I have four adult children but only one that is living the gospel of Jesus Christ. They were all taught the gospel from their birth. I have been in great despair over this. I have been told that if I keep my temple covenants and strive to keep the commandments as best I can that my children will return to the “fold.” Is this true and how can that be? I have an Aunt that is very old and has not been in the church for 50 years and my grandparents were true blue to their temple covenants. They have passed on and have not been granted those blessings. I suffer great anguish over my disobedient children.
Judith, from Canada
Yours is not an uncommon lament. How many parents anguish over their disobedient children! Yet that anguish, although proper and justified for the circumstance of the moment, may become better by confidence in the blessings promised by the Lord in his holy temples. Where mercy does not apply, justice cannot be denied, and those who do wrong and remain unrepentant will pay the full price for their sins as if there had been no redemption wrought. But having paid the price, the promises made to faithful parents in the holy temples will be honored by a just God, who is our kind and loving Father.
Our task as parents is to never lose faith nor to be without hope. There is always the chance for repentance. And whether a person comes to the Lord early or late, even to the point of changing his life in the post-mortal spirit world, forgiveness and acceptance are yet available. The Lord said through Isaiah, “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Here is what the Prophet Joseph Smith and President Joseph Fielding Smith had to say on the subject:
“The Prophet Joseph Smith declared-and he never taught a 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 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” (Orson F. Whitney, Conference Report, April 1929, p. 110).
“Let the father and mother, who are members of this Church and Kingdom, take a righteous course, and strive with all their might never to do a wrong, but to do good all their lives; if they have one child or one hundred children, if they conduct themselves towards them as they should, binding them to the Lord by their faith and prayers, I care not where those children go, they are bound up to their parents by an everlasting tie, and no power of earth or hell can separate them from their parents in eternity; they will return again to the fountain from whence they sprang” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation)
So it remains for us to be hopeful, faithful, prayerful, kind, loving and confident.