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July 10, 2020

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Jeffrey M. BradshawJune 14, 2018

The article incorrectly implies that children of parents who are sealed will be saved eventually so long as they do not commit the unpardonable sin. There are two problems with this view: 1. The context of the statement of Joseph Smith shows that the sealing he is referring to is not the marriage sealing but rather of the sealing up to eternal life by which one's calling and election are made sure. Very few members of the Church receive this blessing in mortal life; 2. The idea that children born to parents whose marriage has been sealed in the temple contradicts principles of agency. In an article in the March 2014 Engisn (https://www.lds.org/ensign/2014/03/faithful-parents-and-wayward-children-sustaining-hope-while-overcoming-misunderstanding?lang=eng), Elder David A. Bednar taught clearly that the traditional understanding of Joseph Smith's statement is erroneous: The statements by Joseph Smith and Orson F. Whitney are construed by some members of the Church to mean that wayward children unconditionally receive the blessings of salvation because of and through the faithfulness of parents. However, this interpretation is moderated by the fact that the most complete account of the Prophet’s sermon was not available to Church historians at the time they compiled an amalgamated version of his teachings from the notes of Willard Richards and William Clayton. In the more complete set of notes recorded by Howard and Martha Coray, Joseph Smith is shown to have qualified his statement to make the promised blessings conditional upon the obedience of the children: “When a father and mother of a family have [been sealed], their children who have not transgressed are secured by the seal wherewith the Parents have been sealed. And this is the Oath of God unto our Father Abraham and this doctrine shall stand forever.”4 This clarification is more consistent doctrinally. Except for the additional information contained in the Coray records, the concept of unconditional salvation for disobedient children would contradict many foundational teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, including the second article of faith that “men will be punished for their own sins” (Articles of Faith 1:2).

Anneke GraceJune 12, 2018

Excellent article. It gives hope to those of us who have had children go off the rails. Thank you.

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