Mormon Proxy Baptism

By | March 3, 2012

There’s been a lot of fuss made on the internet about a cartoon by Matt Bors. It’s been widely published, and commented on by a large number of people who have no idea what they’re talking about. It is my intention to rectify some of the misconceptions that have become apparent as a result of this cartoon.

Without further ado, here’s the cartoon:

There are a lot of things wrong with the information conveyed in the cartoon, let alone the comments made by people who have read it, so I’ll deal with the cartoon itself first.

1. Baptism is not the only requirement to get into heaven.

The cartoonist is portraying a situation which could not happen. If a proxy baptism really were the only thing standing between Anne Frank and entry into heaven, then she would not be annoyed, she’d be thrilled.

You see, according to LDS doctrine, a proxy baptism does not magically convert the recipient to our religion; instead, it merely offers them the opportunity to accept or reject it. In order for baptism to be the only remaining obstacle preventing Anne Frank from entering heaven, she would have already had to learn and accept the teachings of the gospel. If that were the case, then she would be eagerly awaiting a proxy baptism.

When we’re baptizing living people, we only baptize those who have repented of their sins. However, we have no way of knowing whether the dead have repented because, obviously, they’re dead. So, we do a proxy baptism for everyone, and each person may choose whether or not to accept that proxy baptism.

2. There’s nothing special about the water used for baptism.

We are baptized in water, by immersion, as a symbol of death and resurrection – but that’s not what makes baptism what it is. It’s not the outward act that makes a person baptized.

Instead, baptism is a covenant between God and the person being baptized. When I was baptized, I promised God I would keep His commandments, and in exchange He promised me that I would be able to get into heaven. God will keep His promise, so long as I keep mine.

Without that covenant, baptism is just a fancy way to get wet. This applies to the dead just as it does to the living — if Anne Frank had no interest in abiding by the principles of the gospel, then any proxy baptism done for her would have no effect.

3. Being a victim of the Holocaust or a bestselling author has no bearing on a person’s salvation.

I realize some people may take offense at that statement. I am not trying to downplay the horror of the Holocaust, but in order to avoid confusion I cannot mince words or tiptoe around my point.

The scriptures are rather clear on this subject — in order to gain entrance to heaven, one must live the principles of the gospel. No tragic death or bestselling book can compensate for an unwillingness to accept the gospel.

Indeed, Christ taught that no unclean thing can enter into the kingdom of heaven, and that unless a person is born of water and of the Spirit (referring to baptism), he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Jesus added no exception for bestselling authors or victims of large-scale genocides.

4. Marriage in heaven doesn’t work that way.

While I do not deny that (by LDS doctrine) there will be some polygamy in heaven, I do not believe that the majority of people in heaven will be in a polygamous marriage.

You see, I do not believe there will be significantly more women than men in heaven, and I do not believe it would be fair for some men to remain without wives while others have a dozen. Perhaps some men will not want wives; perhaps some women will not want husbands. It’s somewhat pointless to speculate on that.

Instead, let us assume that roughly equal numbers of men and women desire to be married in heaven. Further, let us assume that most women will want a husband to themselves, and that most men would want a wife to themselves. (This is, I think, a reasonable assumption.) It should be immediately obvious that polygamy could not be widely practiced in such a situation.

As an aside, I’ll also point out that eternal marriage (“sealing”) is another ordinance which must be done for the dead by proxy, and that the LDS Church does not perform that ordinance for the dead unless we have some record of them being married in this life.

5. Why would Anne Frank remain 15 years old after death?

For that matter, why would the Mormon guys all be old?

It would not make sense for us to eternally remain the age at which we died. I see no reason that our physical age at death would have any bearing on how we will look or feel after death.

6. What’s with the caged dog?

I’ve read comments that indicate it might be a reference to Mitt Romney’s dog, but I have no idea whether Romney has had a dog which died, nor why that would be relevant in any way to this situation.

3 thoughts on “Mormon Proxy Baptism

  1. Mike

    I thought the apostle Paul said that salvation was a gift and not depentdant upon us keeping his commandments. It is impossible to do, that was the whole point of the commandments to show a need for our savior Jesus Christ. So to say that I will get into heaven as long as I keep his commandments I feel is in accurate, salvation is a gift you can’t earn what has been given to you for free.

    1. Dan

      I think we should define the term “salvation” before we get into that discussion, because it seems to me that if you get ten Christians in a room and ask them, you’ll get eleven different definitions.

      At any rate, regardless of what you think “salvation” means, Christ specifically taught that if we’re not baptized, we cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven. That’s pretty clear and straightforward.

      If we are going to believe Christ’s words, then there is at least one thing that we must do (that is, at least one commandment we must keep) if we want to get to heaven: we must be baptized.

  2. Benjamin Shaffer

    The serious doctrine is one thing, but I have to admit that as an LDS person, of Jewish ancestry, and knowing the way people get upset at these things… I still think this comic is totally hilarious!


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