Some remarks from Elder Ballard to young adults

Elder Ballard delivered some “blunt” but “loving” remarks to young adults in the Taylorsville, Utah Institute program on Sept. 17.  Those remarks were reported in the Deseret News here.

“We’re living in a time when you have to hear it very straight,” the apostle told more than 2,000 young adults gathered at the Taylorsville Utah Institute of Religion. Noting all the confusion in the world, Elder Ballard told listeners they didn’t have time to meddle with “fluff” or tamper with doctrine.

Elder Ballard continued:

In his many travels in his nearly 32 years as an apostle, Elder Ballard said he’s been approached by youth who are unsure about the Prophet Joseph Smith.


“I want to say to you, if you have any question about the reality of Joseph Smith being a prophet of God, called under the direction of the Father and the Son, you get into the Book of Mormon and you read it.”


Readers of the Book of Mormon cannot get far into the book without drawing closer to the Savior Jesus Christ, he said.

To those who doubt when questioned about the Book of Mormon, Elder Ballard declared, “You are members of the Church. You bear your testimony. You tell them to [read] the Book of Mormon and get down on their knees and let them ask God if [Joseph Smith] is a prophet.”


Elder Ballard then added his witness that Joseph Smith was raised up as a prophet of this dispensation of the fullness of times.


Elder Ballard said he also sometimes hears criticism from youth that the Church takes too hard of a stance on marriage or gender issues. “Before you start questioning that, you go back and study the plan of salvation,” Elder Ballard told the young adults.


“What is God’s great plan of happiness? Why are we here? Where do we come from? Who are we? Who are you?” he asked. “Well, you are sons and daughters of God. You are spirit offspring of our Heavenly Parents. You lived in the pre-mortal world as sons and daughters of God.”

He then encouraged listeners to go back to the book of Genesis in the Bible. “Find out why God created this world. Who are we … and what are we charged to do and how are we charged to do it? Well, Adam and Eve were given firm direction. They were moved out of the garden and told to multiply and replenish the earth. And there’s one way you should do that: in God’s way of marriage.”


Most questions can be answered by reminding individuals of the plan of salvation — “the great plan of happiness that Heavenly Father established in the beginning,” the apostle taught.


Those who have questions can also take their questions to their trusted teachers and leaders. “If they don’t know the answer, they can help try to find an answer for you.”


Blind Spots

Sarah Elizabeth Holmes (right) was a tiny child in Nauvoo when her mother died.

As I was piecing together the history of my ancestors, I read accounts of how Sarah’s mother died as a result of mob violence, which is how Sarah eventually became the step-daughter of my ancestor, Elvira Cowles.

Todd Compton, in writing about Elvira Cowles, related that the death of Sarah’s mother, Marietta Carter Holmes, had reportedly resulted from a mob driving Marietta out of her cabin. 1 The records associated with Sarah Holmes at the Nauvoo Land and Records office tell of a mob attack during a heavy storm, leaving a burned cabin in its wake. Marietta died in August 1840. Her infant daughter died a month later.

This past weekend I was in Nauvoo. During a discussion of violence, I mentioned the tale of Marietta Carter Holmes being attacked by a mob in her cabin. The Holmes cabin where Marietta likely lived at the time of her death was located two blocks from Joseph Smith’s home.

To my surprise, Joseph Johnstun (whose historical probity I adore), claimed the tale was bunk, that the woman’s skirts had caught fire and caused the conflagration that destroyed the cabin.

While the story of a mob attacking Marietta Carter Holmes isn’t core to my thesis regarding Joseph Smith’s activities regarding plural marriage, it is a story I have repeated multiple times. To have someone I respect as much as Joseph Johnstun refer to the story as bovine excrement took me aback. Continue reading


  1. Todd Compton, “Elvira Annie Cowles” in <em>In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith</em>, Signature Books,1997, p. 546. Todd relates the tradition that Marietta was driven from her cabin in Missouri, reportedly causing Marietta’s death.