Elder Ballard answers questions about LGBT rights, pornography and more

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Dani Jardine
Elder M. Russell Ballard waves to students at his devotional address on Nov. 14. Elder Ballard centered his address on frequently asked questions among young adults. (Dani Jardine)

Elder M. Russell Ballard answered a variety of students’ questions on church topics in his devotional address entitled “Questions and Answers.”

Elder Ballard said Joseph Smith answered 20 questions from various people in the church’s newspaper, The Elder’s Journal, in July 1838.

Elder Ballard said church leaders have since taken opportunities to respond to questions in various settings.

He reminded students general authorities are not experts on every topic, but can be a resource in seeking truth.

“As we begin to consider some of your questions, it is important to remember I am a General Authority, but that doesn’t make me an authority in general!” Elder Ballard said.

He explained apostles and prophets have the sole purpose to build the kingdom of God by inviting others to come unto Christ. This means they do not to have expansive degrees and knowledge on every topic.

Elder Ballard said sometimes church members expect church leaders to have expert knowledge in all areas, but the expectation isn’t realistic.

He suggested that trusted professionals such as BYU professors may be appropriate for asking certain questions.

Elder Ballard asked Young Single Adult Stake Presidents and BYU professors what questions young adults have about challenges students are facing, receiving over 767 questions in total.

From those questions, Elder Ballard created generalized questions to broadly discuss answers to common concerns students have about doctrine and church standards.

Elder Ballard gave counsel for concerns about perfectionism in regards to accepting the Savior’s invitation to be perfect.

“Remember, perfection is a lifelong journey, not just a single event,” Elder Ballard said.

Elder Ballard then spoke about LGBT members of the church and said members of the church need to listen to and understand what LGBT men and women are feeling and experiencing to know how to include them in the church.

“I want anyone who is a member of the church who is gay or lesbian to know I believe you have a place in the kingdom and recognize that sometimes it may be difficult for you to see where you fit in the Lord’s church, but you do,” Elder Ballard said.

He said the church condemns all forms of bullying and harassment.

“Every person is a child of God. Everyone is entitled to love and respect,” Elder Ballard said.

Elder Ballard also spoke against passing judgement on those who have committed suicide, divulging he has known people who have taken their lives.

“The Lord alone has all the facts and only He would know the intent of one’s heart,” Elder Ballard said.

Elder Ballard touched on the topic of pornography addiction in relationships.

He said boyfriends and girlfriends are not responsible for their partner’s addiction, but partners, along with family and friends, can help through encouragement in overcoming this addiction.

“Talk with each other and find out where a person’s heart is and what he or she is doing to become a Saint through the Atonement of Jesus Christ,” Elder Ballard said.

Elder Ballard also touched on forgiveness, missionary work and feeling the Spirit.

He said each person is a flawed human, so forgiveness is essential. Elder Ballard said missionary work can be done anywhere and must be done in small ways such as service and love in order to work.

Elder Ballard expressed the importance of prayer and scripture study in order to stay close the Spirit, to give and receive forgiveness, and in doing missionary work.

Elder Ballard closed by expressing the love and concern he has for the young adults of the church and he hoped each student would leave feeling confident of the love Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ has for them.

“Most all of our concerns in life are answered in the quiet times of thinking, praying, and reaching out to Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ for guidance, peace, and joy as we strive to live the gospel,” Elder Ballard said.