Mission Companions

Mormon Mission Companion CollageMormon missionaries always work in companionships of two (occasionally three).  The reasons for this are for spiritual and physical protection, but most importantly, because it is a mandate from the Lord.

Why Missionaries Travel in Pairs

The Lord has commanded missionaries, in D&C 42:6, “Ye shall go forth in the power of my Spirit, preaching my gospel, two by two.”  Missionaries will be more powerful in their teaching if they work together in unity.  As it says in 2 Corinthians 13:1 “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.”

Senior Companion

In companionships, one missionary, usually the younger or less experienced one, is the junior companion, and the other is the senior companion.  I had a reader once email me and ask the requirements to become a senior companion.  I told him that when a mission president thinks a missionary is ready for the responsibility and is prompted by the spirit, then he would make that missionary a senior companion.  Therefore, how and when a missionary becomes the senior companion would differ from mission to mission, depending on the mission president and the prompting of the Holy Ghost.

My recommendation to this young man was to not worry even for a moment about getting “promoted” to senior companion status.  I advised him to take President Hinckley’s counsel to “forget yourself and go to work.”*   Just seek to be the best missionary you can be, and you will be an instrument in the hands of the Lord.  Obey the mission rules, work hard, enjoy your mission, and it will be a success regardless of whether or not you are the senior companion.

Companionships Lead to Lifelong Friendships

Many missionaries will make friendships with their mission companions that will last a lifetime.  Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, in his November 1997 Ensign talk titled, Valued Companions, said:

“Companionships also constitute the basic organization in the 318 missions of the Church. Just as the disciples of old, our more than 56,000 missionaries go two by two “into all the world” to proclaim the good news of the gospel. In this wonderful work of saving souls, there is tremendous fellowship and camaraderie. When Alma was reunited with the sons of Mosiah after 14 years of missionary service, he “did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord.” Missionary reunions are still a great time of rejoicing.”

Companionship Inventory

Missionary companions are instructed to stay together always with reasonable exceptions for showering and using the bathroom. Missionaries are encouraged to learn how to work with and love their companions, but when you are with someone 24/7, it is likely that conflict may occur.  When disagreements occur between companions, they are encouraged to try to work it out them themselves before contacting their district or zone leaders.  Your mission president is also likely to ask, in interviews or through your weekly letters, how well you are getting along with your companion.mormon missionary companionship inventory

One thing missionaries are asked to do to keep harmony in their companionship and to quickly resolve disputes is to have a weekly companionship inventory meeting.  In this meeting, mission companions should:

  • Discuss their relationship and resolve conflicts.
  • Talk through any challenges that might be preventing the two from working together in unity.
  • Set goals to improve their relationship.
  • Start and end with prayer so as to have the Spirit of the Lord present.

Learning to get along with your mission companion will be excellent practice for getting along with your eternal companion (your wife), and keeping harmony and love always in that relationship.

How NOT to Conduct Companionship Inventory

In conclusion, here’s a funny video I found on YouTube showing how NOT to conduct a companionship inventory.

*Actually, that quote is what President Hinckley’s father told him in a letter during his mission.

Missionary Name Tag

LDS_missionary_name_tags The Mormon missionary name tag or badge is one of the most recognizable visual features our missionaries carry.  On the one hand, it is simply a name tag, while on the other hand, it is symbolic of the work missionaries have been called to do.  It is a symbol of the Church they have been called the represent and of the Savior whose messengers they are.

My Missionary Commission

The missionary tag is a sign of the commission missionaries have been given.  During my mission, several of my companions had a quote from Elder Bruce R. McConkie printed on a poster as a constant reminder of who they were and who they were representing.  It reads:

I am called of God. My authority is above that of the kings of the earth. By revelation I have been selected as a personal representative of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is my Master and He has chosen me to represent Him. To stand in His place, to say and do what He himself would say and do if He personally were ministering to the very people to whom He has sent me. My voice is His voice, and my acts are His acts; my words are His words and my doctrine is His doctrine. My commission is to do what He wants done. To say what He wants said. To be a living modern witness in word and deed of the divinity of His great and marvelous latter-day work. (from How Great Is My Calling, an address delivered while Elder McConkie was serving as president of the Australian Mission from 1961 to 1964)

baptism with lds church logo on buildingA Sister Missionary’s Name Tag

In researching what I wanted to say about the missionary name tag, I found the following story from Elder Robert L. Simpson’s talk in the May 1984 Ensign Magazine called The Simplicity of Gospel Truths.

“Few are aware of the pure Christian service being administered at refugee camps in Thailand and in the Philippines by our missionary sisters. Basically, these sisters are restricted to teaching the English language and Western culture, but there is a deeper teaching that takes place through their pure love and sweet attitude toward these displaced people.

The story is told of a young camp refugee from Cambodia who was relocated in California. He found his way into one of our Church meetinghouses because the name of the Church on the sign out front corresponded with the one he used to look at each day on the name tag of the wonderful missionary sister who taught him at the camp. People don’t soon forget acts of simple kindness. Pure love can transcend all differences.”

An Outward Sign of IdentitySusan W Tanner

And finally, here is another reminder about the importance of the missionary name tag from Sister Susan W. Tanner’s talk in the May 2007 Ensign Magazine titled Daughters of Heavenly Father.

“Has your mother or father ever reminded you as you were leaving the house to ‘remember who you are’? What do they mean by that?  ‘Remember that you are part of this family, with a reputation to uphold.’ And, even more importantly, ‘remember that you are a child of God and must act accordingly.’ Missionaries wear a badge as a constant reminder that they are representatives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This reminds missionaries to dress modestly and comely, to treat people with politeness, and to strive to have Christ’s image in their countenances. They must do these things because they wear that name tag, an outward sign of their identity.”

Prayer and Testimony

john smith missionary montrealThe following is a story about promptings from the spirit, prayer, and testimony in missionary work that I received today from my brother, Elder John Smith, who is serving in the Canada Montreal Mission.

“When I first showed up in this area 2 weeks ago I was blessed to have the opportunity to work with an investigator who had just accepted the baptismal commitment just a couple of days before my arrival.  His baptismal date is for July 18th and things are looking incredible.  His name is Hector and he is originally from Mexico, but has lived here for 3 years or so.  He has already acquired a testimony of the truthfulness of our message and continually tells us how he wants to share the spirit he has felt with everyone else.  He is sincere and humble and it is the greatest blessing to be able to work with someone who has such a thirst for the truth as this man does.

We went over to his place to teach him the lesson of the Gospel of Jesus Christ,  which is essentially the 4th article of faith in greater detail.  When we showed up Hectors girlfriend asked if she could sit in and listen, to which we replied of course.  They both sat through the entire lesson and the spirit was very strongly manifested throughout the course of the visit.  At the end of the lesson my companion asked Melanie (the girlfriend) if she would like to be jesus christ flip chartbaptized as well.  She said yes and then she proceeded to tell us of an experience she had.

Throughout the course of Hector’s investigation Melanie has been skeptical of the whole thing.  When Hector agreed to be baptized and to make the necessary changes to join the church Melanie was frustrated and told Hector that we were just brain washing him, and that we worship Joseph Smith and what not.  Hector countered her attacks by bearing his testimony to her and telling her that if she really wanted to know if all of this was true that she needed to ask God.

woman prayingShe took his advice and prayed that night about all of these things and she said that she felt the holy spirit enter into her soul.  She said she felt goose bumps.  And so with that experience and our invitation to baptism she could not deny what needed to be done.  She almost didn’t tell us about this experience of hers, and she probably wouldn’t have done it then if we had not invited her to be baptized.  Luckily my companion acted upon that prompting because I was not planning on inviting her at that time, although I did have the thought come to my head briefly.  Next time I will pay more attention to the spirit’s promptings.”

What a wonderful story of two men, Hector and the missionary, feeling the promptings of the Holy Spirit and bearing testimony.  And as a consequence, a humble prayer was answered and another testimony was gained of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

Saving for a Mission

The blessings of missionary work are infinite and eternal, though there are costs to a Mormon mission and sacrifices that must be made. One of those sacrifices is the need for young men to save almost $10,000 to pay for their mission.  And I believe that, as much as possible, young men should pay for their own mission, because even greater blessing flow that way.spencer w kimball

Paying for a Mission

This is what President Spencer W. Kimball said on the subject:

“Remember it costs money to go to the various parts of the world and preach the gospel. Remember, then, it is your privilege now to begin to save your money. Every time money comes into your hands, through gifts or earnings, set at least part of it away in a savings account to be used for your mission.”

A young man’s mission preparation consists of “preparing to finance his mission so it may be his own contribution, so far as possible. How wonderful it would be if each future missionary could have saved for his mission from birth. How wonderful it would be if every boy could totally or largely finance his own mission and thereby receive most of the blessings coming from his missionary labors.”

“Of course, if the boy is a convert in his teens, his years of saving are limited. If he lives in a country where the economic standards are low and opportunities are severely limited, he can still be governed by this policy so far as possible and do the best he can.”

President Kimball Speaks Out on Being a Missionary, New Era, May 1981

Mowing lawnTips on Earning and Saving Money for a Mission

  • Start early.  When my son was four years old I got him a piggy bank to start saving for his mission.  Starting early will help you develop better money saving habits, and it will also help you let interest work in your favor.
  • Find ways to earn money.  Ask your parents, friends and neighbors if they have chores you could do to earn money for your missionary fund.
  • Budget! Make a budget, or plan, for how much of the money you earn will be saved for your mission.  Allow your self some money to spend on fun things too, but you’ll probably want to save at least 50% of each pay check for your missionary fund.  And don’t forget 10% for tithing.
  • Open a saving account.  When you get old enough and want to graduate from the piggy bank system, opening a savings account will be a safe way to store your money and it will also allow you to earn interest on the money you have saved.mcdonalds hamburger worker
  • Get a part-time job.  When you get old enough, ask your parents about getting a part-time job.   I got my first job working at McDonald’s when I was 16 years old.  This was a great way for me to add to my missionary fund.  If your parents don’t want you to work during the school year, see about getting a summer job.
  • Talk to your parents.  For many of these options, you will need your parents’ help, so be sure to work with them to develop a plan for how your mission will be paid for.  Even if your parents can afford to pay for your mission, as President Kimball said, it is a good idea for young men and women to pay for some or all of their own mission.
[one_half last=”no”]Saving for Missions: Examples

The following are four examples of how young men are saving money for their missions.  They come from Mission Made Possible, a New Era article in June 2004.

Adam Sessions, age 12, Morgan Park Ward, Chicago Illinois Stake.[/one_half][one_half last=”yes”]mission savings calculator[/one_half]

Adam’s plan is  simple: “For every five dollars I get, I give two to my mission fund,” he says. He also always makes sure to pay his tithing.  Starting at 12 might seem early, but Adam’s really excited that he has seven years to save for his mission. He’s not old enough to have a part-time job, but he does jobs for people in his neighborhood, such as emptying recycling bins, and shoveling snow from side walks.  Along with his financial preparation, Adam has also set a goal to finish reading the Book of Mormon by the time he’s 13. He reads every day. saving for mission by babysitting

Nathan Neeley, age 15, Westchester First Ward, Chicago Illinois Stake.  Nathan started saving when he was 10.  He began by delivering papers, shoveling snow, and mowing lawns. Now that he’s 15, he babysits for some of the families in his ward. After paying tithing, he puts away 10 percent of each paycheck for his mission.  He’s had the desire to serve since Primary when he sang “I Hope They Call Me on a Mission.”  “And when my brother went,” he says, “that made me want to go even more. It made a big difference for me. He set the example. He really changed his attitude toward life because of his mission.”

David Montoya, age 17, Orland Park Ward, Chicago Illinois Stake.  David’s paycheck disappears into his mission fund so fast you’d think it was one of the coins he can make appear or disappear at will. A master of the sleight of hand, David turned his magic hobby into mission dollars when he started working at a magic store and later performing as “Magician Monte” at local restaurants and birthday parties on weekends. Now that he’s attending a local community college, he has a job as a bank teller and only does his magic show on the side.

“Your mission starts way before your mission,” David says, as he looks sage-like over the top of his glasses. He’s been preparing since he was 12, when he decided he wanted to go on a mission. Sacrifice and discipline are what David credits with his successful mission-savings plan. He started putting away half his paycheck when he was 14. At 17, he almost has all his mission money saved.

wash truck to earn money for missionAnthony Haga, age 19, Rock Island Ward, Davenport Iowa Stake.  Anthony’s first job was as a bagger at a grocery store on an air base. He saved 25 percent of his money for his mission fund at first. He later got a job at a car wash through a friend in his seminary class. He’s been working there ever since and has been saving half his earnings for his mission. A few months ago, however, Anthony realized he wouldn’t meet his goal if he maintained this saving pattern. He would have to step it up. So he cut his other expenses and started putting away much more money. And he counts it as a blessing of paying tithing that he also got a raise at work. He’s going to make it.

And it’s a good thing too, because he just got his mission call to Boise, Idaho. Because he’s been through saving for his mission, Anthony has some advice: “Be prepared to work for your money, but I can testify that when you work to earn as much as you can, then the Lord will take care of the rest.”

LDS Mission Cost

Many of my readers have wondered: how much does an LDS mission cost?  The current LDS mission monthly cost for young men and women in the United States is $400 a month. That comes out to a total of $7,200 for 18-month long missions for sisters, and $9,600 for young men who serve two-year missions.

mitt romney missionary 2Mission Costs Vary for Some People and Places

I specify that the figure above is for young men and women in the US, because mission costs vary for senior couples and for young people outside the US.  To find out the current cost of an LDS mission outside the United States, please see your bishop or other Church leader in the country.  For senior missionaries in the United States, the average cost of a mission for couples who do not live at home is approximately $1,500 per month. Mission costs for senior missionaries range from $800–$4,000 per month (which includes expenses for housing, utilities, food, and transportation), but about 80% of all missions cost less than $1,800 per month.

Missionaries Pay Their Own Expensesfamily dinner table

Missionaries are expected to pay their own expenses while on the mission.  When my parents were young, each missionary paid his or her own actual living expenses.  So a mission to Japan, for example, could have been much more expensive than a mission to Argentina.  In 1990, though, a new program was introduced to equalize the financial responsibility for each missionary. Now, all young missionaries pay a flat monthly rate into the Church missionary fund.  Each missionary, then, is allocated what he or she needs for the expenses in that mission.  This approach has reduced the burden on the missionary, and his or her family, who may have been assigned to work in a more expensive area of the world.

Expenses Covered

The monthly allowance missionaries are given is designed to cover food, lodging, transportation, and other mission related expenses. Missionaries are asked to bring extra personal money for additional items they would like to purchase such as souvenirs. Church members around the world are asked to invite their local missionaries to meals to help reduce the overall cost of the missionary program.

mission saving piggy bankStart Saving Early

Young people in the church are encouraged to save money throughout their childhood and teenage years to pay for as much of their mission as they can.  Parents, family, and friends may also contribute financially to pay for a missionary’s expenses.  Missionaries who cannot save the required funds may also obtain assistance from their home ward or stake, though personal and family sources of funds should be exhausted first. In some cases it may be better to delay a mission for a time and earn more money to pay for your mission rather than to rely heavily on others to fund your mission. The Lord expects that sacrifices, of both time and money, will need to be made in order to serve a mission. You, or anyone who makes such sacrifices, will be richly blessed by the Lord for doing so.

[one_half last=”no”]Supplemental Financial Assistance

For many countries outside the US, if authorized, there is supplemental financial support available from the Church. If the missionary candidate cannot be supported fully from personal, family, ward or branch, or stake or district funds, then a request can be made for this financial assistance. Missionaries are asked not to request this special assistance until they, their family, and ward or branch and stake or district have committed themselves to provide all the financial support they can.[/one_half][one_half last=”yes”]

mission savings calculator
Ideas for earning and saving money for your mission [/one_half]Whether in the US or abroad, lack of finances should not stop a worthy individual from serving a mission. If you’ve done everything in your power to save for a mission but still don’t have enough, have faith that the Lord will open the way. Make an appointment to talk to your bishop and he will help you figure out the details and make a plan to cover the costs of your mission.

Source of Funds Section of Mission Paperssacrament meeting hymn

When filling out the mission application form, missionary candidates are asked to indicate the source of the funds that will pay for their mission.  They are asked how much money will be contributed per month in support of the mission from: Self, Family, Ward or Branch, and other sources.  So be prepared to answer that question.

Do all that you can to save for your mission.  Start saving at an early age so that you can serve a faithful mission for the Lord and not be a financial burden on your family.  The Lord will bless you many times over for the sacrifice of time and money you make to go on a mission.

Why Mormon Missionaries Serve

From its beginnings, the Mormon Church has been a missionary oriented church, sending out missionaries to all parts of the world. Perhaps you have wondered why the Church asks so many missionaries to serve a Mormon mission?  And perhaps you have also wondered why so many young people (and some older missionaries too) are willing to put their life on hold and work to spread the gospel?  I thought I would devote today’s post to explaining why Mormon Missionaries serve.

Go ye therefore and teach all nations Harry Anderson

It’s a Commandment

Missionary work is a commandment from the Lord.  When the resurrected Jesus Christ met with his apostles he said, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” (Matt. 28: 19)  The Lord has reiterated that commandment in modern times when he said to Joseph Smith the Prophet, “Behold, I sent you out to testify and warn the people, and it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor” (Doctrine & Covenants 88:81).

It Brings Us Joy

When we experience the blessings of living the gospel of Jesus Christ, we naturally want to share those blessings with others. The Lord spoke of the joy that comes into our lives when we shaalmada family parana argentinare His gospel when he said, “Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God…And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!” (D&C 18:10,15).

The Book of Mormon also has a great illustration of this principle. In his vision of the Tree of Life, when Lehi had partaken of the fruit and tasted of its goodness, his first desire was to share it with his family. (see 1 Nephi 8: 12)

Why I Served My Mission?

I served a full-time mission for the Church in Rosario Argentina from 1995 to 1997.  Prior to my mission, there were several factors to contributed to why I wanted to serve.  I had been raised in the Church and had actively participated in Church activities all of my life.  I believed the teachings of the Church to be true. I knew Christ was my Savior, and that the Mormon Church was His Church.  I know Joseph Smith was a prophet and that the Book of Mormon was the word of God.  I knew I had a priesthood duty to share the gospel with others. godoy family CAKE rosario argentina

During the mission, my reasons for serving grew and developed.  The reasons above are more in line with the commandment to do missionary work, but as I was engaged in the work, the joy of missionary service took over.  I realized that I had been called to serve a mission to bring the joy of the gospel to the Almada family in Parana, Argentina, and the Godoy family of Rosario, and dozens of other individuals and families.  Helping these people to know of the blessings of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, of the reality of our Heavenly Father, and of the eternal joy of family life, not only helped them, it also brought me joy and satisfaction beyond description.

What is a Mormon Mission?

What is a Mormon mission? On the surface that may seem like a silly question because most of the audience knows exactly what it is already. But I believe, for the benefit of future missionaries as well as for non-Mormon friends that come to this site, it is worth discussing.

A mission, whether religious in nature or not, is defined as “a specific task with which a person or a group is charged.” A religious mission is “a ministry commissioned by a religious organization to propagate its faith.”  Consistent with these definitions from Webster, a Mormon mission is when members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the official name of the Mormon Church) are given the task to actively share their faith with others.mormon missionaries talking to man in street

Varieties of a Mormon Mission

Proselytizing Missions: Nearly all Mormon missionaries serve proselytizing missions in which they devote the majority of their time to teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to those unfamiliar with our faith. All missionaries also spend time in community and personal service to others.  The Church even recently announced missionaries will be using Facebook in their work to meet and teach people. Missionaries teach the fundamentals of the gospel of Jesus Christ:

  • that God is our Heavenly Father, He loves us and has a plan for our eternal happiness.
  • that Jesus Christ is our Savior and only by following his teachings can we receive salvation.
  • that Joseph Smith was a prophet and the Lord’s instrument in restoring the gospel of Jesus Christ after a long period of apostasy.
  • that repentance and baptism are the gateway to eternal life.
  • that through prayer and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, God guides each of us.

Young Men:  At age 18, young Mormon men are asked to leave their homes for two years and dedicate their lives to missionary service.  Former Church President Spencer W. Kimball was asked a few years ago, “Should every young man who is a member of the Church fill a mission?” He responded with this answer: “Yes, every worthy young man should fill a mission. The Lord expects it of him. And if he is not now worthy to fill a mission, then he should start at once to qualify himself.” (From “President Kimball Speaks Out on Being a Missionary,” New Era, May 1981) Every Church president since then has reiterated that call for all young men to serve a full-time mission.

Young Women: Young Mormon women, called sister missionaries, can go on a one and a half year mission when they turn 19 years old.  Former Church President Gordon B. Hinckley has said, regarding  young sister missionaries, “They perform a remarkable work. They can get in homes where the elders [male missionaries] cannot. But it should be kept in mind that young sisters are not under obligation to go on missions. They should not feel that they have a duty comparable to that of young men, but some will wish to go. If so, they should counsel with their bishop as well as their parents.”  (From “To the Bishops of the Church,” Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting, June 2004)

Senior Couples: When married couples are no longer in  the full-time work force, they are encouraged to go on a proselytizing missions, humanitarian missions, and other types of missions.  Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has said this of senior missionaries: “I feel a deep responsibility to speak to you today about a pressing need in the Church. My greatest hope is that as I speak, the Holy Ghost will touch hearts, and somewhere a spouse or two will quietly nudge his or her companion, and a moment of truth will occur. I will speak on the urgent need for more mature couples to serve in the mission field.”  (From Robert D. Hales, “Couple Missionaries: A Time to Serve,” Ensign, May 2001)

church service missionariesChurch Service Missions, Temple Missions, and Others: The types of missions mentioned above are the most common, but there are a wide variety of other types of missions available for older single women, for young people who for health reasons can’t serve a full-time mission, and for others.  “For those [youth honorably excused from full-time missionary labors] . . . , bishops may . . . identify appropriate local opportunities for Church or community service for a specified period of time (usually 6 to 24 months).” (From First Presidency letter, Jan. 30, 2004). See my article for more information on Church Service Missions.

Preparation Day

Preparation day (or P Day as it is often referred to) is a missionary’s once a week chance to do big shopping trips, play sports, do laundry and write letters home to family and friends.  Preparation day is the one day a week in which Mormon missionaries get a break from their usual proselytizing labors.  It is called preparation day because it is designed to help missionaries prepare physically for the week ahead. P day, in my mission, was on Mondays, though the day of the week may vary from mission to mission.

Preparation day ends around dinner time (about 6:00 P.M.), after which missionaries are expected to carry on normal proselytizing activities.  At least those are the p day instructions in the missionary guide; when I got to my mission, I found a slight alteration to that policy. rosario argentina mission home fisherton

When I arrived in Argentina, it was late December and in the middle of a long, hot, muggy summer (remember the seasons are reversed in the southern hemisphere).  At the airport to meet us were a couple of the office Elders, and they took me and the other new Elders and Sister missionaries to the mission home located in the Rosario, Argentina suburb of Fisherton.  The mission home was big and in a nice area of town and soon we met our mission president, Thomas Coburn, and his wife.

The introductory meeting with President Coburn lasted an hour or two.  He inspired and uplifted us, shared some scriptures, and reviewed the mission rules.  One of the Rosario mission rules that differed from those in the missionary guide was regarding p day.  In the missionary guide, it said to use preparation day to see cultural and historical sites in the countries where you serve.  President Coburn said there really were no such sites worth seeing in our mission, therefore he was cutting p day short by two hours.  Preparation day would end at 4 o’clock for us, and this would give us a couple of extra hours each week to do missionary work. monumento bandera flag monument rosario argentina

This shortened preparation day was a disappointment to me at first, but I soon realized it wasn’t a big deal.  I still had plenty of time to do my shopping, write my letters home, and I even got to play basketball a few times.  And though there weren’t a whole lot of cultural or historical sites in the places I served, I did make it to the Argentina Monumento a la Bandera (Flag Monument).


I hope you future missionaries remember to make good use of your preparation day.  Don’t forget to write a letter or email to your parents every p day.  By making wise use of your time on this day, you will be better prepared throughout the week to do the work of the Lord.

Mormon Polygamy

Today’s post is in response to a question received on the Web site.  A young man who is preparing for his mission asked me how I would respond to his non-member friend who asked why Joseph Smith practiced polygamy.  The polygamy question is one I got only a time or two on my mission, but one that missionaries should be prepared to answer. wilford_woodruff

First, I would answer that polygamy is part of our past, but not part of the present Mormon Church.  Joseph Smith began publicly teaching the principle of plural marriage (polygamy) in the 1840s, but by the year 1890 (119 years ago), polygamy was officially discontinued by the Church.  The book of the Doctrine and Covenants contains the official declaration from Church President Wilford Woodruff ending polygamy. Also, last year, the Church created a site with a lot of good resources for people seeking the truth about Mormon polygamy. Bottom line, today there are over 15 million Mormons around the world, and none of them practice polygamy.

Now, having established Mormons do not now practice polygamy, it still doesn’t address the question of why Joseph Smith instituted the practice in the early days of the Church.  To answer the why question, I’d like to quote the Church’s official statement on polygamy. It reads:

“At certain times and for His specific purposes, God, through His prophets, has directed the practice of plural marriage (sometimes called polygamy), which means one man having more than one living wife at the same time. In obedience to direction from God, Latter-day Saints followed this practice for about 50 years during the 1800s but officially ceased the practice of such marriages after the Manifesto was issued by President Woodruff in 1890. Since that time, plural marriage has not been approved by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and any member adopting this practice is subject to losing his or her membership in the Church.” (emphasis added)

Jacob Blessing His SonsThe statement from the Church goes on to cite instance in the Bible where Abraham, Jacob, and others of the Lord’s servants had plural wives (see Genesis 16:1–3; 29:23–30; 30:4, 9; Judges 8:30; 1 Samuel 1:1–2).

Joseph Smith also asked God why he had been commanded to restore the practice of plural marriage and was told simply that the Lord has His reasons.  One of those reasons given by the Lord is mentioned in the Book of Mormon: “If I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall [have only one wife]” (Jacob 2:30; see also v. 27).  In other words, it was to bring more children into the world who would be raised up faithful to the Lord.  (sourced, again, from the Church’s official declaration on polygamy)

The polygamy question is a tough one to answer, and missionaries should know it’s okay to say they don’t know all the reasons why.  We know Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and we know it came as a commandment from God. As a missionary, the conversation should then turn to helping the investigator gain their own testimony of Joseph Smith which can be gained by reading the Book of Mormon and praying to know its truthfulness. (see my previous post on The Power of the Book of Mormon)

Finally, I’ll leave you with two video clips.  The first is from President Hinckley’s October 1998 General Conference talk where he reiterated the Church’s position against polygamy.  The second video is from Truman Madsen where he explains more of the history of Mormon polygamy and the doctrinal reason’s why Joseph Smith was commanded to do it.


New Section: Mormon Missionaries in the News

mormon missionaries newsI’ve added a new section to the Web site called Mormon Missionaries in the News.

I have found, in my daily perusing of the news, that I often run across articles in which Mormon missionaries or LDS Church missionary service is highlighted.  The Mormon Missionaries in the News page has about six articles posted there now, and I will add to that over time.

If you know of a news article about Mormon missionaries that is not listed below, please contact Mormon Mission Prep.com and I’ll add it to the page.

Also, don’t forget about the page of recommended reading on missionary preparation with LDS.org articles from Church General Authorities. I recently added a good article for the youth called Spiritual Crocodiles, and a good one on leadership skills called Jesus: The Perfect Leader.