Sabbath Day Observance

I had a conversation recently with a fellow student at Chico State who is a Seventh Day Adventist. He wanted to know why it is that the LDS church (and many others) observe Sunday, the first day of the week, as the Sabbath instead of Saturday, the seventh day.

My first thought was that the ‘when’ of the Sabbath is not nearly as important as the ‘why’. We celebrate Christ, both my Seventh Day Adventist classmate and I, we just do so on different days.

In our conversation we discovered many similarities in our beliefs, we both agreed that God created the Earth in six days and rested on the seventh. (Genesis 2:2-3) And we were both well aware of the 4th of the ten commandments which refers to Sabbath Day observance, saying, “Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy . . . wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:8-11)

It is in the New Testament, however, that the importance of the first day of the week becomes emphasized. Mary arrived at the Garden Tomb on the first day of the week to find that Christ had been resurrected (John 20:1). Later, in Acts, Paul had the disciples gather together to take the sacrament and be instructed on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7).

As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we rest from our regular, daily labors one day a week. We gather together to take the sacrament and learn the teachings of Christ from the scriptures and modern prophets. We follow the example of the early disciples and commemorate Christ’s victory over sin and death every Sunday.

The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ

In 1830, a young man named Joseph Smith published a book that he claimed was sent from God.  That book, the Book of Mormon, contained teachings and prophecies centered on Jesus Christ.  It was written for the purpose of “convincing Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting Himself to all nations” (Title Page).  It continues to be published to this day and is distributed worldwide in every major language.  To me, the Book of Mormon adds an extraordinary amount of spirituality, peace, and insight to my life.  It is through the Book of Mormon that I came to understand more clearly the Bible and the role of Jesus Christ.

The Book of Mormon is about a people who left Jerusalem and lost their connection to the prophets of the Bible that lived there.  In order to teach this separate people, God called prophets among them.  Through their history, each wrote down their own experiences, prophecies and sermons.  All the writings were condensed and compiled  into a single volume a thousand years later by a prophet named Mormon.  That volume, written on gold plates, was buried anciently and retrieved by Joseph Smith by commandment of God.  He translated the work though the power of God into English and worked to distribute the book to as many of God’s children as would receive it.

It is through the Book of Mormon that we can more clearly see that Jesus Christ has been known to all of His followers, no matter where or when.  The power of the Book of Mormon comes from its witness that Jesus is the savior and redeemer of the world.  That witness is given by every one of the prophets in the Book of Mormon.  One of those prophets, named Nephi, expressed his reason for writing of Christ.

And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophecy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins (2 Nephi 25:26).

Nephi’s brother, Jacob, expressed similar feelings.  “For this intent have we written these things, that they may know that we knew of Christ, and we had a hope of his glory many hundred years before his coming; and not only we ourselves had a hope of his glory, but also all the holy prophets which were before us” (Jacob 4:4).

With such a purpose of this book, it is important to understand clear what it is.  I’ve seen that some people refer to our scriptures as the Mormon Bible.  This term is confusing because it implies that the Book of Mormon replaces the Holy Bible, which it doesn’t.  We believe in and study the Holy Bible (in English, we usually read the King James version) along with the Book of Mormon.  The two are inseparably combined and go hand in hand.  With both of these resources available, a greater clarity of the scriptures can be understood by those willing to study it out.

For example, in the gospel of Matthew we read that Christ went to John the baptist to be baptized.  John realized that if there was anyone ever who never needed baptism for remission of sins, it was Jesus.  Yet Jesus was supposed to be baptized, saying, “Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15).  What exactly does it mean “to fulfill all righteousness”?  A prophet from the Book of Mormon explains it for us: “And now, I would ask of you, my beloved brethren, wherein the Lamb of God did fulfil all righteousness in being baptized by water?  Know ye not that he was holy? But notwithstanding he being holy, he showeth unto the children of men that, according to the flesh he humbleth himself before the Father, and witnesseth unto the Father that he would be obedient unto him in keeping his commandments” (2 Nephi 31:6-7).  This is just a single example of many such topics.  We learn about Christ’s sacrifice and suffering, the priesthood, faith, the purpose of the law and many others in this book.

The Book of Mormon also teaches us that a testimony of Jesus Christ will protect us.  It demonstrates very vividly the promise that the Lord has made to His people as He said, “If ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper in the land, but inasmuch as ye do not these things, ye shall be swept off the face of the land.” (See 2 Nephi 1:9-11)  This seems to be the overarching theme that is shown by periods of prosperity followed by periods of war and famine, ending ultimately in the complete destruction of a people that had fully rejected Christ in their lives.

In short, every single prophet taught the people about Christ, His mission on earth, His atonement and our eternal indebtedness to Him.  They were taught to humble themselves before Him, to learn of Him, to pray to Him, to do His will, and above all, to be as He is.  We too can learn the lessons the people of the Book of Mormon were taught, with the added benefit of perspective.  Consequences of embracing or leaving behind the gospel of Christ are put in plain view in scripture.

Any way you look at it, the Book of Mormon is phenomenal.  In just over 500 pages, a history of a people, spanning about a thousand years, is presented.  It is complete with personal stories of its authors, societal issues of an ancient people and above all, prophecy after prophecy and principle after principle relating to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  If you have not yet read it, please do so at your first possible chance.

“Hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, . . . and they teach all men that they should do good.  And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye—for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day.” 2 Nephi 33:10-11

See also: Safety for the Soul by Jeffrey R. Holland

Missionaries Knock On Your Door: What to Expect

You have probably already met a couple of LDS missionaries.  They’re the young men in dark suits and bicycle helmets, or the young ladies wearing skirts; they all have black name tags.  Maybe it was at your front door (or your back door, if you live in Wisconsin), or it could have been on the street, or a gas station, or at a friend’s house.  They waste no time searching for people to declare the gospel to.

Odds are, you didn’t hear their message.  Maybe you were in the middle of repairing your truck, or you were in a bad mood from a long day at the office, or you thought they were Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Could be you were curious of what they had to say, but didn’t want to let on.  Mostly, you didn’t know what to expect.

It’s understandable.  I hate being blindsided by unexpected surprises; not knowing what’s coming or how to control it.  Missionaries approaching you out of the blue is the epitome of being caught unaware.  My hope with this article is 1) to teach you what you can reasonably expect from these young men and women and 2) to give you some ideas of how to act the next time they arrive.

The Greeting

A missionary’s purpose is to share a vital message with you; it’s so important that they dedicate two years of their lives on their own dimes to come present it to you and your neighbors.  When they are new to being a missionary, they learn quickly how important trust is.  In order for their message to change lives, it must first be heard; for the message to be heard requires a person’s trust.  Establishing trust within 15 seconds at a complete stranger’s doorstep is a truly daunting feat!

From my own experience, I can testify that most missionaries are trustworthy.  They are typically honest, clean, kind, and very respectful of other’s beliefs.  It’s difficult to establish all of this in the first few moments of introduction, but they will try.  They will shake your hand,  introduce themselves as representatives of the LDS Church, give their names with a smile, and ask to be invited inside for a discussion.  The hope is that you will see or feel in them some spark of goodness that will persuade you to give them just one fair hearing.  Sometimes it happens, often it doesn’t.

Imagine that you are at this moment of decision: consider your options.  If you are like me, your gut will tell you to avoid the hassle, avoid the awkwardness of meeting new people and turn them away.  But, if you had a few minutes to weigh the consequences, your sense of adventure might say, “What the heck!  They’re no threat; I’ll listen to ’em.  I can TiVo American Gladiators tonight.”

I hope that wherever you are, you will decide right now to invite them in next time.  Give them a chance.  If not, at least be civil.  A polite “No, thank you” is exactly as effective as a tirade of verbal abuse at keeping them from returning, so save your energy.

Let’s assume you invite them in.  Once inside, they won’t usually dive right into a religious discussion.  They will chat politely about your family, your job, hobbies, etc.  They will also be glad to answer questions you have about their backgrounds.  Ask them where they are from, what they plan to study in college, how long they have been missionaries, etc.  Again, they hope to establish a good relationship of trust with you.  This isn’t merely a gimmick; they really are interested in you because they hope eventually to become your friends.  If there’s one thing Mormon missionaries believe in (besides their message), it’s that everyone is a potential friend.  There are people I met on doorsteps as a missionary that I grew to love and I still keep in contact with.

Their Presentation

At some point, the missionaries will change the topic to religion and begin the presentation they arrived on their missions to give.  They may request to begin with a prayer in order to invite the Holy Spirit.  Because they are guests in your house, they will allow you to decide who should say the prayer and it’s just fine to pick one of them or to say it yourself.  Do whatever you feel most comfortable with.

Many people assume that the message they have to share will basically mirror a typical sermon from their local pastor, about Jesus suffering on the cross and how we can be saved if we believe in Him.  This is central to our beliefs and essential to understand; it will take a prominent role in the lesson, but the missionaries will go deeper into what makes the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints unique.  The message is not only that Jesus saves, but that Jesus speaks.

The lesson is known as the Restoration of the Gospel.  Just as this is the first thing the missionaries teach, it was the first thing we published on this website two years ago.  Go read it! With more familiarity on the topic beforehand, you will have better comments and questions.  You’ll also be better able to listen to the whispering from the Holy Spirit during the meeting.

During the presentation, the missionaries will take turns discussing each topic.  It may sound somewhat rehearsed (because they do rehearse it; the rehearsals help them cover the essential points within a reasonable time-frame; their visit will probably last no longer than 20 minutes unless you invite them to stay longer), but I hope you will recognize that the missionaries really believe it.  They are committed to it.  You can also help them out of rehearsal mode by showing interest and asking them questions along the way.

Future Visits

The missionaries will end their talk by asking you to read from the Book of Mormon, ponder over the message, and pray to God about it.  They really don’t expect you to believe them at their word (you are still essentially strangers after all), but they have full confidence that Heavenly Father will confirm the truth through the Holy Ghost.  They will want to follow-up and see how He answers you, so they will request a return appointment, usually within a week.

My advice is to take their commitments seriously: read, ponder and pray all week.  Asking God if their message is true can do no harm, and it will do plenty of good.  Also, get their phone number so you can contact them if you need to reschedule or if you have questions or concerns that just can’t wait.

They have several more lessons, so they hope you will keep inviting them back after each visit.  Each subsequent lesson will resemble this first one except a bit longer (maybe up to an hour), they might bring along someone from the local congregation, and every visit you’ll move steadily from complete strangers to solid friends.  In fact, I’d wager it won’t be long before you’re asking them to come for dinner.

I’d like to open the comment section to stories of when the Elders or Sisters came to your house for the first time.  What was the experience like?  What did you learn from it?  Have they been back since?  If you don’t have a story to share, invite the missionaries over by clicking here!

I’m in Love with a Mormon. What Now?

We often receive questions from readers in our question box at right.  We have had several asking about romantic relationships between Mormons and non-Mormons and what they should do about it.  It’s our policy not to become involved in personal problems since we are not an advice column, but we do want to give some general principles touching this topic from an LDS perspective.  If you have a question that isn’t addressed here, ask about it in the comment section.

This was a question from a reader named Jim:

I have a general question…
I currently find myself in a rather difficult situation where I (a non member) of the Church of LDS have fallen for a devout believer. This is not a whimsical interest, we have known each other for nearly a year now, it is also a mutual interest, we have discussed our feelings for each and agree that there is a real potential for a relationship.

Now as I explained before she is a devout believer. This immediately creates some obvious obstacles given the fact that I am not a member, the main ones being:
No sex before marriage
No alcohol
No tea/coffee
Restricted activities on Sundays

Now I appreciate that these are only a few of the more general restrictions/guidelines that are in place. But we talked about them. Regarding the no sex before marriage I said why not give the relationship a go, then if in six months or so time we find out we are not that compatible, we could part, but if it is going very well we can continue. I have had sex before but have also been for long periods without it, and explained to her that if we were in a serious relationship that we both thought was heading somewhere I could handle holding off having sex until we were married.  As for the other things, I feel confident that we could work around them.

Anyway, just as it looked like we were reaching a situation where we might be about to give things a go, she told me about the temple, and how in order to be sealed/united together in this life and the next you need attend a ceremony there after your civil marriage ceremony in order for this to happen.  The catch…only LDS members can enter the temple.  Now this seems to have put the brakes on anything potentially happening between us. She’s of the view (as am I) that if we start dating it would become fairly serious and could well lead to marriage, but that as I am not a member we would not be able to be sealed united at her temple.  This idea crushes her I think.  She is also concerned about the difficulties of raising a family (she wants four children) that has a parent who is not a member of LDS.  She obviously wants to give her children the opportunity to join and is worried a non-member partner would make this difficult.  I have tried saying that I don’t think this would be such an issue, although not a member of LDS I do believe in god and live a clean lifestyle that would fit in with hers.

I think she is also worried that if she did have a crisis of faith, having a husband who was not a member would be difficult as he would not understand what she was going through and offer support/advice etc. on the subject.

So anyway, I have rambled on long enough, but I do have a couple of questions for you…
1) Is there any way of being sealed/united together in life without going through a temple
2) Are there strictly no exceptions whereby a non member could enter a temple?
3) And thirdly what sort of general advice could you give us concerning the situation we find ourselves in?

Thanks for your help


Here is my response:

Jim, thank you for your question. You seem to be very understanding and willing to be patient. I can’t say there are any easy answers, though.

1) Is there any way of being sealed/united together in life without going through a temple?

You can be united together in life without going through the temple, because the church recognizes all legal civil marriages as binding for the duration of life, “as long as you both shall live.” And such a relationship can be very rewarding, but the problem (as you already know) is that it falls short of the goal your paramour has dreamed of since she was young: “For time and for all eternity.”

It’s a powerful motivating force in my life.  My family plans on being together forever, and because of that we are interested in creating worthwhile bonds now.  It also helps us make good decisions in other areas of life, since we don’t want to diminish the family by letting our standards slip and losing our promise.  The promise is obtained through covenant with God and is known as “sealing.”

The ordinance of sealing is only performed in holy temples by men who have been authorized by God. It isn’t available anywhere else.

2) Are there strictly no exceptions whereby a non-member could enter a temple?

It’s a lovely thought to want to have this ceremony for the sake of your girlfriend, but even if you had the sealing, without you believing in it and devoting yourself to it, there is no more promise in it than a civil marriage.

Only those who have prepared themselves in every way may enter the temple, and this includes baptism for remission of sins by an authorized priest, and reception of the Holy Ghost. It also includes an interview with a Mormon bishop to ascertain faithfulness (do you hold to chastity, honesty, temperance, etc?). You must also be willing to enter into certain covenants with the Lord.

In short, even just being a member is not enough to enter the temple. I’m sorry. There are no exceptions allowing anyone unprepared (including non-members) into a temple.

3) And thirdly what sort of general advice could you give us concerning the situation we find ourselves in?

There are three distinct scenarios I can see. It depends on how strongly you and she are willing to pull.

  1. You marry civilly “until death do you part”
  2. You receive baptism and prepare yourself for eternal marriage.
  3. You split up.

#3 (split up) will happen if you decide against converting and she doesn’t give up her desire for eternal family. You might each still find a mate compatible with your ideals, so it’s not all bad, but obviously not what you want to hear.

#1 (civil marriage) is a possibility.  A quick visit to the local Justice of the Peace will have you married in the eyes of the law.  Plenty of latter-day saints belong to part-member families and many have found a way to “make it work,” but the heart of the issue isn’t the same as any other interfaith marriage.  It goes beyond being able to understand your spouse’s religion and deciding on where to take the kids on Sunday.  To a Mormon, marriage itself is a fundamental part of the gospel and the crowning glory associated with salvation.

She would see a civil marriage as compromising her long-standing commitment to herself and to God to be sealed for all eternity.  It would certainly be difficult for her, as you pointed out, Jim.  She may harbor secret hopes that you will eventually come around and join the Church after perhaps years of marriage; also, after your death she may wish to have you sealed to her by proxy — after a baptism for the dead. But even that is contingent on your posthumous desire for it. If you didn’t want it in life, it’s unlikely you’ll change your mind the minute you die. And without your permission, it will not be binding.

I do not endorse a civil interfaith marriage with a Mormon.  Not for you or anyone that is in any position to choose it.  The Mormon usually leads life pining for a relationship with eternal promise and despairing that it isn’t happening; often they let themselves slip away from God.  The non-Mormon feels constant pressure to convert and becomes annoyed that the problem doesn’t go away.  I’ve seen too many problem relationships.  If this heartache can be prevented, I advocate preventing it.

Such a marriage does not solve the problem you are facing right now, Jim.  It only delays solving it.  It will present you every morning with the same dilemma:  ask her to surrender hope for an eternal family, get yourself to convert, or dissolve the relationship.  Avoiding the question is to choose the first option.

#2 (eternal marriage) can happen if you allow yourself to investigate the religion seriously. This is the path that I advise. Invite the missionaries over for a few lessons and read the Book of Mormon with them.  After learning a bit more about the Church and understanding why we believe the things we do, you might find your original notions of Mormonism misplaced.  People usually find the missionaries’ lessons much more substantive and credible than they anticipate.

You indicated that you have faith in God, which is essential. Believe that He will answer your prayers, and ask Him whether you should join.  Believe that He will give you the desire for eternal family that will lead you to unite with her forever.

Jim, I hope I’ve added some clarity to your dilemma. I hope you can see it from her side as well. Meditate on it and pray for guidance. I know the Lord will answer. He answers my prayers frequently.

I’d also invite you to look around at our website. You might find some more answers there. And you are always welcome to email me directly. In fact, I’d very much like to know what you decide.


Does God still speak to us today?

First Vision

While preparing for a class, I came across this talk given by Hugh B. Brown, a member of the First Presidency of our church, who passed away some years ago.  It details a conversation that he had with a member of the British House of Commons and a former justice of the supreme court of Britain regarding our belief in the reality of modern-day prophets.

I will never understand why people reject the doctrine of God still being able to call prophets.  He has always done so and will continue to do so.  I firmly declare that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that there is a prophet today who speaks for God.  Prophets are essential to us knowing who God and Jesus Christ are—their characters and their teachings that will bring salvation.  You too can know of this truth if you will sincerely ask God in prayer with faith to act.

“[This man] called me on the phone one day and asked if I would meet him at his office and explain some phases of my faith. He said, “There is going to be a war [World War II], and you will have to return to America, and we may not meet again.”

When I went to his office, he said he had been intrigued by some things I had told about my church. He asked me if I would prepare a brief on Mormonism and discuss it with him as I would discuss a legal problem. He said, “You have told me that you believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that you believe that God the Father and Jesus of Nazareth appeared to him in vision.

“I cannot understand,” he said, “how a barrister and solicitor from Canada, a man trained in logic and evidence and unemotional cold fact, could accept such absurd statements. What you tell me about Joseph Smith seems fantastic, but I wish you would take three days at least to prepare a brief and permit me to examine it and question you on it.”

I suggested that, as I had been working on such a brief for more than 50 years, we proceed at once to have an examination for discovery, which is briefly a meeting of the opposing sides in a lawsuit where the plaintiff and defendant, with their attorneys, meet to examine each other’s claims and see whether they can find some area of agreement and thus save the time of the court later on.

I began by asking, “May I proceed, sir, on the assumption that you are a Christian?”

“I am.”

“I assume that you believe in the Bible—the Old and New Testaments?”

“I do!”

“Do you believe in prayer?”

“I do!”

“You say that my belief that God spoke to a man in this age is fantastic and absurd?”

“To me it is.”

“Do you believe that God ever did speak to anyone?”

“Certainly, all through the Bible we have evidence of that.”

“Did he speak to Adam?”


“To Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jacob, and to others of the prophets?”

“I believe he spoke to each of them.”

“Do you believe that contact between God and man ceased when Jesus appeared on the earth?”

“Certainly not. Such communication reached its climax, its apex at that time.”

“Do you believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God?”

“He was.”

“Do you believe, sir, that after the resurrection of Christ, God ever spoke to any man?”

He thought for a moment and then said, “I remember one Saul of Tarsus who was going down to Damascus to persecute the saints and who had a vision, was stricken blind, in fact, and heard a voice.”

“Whose voice did he hear?”

“Well,” he said, “the voice said `I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.'”

“Do you believe that actually took place?”

“I do.”

“Then, my Lord”—that is the way we address judges in the British commonwealth—”my Lord, I am submitting to you in all seriousness that it was standard procedure in Bible times for God to talk to men.”

“I think I will admit that, but it stopped shortly after the first century of the Christian era.”

“Why do you think it stopped?”

“I can’t say.”

“You think that God hasn’t spoken since then?”

“Not to my knowledge.”

“May I suggest some possible reasons why he has not spoken. Perhaps it is because he cannot. He has lost the power.”

He said, “Of course that would be blasphemous.”

“Well, then, if you don’t accept that, perhaps he doesn’t speak to men because he doesn’t love us anymore. He is no longer interested in the affairs of men.”

“No,” he said, “God loves all men, and he is no respecter of persons.”

“Well, then, if you don’t accept that he loves us, then the only other possible answer as I see it is that we don’t need him. We have made such rapid strides in education and science that we don’t need God any more.”

And then he said, and his voice trembled as he thought of impending war, “Mr. Brown, there never was a time in the history of the world when the voice of God was needed as it is needed now. Perhaps you can tell me why he doesn’t speak.”

My answer was, “He does speak, he has spoken; but men need faith to hear him.”

(President Hugh B. Brown, Conference Report, October 1967, Third Day—Morning Meeting 118.)