Ask Mormon Girl: My grandkids are Mormon, and I’m not. What will they be taught about me at church?

Howdy, everyone.  It’s been a blisteringly busy week at AMG, with a ba-jillion comments on last week’s column about polygamy.  Plus, The Book of Mormon Girl just became available in print on Amazon.com.  Thank you to everyone who has written to tell me what the book means to you.  I’ll be speaking in NYC this weekend at Columbia University and Trinity Wall Street.  (More details here.) If you’re in town, please drop by and say hi.  Now—this week’s query!

Dear AMG:

Our daughter has joined the Mormon Church and married a wonderful young man.  Her dad and I are not Mormon and are very happy with our own faith.  What will our grandchildren be told about Heaven and us?  What will they think about us? Of course, if they ask me, I believe we will all be together. 

 Thank you for your insights,

A Future Non-Mormon Grandmother

Dear FNMG:

Thanks so much for writing.  Have you heard the joke about Mormons and heaven?  St. Peter is leading a newcomers’ tour of heaven and takes his group down a hallway of rooms with open doors.  “There are the Lutherans,” he says, gesturing towards one room on his left.  “And there are the Episcopalians,” he says, pointing right.  “The Buddhists.”  “The Jews.”  Finally, the group reaches the end of the hallway to one room with a closed door.  “Who’s in there?” asks one of the newcomers in the tour group.  “Shhh!” says St. Peter.  “It’s the Mormons.  We don’t want to disturb them.  They think they’re up here by themselves!”

All kidding aside, your question is very important to me because my children have grandparents who are not Mormon.  Truly excellent human beings, my parents-in-law are.  I love them to pieces.

And your question is important to me because I grew up with a non-Mormon grandfather.  Also an excellent human being, and also loved to pieces.

Being a very devout and studious kid, it used to weigh on me that if my grandfather didn’t join the Church, he might not go to heaven with the rest of the family.  I don’t think that anyone at Church ever suggested so much to me, but being the serious type, this is a worry I came to all by myself.

One morning when I was 8 or 9 years old, I went into my grandfather’s office and sat down in front of the desk where he used to sit and watch the stock market ticker on television all day.

“Grandpa,” I said, haltingly, then started to do what Mormons call “bearing our testimonies”–telling him that I knew the Church was true and that Joseph Smith was a prophet—before I broke into tears.

My grandfather took pity on me.  He leaned across the desk, took my hand, and told me, “Honey, don’t you worry.  Your mother will have it all worked out after I’m dead.”

He was referring to the Mormon practice of baptism for the dead, of course.  That’s not an answer that would be comfortable to everyone—I’m especially sensitive to my Jewish in-laws’ feelings on this subject, and my husband and I agree that there will be no baptizing of his ancestors.

But the real genius of his answer was its mercy:  my grandfather answered in a way that relieved his grandchild of the worry, the burden of feeling that she might not be with her whole family in the eternities.

Mormon doctrine teaches that God loves all people equally and that there is no hell.  There are various levels of heaven, and it is orthodox doctrine that only people who are baptized into the Church and married in a Mormon temple will make it into the highest levels of heaven as eternal families.

But especially in the sacred domain of Primary, where LDS children are taught, messages of love and family togetherness trump everything else.

If you’d like to read the Primary curriculum, you can review the manuals yourself here—they’re all on-line. And in poring over some sample lessons on eternal families to answer your question, I came across the following explicit instruction to teachers:

“Be sensitive to children who have parents or siblings who are not members of the Church.”

Even if they have caring teachers who follow Church instructions to be generous and sensitive on issues of exclusion, there is no way to guarantee that your grandchildren will not worry about you, as I did about my own grandfather.

But that’s where you will come in, and with your grandmotherly authority—which is just about the most powerful kind of authority there is—you will take them in your arms and say, “Don’t worry, honey.  I know we will all be together someday.”  And they will listen.  Because no matter what religion they belong to they are your grandchildren.  Even if just by your example, you have a major role to play in shaping what they think and believe.  Don’t ever let that go.

Read my book The Book of Mormon Girl.  Follow @askmormongirl on Twitter.  Send your query to askmormongirl@gmail.com.

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54 Comments

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54 responses to “Ask Mormon Girl: My grandkids are Mormon, and I’m not. What will they be taught about me at church?

  1. John

    Hey I get to be first! I am Mormon and have a grandpa who died recently. Do I wonder whether I will see him again? I think I will, and not because I think he would accept being Mormon in the next life (pretty sure he won’t) but because he’s a good man, and I believe in a God who honors that. To be honest we don’t have a clue what the next life will all be about (even though us Mormons have some creative ideas). I do think if our souls are eternal, then in a billion years from now our religion here in this short life won’t account for as much as we think.

  2. RachelJL

    AMG,
    I was born and raised in the LDS Church, and my step-grandparents aren’t LDS, either. My step-mother converted years before she met my Dad. (My father remarried after my mother passed away, when I was eight years old.) I can’t tell you how excited I was to have more grandparents. Most of mine passed away when I was young. My step-grandparent’s aren’t much older than my father. My step-mother’s father (we called him B-pa) lived a few more years after that, and her mother and step father are still alive today. Thankfully.
    In our family we have often exchanged jokes with my step-grandparents about heaven and other religious matters (all in good taste, I think). The one above is one of them. My step-grandpa, Hal, called us once to tell us another one about Jesus coming back to Earth and calling the Pope from Salt Lake City. The short story: like Joanna, we were taught to believe that we’d all go to heaven. I was always given the idea that which “kingdom” we went to (Celestial, Telestial, or Terrestrial) would be dependent on whether or not we accepted what truth we were taught in this life. As to what, exactly, that meant for other people, I could not judge. Also, without a doubt, there are people of other religions who are better than certain people who are LDS, etc. Of course, this doesn’t stop us from sharing what we believe to be good with other people, if they wish.

    My step-grandparents are extremely Christlike people and I will always be grateful for them. I always worried a lot more about my step-grandma’s smoking habit than anything else. Thankfully, she finally stopped, after getting lung cancer (unfortunately). But she survived, and that’s what matters.

    On the humorous side, I’ll never forget a few Christmases ago when I mentioned something about my s-grandparents being Lutheran and visiting that church as well while visiting my parents, and my daughter said, “what, they’re not Mormon?” Of course, she’d been told that before. And heard stories from them about their own faith, etc., but I guess it hadn’t stuck. ( I think she was only 6 or 7, and “Ganny and Hal” live out of state.) So, we went through the whole thing again, plus mentioning all our other relatives who aren’t LDS. (“Oh yeah, Aunt Lisa is Lutheran, too!” etc.) lol. Now, I think she feels like I did: it was fun, in Church, to be able to say, “oh, I’ve heard that before, my step-mom was Methodist!” and be the cool one who knew more about other religions because we were related, and not just from friends at school. At least, that’s how my mind worked growing up. I remember that that night, while we drove around looking at Christmas lights, my daughter starting to question Ganny about being a Lutheran. Since these will be your grandchildren, the ability of your family to learn how to respect each other will hopefully be even easier and happen even earlier. I hope all goes well.

  3. Bill McGee

    Exactly. Unlike many denominations, exactly zero time is spent in LDS worship services, Sunday school, Primary, or other classes in discussing other religions. They are not evaluated, reviewed, analyzed, or judged. Instead, we focus on the messages of the Gospel as we understand them.

    There is, however, a strong emphasis on family and the desire to be together forever. We believe that the bonds of family stretch beyond the boundaries of death. And we understand that there are plans in place, created by a loving Father in Heaven, that allow families to be bound together through the eternities, even if they belong to different religions in mortality. These lessons and messages will only serve to draw your grandchildren closer to you.

    We take seriously the edict in the New Testament that whatsoever is bound on earth is bound in heaven. We believe that this refers to God’s desire for families to be sealed together, and to accomplish that end he has provided mankind with authority to perform sealing ordinances. Mormons believe that we have a mandate to seal the human family together regardless of their creeds and beliefs. It drives our temple work and our deep commitment to genealogy. We want to seek out our ancestors, and we heed the warning of Malachi in the Old Testament:

    “And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” (Malachi 4:6)

    Teach your grandchildren about their ancestors, and appreciate that their faith emphasizes the importance of their relationship with their extended family, and that as their Grandmother you play a special and significant role in their religious life.

  4. PS, and thanks for your response to Future Grandma. Whenever any of us enter into a relationship with someone of another faith we can’t help wonder what that faith teaches their children about us. So many religious teachings belittle certain groups of people and some followers forget to look at the individual loving people behind the characterization. I also am struck by the heavenly topography; it’s very new-age-ish, isn’t it.

  5. Tricia

    All of these answers are a comfort to me, especially John’s. Thank you.

  6. as

    No baptizing of his ancestors? Why does it matter? If it’s true, what you’re doing is affirming up front that you no only want nothing to do with what God has to offer in this life, but you don’t think a shadow of it could be true so don’t bother worrying about those in the next life. Their “memory” their deeds, that sacrifices, etc. in this life are made no less by someone believing that an important work can be done in their behalf.

    • terrylinden

      Others, including me, don’t like the baptising after death procedure because it’s presumptuous, especially if the person being “baptized” hasn’t given permission. Essentially it’s saying that because you’re of a particular, non-LDS religion, unless you are baptized, even if postmortem, you won’t go to heaven. Or the best heaven. However, if the person being baptized wouldn’t have minded, or said in advance they wouldn’t mind, that’s different. Of course, usually it’s too late to find out, in which case, out of respect, I’d err on the side of caution and not baptize after death.

      • Terry, quite the contrary! We feel like it’s giving a person a chance to decide for themselves. Baptizing for the dead neither requires the dead to accept the baptism nor guarantees that one will go to “the best heaven” as you put it.
        We believe that baptism is a commandment from God and necessary for all people (even Christ was baptized) and that it must be done on this earth by those with physical bodes.
        Rather than forcing a person to wait until Resurrection, baptizing for the dead opens up much sooner the options they are denied by not having been baptized.

    • I imagine that this is difficult for a practicing Mormon to understand. Many many of my Jewish ancestors died rather than submit to a different faith. Others died simply because they were associated as “Jewish” whether they were practicing Jews or not. To “Baptize” them now that they are gone and cannot speak for themselves seems — to me — abhorrent.

      I have heard those who say “these (dead) people are given the choice to decide for themselves” — but as someone who does not believe in this version of the afterlife they discuss, it is impossible not to feel that the dead are being “Baptized” without their consent.

      Do I think it matters in terms of “what level of heaven” they go to? Of course not, since I have seen absolutely zero evidence of those levels of heaven. But don’t you dare try to Baptize me now or ever. I will take it as I would if you spit in my face.

      • Mike Bennion

        Dear Barb,
        I expect that you are correct. As a practicing Mormon I probably do not understand how you feel. Do you think as a practicing Jew you understand how I feel about my obligations to keep the promises and commitments I have made, to seek out and assist those I love who passed away before they heard about the Gospel?

        When the ancestors of both your branch of the House of Israel and mine, went in to the land of Canaan, and were commanded by JHVH to spare no living creature, I suppose those people did not take kindly to their dispossession. I suppose they were just as angry and filled with rage as the Spanish Jews forcibly baptized by the agents of the Inquisition.

        They were probably as angry and grief stricken as my Mormon pioneer grandparents who buried one of their daughters somewhere in Wyoming or Nebraska after being driven out of Illinois by a mob. I suppose that no people, themselves or through their ancestors are immune from anger and injustice.

        Since I do not know you, I am unlikely to ever present your name for proxy ordinances. However, since you obviously do not believe that Mormons have the truth, the ordinances would have no effect anyway, anymore than I believe that Bill Maher can “unbaptize” someone. Since neither you nor I have been to heaven (never mind three levels) I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

        Please understand, I mean absolutely no disrespect to you or any human being. Human understanding, however, cuts both ways.

  7. As another non Mormon future grandmother, I could have easilyy written this question verbatim! I really appreciate this posting and the very simplicity of the answer. I wish everyone had a Mormon friend or relative so the big mysteries and falsehoods about the religion would disappear altogether. They too can see, as our family does, there is room for God’s love for all of us in all religions.

  8. “…only people who are baptized into the Church and married in a Mormon temple will make it into the highest levels of heaven as eternal families.” It doesn’t seem that baptizing the dead is going to get them to the “highest levels” and won’t solve the problem of separated families. Can anyone explain how this is going to play out for an extended family of mixed faiths? Will Catholic grandpa (for instance) be allowed to come up from steerage and visit his LDS grandchildren on the first-class deck occasionally, or will the kids have to go down below to hang out with him?

    • Mike Bennion

      Dear Producto,
      Baptism is not the only ordinance or sacrament available for the those who did not receive it in this life. Marriage and joining of families for eternity are also performed. Mormons believe that this will allow any of our beloved grandparents or other ancestors, who freely decide to accept these ordinances to also make it to the highest levels of Heaven. Of course if Mormonism is not true this will have no effect whatsoever. So either it will be the most wonderful gift that we can bestow on those we loved, or will have no effect at all. The idea that somehow this forces non-members to do anything really fades away in this light.

    • Kathy

      Producto, the straightforward answer is: according to Mormon doctrine, if your Catholic grandpa does not accept the ordinances done on his behalf, then the kids will have to go visit him, assuming they make it there themselves. Being Mormon doesn’t guarantee admittance. What you have to ask yourself is, does it really matter? I wouldn’t worry about it if I were you. None of my side of the family are members, and we make it a non-issue with the kids…I’m pretty sure they don’t expect all their Mormon relatives to make it to the upper echelons in the first place,

      And as for the joke about being quiet, because the Mormons think they are the only ones there–that is not a joke originated about Mormons and is not an attitude that I have seen as prevalent inside or outside of Utah–and I’ve been to wards all across the U.S. and graduated from BYU. It is a sad thing if growing up LDS gives one the impression that Mormons are such snobs that such a joke would be common about them.

      • Kathy,
        The joke is making fun of Mormon snobbery. A large part of LDS belief in my mind is that the Lord will work all of this out. I am the only member of the Church in my family. I have faith that those in my family who have passed on will be with me or I with them. I agree that not all the Mormons are guaranteed a place in heaven, hence the irony of the joke. The Lord will bring his children in ways we don’t understand yet.

    • Producto Endorsair,
      A loving God who has the best possible picture available for those who want it. None would be barred from any existence that they truly chose and wanted. Yes all of the ordicances must be performed by “one in authority” as God does have a “house of order” and not disorganization as would happen if any baptism sufficed. As far as the heavenly organization and who would be heirs thereof it is purely speculative on a individual basis because of the existence of one eternal element, the full and enforcing grace of Jesus Christ. It alone can hold off the effects of justice and put at bay any penalty assessed. But one has to do what permits His grace form having effect. It is comforting to know that while the Church of Jesus Christ is a true and eternal entity — only through the divine rights of those who exercise their faith to allow it to be; whether they are members here on earth or are brought into the fold through the forces that the Savior organized while his body was laying in a sepulchre some two thousand years ago. No one need worry about how the heaven’s are structured, there is room for all. And we Mormon’s don’t believe in the old sectarian view of hell. Such a deplorable place for someone to go who is within the grasp of God’s love — through His Son Jesus Christ.

    • A

      Well, we don’t know everything, contrary to what some people will tell you, but I’ve got my own answer to that question if you care to hear it. Let me put it this way: I am LDS but not sealed to anyone in my multi-religious family. My family is THE most important thing to me on this planet and my first concern when anything involving religion comes up. I went through a period where I asked similar questions: Will I see my family? If we aren’t sealed together, does that mean that we don’t get to be a family later?

      The answer that I believe personally is that God sent us to earth in our families for a reason and that that reason is eternal for those of us who love our families and show gratitude for them. I will be with my family in heaven and after we are all dead and hanging out in the post-mortal existence Heavenly Father will look at us and see whether we loved each other and were good people and will put us together (because we do and we are) and the family members that are not baptized/sealed will get those opportunities and we will all be happy forever. Haha, it’s a bit more complicated than that, and it isn’t officially church doctrine, but hey. I’m LDS and that’s what I believe and it doesn’t conflict anything the church teaches (I did simplify some of it but that’s mostly because my belief is a bit technical and I didn’t want to confuse anyone with terminology or anything).

      Hope that helps!

  9. I am the only member in my family, and my mom, who is not LDS, worried about this too. We have never once referred to her as a “non member”, or used any other label that may undermine her status as Grandma. The kids know that she does not believe in what we believe, and that doesn’t somehow put her on a different level than us. . She’ll have the opportunity to accept the Gospel after this life. We’ve always taught them that hope is never lost, we keep it positive.

  10. sara

    My family joined the church when I was 3. My parents divorced shortly after, and my two oldest siblings didn’t join since they were in their late teens and made their own choices. Being in a mixed religion family was normal to me and I don’t recall ever feeling too much worry about it. I guess the fact I was never sealed to my parents made me not worry so much since there wasn’t really anything I could do about it anyway. I seem to recall my mom telling me that everything would work out in the end and not to worry. She let me go to Mass with one of my grandmothers on occasion (and I distinctly remember wanting to be Catholic when I grew up because 1. church isn’t 3 hrs 2. girls can wear pants and 3. you stay after for donuts!

    Kids will be taught to love and respect their family regardless of their religious affiliation.

  11. Remember that judgement isn’t passed instantly on our death, countless possibilities to learn and grow spiritually will be provided after death before we reach our final destination.

  12. Liz

    Dear AMG,

    I love your column but I don’t think you are totally correct about this. Just saying “trust me, we will be fine” is not the right answer.

    The church has specific teachings which the children will be exposed to. They deserve concrete answers even if they are young. Explain the degrees of heaven. Explain baptism for the dead. Explain something.

    • RachelJL

      Liz,
      I can’t speak for Joanna, but I can speak for myself when I say that my kids have gotten “the whole shebang” when it come to doctrine on the afterlife and the Final Judgment, etc. Both in primary and at home. I was a very curious kid and asked my dad a million questions, and my kids are the same way. I am telling them my understanding of it the best I can, then turning them towards the scriptures or what the current leaders have said so they can look things up if they wish. They’ve always been encouraged to read their scriptures (though maybe not as much as I could encourage them) and to pray about it. I think I’m better at reminding them to pray and seek their own answers. I have never seen anything in the Church’s teaching that makes me think I can’t be positive about my non-member relatives.

    • Bill McGee

      The reality is that your sense that the Church has “concrete teachings” about these topics isn’t entirely accurate. For example, there is some real debate among leaders, as well as real ambiguity in the scriptures and “official” statements on things like Degrees of Glory. Baptism for the dead is a little more cut and dried, but there is even some ambiguity there. Certainly plenty in my mind to provide a lot of room for Grandma to not worry what her kids are being taught in Primary or by their family.

      This is likely not the forum for discussing this is detail, but if you would like to talk about this offline I would be happy to show you what I am talking about. BTW, I am a faithful, mainstream, temple recommend-holding member of the Church here in the heart of Utah.

    • mrsgroovus

      The church does have specific doctrine but above all else is to Love. The Lord has a plan of salvation or more simply put a plan of happiness that includes all his children no matter what religion, ethnicity or belief. It is important for our children to learn that above all else in my opinion.

  13. Michael Erickson

    If the grandparents were Atheists, how would your response differ?

    • RachelJL

      Michael,
      My answer wouldn’t be different. There’s a scripture in the Book of Mormon, in Moroni, that states “what’s good is of God.” If someone is a good person, they’re a good person. The things we’ve been taught in our lives and our experiences differ, because if we do “good” with the things we’ve been given, then the God I believe in looks upon it favorably, whether you believe in Him or not. Therefore, it’s not up to me to judge. If my children’s grandparents or other relatives love them and treat us well, that’s what matters. It all really will be sorted out in the end.

    • RDC

      Michael,
      I agree with mormon girl….and I am more of the “traditional mormon”. Though they are atheists the sum total of the question is did they respond to the guidance of the spirit as they lived here on earth. And there is only one who can judge that and He is Mighty to Save. His Grace is the least understood by members and non-members unless they look to understand His Grace through their lives, their prayers, and there “crosses” they have to bear. At some time in the eternal existence of their eternal spirit they will have to resolve this themselves. What would any of us do or change if we were given the blessing of having our memories restored of the time before our mortal birth. God is a God of all….not just so and so. He loves us all…..not just so and so.

  14. Maleri

    Joanna, I just got done watching your video conversation with Robert Wright. I just have to say…………..You need to be careful what you say, because there are a lot of things that you said that were not correct. You, whether you realize it or not, are representing us. How we act, what we say, all reflects the LDS church. That is why we are taught to be examples of Christ. I want you to keep that in mind. What you say, reflects us. Please be very careful what you say. Because I feel very misrepresented and I think we have enough misrepresentation in the world, we don’t need that from the members also. The internet is a great tool, but you need to make sure you are letting people know that you are mixing your own opinions in with doctrine. You need to clarify that with people. Because you are preaching false doctrine. Just be very careful. And there are some things you just shouldn’t talk about at all. Not because we have anything to hide, but because somethings are special and should stay that way. Especially if you don’t go to the temple, you shouldn’t speak of what you don’t know. In fact, I just think you are doing the church more harm because you are not speaking truth. I have no words for your conversation except………..pure disappointment.

    • RachelJL

      Maleri,
      As far as I can tell, she did put it forth as her take on things, or as “the gospel according to Joanna,” as we Mormons sometimes put it. At least, that was my take on it.

    • Grassbur

      Maleri, I find it interesting that you have made several statements about “false doctrine” but have not cited a single one or made a single correction. Without citations, we can only assume that your criticisms are simply “the gospel according to Maleri.”

    • mrsgroovus

      I thought you were very clear on the distinction between your (amg) opinion and doctrine. I think things are not talked about enough and that is why we Mormons have such a bad wrap. There are things that are sacred and protected, that is why they aren’t talked about outside certain situations. I don’t feel like that line was crossed at all. If people have questions, answer them in a way that doesn’t cross that line. I like how you explained the garments and the different comparisons you made with other religions that can help people understand. I am a republican lol and I say Good Job AMG!

  15. Michael

    Hmmn. Maleri–I saw the same conversation. What “false doctrine” are you talking about?

  16. NG

    My parents joined the church after they were married. None of my extended family is LDS. They all smoked, drank coffee, and drank alcohol. I never thought much of it, because since they didn’t have the gospel they didn’t have the Word of Wisdom, and didn’t know that these things weren’t good. I have always been very close to my grandmother, and I reject any doctrine that states that she will somehow NOT be my grandma in the hereafter since she isn’t a member. God does not punish families that love each other like this.

    • Joshua

      I am a non-practicing Mormon living on the East Coast but just happened to stumble upon this Slate page. I served a mission and am well versed but not a spokesperson for LDS doctrine.

      While I may have my own confusions, I know of no Mormon doctrine that teaches your grandmother won’t be your grandmother just because she smoked, drank, etc. She will always be your grandmother, no matter what. You came from her lineage. The same sociality which exists on Earth will exist in the world to come.

      I often think of my loved ones who have passed. I live my life the way I choose and try to figure these questions out. I suppose no one really knows all of the answers for sure. But I like to think and remember my grandfather and cousins who weren’t Mormon and expect that I will see them again some day. For all I know, we become like an inanimate object but I hope otherwise.

    • mrsgroovus

      Being “mormon” is a personal choice. The gospel teaches us to love everyone and that there is a plan. We are taught through doctrine to love and not judge. That doesn’t mean that you won’t be taught to judge by those who are judgey. Love your family no matter how they are. Live a good life and teach your children to love, be accepting of those different than you. Teach them that God loves everyone. Teach them to serve their fellowmen. Everything will be worked out in the end

      • NG

        Thank you for your thoughts. Josh – When I was growing up in the church, I had more than one church leader tell me that our families would only be intact after this life if we were all sealed together. This always made me uncomfortable because I knew that my grandparents would probably never join the church. When I asked questions about this, one of the leaders said, “Well, if they were REALLY a good person, they would accept the gospel!” Granted, this was an old man who was obviously very uncomfortable with anyone who wasn’t LDS, but it still hurt to hear that he didn’t believe my grandma was a good person. And you’re right, there is no concrete LDS doctrine that states that she will no longer be my grandmother, but it is a very common “cultural belief” in the Mormon world. My husband and I are not terribly orthodox, but we have chosen to raise our children LDS because we appreciate the structure and sense of community it provides … But we make sure and tell them that Heavenly Father loves all his children the same and doesn’t prefer the LDS ones over the nonmembers.

  17. Mark

    Being a non-mormon, I am surprised at this answer. Although it is comforting and hopefully accurate, if the book teaches of levels of heaven, why would you discount that so easily? I mean, if you don’t go along with that teaching, then why teach it?

    • Mike Bennion

      Dear Mark,

      If you are interested in the doctrinal background to Mormon beliefs concerning the levels of Heaven and proxy ordinances for our loved ones who have died. The following would be good places to go:

      In the Bible:
      2 Corinthians 12:2 Paul speaks of the “third heaven.”
      1 Corinthians 15:29 Paul speaks of baptism for the dead.
      1 Corinthians 15:39-43 Paul details three kingdoms in the resurrection: of the Sun, of the Moon and of the Stars

      In modern LDS Scripture:
      Doctrine and Covenants Section 76
      http://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/76?lang=eng
      The Three kingdoms of heaven are explained

      Mike

    • RachelJL

      Mark,
      In my opinion, the three degrees of Glory are important because they encourage us to do all we can in this life to be good people and to be good to our families. There are good explanations for the three degrees in what Mike provided in Doctrine and Covenants section 76.

    • Mark,
      Great question in my mind. I believe in the doctrine of three degrees of glory, I just think God will be merciful in how judgement is applied. I don’t have the right to judge or to assume someone I know won’t “make it.” We just don’t know, but have hope for mercy because we all fall short. To me, that’s what the atonement of Christ is for and is all about.

  18. None of my grandparents are Mormon but I am. I often look at my only remaining grandparent left–we call him “Papa”. He is 89 years old and is constantly going out of his way to serve other people. I am amazed at his energy and his desire to lend a helping hand. I often look at him and realize that though he claims to be agnostic, he is the most “Christ-like” person I’ve ever met.
    I fully believe he’ll be saved long before me. I never doubt where he’ll end up–I know God will see how amazing he is .I just wonder where I’ll end up ;)

  19. Skeptical

    I read about AMG on CNN. I really thought this was going to be a different blog. I see the same self righteous behavior that turned me away from Mormonism. I also think that because you were raised in the OC you are going to to be very different than a mormon raised in Provo. You were influenced by differences and a liberal education. The fact that you went to BYU but wrote about alternative topics does not give you rogue status. That’s how you got attention. I am also a little worried that you grew up in a place like the OC but would only choose BYU. You sound like every mormon I knew growing up in So Cal whose parents weren’t divorced. A compliant rebel.

    • RachelJL

      Skeptical,
      What do you see as self-righteous here? Are you speaking of Joanna, or everyone here in general?
      I grew up in the same area as Joanna, at the same time (although we were in different “stakes” and attended different high schools.) My parents were from Utah and Idaho and neither attended BYU. I considered UCLA, UC Berkeley, and the University of New Hampshire. Ultimately I went to Ricks College in Idaho, because I had relatives there and thought it would be a change from SoCal, and slightly different from friends who just went to BYU. I went through the same choices again when I graduated from Ricks (which was then a two year school) and ultimately chose BYU because the tuition had just gone up at UCLA and it was cheaper to live in Utah. “Compliant Rebel” makes it sound as if I couldn’t think for myself. I definitely had friends who were LDS, but most weren’t. And my family was far from perfect. My step mom did not want me leaving CA to go to school, so going to Idaho against her wishes (because my Dad finally stood up for me) was just fine for me. The gospel has been a huge blessing for me. There are always people who are going to disagree with me. My non-LDS relatives have been excited for me in the things I’ve chosen. (Mission to France, among other things.) The world isn’t black and white, even when you’re active LDS.

    • Bill McGee

      So what are her options, according to you? Is someone’s opinion only valid if they reject the Church like you have? Or rage against the machine? The idea, I believe, is to have a forum to discuss the LDS Church in a way that enlightens, that shines a light on those bits of Mormon beliefs that people don’t like or understand, to differentiate between Mormon theology and Mormon culture, and to eliminate hate and fear based on ignorance. Along the way, Joanna manages to also confront issues within the LDS community that needs some new thinking. She is NOT trying to drive people away, expose the Church as a fraud, or undermine anyone’s testimony. There are plenty of sources for that.

      Joanna is one voice among many (mine included) that represents those members of the LDS Church who believe that the Church can embrace a larger set of our brothers and sisters than it has done traditionally. We have tended to be a bit disenfranchised within our own faith, and forums like these serve two purposes: 1. The act of speaking out begins to create a space for us within our own faith tradition, and 2. It helps others see that there is nothing to fear here. We are regular folks with regular desires who are trying to live good lives within the context of our Mormon faith, strange as it may seem to some on first glance.

      You are right. This is not a forum for trashing the LDS Church. And if you are worried about self-righteous behavior, I am afraid it is not unique to members of the LDS Church regardless of your personal experience. You are going to find it in just about any religion you look at, or for that matter, with just about anyone who believes that they are right. If you look closely, you will probably find it right inside your own mirror. Motes and beams and all…

  20. Christi

    Where’s the “like” button?

  21. John Paladin

    Joseph Smith, Joanna, my children and I all share the same issue – non-mormon grandparents.
    I have to say – it never crossed my mind and I never worried about it once. Not even as an adult.
    Not being particularly close to my grandparents may have contributed somewhat but I guess I always believed (perhaps naively) that it would all be sorted out in the end.
    Now, as an adult, I have faith that the sealing power is far more powerful than many people realise.

  22. Sebastienne

    Hi, Non-Mo Grandma-to-be :)

    Your grandchildren will be taught that you will probably go to the Terrestial kingdom. This is not hell, but it is a “earth-like” in terms of joys you will get to experience. You will be there until you accept whatever sacraments (baptism, sealing, confirmation, etc.) may be performed for you by proxy by living Church members. Your daughter and grandchildren might even perform these rites for you after you die.

    In the Terrestial Kingdom, you will have the Presence of Christ, but not the Fulness of God, this is reserved for faithful Momons.

    If your daughter and s-i-l are faithful Mormons and follow the teachings of the LDS church, and they are sealed, tithe regularly, fulfill their callings, perform temple work, and live worthy lives, they will go to the Celestial kingdom may eventually be “exalted” where they will become like Christ and your s-i-l will be a god, and your daughter will be his wife (he may have others wives as well, depending on what happens with your daughter and son-in-law). They will create eternal families like the one that “God” has created on this planet. They will be able to come and visit you in your Terrestial kingdom, but you will not be able to travel freely among the kingdoms until you fully accept the teachings of the Law and have a testimony of the Church.

    Your grandchildren may be taught you are a lovely woman, but that you do not know God the father in his fulness. They may be taught that, if you go to another church, that you are deceived. (I saw a poster earlier say that other denominations are not discussed during Sacrament Meeting or Sunday School or the other classes. But this is not always true. I have heard no end of Catholic-bashing in the two states where I’ve lived when I was LDS. It may not be very nice, and there may be the front of “we don’t bad-mouth other religions,” but it does exist. That’s a fact.

    • Mike Bennion

      Dear Sebasstienne,

      Thanks for your mostly accurate reflection of LDS beliefs. My grandparents were not Mormons. My parents never told me that they were in error or deceived. I think the difference in what is said about other churches is that many times non-LDS ministers preach against Mormonism from the pulpit. I have never seen this happen in a Mormon meeting. Bishops and Stake Presidents do not spend time berating other religions. There may be individual members who say such things from time to time, but this is not supported by Presiding officers. I would also question your characterization of what comments are made as “bashing.” I have heard doctrines contrasted, which I think is a legitimate response to questions.

      When I served my mission I was once ejected from a mainline Protestant church. My companion and I went to talk to the minister because we heard that he was a fair-minded, wonderful man. Some of his parishioners that we taught had questions about their church’s doctrines. We said that we did not presume to tell them what their church believed, but that we would go and ask their pastor.

      When we entered the foyer of his church, the pastor was in his office. When he saw us, he stood up, walked out to us, took us by the shoulder, spun us around and moved us toward the door saying, “I know who you are. Why don’t you boys just go back to the States?” I explained why we were there. He said, “If my members want to know about my church, they can come to me. And if they want to know about your church I will tell them about that too.”
      As we left, I told the pastor that if he ever came to an LDS church, he would be welcome and we would be happy to sit down and spend time conversing. With that he pushed us out the door and our interview was at an end.

      Perhaps my experience differs from others, but that is my take.

    • northernlight

      Sebastienne –

      While I can see that you have been exposed to some of the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon) and you have a “pulpits” version of the same, some of your explanations seem void of substance. There is so much of the heavens that we have no revelation on I am at least intrigued by your attempt to detail the same. I believe you have mixed up a few of the “metaphors” that you used. Suffice it to say that a person in heaven will be content with what they have for it will be in their power to “follow their heart”. As always conforming to the demands of justice and mercy. As for someone knowing Christ and not knowing God the Father that is just not true. The Lord has said that to know Him is to know the Father and that is a reality. The Lord reveals the Father to those who seek Him with all their heart, might, mind and efforts.
      Just a thought….in all the years of going to church I have never, ever heard “Catholic bashing”. Not in church, on the corner, in the hallway, in General Conference, in the parking lot….well in fact no where. If you truly understand the personal relationship we have to each other then there is no need to “bash” another’s faith. We all have our own cross to bear and to make fun of anothers’ life experiences — let’s just say I have too much need for forgiveness to venture into those paths.
      The Lord loves each of us unconditionally, every soul in every family.

  23. Lynda and Roland Allaby

    What can you POSSIBLY say to me, a non-Mormon grandmother that justifies the “no contact” imposed us, parents of a turned Mormon son?

    On Christ the solid rock I stand
    ALL other ground is sinking sand

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