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I just read your answer to Robert’s question about retiring and living off of Social Security. He quoted President Kimball’s October 1977 General Conference address that “No true Latter-day Saint, while physically or emotionally able will voluntarily shift the burden of his own or his family’s well-being to someone else.” It sparked a question of my own. I come from a family where the ethos is if you are not gainfully employed you’re not a productive citizen. Over the better part of 20 years I’ve worked at 12 different jobs, fired from many for inability to completely fulfill my duties. I have a master’s degree in psychology and a (now-expired) pharmacy technician certificate (fields I thoroughly enjoy and find comparatively easy), so education has never been the issue. I can work, but no more than 20 hours a week and that doesn’t cover the bills or pay for my medical expenses (I’m a cancer survivor of 17 years and have continuing issues stemming from the effects of chemotherapy). My question is, Am I condemned for living off of Social Security disability, as my family regularly implies? Or am I forgiven for having tried and failed despite my best efforts?




Dear Concerned,

Let me emphasize a part of the quote President Kimball gave.


 “No true Latter-day Saint, while physically or emotionally able will voluntarily shift the burden of his own or his family’s well-being to someone else.”


It seems pretty clear to me that President Kimball is talking to those who are physically and emotionally capable of providing for themselves and their families but instead choose to be lazy and have other people do it for them.  If a person is not physically or emotionally able to support themselves, then the shifting of the burden cannot be called voluntary.

In the Church we are very clear that we have the responsibly to turn our desires into action as much as it is possible for us to do so.  It is also very clear in the Church that there are sometimes things we simply cannot do,  no matter how much we desire to do so.  In those cases we have the promise of the Lord that He will understand our limits.  Our baptisms for the dead are a good example of this.  There are many people who have passed on who never had the chance. Those people are not condemed for their lack of action.

The question that I cannot answer is what your status is.  I can’t know all the details.  I can’t know how hard you have tried.  I can’t know the deepest desires of your heart.  I don’t know (or need to know) your medical and/or emotional state.  And I am pretty confident that your family doesn’t really know either, in spite of their opinions.  The only people who can know that is you and the Lord.  Have you taken your concern to Him?  If not then do so, if you have, then act on the answer given.





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