patriarchal Blessings and the routinization of Charisma,” gives some invaluable insight into the history of patriarchal blessings and how they have evolved since the beginning of the LDS church. Included in her discussion are statements from Bruce R. McConkie and others about a literal blood relationship to the 12 tribes of Israel along with other statements from leaders about a non-literal relationship and that all the blessings can be obtained through adoption into the tribes of Israel so one should not be too preoccupied with lineage. It makes one wonder why the declaration itself has any importance, and why it matters that people have their lineage proclaimed through different tribes at all.

Correspondence with Apostles

12109206_10205379356058487_201289408627347698_nTamarra Kemsley What happens to letters written to General Authorities, specifically members of the Twelve Apostles, the prophet and his counselors?

264726_129281440491536_1665439_nSina New Hi Elder Jeffrey R Holland this is Sina New and I hope my message gets to you through FB. I met Mat at Irvine Ca 3 three years ago and I have been followed you on FB.. I hope to have regular contact with you since the days I left BYU. Is there a personsl email address that I can contact you with?

Non-apostolic response: Tamarra, the typical procedure is that if you write a letter to the brethren it will be returned to your Stake President for follow-up and only be escalated up through the proper channels according to his discretion. So if you write letters directly, you should not expect a response. Sina, unless you have a personal connection with Elder Holland and someone can give you his email address, you won’t get very far. Having said that, here are a couple of examples where Elder Holland did engage in an exchange with some individuals:

Bob McCue: 1st letter, 2nd letter

Tom Philips: Letter exchanges with Elder Holland

Canonization of the Proclamation on the Family

12654276_10156555638900523_403803023248220662_nJon BrowneIs God independent of time? Will The Familly: A Proclamation to the World be canonized?

 

Non-apostolic response: I certainly hope the Proclamation won’t be canonized but if that happens, it would subject to the law of common consent, and I have no doubt the vote would be in the affirmative. It’s important to understand some history behind the creation of this Proclamation. It was created when the LDS church had joined the legislative fight against same-sex marriage in Hawaii. In order to file an amicus brief to support defeat of same-sex marriage they had to show reasonable cause to do so, that it was a direct threat to their beliefs. Since they didn’t have any formal declarations to support this, they created the Proclamation and used it as an attachment to their amicus brief.

These resources give some excellent background to not only the church’s involvement in the fight against same-sex marriage, but how and why the Proclamation was created: Richley Crapo’s chronology, The Hawaiian Roots of the Family Proclamation, Who wrote the Proclamation on the Family?.

Here are some resources that discuss whether or not the Proclamation is indeed already considered scripture: Times and Seasons, Elder Packer’s talk edited after delivery at conference, Elder Rasband states the Proclamation is modern scripture, Is the Proclamation on the Family, Scripture?

 

Gospel Topic Essays

10423910_10208724474097982_1447856456664937987_n (3)Jonny Twice Salsman Elder Holland, why hasn’t the church been more keen to make sure faithful members know about the Gospel Topic Essays? I had no idea that we could read and understand Egyptian and that the church admits that the papryi don’t actually say what Joseph Smith, The Prophet had translated. Its not a literal translation. Why is this not taught on sunday?https://www.lds.org/…/translation-and-historicity-of…
11899757_10154176584495476_3221168640850450090_nRanae Rentfro Barnes I would like to know the answer to this question.

 

Non-apostolic response: There has been a lot of controversy about these Gospel Topic essays. When they first came out they were very difficult to find on lds.org. The church was put in a tough position, because in their efforts towards increased transparency, they have to be careful about introducing tough historical issues to members who are completely unaware. Now, the church shoulders a good deals of blame for this, because in an effort to correlate the gospel message they have shied away from disclosing or discussing the more controversial aspects of its history in manuals and teaching materials, while at the same time cautioning members to avoid non-church approved sources which have openly discussed these issues for decades.

If you have trouble finding the gospel topic essays, you can always see the full list and find the links here: MormonEssays.com.  There have been instances where members introducing the gospel topic essays in church have encountered some backlash and one gospel doctrine teacher was even released from his calling after introducing the Race and Priesthood essay. I know that in my stake, these essays are openly discussed and the Stake President encourages the members to become familiar with them. I hope that kind of openness becomes more pervasive church wide.

 

Free Agency

12804678_1051109571621382_4062648465203593340_nAmmon Gillins How does agency work if God knows everything? God has been able to prophesy many things that will occur with great accuracy (Nephi’s vision). God showed Nephi the very generation that his people would be destroyed in. If God knows people, even individuals so well, knowing how their lives will go, knowing how they’ll choose in situations, how is it that agency exists? If God were to give us choices knowing beforehand what we would choose, what is the purpose of being tested. I know that God loves is. I know he has given us tge ability to act and not be acted upon. I know that we require the atonement to repent for our sins. I would just like a little more understanding to how it all works together.

10989227_10155359794115105_8650051288151084987_nNicole DKHi Elder Holland! My question regards trials. IN Church you often hear people say they are grateful for trials God gives them, but I’ve been wondering, how many of our trials are actually planned and executed by God? Car accidents, health problems, abuse, financial difficulty, natural disasters. . .are these just a result of a telestial world and happen on their own and the Atonement makes good out of them, or did God cause them to happen in the first place?

 
11229282_10203928079393201_1391543048105819511_n
Alessandro Improta Elder Holland, how much of our life’s path is our choice, and how much is God’s will for us? I have been taught to be an agent, rather than an object, and yet I’ve also been taught to seek out Heavenly Father’s will and abide by that alone. They seem to be contradicting in nature, but what is the actual relationship between the two?

Non-apostolic response: These are important questions. If God knows everything past, present, and future, and knows what we will do before we do it, it makes free agency a bit anti-climatic, doesn’t it? Also, if we are to eventually become Gods, if we know the entire future of every world we create, how boring would that be? How could God be sad or happy about what we do or don’t do if he already knows what we are going to do? It seems like God’s happiness or sadness would be a one-time event. It also brings into question whether God does indeed know everything or if he is progressing in knowledge. Back in the early days of the church, Orson Pratt and Brigham Young had public disagreements about the nature of God. Orson took the stance that God was not progressing in knowledge while Brigham Young took the stance that he was.

Father and Son do not progress in knowledge and wisdom, because they already because they already know all things past, present, and to come.” -Orson Pratt ,The Seer, p. 117, par. 96

I would not serve a god that had not all wisdom and power.” -Hyrum Smith, quoted in Joseph Fielding Smith Doctrines of Salvation comp by Bruce R McConkie, from history of the church 6:300

“According to (some men’s) theory, God can progress no further in knowledge and power, but the God I serve is progressing eternally, and so are his children.“- Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 11:28

God himself is still increasing and progressing in knowledge, power and dominion, and will do so, worlds without end. It is just so with us” -Wilford Woodruff,Journal of Discourses 6:12

Eugene England- Perfection and Progression: Two Complementary Ways to Talk About God

Grey Matters- Gary Bergera

Problems and Questions on Agency and Free Will

 

How do I follow my conscience and stay faithful to the church?

11709594_10204401271580175_3075256074747781009_nHannah KollerHow do I navigate continuing on in the Gospel when I have some conflicting views, for example, gay marriage? I feel almost like I’m stuck in between a rock and a hard place because I see all sides of the issue and I support all sides. I want to be as faithful and obedient as I possibly can but I feel like I can’t be because I support all sides. I feel like a square peg in a round hole.

Non-apostolic response: Hannah, if it helps, Elder Christofferson explicity stated that members can still be faithful and support same-sex marriage– and that support can even be stated publicly.

Elder Holland BBC Interview

12798861_10153893659148382_6920005420242170692_nTom Sanders Elder Holland, why did you lie to a reporter about the changes to the Temple ceremony?

 

Non-apostolic response: I think Elder Holland was stuck between a rock and a hard place on this one. He shouldn’t have tried to manipulate the reporter by giving a disingenuous response. But you can view the clip here and judge for yourself.

 

Terrified about the future

12342598_10204974521994767_4058117069694740903_nJordan Hyde I have a question. Based on current events, I often feel myself being terrified for my future and the future of my future family. How can I best combat these feelings, and gain greater faith for my future?

12342852_10208273105569537_9201597285841816632_nCraig Beautifulgopher We are told countless times that we are in the age of decision, that the choices we make now will affect the rest of our life and eternity. When presented with those good and good choices how can we be sure that we are making the right and best choice?

Non-apostolic response: The only thing I can say to help you is focus more on the present than a future you can’t control. If your religious views give you anxiety, perhaps you are taking those teachings too literally. Once you come to understand that no one can understand future events better than you can, you may find the comfort you are seeking, although you will have to find comfort in ambiguity vs. certainty.

No financial transparency/ Misuse of funds

12107827_10207317376909679_8331132772240591720_nNathan Fife I tried to ask real questions in as non-threatening a way as possible but once I realized it was all planned… I stopped. This was basically a talk made to look like a discussion.
I asked to following (via Twitter) and still would love a response: “I pay tithing but it’s hard, sometimes, why does the church does not provide details about how tithing is used?”

12373443_1482907945351037_1787945216172934411_nStephen FacellaYou’re my cousin, Elder Holland! I want to know why the church spent $3 billion on building a shopping mall (City Creek), a second mall in Riverton, a condo tower in Philadelphia, and turning the Desert Ranch into a town of 500,000 people? Yet we have no homeless shelter, no domestic violence shelter, no nursing home for poor elders, or hospital.

Non-apostolic response: Some countries require the church to report on their finances, how tithing money is used, etc. I wish the church would report those same things for this country and world wide. Certainly that would leave them open to some criticism on how funds are spent but transparency is the only way to hold those in charge accountable for how funds are spent.

 

The only questions Elder Holland and Elder Hallstrom responded to

 
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Ottavio Caruso Eder Holland, I’m a convert, I’m 23 and I got back from my mission a year ago. The excitement of being a returned missionary wore off quite quickly on me, replaced by the burden of expectations which both culture and (to some degree) doctrine put on people my age. I try to study the scriptures every day, I pray multiple times throughout the day, I partake of the sacrament weekly, I strive to be obedient and to repent when I need to but, no matter how hard I try, I can’t get that feeling back which I felt as a missionary. It’s like the Church I once felt so involved with is now far away — almost unreachable. I know there’s no magic formula, but if you could give me (and others struggling like me) one piece of advice, what would it be? Thanks.
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Jeffrey R Holland Ottavio, interestingly enough, I am going to try to talk about this in general conference. Listen and perhaps something I say there will be helpful. In the meantime, remember this counsel from Paul to the Hebrews: “Call to remembrance the former days in which, after you were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions.” Virtually every great experience that I know of (like a mission) is followed by “a fight of affliction.” Work hard, be faithful, and the light will return.

 
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Alison Wilson Elder Holland, my brother decided three years ago to come out as homosexual and left the church. Since then he has limited his contact to us and currently lives in Ohio. I try to let him know of the love I and the Savior has for him. However, any mention of religion or God immediately shuts him down or he becomes aggressive in his speech and attacks my faith and testimony. Soon I will be serving a mission and by that point it will have been four years since I last saw my brother. Even if unable to change his feelings, how can I soften his heart and bring him unto Christ as he once had been? Thank you for your love and prayers.
10155685_531204166988398_5617959086263260562_nJeffrey R Holland There are two things you must do. You must love him, regardless of what he does or what he believes. Love is not optional. The other thing that will win his heart is what he loves about you now, and that is your example. Continue to be a disciple of Christ and the spirit of your behavior and love will touch him, even if he does not admit it—and he might not admit it. You can and I feel will be the means of bringing him back into the circle of faith.

12744435_10156518668765576_9013168328551751711_nEzra R. Juárez Rocha Dear Elder Holland thank you for this opportunity to read and answer the questions of our hearts. I would like to know what kind of problems or difficulties did you have when you had our age betwen 20’s and 30’s ? What helped you to overcome those trials? After your mission how did you find the balance between your responsabilities with our Heavenly Father, finding a wife, becoming a provident provider to your family, the responsabilities in your job and taking care of yourself?? Thank you.
10155685_531204166988398_5617959086263260562_nJeffrey R Holland One of the issues I wrestled with when I was single, and we wrestled with when we were married was finances. Neither of us came from wealthy families and yet we had dreams of higher education and having a family at the same time. We look back and realize the miracles that came at that time, even though it was not obvious in the middle of things that it would work out. Things always work out.

12715239_10208683791756290_7680428689846748447_nSofia DeGruccio How do I ever see the light again when everything is so dark and how can I ever be happy when I am this miserable?

10155685_531204166988398_5617959086263260562_nJeffrey R Holland Sofia, someone said, “Difficulty is inevitable. But misery is optional.” Christ is the light that will never be darkened. The light and the life of the world, including your world. You will be happy again.

12316355_10205771588236498_6189719161617296495_nЛиза Серебрякова Dear elder Holland,
I’m from Ukraine, and I have 2 questions that are not connected, but understood so differently by members here.
1) I’ve been reading chapters in the book of Alma about those who wanted to have a king and how they were killed by captain Moroni’s men. This is just one of many controversial passages in the scriptures, but here’s my question: when is it the right time to introduse needed changes for good (and how to do it right when in the system that doesn’t want to be changed) and when is it the right time to “obeying, honoring and sustaining the law” (the way it is given now). Scriptures teach as about “good laws” (DC 134:8). But what should we do with the bad ones?
2) Many of the members are looked down on for their decision to move to another country, especially to USA. Many members quote this talk given by Bruice R. McConkie to back up their feelings: “The gathering place for Peruvians is in the stakes of Zion in Peru, or in the places which soon will become stakes. The gathering place for Chileans is in Chile; for Bolivians it is in Bolivia; for Koreans it is in Korea; and so it goes through all the length and breadth of the earth. Scattered Israel in every nation is called to gather to the fold of Christ, to the stakes of Zion, as such are established in their nations”. Does this quote really mean that members are to live where they were born for all their lives? What if they move in order to get married or for a better job opportunity to provide for their family? Even if there’s no great reason – should they still be treated almost like if they were some kind of apostates? There are many conversations and judgement on that in this area of the world, and we hope to hear something about that.
Thank you,
Lisa Serebryakova
10155685_531204166988398_5617959086263260562_nJeffrey R Holland Anciently, Zion was a place, a destination. In our day, Zion is a way of life, wherever we live. You’ve had many challenges in the Ukraine, while the whole world has been watching. I certainly believe that the members of the Church, few as they may relatively be, can be a guiding light to political and economic stability in that wonderful nation. Remember, you do have a temple. The ultimate sign of Zion.

10157376_10153064752050904_9024179700965315568_nJacob Siler Elder Holland, how can I be a better, more motivated home teacher, and love it?
10155685_531204166988398_5617959086263260562_nJeffrey R Holland What I wish every home teacher could focus on would be the individual and not the assignment. If home teaching is a “duty,” it probably will not be done very successfully. But if we see people’s lives at stake—their spiritual lives—then I think all of us could be more like the home teacher God expects.

12809532_10207218807006738_519272477086850070_nWilliam Kennedy Elder holland, I would like to know how can receive clear direction in life for huge decisions, also I would like to know how can I invite the spirit into my life throughout the day. Elder holland I served faithful with all of my heart on a two year mission and the love for the people still remains how can I turn my focus off my mission and on my everyday life?
10155685_531204166988398_5617959086263260562_nJeffrey R Holland William, if it is any help to you, please know that I and maybe most missionaries, go through this disengagement difficulty. The first while that I was home were among the most miserable weeks of my life. Nevertheless, things right themselves over time. Just stay faithful and do the things you did on your mission—pray, study, be clean, enjoy good people. Every chapter of your life is going to be a good one.

22470_100431369987289_8270712_nHannah Gardiner How do I stop be littling myself? I am always comparing myself to others, espically on dating. What is it that I do not have that they do? I realize that they do have their hardships as well, but what is it that I dont have that they do? I am triyng to have faith, but it is hard when I see all others in realtionships. When I open up to someone, I shot down.
10155685_531204166988398_5617959086263260562_nJeffrey R Holland In the organization of heaven, every one of us has a direct relationship to God. On earth we have family trees. But in a celestial relationship, every one of us are one-on-one with our Heavenly Father. If you can understand that relationship, and His individual, specific, affection for you, you will be much less inclined to compare or covet. It is hard, regarding dating and social experiences, but even those will be put in better context if you see yourself as a special individual in the sight of God. Everybody’s self image goes up then. So will yours. Compare yourself only to your potential—not to other people.

10309201_10205050977408262_8334893733097285044_nBethany Lambson I would love your insights you’ve gained throughout life on submitting your will to Heavenly Father, especially when the desires of your heart were righteous and good but not happening
1395400_602562669779663_1790859394_nDonald L. Hallstrom Thanks for the wonderful question Bethany. The focus of your question is exactly right. When we make a determination to submit our will to the Father, we are laying the correct foundation. Consider what you heard and what you felt tonight in our meeting and you will be on safe ground.

12718166_1052165281523877_5354469269755483280_nKaylie Robinson I am a young woman who is very passionate about her education and pursuing a career. While I do want to be a mother, and understand the sacred and divine nature of motherhood, I often receive discouragement when I tell other church members of my career plans. How can I be at peace with my desire for both work and home?
1395400_602562669779663_1790859394_n (1)Donald L. Hallstrom Kaylie, we believe in and teach the importance of education for men and for women. Continue to pursue that without limiting your opportunities to marry and have children. As you stay grounded on what is most important, you will be spiritually directed.
12718166_1052165281523877_5354469269755483280_nKaylie Robinson Thank you for your insight Elder Hallstrom! I appreciate all that you have said tonight.

 

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Danielle DeteraTo Elder Holland’s question:

I reflect back and ponder on my testimony of my Redeemer Jesus Christ and His gospel. As I hold on to it, it has also held me at times I felt I could have utterly fallen. I can draw surprisingly so much comfort and strength from the testimony that I have.

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Donald L. Hallstrom Blessing to you, Danielle.

10686859_10155171377915083_6011375634523059975_nChristina M Barker Hi Elder Holland, first of all thank you so much for doing this. 

I have a personal question. In most of my adult years I’ve had a hard time getting along with my father. My father has a mental illness and is difficult to live with. There are things about him that I don’t agree with so there is often a lot of contention between us. I love my father and there are some good qualities about him but there is also the mental illness part that’s challenging. So I guess my question is how do I get along with my father or what can I do to get along with him better?

1395400_602562669779663_1790859394_n (3)Donald L. Hallstrom Christina, this is a difficult issue, but one you can improve. In every way possible, show love to your father even in those times when he is not lovable. This will help you refine your life and will be a blessing to him.

 

12642795_1165777683440323_7488504857338704274_n (1)Jackie Monroe I am a recent convert and I’m wondering how to help my family still feel involved in my life? There are many things such as my sealing and church on Sundays that they can’t or do not wish to attend. Our lives are so different now, with different standards and I don’t know what to say or do to relieve the tension that my conversion has caused. I love them so very much, any advice would be a blessing.
1395400_602562669779663_1790859394_n (2)Donald L. Hallstrom Thank you Jackie. First, my sincere commendation on joining the Church and devoting yourself to the Lord. The way you can help your family is by showing an increased love toward them. Help them know that joining the Church helps you love them more and do whatever you can to involve them and show them that the Church is a blessing to you and not a barrier between you and them.
12642795_1165777683440323_7488504857338704274_n (1)Jackie MonroeDonald L. Hallstrom Thank you Elder Hallstrom! I sincerely appreciate your inspired words and the time that you took out of your hectic schedule to respond to my question. Your guidance will definitely be put to good use, I can promise you that! I loved watching you all at the face to face tonight! Have a great night, and thank you again!

 

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