Latter-day Saint Life

President Nelson: What Happens to Loved Ones Who Die Outside the Church?


The realities of agency and occasional choice to do wrong need to be reckoned with in the passing of some of our youth. Even though their bodies may be mature, their heads are strong and sometimes puerile. Their behavior may be furtive or unfortunate. When those deeds result in disobedience or demise, their parents and loved ones need special consoling.

► You'll also like: What Happens to Loved Ones Who Die and What Is the Purpose of Death: 5 Comforting Insights from President Nelson

That was the subject of Elder Orson F. Whitney's conference address in April 1929. He said, "The prophet Joseph Smith declared—and he never taught more comforting doctrine—that the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the Cause of Truth, would save not only themselves but likewise their posterity. 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 in the life to come, they will return. They will have to pay their debt to justice; they will suffer for their sins; and may tread a thorny path, but if it leads them at last, like the penitent prodigal, to a loving and forgiving Father's heart and home, the painful experience will not have been in vain. Pray for your careless and disobedient children; hold on to them with your faith. Hope on, trust on, till you see the salvation of God.

"Who are these straying sheep—these wayward sons and daughters? They are children of the Covenant, heirs to the promise, and have received, if baptized, the Gift of the Holy Ghost, which makes manifest the things of God."

Our young sons and daughters—precious youth of the noble birthright—if called through the gateway by whatever cause, will yet participate in the glorious gifts provided by the atonement of Jesus Christ.

Lead image from Getty Images

Get more compelling insights from President Nelson in The Gateway We Call Death.

“Our ultimate and highest destiny is to return to our heavenly home. When that times comes, it can be as momentous as the time of birth. Birth is the gateway to mortal life; death is the gateway to immortality and eternal life,” writes President Russell M. Nelson, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

InThe Gateway We Call Death, President Nelson, a surgeon by profession and now a special witness of the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, approaches the subject of death from both a medical and a theological point of view to discuss such topics as these: the purpose of life and of death; the purpose of mourning; when death comes without warning; factors of choice, such as suicide, euthanasia, and use of mechanical means to extend life; and life after death.

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