Who goes to heaven? Who goes to Hell?
If you listen to some in the world, this is what happens to people.
Babies who die - Hell
Young children who have not been baptized - Hell
People who live good lives but have never heard the true gospel - Hell
People who have grown up knowing nothing except worshiping idols, statues, multiple gods - Hell
Good people who have spent their lives serving others who have never been baptized - Hell
What do Mormons believe?
Well, we believe literally what Christ taught, that everyone must be baptized.
Even He set the example to show that everyone who wants to enter God's kingdom must be baptized.
So, does that mean He didn't love everyone and that only those who happened to hear the gospel and were baptized can dwell with God for eternity?
Well, we believe that He provided a way for everyone to have that chance.
We believe that after death, we go to a place to await resurrection. In that place, everyone who has lived is taught the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Each person has the chance to either accept or reject Christ and his gospel.
But they're dead! What can they do about it if they accept the gospel? They can't be baptized!
Therein comes the beauty of Christ's restored gospel. With restoring His Church and His gospel comes His authority, his priesthood, to baptize those who are living as proxies for those who are dead.
So yes, we believe in baptism for the dead. That doesn't mean we dig anyone up and baptize them. It does mean that a member of the Church can enter one of our temples and with the name of their deceased relative, they can be baptized in that dead persons behalf.
Does that mean that the person is forced to become a member of Christ's church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
No. We believe that we have our agency, our ability to choose, to accept or reject Christ and his gospel in this life or after death.
That means that after the proxy baptism has been performed, that deceased person will have the opportunity to accept it or reject it.
Is that true for babies and young children? No. They are a different case.
We believe that the age of accountability, the ability to know right from wrong, is age eight. Those younger than eight are incapable of sin, because to sin means you know something is wrong and you do it anyway.
Children who die before the age of eight are perfect and return to God without the need for baptism, because they were never capable of sin.
Those eight and older will choose for themselves to accept or reject. Every person will have the chance, no matter if the person lived in a big city but never heard the gospel, or if the person lived in a hut and believed in a stone god. Every person will hear, learn, understand, and then choose for themselves.
It may seem that everyone, when they are dead and hear the gospel, would accept Christ. Maybe, maybe not, but they will have the ability to choose, something they never had the chance to do here.
That was part of the plan God made for us when he let us come to earth. Our freedom to choose to follow him or not.
He loved all of us then, he loves all of us now.
He loves you too. You were part of his plan.
What are you doing about it?