Non-Acceptance of the Gospel and the Pre-Existence
By Marcus H. Martins, Ph.D.

I'm a convert to the church and my family are all nonmembers.  I love my family and they are really good people.  They are not yet ready for the gospel opportunity.  Does that mean that they weren't "valiant" in the preexistence?  I know that you might not have all the answers, but I would really like to hear your understanding of the topic.

The fact that someone has not yet accepted the restored gospel says nothing about what the person did or did not do in the pre-existence. As I mentioned in my paper ("Thinking Way Back": Considerations on Race, Pre-Existence, and Mortality) we don't even know the correct meaning of "valiancy" when applied to a perfect and infinite environment like the pre-mortal world.

Take a look at the following example from the Book of Mormon. This is Amulek, a man full of the spirit of prophecy and missionary companion of the prophet Alma, the Younger. Look what he said:

"... I never have known much of the ways of the Lord, and his mysteries and marvelous power. I said I never had known much of these things; but behold, I mistake, for I have seen much of his mysteries and his marvelous power; yea, even in the preservation of the lives of this people. Nevertheless, I did harden my heart, for I was called many times and I would not hear; therefore I knew concerning these things, yet I would not know; therefore I went on rebelling against God, in the wickedness of my heart, even until the fourth day of this seventh month ...

"As I was journeying to see a very near kindred, behold an angel of the Lord appeared unto me and said: Amulek, return to thine own house, for thou shalt feed a prophet of the Lord; yea, a holy man, who is a chosen man of God; ... and he shall bless thee and thy house; and the blessing of the Lord shall rest upon thee and thy house.

"And it came to pass that I obeyed the voice of the angel, and returned towards my house. And as I was going thither I found the man whom the angel said ..." (Alma 10:5-8)

From this text we understand that Amulek might have been just like the members of your family:  He had been called many times but he would not hear.  Until one day he had a powerful spiritual experience, and after that he could no longer withstand the will of God.

You must have hope, and always pray asking for a similar thing to happen with your family.  Maybe one day they will watch a broadcast of General Conference, or attend a Church meeting--whatever.  And on that day the Spirit of the Lord will bear a powerful witness in their hearts and minds of the truthfulness of what they see or hear  (D&C 50:17-22).  The point is that you need to pray for and seek an opportunity in which they may feel the influence of the Spirit of the Lord.

One more thing: some people take more time to accept the gospel than others.  We don't completely know what factors might be at play here, but the Lord is patient and he will give people enough opportunities to hear the message of the gospel and feel the influence of the power of the Holy Ghost testifying of the truthfulness of the message. Until both things happen (hearing the message AND feeling the Spirit) we may say that the person has not yet had an opportunity.

This essay is published as a support for and an extension of classroom discussion and in no way represents an official statement from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or its General Authorities. Dr. Marcus H. Martins assumes full responsibility for the opinions, views, and interpretations contained herein.  For more information contact me at: