As everyone else, I have questions. For instance, why plural marriage was practiced for a time, and then discontinued. I know some reasons, but I don’t know all.
And why Joseph Smith had a number of other women, including teenagers, sealed to him—I don’t know.
Why a restriction was placed on blacks holding the priesthood for a time, then the ban was withdrawn—I don’t know the reasons.
And there are other questions for which I have limited answers, or no answers at all.
But there are some things that I do know—and in response to any person who is considering leaving the Church because of all the questions, I am remaining in the Church because of all the answers!
Some things I do know:
The Lord, through his prophet Moses, brought ancient Israel miraculously out of Egypt.
In two ancient Jerusalem Temples, Jehovah was worshipped.
Numerous prophets over the centuries testified that a Messiah-Savior would come.
A great prophet named John prepared the way for Him.
Jesus Christ came to earth, taught heavenly principles, miraculously healed many ailing bodies and emotionally burdened souls, and suffered for our sins. He was then brutally killed and was buried, but on the third day He raised His body into living immortality, and as a resurrected Being He appeared to thousands of people in the Eastern and Western worlds and asked them to touch His wounds so they would forever know that He is a God with a physical, tangible body.
Jesus has returned, with His Father, in our day. They came to a young man whose mind was not cluttered with the philosophies of the world.
The Prophet Joseph Smith brought forth the greatest book on earth, by which we can come closer to God than by any other book. That Book of Mormon is saturated with the Spirit.
The Prophet of the Restoration received Priesthood authority and keys from several ancient prophets, and he helped re-establish the Church of Jesus Christ with the same organization that existed in the original Church.
As prophesied in every Jew’s and every Christian’s Bible, Elijah came before the great and dreadful day of the Lord, and the world has changed dramatically with that sealing power and emphasis on hearts of the children turning to their fathers.
Other ancient prophets have returned in our day, and numerous Old Testament-period prophecies have been fulfilled.
The Joseph Smith Papers, an academic project with the highest scholarly standards, is collecting and publishing an impressive array of documents that, in their entirety, show Joseph Smith as a remarkable and credible prophet of God.
God continues to reveal His will in our day (as Amos promised); other scripture has been compiled which is inspired revelation. Every six months we hear uplifting messages, and those messages testify that prophets are still among us.
I know that modern-day apostles of God are full of love, and they are indeed special witnesses who bear positive and moving testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Notwithstanding all the above—all the things that I do know—I am well aware that there are many unanswered questions yet. For example:
Questions about the origin of man, life and death on this sphere before Adam and Eve, and the creation processes, time periods involved, etc.
Was Heavenly Father once a Savior?
What about our Heavenly Mother?
What intelligence is
Identity of the Holy Ghost, and a physical body for the Holy Ghost
The marriage of Jesus
Translation process of the Book of Mormon and of the Book of Abraham
How the Urim and Thummim works
Will animals also resurrect to different glories?
Sons of Perdition (and “daughters of Perdition”?)
Where God lives
The “remnant of Jacob” to help build the New Jerusalem
Guardian angels—are they real? And what is their role?
There is so much we don’t know yet. And that’s okay, because I know what Article of Faith #9 says. “We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.” What does that tell us? There are many, great, and important things he hasn’t told us yet. It’s all coming sometime in the future. And what is the tuition one has to pay for those many, great, and important things yet to be revealed? Righteousness, faithfulness, loyalty, valiance. Those who trust in Heaven now, will be rewarded with vast treasures of knowledge. And knowledge is power. Righteousness is power. Purity is power. Those who have prepared themselves and dedicated themselves to the principles of godliness in this life will be exalted and will “have all power” (D&C 132:20)—to enjoy the riches of eternity and all the greatest blessings in the universe.
The message is clear and profound: Never lose faith in the things you know because of the things you don’t know. If there is something that bothers you—something that agitates your mind or spirit—you know where to turn: ask of God, just as young Joseph Smith did. Our Father, our Savior, and the Holy Spirit are all anxious to speak comfort to our souls; not necessarily giving us specific answers as yet, but helping us to feel reconciled with the wait, holding the unknown in abeyance for a time, with the assurance that all things can eventually be known and understood.
Our inspired apostles and prophets encourage us to hold firmly to the truths that have already been revealed:
Elder Neil L. Andersen taught, “We do not discard something we know to be true because of something we do not yet understand” (Ensign, Nov. 2014, 29).
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf cautioned, “First doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith” (Ensign, Nov. 2013, 23).
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland testified, “This is a divine work in process . . . so please don’t hyperventilate if from time to time issues arise that need to be examined, understood, and resolved. They do and they will. In this Church, what we know will always trump what we do not know” (Ensign, May 2013, 94).
Therefore, as Elder M. Russell Ballard exclaimed, “Stay in the boat and hold on!” (Ensign, Nov. 2014, 89)
And adapting an image from the world of sports, I declare that we’re on the winning team; this cause will triumph in the end. So don’t ever quit the team!
Some people get exasperated with uncertainty, and they refuse to look to God for answers. As Elder M. Russell Ballard facetiously commented recently at the BYU Women’s Conference, “Today, we live in a world in which people don’t ask of God—they seem to want to ask of Google” (Church News, May 10, 2015, 4). But the best source for truth is Heaven, and currently Heaven’s revelations of truth are found in the General Conference Ensign Magazines, and in the Holy Scriptures and in the Holy Temples.
We don’t have all the answers yet, because the righteous must live by faith. There are legitimate answers to many questions that are honestly asked. The real problem is that some Latter-day Saints are not feeding their faith; instead they are distracted by doubts. If they would pay the price through sincere daily prayer and scripture study, along with frequent and regular worship in the Temple, they could testify as Peter: “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:68-69). For peace and safety, feed your faith.
As one illustration, on questions surrounding the Book of Abraham and its translation by Joseph Smith, my colleague, Professor Kerry Muhlestein, who is director of the BYU Egypt Excavation Project, Vice President of the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities, and Associate Chair of BYU’s Department of Ancient Scripture, commented in the BYU Devotional of May 12, 2015:
God’s ways of thinking are higher than ours, and thus we should not be surprised when we don’t understand everything he has said or done. I have spent my adult lifetime studying the translation of the Book of Abraham. Some have experienced a kind of crisis over what the world has to say about Joseph Smith’s abilities to translate and how it relates to the Book of Abraham. While we will not go into detail here . . . , I can tell you that careful study and research has provided very strong and well supported answers for all of the major questions those in the great and spacious building have thrown at us. Note that I said all of the major questions, but I did not say every question. There are still questions about the translation of the Book of Abraham for which we have no answers. In fact I have sat down numerous times and tried to come up with hypotheses that could account for all the facts we have at our disposal. . . . but in truth, nothing I have thought of can account for all the data we have. And in some ways this is very comforting to me.
If we think about it, wouldn’t we be surprised if we could understand exactly how God works when he helps a prophet with an inspired translation? Frankly, given my current limited and finite mind, I would be a bit disappointed if I was capable of understanding just how God works. It would imply that God’s state isn’t really that far advanced from mine. In fact, it would be a fair bit of pride for any of us to think that we can understand all the what’s and why’s of God’s historical dealings with his people, prophets and scriptures. Let me say again, his thoughts are higher than ours. . . .
But to the world, trusting in something we can’t fully understand is laughable, and so they point their fingers and mock . . . . Still, as they mock, many others who are holding to the rod will loosen their grip [and] get lost in the mists of darkness. . . . Yet those who have tasted the goodness of the fruit can remain strong, even when they don’t fully understand everything.
In addition to the numerous intellectual and spiritual truths of which we do have a surety, I reflect on the statement by the Master, “by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:20). Notice that He did not say “by their faults ye shall know them.”
The true Church of Jesus Christ should manifest considerable fruits. And it does. It is the greatest organization on this earth.
The Church and its people are leaders in all the world regarding genealogical research, family history, and Temple work (getting the teachings and the ordinances to all souls—on both sides of the veil).
We are leaders in all the world in doing missionary work, the work of the divine Mission, in bringing people to Christ.
We are leaders in worldwide humanitarian work, and in many varieties of volunteerism.
We are leaders in education: of children, of youth (seminaries and institutes of religion), and in continuing education for adults. Some of the greatest institutions of higher learning in America are the combined Brigham Young Universities.
The Church and its people are leaders in uses of technology, especially through films, videos, apps, and other technologies that have global circulation.
The Church is the most effective institution on earth for wise use of funds, building numerous Temples, meetinghouses, educational buildings, and other structures, all completed and dedicated without debt.
The works of the Church of Jesus Christ, the fruits by which its veracity and authenticity can be evidenced, are plentiful and inspiring. So hold to the rod—the word of God—as published to the world in biannual Ensign magazines, and in four sacred volumes of scripture, and as unpublished to the world but available to all prepared and worthy seekers of the truth in God’s Holy Temples. Despite the uncertainty provoked by our yet unanswered questions, we can remain firm and steadfast with the anchor provided by all that we do know—all that is necessary for us to know at present. Trust in God. He knows when to disclose more to us.