PEG - I remember hearing a prophet in the 70's or 80's say we shouldn't have face cards in our homes. Do you know if this is fact or fiction?
JOEL - It is true that some General authorities have advised us to not have face cards in our home. For example here is what Bruce R. McKonkie said:
"It follows that if members of the Church believe false doctrines; if they accept false educational theories; if they fall into the practices and abominations of the sectarians; if they use tea, coffee, tobacco or liquor; if they fail to pay an honest tithing; if they find fault with the Lord's anointed; if they play cards; if they do anything contrary to the standards of personal righteousness required by the gospel -- then to that extent they are in personal apostasy and need to repent. Members of the Church should not belong to bridge or other type of card clubs, and they should neither play cards nor have them in their homes. By cards is meant, of course, the spotted face cards used by gamblers. To the extent that church members play cards they are out of harmony with their inspired leaders. Innocent non-gambling games played with other types of cards, except for the waste of time in many instances, are not objectionable."
President Joseph F. Smith has stated the position of the Church with reference to card playing in these words: "Card playing is an excessive pleasure; it is intoxicating and, therefore, in the nature of a vice. It is generally the companion of the cigaret and the wine glass, and the latter lead to the poolroom and the gambling hall. . . . Few indulge frequently in card playing in whose lives it does not become a ruling passion. . . . A deck of cards in the hands of a faithful servant of God is a satire upon religion. . . . Those who thus indulge are not fit to administer in sacred ordinances. . . . The bishops are charged with the responsibility for the evil, and it is their duty to see that it is abolished. . . . No man who is addicted to card playing should be called to act as a ward teacher; such men cannot be consistent advocates of that which they do not themselves practice."
Elder Widtsoe criticized card playing on the grounds that it was habit forming and a waste of time. He said:
"It has been observed through centuries of experience that the habit of card playing becomes fixed upon a person and increases until he feels that a day without a game of cards is incomplete.
After an afternoon or evening at card-playing, nothing has been changed, no new knowledge, thoughts, or visions have come, no new hopes or aspirations have been generated, except for another opportunity to waste precious hours. It leads nowhere; it is a dead-end road. Dull and deadly is a life which does not seek to immerse itself in the rapidly moving stream of new and increasing knowledge and power. Time is required to ‘keep up with the times.’ We dare not waste time on pastimes that starve the soul."
Bishop Robert L. Simpson relates this story:
"Let me tell you about a sister who became literally hypnotized by a deck of playing cards. Eventually, there were not enough hours in the week to fit everything in. Her keen spiritual sensitivity became dulled, and it was easy for the cunning one to help her decide to give up an important Relief Society calling and abandon her wonderful circle of former associates in favor of the nonessential, time-wasting pastime that had captured her fancy. Sisters in the ward continuing their lives of charity and compassionate service are now termed by her as narrow-minded, as hypocritical and do-gooders, but in reality, the only thing that changed was this woman."
Perhaps you are thinking of President Kimball who stated the following:
"We hope faithful Latter-day Saints will not use the playing cards which are used for gambling, either with or without the gambling. As for the gambling, in connection with horse racing or games or sports, we firmly discourage such things." (General Conference, 1974)
Even with all that has been said on the subject I would guess that at least one deck of cards could be found in almost every LDS home in the Church. The way I see it, having face cards is not a problem if you are not wasting your time, and if you are not addicted to card playing, and if you are not gambling. That's a lot of ifs. Having a deck of cards is not going to prevent anyone from getting a Temple recommend, but I believe we should listen to and heed the council of those Church leaders.
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