Could You Pass this 1857 Home Teaching Interview?

In the early years of the Church in the Salt Lake Valley, a "home missionary" program was started to help motivate the Saints, who were becoming increasingly apathetic in their faith. After attempts to persuade and plead with the members failed, Church leaders called "teachers" to visit homes to help stir members to repentance. Here are some questions that you might have been asked by these early "home teachers," had you lived then. Can you imagine if home teachers brought this list along to each monthly visit today?

1. Have you committed murder by shedding innocent blood, or consenting thereto?

2. Have you betrayed your brethren or sisters in anything?

3. Have you committed adultery, by having any connection with a woman that was not your wife, or a man that was not your husband?

4. Have you taken and made use of property not your own, without the consent of the owner?

5. Have you cut hay where you had no right to, or turned your animals into another person’s grain or field, without his knowledge and consent?

6. Have you lied about or maliciously misrepresented any person or thing?

7. Have you borrowed anything that you have not returned, or paid for?

8. Have you borne false witness against your neighbor?

9. Have you taken the name of Deity in vain?

10. Have you coveted anything not your own?

11. Have you been intoxicated with strong drink?

12. Have you found lost property and not returned it to the owner, or used all diligence to do so?

13. Have you branded an animal that you did not know to be your own?

14. Have you taken another’s horse or mule from the range and rode it, without the owner's consent?

15. Have you fulfilled your promises in paying your debts, or run into debt without prospect of paying?

16. Have you taken water to irrigate with, when it belonged to another person at the time you used it?

17. Do you speak against your brethren, or against any principle taught in the Bible, Book of Mormon, book of Doctrine and Covenants, revelations given to Joseph Smith the Prophet and the Presidency of the Church as now organized?

18. Do you wash your body and have your family do so, as often as health and cleanliness require and circumstances will permit?

19. Do you preside over your household as a servant of God, and is your family subject to you?

20. Have you labored diligently and earned faithfully the wages paid you by your employers?

21. Do you oppress the hireling in his wages?

22. Have you taken up and converted any stray animal to your own use, or in any manner appropriated one to your benefit, without accounting therefore to the proper authorities?


Some of the questions above are still relevant and important to ask ourselves today, but are usually discussed with someone other than a home teacher. However, the questions below, which were also part of that original list, are still sometimes discussed in a home teaching setting today: 

1. Do you pay your tithing promptly?

2. Do you teach your family the gospel of salvation?

3. Do you pray in your family night and morning and attend to secret prayer?

4. Do you labor six days and rest, or go to the house of worship, on the seventh?

Learn more about the context behind this interview in Massacre at Mountain Meadows, available at deseretbook.com.

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