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From LGBTQ Concerns to Transparency, President Nelson Answers Difficult Questions at His First Press Conference

by | Jan. 16, 2018

Mormon Life

At 10 a.m. on Tuesday, President Russell M. Nelson answered questions from the media at his first press conference as the prophet of the Church. Along with his newly appointed counselors—President Dallin H. Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring—President Nelson answered questions from local media outlets in Salt Lake City as well as from reporters calling from as far away as Brazil.

Though they were asked by different media outlets, many of these questions concern topics members of Church face today. Here were the inspired answers from the new First Presidency concerning these topics:

LGBTQ 

The first question at the press conference was concerning how the Church plans to move forward with LGBTQ concerns. 

"God loves His children and He wants them to have joy," President Nelson says. "We know that there are challenges with the commandments of God—challenges to be worthy to enter His holy presence when we are through with this mortal experience.

"We are trying to help people find happiness and joy in this life and prepare them for their great possibilities in the world ahead. God loves His children and we love them, and there is a place for everyone who wishes, regardless of their challenges, to be with us in the Church."

President Oaks adds, "Surely your [President Nelson's] statement of the love of God for all of His children is the pole star for our relationship with every living person on this planet. At the same time, because of God's love for His children, He has given us commandments. He has given us a plan to achieve the highest blessings He has for His children. And as leaders of His Church, we have the responsibility to teach love and also to teach the commandments of God and the high destination that He has prescribed for His children."

Diversity and the Role of Women in the Church

In regards to a question concerning the lack of diversity in Church leadership, President Nelson pointed out that the Quorum of the Seventy and local leadership within the Church are "not a representative assembly of any kind" but also that "it doesn't matter because the Lord is in charge." He also notes, "We have been called by the Lord. Not one of us asked to be here."

President Nelson also adds, "We'll live to see the day when we have other flavors in the mix" when it comes to diversity among Church leadership.

Concerning the role of women in the Church, President Nelson highlights the need for "their voices and their input," adding "we depend on their voices." Both remarks are reminiscent of his October 2015 general conference address "A Plea to My Sisters," in which he points out the vitalness of women in the Church.

President Eyring also pointed out that women have a crucial role in the Church, noting that women are "the source of most of the strength that we see."

"The idea of position or the idea of recognition, I can see how that could be a concern for people . . . but in terms of influence the Lord has already given them, I think no greater influence exists in the kingdom than has been given to the women in the Church," he adds.

Millennials and Transparency within the Church

The First Presidency also addressed the topics of Millennials and transparency in the Church. 

Concerning Millennials, President Eyring says that within the Church, "there’s a powering from this quote 'Millennial generation' that is remarkable" and "how can we hold onto them and not be left behind?" when it comes to their spiritual strength and maturity.

While questions about transparency within the Church have been a rising concern among members, President Oaks says the Church has made efforts to be transparent with Church history with the Joseph Smith Papers Project, noting "if we weren’t interested in transparency, we wouldn’t be publishing the documents of Joseph Smith."

President Nelson also points out, "Every member needs to know the difference between what's doctrine and what's human. We have both elements . . . to work with." He urged members to give leaders a little leeway to make mistakes as "you hope your leaders will give you a little leeway to profit by your errors."

President Oaks adds, "We don't believe in the infallibility of our leaders. We believe in the organization the Lord has set in place."

Reaching the Youth

“I think you were saying, in essence, how can the youth follow an old man?” President Nelson said after hearing a question concerning his age and his role as the prophet of the Church. 

Though age among Church leaders has been a topic and point of concern, both President Eyring and President Oaks expressed full confidence in President Nelson's ability to lead the Church.

"Don’t underestimate the vitality and knowledge and capacity to relate to youth and physical things like skiing from a man who is 93 years old," President Oaks says.

And though many of the youth of the Church face challenges never before encountered in the history of the world, President Eyring notes that President Nelson has a timeless quality that will help the youth during this time.

"I think of so many youth who are overwhelmed, your optimism alone will get them through so many difficulties," President Eyring says.

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