REL 200 - The Eternal Family

The Commandment to Multiply and Replenish the Earth:
The Doctrine on Children

Reading Assignments for the Course
REL 200 - The Eternal Family
Prof. Marcus H. Martins, Ph.D.


"In the premortal realm, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshipped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny as heirs of eternal life.

"The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.

"We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force.

"Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity.

"Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. 'Children are an heritage of the Lord' (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations."

The Family: A Proclamation to the World

Genesis 1:27-28 Ephesians 6:4
Genesis 35:11 Doctrine & Covenants 29:46-48
Luke 15:11-20 Doctrine & Covenants 68:25-28
General Handbook (2020 Edition) Item 38.6.4 - Birth Control
Item 38.7.3 - Children Who Die before Birth
(Stillborn and Miscarried Children)
Elder Neil L. Andersen - Children
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland - A Prayer for the Children
Pres. Russell M. NelsonAbortion: An Assault on the Defenseless
Dr. Homer Ellsworth Is there a “gospel-based family-planning”?
Dr. Marcus H. Martins - Insights on Names and Ordinances (PDF)   HTML (2018)
                                           Fathers, Mothers and Ordinances (PDF)  HTML (2021)
                                           The Gospel of Abraham (YouTube video - 2019)

The Prophet Joseph Smith

Populating the Eternal Worlds
Elder Bruce R. McConkie  #1, 2

The Eternal Nature of Children

The Age of Accountability

Pres. Brigham YoungChildren to Sealed Parents Are Heirs of Blessings
Elder Cree-L KoffordChildren "Born in the Covenant" Do Not Lose their Status
Pres. Howard W. Hunter  #1, 2

Children Do Not Need to Be Overachievers

Successful Parents May Also Have Wayward Children

President Joseph F. SmithStatus of the Spirits of Children Who Die

For additional prophetic statements on the Spirit World (the "Post-Mortal Earth") check this page:
Readings on the Spirit World - REL 431H - Doctrines of the Gospel
Questions for Review

The Prophet Joseph Smith
Populating the Eternal Worlds
The Words of Joseph Smith, p.232
[brackets added]

The earthly [being] the image of the Heavenly (D&C 77:2) shows that is by the multiplication of lives that the eternal worlds are created and occupied ...

Elder Bruce R. McConkie  #1
The Eternal Nature of Children
Ensign, April 1977, p.3

A child is an adult spirit in a newly born body, a body capable of growing and maturing ... Children are the sons and daughters of God. They lived and dwelt with him for ages and eons before their mortal birth. They are adults before birth; they are adults at death.

[Mortal birth] is the process by which mature, sentient, intelligent beings pass from preexistence into a mortal sphere. It is the process by which we bring from premortality to mortality the traits and talents acquired and developed in our long years of spirit existence. It is the process by which a mortal body is created from the dust of the earth to house an eternal spirit offspring of the Father of us all.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie  #2
The Age of Accountability
Ensign, April 1977, p.3

Accountability does not burst full-bloom upon a child at any given moment in his life. Children become accountable gradually, over a number of years. Becoming accountable is a process, not a goal to be attained when a specified number of years, days, and hours have elapsed.

... There comes a time, however, when accountability is real and actual and sin is attributed in the lives of those who develop normally. It is eight years of age, the age of baptism.

President Brigham Young
Children to Sealed Parents Are Heirs of Blessings
Discourses of Brigham Young, pp. 195-196

When a man and woman have received their endowments and sealings, and then had children born to them afterwards, those children are legal heirs to the Kingdom and to all its blessings and promises ...

There is not a young man in our community who would not be willing to travel from here to England to be married right, if he understood things as they are; there is not a young woman in our community, who loves the Gospel and wishes its blessings, that would be married in any other way; they would live unmarried until they could be married as they should be ... I wish we all understood this in the light in which heaven understands it. ...

Our children who are born in the Priesthood are legal heirs, and entitled to the revelations of the Lord, and as the Lord lives, his angels have charge over them, though they may be left to themselves occasionally.

Elder Cree-L Kofford
Children "Born in the Covenant" Do Not Lose their Status
Marriage in the Lord’s Way, Part One” Ensign, June 1998

All children born to [a couple married in the temple] are born under the blessings of the sealing covenant; thus, it is common to say that [they] are “born in the covenant.”

[These children] are entitled to blessings of the Abrahamic covenant, including:

[Even] if the [couple ceases] to be faithful in keeping the covenants [made] in the temple, these blessings will still flow to [the] children.

It is equally comforting to know the Lord has provided that adopted children and children born to a couple before they are sealed in the temple (as with new converts to the Church) may be sealed to their parents, and upon such sealing they also become entitled to these same promises and blessings.

Pres. Howard W. Hunter  #1
Children Do Not Need to Be Overachievers
Conference Report, October 1983

Each child is unique. Just as each of us starts at a different point in the race of life, and just as each of us has different strengths and weaknesses and talents, so each child is blessed with his own special set of characteristics. We must not assume that the Lord will judge the success of one in precisely the same way as another. As parents we often assume that, if our child doesn’t become an overachiever in every way, we have failed. We should be careful in our judgments.

Pres. Howard W. Hunter  #2
Successful Parents May Also Have Wayward Children
Conference Report, October 1983

A successful parent is one who has loved, one who has sacrificed, and one who has cared for, taught, and ministered to the needs of a child. If you have done all of these and your child is still wayward or troublesome or worldly, it could well be that you are, nevertheless, a successful parent.

Perhaps there are children who have come into the world that would challenge any set of parents under any set of circumstances. Likewise, perhaps there are others who would bless the lives of, and be a joy to, almost any father or mother.

President Joseph F. Smith
The Status of the Spirits of Children Who Die
Messages of the First Presidency, Vol.5, pp.94-95,  circa February 1918
Teachings of the Presidents of the Church--Joseph F. Smith, pp.131-132
 The spirits of our children are immortal before they come to us, and their spirits after bodily death are like they were before they came. They are as they would have appeared if they had lived in the flesh, to grow to maturity, or to develop their physical bodies to the full stature of their spirits. If you see one of your children that has passed away it may appear to you in the form in which you would recognize it, the form of childhood; but if it came to you as a messenger bearing some important truth, it would perhaps come ... in the stature of full-grown manhood ...
[The] spirit of Jesus Christ was full grown before he was born into the world; and so our children were full grown and possessed their full stature in the spirit, before they entered mortality, the same stature that they will possess after they have passed away from mortality, and as they will also appear after the resurrection, when they shall have completed their mission.

Joseph Smith taught the doctrine that the infant child that was laid away in death would come up in the resurrection as a child; and, pointing to the mother of a lifeless child, he said to her: "You will have the joy, the pleasure and satisfaction of nurturing this child, after its resurrection, until it reaches the full stature of its spirit." There is restitution, there is growth, there is development after the resurrection from death.

Questions for Review

1) Why do Latter-day Saints baptize their children when they turn eight years of age?  (Doctrine & Covenants 68:25-28)

2) How many children should a truly righteous couple have? (Elder Neil Andersen - Children)

3) What was Elder Nelson's response to the argument of "individual right of choice" raised in abortion debates? (Elder Russell M. Nelson - Abortion: An Assault on the Defenseless)

4) Should parents ensure that all their children grow up with a complete set of skill, talents, and abilities? (President Howard W. Hunter #1)

5) Is having a troublesome or worldly child a sure sign that the parents have failed in their responsibilities? (President Howard W. Hunter #2)

6) Is sexual abstinence the best form of contraception (i.e. birth control) for married couples? (Dr. Homer Ellsworth; I Have a Question: "Is there some kind of ‘gospel family-planning’?")

Be prepared to present your understanding about this topic to your classmates, and see if you have additional questions to ask me.  I'll be glad to answer them.
This web page was published only as a support for classroom discussion.
For more information, contact Dr. Marcus Martins at: