Face to Face with Elder Oaks and Elder Ballard, November 2017: Notes by Nate Richardson
-*My notes here do not represent the complete ideas expressed in this broadcast, but points I’ve considered most pertinent. Though incomplete, I’ve tried to be fair in this report.
-This is to a large audience of varying maturities and is not an attempt at complete answers to all levels on these issues.
-Q: Why no answer to know and believe teachings of the church when I’ve prayed to know and have no answer?
A: D&C 88 The answer comes in the Lord’s time. Don’t be frustrated when it doesn’t come the first time or first year, it comes line upon line, and we need a quiet place, we aren’t good at listening sometimes being too busy with technology.
-Q: How stand up for my standards without defending others with my views?
A: Keep a smile on your face. This is a glorious message, be yourself, people want to know you. Don’t be stoic in the presentation. This makes a connection between you two, they’ll ask more and more as time goes on. The scripture says to do this in meekness and mildness, we don’t pound it in. Don’t say “it’s this way weather you believe it or not.” When saying why you don’t drink alcohol or something don’t imply that it’s wrong, but say something like “it’s wrong for me because of covenants I’ve made.” Then you don’t send them on a guilt trip.
-Q: How discern between the spirit and my feelings?
A: This is a lifelong struggle. Impressions to do things I don’t want to do are probably more valid than impressions to do things I want to do anyway. We all have the spirit of Christ. You have to be sure you’re living right, straightening out anything that’s not the way you want it to be. If the prompting is contrary to Gods commands and the councils of the church you know it’s not from the right source. Someone told Elder Oaks his parents got revelation they don’t need to pay tithing or go to church anymore. Elder Oaks said, “I don’t question your parents’ revelation, they just got it from the wrong source!”
-Q: How show love to homosexuals despite our different beliefs?
A: One with same sex attraction in the church said “I’m not going to let me sexuality get in the way of my spirituality.” In the church we make covenants, and we strive to keep them. There is a place for all Gods children no matter their circumstances, the church is a refuge. Ultimately there are covenants that come into the picture and all of us have to make that decision in our lives of participating in those. Those who try to keep their covenants will receive all of Gods blessings. Bearing each others burdens and loving each other despite all our differences is Christ’s law. Be careful not to label ourselves and others, the most important label we all have is “I am a child of God” We should not label ourselves as “anti this or that or this or that”. We all have problems and burdens we are wrestling with.
-Q: Struggles with anxiety and OCD, constantly struggling with thoughts:
A: Anxiety isn’t a terrible thing so long as we keep it in balance. Some need professional help from experts who’ve studied this thoroughly. Get council from people who love you and church leaders. All of us have some anxiety, a minority of us have disabling anxiety. In law school Elder Oaks had extreme anxiety. Anxiety can be a common stage of life you can get through. The Atonement can help us through these things. Even in old age anxiety is a part of life.
-Q: How do we balance worldly life and spiritual life?
A: These are most common questions, everyone has to balance. All circumstances are different, this is put back on the individual. However the command to rest on the Sabbath is a good balance. Those who keep the Sabbath day have a build in heavenly balance that helps them. Every day is a spiritual day, starting with prayer in the morning. We go into a temporal world. Temporal and spiritual work together don’t try to separate it; nurture the temporal things with spiritual things. You can’t balance on a daily basis, thinking you’ll give certain percentages of your day to certain things. The Ensign is a good way to keep balanced. This helps us give sufficient attention to the scriptures and the teachings of the modern prophets.
-Q: How can you know the church is true?
A: Study the life of Jesus Christ, then let your faith lead you to find where the truth, covenants, commandments, ordinances of salvation are in the world. Then listen to those who know about the restoration. The story of the restoration is one of the most exciting glorious and true stories in the whole world. The Book of Mormon is the evidence to the world that our message is true. They find answers to life’s questions in that book, who am I, what is my purpose, why am I here, where am I going. These answers are all found in the restoration of the gospel.
-Q: For those who struggle with pornography and keep falling what can be done to overcome this? What if someone you’re dating is struggling with pornography?
A: 5 generations ago when we grew up we didn’t encounter this. Each generation has it’s unique problems. This is a major problem today for young people and adults. The Lord has given us principles which when applied can keep us away from this, and even rescue us when we fall to it or when we become addicted to it. Anyone considering marriage deserves complete transparency with the intended spouse, see where their heart is and what they are doing to try and become a saint of Jesus Christ. Don’t ask these questions when you first meet someone. This is a new drug. Don’t demonize those addicted to pornography. Boyfriends and girlfriends are not responsible to save each other from sin, only the Lord has that role. Only you can decide whether to continue the relationship. If you continue in a relationship with someone involved with pornography, steer them to the Lord for help, to council with church leaders parents and professionals. The pornography side is the devil’s side of the line, he is the author of pornography. Take hold of this and don’t cross the line; there is no magic answer but the answer is get over it, and have more and more of the doctrine of the Savior in your lives. Calling upon the Lord will give you strength to confront every mortal weakness or temptation.
-Q: For people doubting with faith when finding conflict in church history etc?
A: There is a difference between questions and doubts. We encourage questions which lead to knowledge, but doubt is ambiguous word; doubt is defined as being accompanied by distrust, rejection of something. The scriptures condemn that. The Savior said “oh thou of little faith wherefore didst thou doubt?” and “doubt not but be believing” and “doubt not fear not”. Doubt is a confusing word, but we do encourage questions, sincere desire to know. Some say the church hid that there are different versions of the first vision, this is not true, in 1970 James Allen made an article for church magazines explaining this, the truth is that people don’t go back and research things; there has been no attempt in any way of any of us trying to hide these things. Now the Joseph Smith papers are coming out to help too. The church is as transparent as they know how to be in telling the truth, they have to do this, that is the Lord’s way. If you don’t have the answers to all the questions, you at least can know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of the restoration, that can get you through till you figure everything else out.
-Q: Advice for a recent convert whom is the only member of the church in their family?
A: Get to know the members, ask them your questions, if they don’t know the answers ask church leaders. Enjoy being a part of this church. Have holy habits (everyone should have these, ie go to church read scriptures etc.), and righteous routines (personal according to the needs and background of a convert. You can know what kind of temptations you need to avoid.).
-Q: Do you get revelation on who to marry or just make a choice? How do you know when you found the right one to marry?
A: Put your cell phones away and all technology, and talk to each other face to face. You have yourselves in cocoons with this, you’re not being normal people! You can look at someone once and be very impressed with them, desiring to marry them; though it may take you a while to persuade them. Looking at each other in the eyes is how this can happen. Get to know each other. A whole bunch of you sit together in a group and are on phones rather than looking and talking to each other. I hope our voices will haunt you now. You need marriage and children in part so you can have people to take care of you when you are old. If you just hang out in groups of people you won’t get a wife, you need to pair off and talk. Don’t ask a girl on a date via a text message, that’s so inappropriate. Elder Bruce R McConkie is a well-loved apostle, a great authority on church doctrine. He said marrying the right person in the right place is the most important thing in mortality. We learn how to heed God’s word, but we also learn to exercise our agency, things we do ourselves; finding the right balance between agency and inspiration is what we do in mortality. He continues to say in his 1974 BYU address “Agency or inspiration, which?”: joy satisfaction and peace in this life as well as eternal reward come as we balance agency and inspiration. Many say they need to fast and get a manifestation about this from God; never did I (Elder McConkie) ask God on the matter, it never occurred to him, he found the girl he wanted, it seemed 100%, so I went ahead, not waiting around for the Lord to reveal it to me. A more perfect thing to do would be to council with God about this being the right choice. So McConkie listened to the feeling in his heart, used his judgement and wisdom and agency, not waiting around.
-Q: How can a return missionary feel the spirit and see the miracles he saw on his mission?
A: Beware seeing a mission as so different as life. Get to know God on your mission. Keep doing some of the things that built your testimony when you were serving your mission the rest of your life. Keep regular scripture study, service to others, etc. It’s simple: keep the same habits. Get up on time. Get out. Move around. There is a different balance post mission, you make your own rules once off of a mission, but keep doing things like you did on the mission. Don’t overdo the adjustment of post mission life so much that you stop the good habits; and don’t wait for someone to assign you a companion, go find one.
-Q: How reactivate loved ones, like if your parents are inactive?
A: Don’t preach to them just love them. Share with them as appropriate some of your life’s experiences, honor them, seek their council, the Lord will ultimately reach down and perhaps bring about what we pray for. Don’t overreact, be loving gentle kind prayerful. We’ll then find teaching opportunities, and others who will help step in to get the job done. Kindness love and patience are the most fundamental things to pursue in these cases. Elder Oaks counseled a sister whose husband would come to church but not be baptized or care about the gospel, that she would just be the best wife she could. In this case, the she tried extra hard to be kind, and a month later he was baptized.
-Q: Are women expected to have children and a career? Family Proclamation conflicting current instruction for women to get education?
A: The question is not between children and career, it’s about timing. A degree for a woman can be a blessing from the Lord to supply if the father dies. Other circumstances may work out differently. Seek the inspiration of the Lord.
-Q: How deal with a career requiring lots of work on Sundays?
A: Some careers require this. This is sometimes out of our control, but we should do all we can to at least get to a sacrament meeting every month, in my experience most employers would accommodate this. We all need to find some way to partake of the sacrament for sure as often as we can, it’s a blessing to do it every week. The sacrament is the Lord’s 1 commanded meeting that we are to attend. We’ve tried to reestablish in our minds that that 1 hour and 10 minutes belongs to the Lord; we teach and testify of Christ; we ask the blessing and passing of the sacrament be a sacred moment in all the lives of the church; we pause and put away anything that would keep us from focusing on the Savior, this helps us get strength to face another week. As much as possible, on Sabbath day find ourselves at sacrament meeting, and at our other meetings if we have time to do all that. Elder Oaks often worked on Sunday at a radio station, it requiring him to work Sundays when he was young. His mother critiqued him for studying on Sundays to keep up in school, his father having had said something like “I can do more in 6 days than 7 if I rest on the 7th.” I did this and found I can get more done resting the 7th day than working the 7th day. You’ll get farther if you do it the Lord’s way because the owner’s manual of who made us says to rest the 7th day.
-Q: I’ve been trying to overcome sins and can’t, I can confess easily, but I still can’t overcome it. What is to be done?
A: Keep reminding yourselves who we are in this spiritual journey, that we are children of Father and Mother in heaven; coming to earth is essential to our progression. It’s a battle to keep feeding the spirit in the process and keep it alive and well as we do the physical. Do we pull ourselves up to a spiritual table 3 times a day like the physical health table? If we did that, we might have the spiritual strength we need. Nourish your spiritual side to be ultimately in command of the physical. Repentance is possible, forgiveness is certain, when we are forgiven, though our sins be as scarlet, that color will be washed away, and the Lord will remember them no more, and thus we should not dwell on these things, and get on with our lives. Approach the sacrament with a contrite heart, and this is the role it can play.