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Gospel Q&A: My Children Have Left the Church & I Worry for Their Souls. Any Advice?

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Gospel Q&A is a series from LDS Daily that strives to answer important gospel questions from readers. Today, we answer the question, “Three out of my four children have left the church. I worry about them especially when I read from The Book of Mormon about what is going to happen to those who once knew God but have rebelled against him. I know we have been asked to read the Book of Mormon daily – but honestly, it’s hard sometimes reading about the fate of my children if they do not change their ways and repent. Any advice?”

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I don’t have children, but the majority of my family has left the Church. While our circumstances aren’t identical, I resonate with the grief and sense of fear that comes when someone you love makes the decision to leave the faith that is so dear to you.

Every circumstance is different and our perspective is so limited—we don’t know the hearts of others the way Christ does or what continued progression looks like in the next life. However, I’ve learned a few things about placing both our hopes and fears for the state of our eternal family in the hands of the Lord.

God’s Punishments & Perspective

At the heart of this question is an assumption about the way God supposedly punishes His children. It’s important when pondering on the nature of God and the judgment of others that we take an expanded and balanced view. While it’s true we read of warnings and consequences for the rebellious in the scriptures, we also see a loving God reaching out time and time again. He pleads in earnest for His children to turn to Him and always offers another chance. I’d invite anyone feeling hopeless about their family to specifically look for evidence of God’s mercy and grace as they read the scriptures.

The Book of Mormon, as well as the Bible, is meant to teach us the story of our ultimate redemption. In the context of the Restoration and the Atonement of Jesus Christ, the Book of Mormon is a witness that even when everything seems lost, the greatest miracles are yet to come. God preserves. God reveals. God gathers. He will continually offer these gifts to us and our loved ones now and in the next life.

What Leaders Have Taught

The leaders of the Church understand the issues facing families as loved ones leave the faith. Here is some of their counsel.

Elder David A. Bednar taught, “Parents who honor temple covenants are in a position to exert great spiritual influence over time on their children. Faithful members of the Church can find comfort in knowing that they can lay claim to the promises of divine guidance and power, through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost and the privileges of the priesthood, in their efforts to help family members receive the blessings of salvation and exaltation.”

President M. Russell Ballard said, “My answer is please do not preach to them! Your family members or friends already know the Church’s teachings. They don’t need another lecture! What they need—what we all need—is love and understanding, not judging. Share your positive experiences of living the gospel. The most powerful thing you can do is share your spiritual experiences with family and friends. Also, be genuinely interested in their lives, their successes, and their challenges. Always be warm, gentle, loving, and kind.”

“God has devised means to save each of His children,” taught President Henry B. Eyring. “For many, that involves being placed with a brother or a sister or a grandparent who loves them no matter what they do. From before the world was, a loving Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son loved and worked with those who They knew would wander. God will love them forever.”

Joseph Smith said, “Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold. Either in this life or the life to come, they will return.”

The Same Sociality

We read in Doctrine and Covenants 130:2 that the “ same sociality which exists among us here will exist among us there, only it will be coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy.”

I believe that regardless of membership in the Church or someone’s faith at all, the way we interact with them, and love them, will continue in the next life. If we view our relationships here with a lens of fear or judgment, there is a good chance this same spirit will continue. If we focus on infusing our relationships with love and faith in God, even if we are the only ones, we can remain connected.

I know that the covenant path is the path God wants us to follow. It is the path that leads to eternal life and has the most potential for bringing us joy and peace during our sojourn on earth. However, our journey to exaltation is one that will ultimately span eons. Have faith that disastrous detours are not the end for anyone in an eternal context. Even during the Final Judgment, it will be God pleading with us to choose Him, choose the sacrifice of His Son. Until that moment arrives, there is the possibility of some sort of progression for all of us.

Disclaimer: While all of our answers will use scriptures and/or words of modern prophets, we do not represent The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We don’t believe any of our answers are comprehensive.

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Aleah Ingram
Aleah Ingram
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.

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