Question Box: Why did Jesus not visit every place on earth?

Question: If you believe Jesus went to America because he died for them just as much as Peter or Mary, as you said in another post, why did he not visit every place on Earth?

One of the “why not?” reasons Mormons often give in support of our unique belief that Jesus visited the American continent after his resurrection is that Jesus loves everyone, and died for everyone, so it’s not unreasonable to think He might choose to visit other groups of his children.  But, as you point out, if Jesus’ loving people were a sufficient reason for Jesus to personally visit them, then He would have visited every person on earth in every place.    So the question is: why did Jesus choose the Nephites of the Book of Mormon, and did he choose to visit anywhere else?

The Book of Mormon has the answers, given by Jesus himself in the book of 3 Nephi, chapter 15.  We learn that Jesus visited the Nephites because they were a branch of the House of Israel, led away from Palestine by God, and his visitation was part of a fulfillment of his covenant with the House of Israel.  He also explains that the “gentiles” (those who are not of the House of Israel), will receive the gospel through the preaching of his apostles rather than through a personal apperanace.  We also learn that there were other groups of the House of Israel scattered throughout the world, and in chapter 16,  Jesus explains that he will visit them too:

1 And verily, verily, I say unto you that I have other sheep, which are not of this land, neither of the land of Jerusalem, neither in any parts of that land round about whither I have been to minister.

3 But I have received a commandment of the Father that I shall go unto them, and that they shall hear my voice, and shall be numbered among my sheep, that there may be one fold and one shepherd; therefore I go to show myself unto them.

The obvious next question is: if the Bible is from Palestine, and the Book of Mormon is from America, are there records of Jesus’ other personal appearances?  The answer is: we don’t know.  If so, God has not revealed them.  One thing that makes Mormonism very unique among religions is that our canon is not closed– we expect that God is not done talking to his children.

Who should take the sacrament?

Q: What actions or thoughts would prevent one from taking the sacrament? Obviously killing a person, stealing, coveting someone who is not your married other, are all things that would prevent it, especially if one does not have any remorse for their actions but, is there any thing else and what severity are they at? Could just the desire alone without the action cause impurity unworthy of the sacrament?


A:  For those who are not members of the church, see this post.  For people who are Mormons already, I would answer that taking the sacrament is a very personal experience.  I hesitate to give any members of the church opinions on whether they should or should not take it.  The only person, besides yourself, who can tell you not take the sacrament would be the bishop.  He would recommend that as part of a disciplinary measure for something fairly serious.  If you have any sort of question about a specific thing that you have done that you think is serious enough to fall in that category, you need to just ask the bishop about it.

But after reading your question, it seems like you understand about the serious things, and you want to know some opinions about things that are less serious, like desiring to do something bad, or being not right with the Lord in your heart somehow.  Luckily, the sacrament prayers themselves come with a pretty good answer.  The person giving the prayer describes to God what you will be doing when you take the bread or water.  For the bread, it says that those who partake witness before God:

“…that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them.”

And for the water:

“that they may witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they do always remember him.”  (Doctrine and Covenants 20: 77,79)

As always, this is just the opinion of one Mormon, but I believe that if during the sacrament you consider that you are willing to (in other words, if you want to) take upon yourself the name of Christ and always remember him and keep his commandments, you should witness that to God by taking the sacrament.  It has little to do with specific things you have done, and very much to do with what you want to do now and in the future.

Question box: Can a Mormon marry a Christian?

Question: Can a Mormon marry a Christian?

Short answer: Yes.

Long answer: First of all, Mormons are Christians, but I’ll respond to the question: can a Mormon marry a non-Mormon?. The answer is yes, but that’s not the whole story. Mormons can marry whomever they please in a legally-binding ceremony, and it will be recognized by the church as as valid marriage. But Mormons also have a ceremony unique to Mormonism called a “sealing”, where a Mormon couple can be married “for time and all eternity” (no “till death do you part” involved). These ceremonies are performed in temples, and like all temple ceremonies are only available to active Mormons. Being sealed is a very important thing in our religion, so interfaith marriages are usually the exception rather than the rule.

More on the subject of Mormons and marriage:
I’m in love with a Mormon: what now?

Can Mormons get divorced?

Why temple marriage?

Jeff Lindsay’s Love, Dating, Marriage, and Morality: The Latter-Day Saint Way

How can we enjoy fasting?

Q: How can we enjoy fasting?

Short answer: If fasting is fun for you, you’re probably doing it wrong.

Long answer:

Ok, but seriously.  Fasting is going without something that you want.  Usually food.  Often water also.  (In the Mormon tradition we generally fast from both, usually for 24ish hours).   If you don’t get hungry and thirsty, you’re not fasting.  And chances are you won’t find it enjoyable (enjoying starving yourself is what you might call evolutionarily disfavored).

But just because it’s not fun doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.  Look at how many people throughout the ages have fasted.  Muslims, Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus: every major world religion has some sort of religious/cultural/ historical aspect that includes purposely starving yourself.  Ramadan.  Lent.  Yom Kippur.  People do it, like so many uncomfortable things (giving birth, watching Eat, Pray, Love) not because they find it enjoyable, but because they find it meaningful.  In the scriptures, fasting is even talked of as a source of joy.

So, how do you find meaning in fasting?  Usually it’s tied to having a purpose.  Gandhi fasted for peace.  Jesus fasted before he started his ministry.  Alma of the Book of Mormon fasted and prayed “many days” to know that God was real.  The discomfort of fasting serves as a link.  A reminder.  A personal communication between you and God and a powerful inner symbol of how much you want what you are fasting for. You should have the reason before you fast, not decide to fast and then be frantically casting about for a reason.

The exception to that last statement, for Mormons at least, is Fast Sunday.  Like the Jewish Yom Kippur or the Muslim Ramadan, Mormons have a special designated time to fast as a group, which is once a month, usually on the first Sabbath.  The day is called Fast Sunday, and during church services, instead of prepared sermons, anyone in the congregation is invited to come to the front and share why they believe.   My guess is that the root of the question “how can we enjoy fasting?” is “how can we find meaning in fasting when our fasting is on a regular schedule?”

Most Mormons I know have some sort of personal reason to fast even on Fast Sunday.  But that’s not required, and in my opinion, it’s not really the point of the day.  Fast Sunday was set up during the early days of the church as a way to take care of the poor.  Everyone went fasted for two meals, and then donated those two meals to the church, which distributed it to the needy.  In our days, though, most of us aren’t living from meal to meal.  We could probably just donate that money to the poor without needing to go without ourselves.  Yet we still fast.  The fast now becomes a symbolic sacrifice and a reminder of our duty to those who are needy

Another source of meaning, like the aforementioned Jewish and Muslim observances, is communal.  There is power and togetherness and beauty in fasting as a faith community, to be part of a whole even if you don’t have a personal reason.  Sometimes I don’t have a reason, but I still fast.  I fast because I’m Mormon and it’s Fast Sunday, and that’s what we’re all doing on Fast Sunday.

I want to open this one up to my fellow Mormons, because finding meaning is pretty personal: any other perspectives on fasting?