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Dear Gramps;

My parents taught us that face cards were not good to have in our home because they had symbols of the devil which created a negative influence. That was sufficient back then and still is, but one day I heard a talk wherein the speaker literally identified each symbol and it’s particular meaning. It was done so well that I wish that I had a copy of this information. Can you shed some light on this matter? What do all of these different cards represent and how strongly does the church stand on this issue?

Sally, from Utah

Dear Sally,

First, the symbolism in face cards. What is symbolism? We would suggest that it is an object or action that represents something else. If an individual or group of individuals determine the meaning of a given action or representation, that becomes symbolic to that individual or group. Intrinsically, face cards have no symbolism whatsoever. If a given individual or group wishes to attach some meaning or significance to face cards, then they become symbolic to that individual or group. If you do not attach any symbolism to them, then to you they are not symbolic of anything.

The only formal groups that I know of that attach any symbolism to face cards are magicians, fortune tellers and supposed psychics-and the symbolism attached by those groups is only attached to deceive the public.

As to the Church’s position regarding the use of face cards, I can quote from President Joseph F. Smith who gave the following counsel in 1903.

“While a simple game of cards in itself may be harmless, it is a fact that by immoderate repetition it ends in an infatuation for chance schemes, in habits of excess, in waste of precious time, in dulling and stupor of the mind, and in the complete destruction of religious feeling. These are serious results, evils that should and must be avoided by the Latter-day Saints. Then again, there is the grave danger that lurks in persistent card playing, which begets the spirit of gambling, of speculation and that awakens the dangerous desire to get something for nothing” (Improvement Era, Vol. 6, August, 1903, p. 779).


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