Selected Teachings on
The Blessings of Temple
Sealings on Children

For the most recent consideration of this topic see Elder David A. Bednar's article, "Faithful Parents and Wayward Children: Sustaining Hope While Overcoming Misunderstanding".

Joseph Smith (President)
On the 13 August 1843 Joseph preached a sermon at the funeral of Judge Elias Higbee. The following are the journal accounts of those who heard the sermon:

Howard and Martha Coray's Account:

Now I would ask who knows the seal of the living God? Behold the ignorance of the World!

A measure of this sealing is to confirm upon their head, in common with Elijah, the doctrine of election or the covenant with Abraham--which, when a Father & mother of a family have entered into, their children *who have not transgressed are secured by the seal wherewith the Parents have been sealed. And this is the Oath of God unto our Father Abraham and this doctrine shall stand forever.

Franklin D. Richards' Account:

Translation of [Malachi 4:5-6]. I will send Elijah the Prophet and he shall reveal the covenants of the Fathers to the children and of the Children to the Fathers that they may enter into Covenant with each other, lest I come & smite the whole Earth with a curse.

What is the seal spoken of in Rev 7:3? Find it out if you can. I will not reveal it now but will drop an idea that I have never revealed concerning Election connected with the sealing of the servants of God in the fore or top of the head.

Judge Higbee would say that covenants either there or here must be made in view of eternity, and the Covenant sealed on the foreheads of the Parents secured the children from falling that they shall all sit upon thrones as one with the God-head joint Heirs of God with Jesus Christ.

This principle is revealed also through the covenant of Abraham and his children. This is also the blessing and consolation of the Mourners.

William Clayton's Account:

Went to meeting heard J[oseph] preach on 2 Peter 3:10-11, being a funeral sermon on the death of E. Higbee. When speaking of the passage, "I will send Elijah the prophet &c," he said it should read "and he shall turn the hearts of the children to the covenant made with their fathers." Also where it says "and they shall seal the servants of God in their foreheads &c," it means to seal the blessing on their heads, meaning the everlasting covenant, thereby making their calling & election sure. When a seal is put upon the father and mother it secures their posterity so that they cannot be lost but will be saved by virtue of the covenant of their father.

* Footnote 19: When the Church historians amalgamated the entries from the Joseph Smith Diary and the William Clayton Diary to create the version of this discourse that was published, the passage that the blessings conferred by the ordinance of sealing parents and children was unconditional. The wording of the published version suggests that the children of parents who receive the fulness of the priesthood can never fall. This previously unpublished, more complete account of the Prophet's idea does contain a conditional. Clearly this a more reasonable and consistent doctrine: if it were not for such a conditional, the concept would contradict significant doctrines taught by Joseph Smith, not the least of which would be a contradiction of his article of faith that "men will be punished for their own sins." (The Words of Joseph Smith, p.241, 300; punctuation and italics added)


Teachings of Other Prophets & Apostles

For the most recent consideration of this topic see Elder David A. Bednar's article, "Faithful Parents and Wayward Children: Sustaining Hope While Overcoming Misunderstanding".

Orson F. Whitney (Quorum of the Twelve)

You parents of the wilful and the wayward! Don't give them up. Don't cast them off. They are not utterly lost. The Shepherd will find his sheep. They were his before they were yours-long before he entrusted them to your care; and you cannot begin to love them as he loves them. They have but strayed in ignorance from the Path of Right, and God is merciful to ignorance. Only the fulness of knowledge brings the fulness of accountability. Our Heavenly Father is far more merciful, infinitely more charitable, than even the best of his servants, and the Everlasting Gospel is mightier in power to save than our narrow finite minds can comprehend.

The Prophet Joseph Smith declared—and he never taught 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. (Conference Report, April 1929, p.110)

Brigham Young (President)

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. (Journal of Discourses, 11:215; also Discourses of Brigham Young, p.208)

Heber C. Kimball (First Presidency)

In proportion as you bring yourselves into subjection [to God's laws], your children will receive the blessings of heaven. (Journal of Discourses, 6:190-191, 27 Dec 1857, Salt Lake City, Tabernacle)

James E. Faust (First Presidency)

I believe and accept the comforting statement of Elder Orson F. Whitney:

“The Prophet Joseph Smith declared—and he never taught 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” (Conference Report, Apr. 1929, 110).

A principle in this statement that is often overlooked is that they must fully repent and “suffer for their sins” and “pay their debt to justice.” I recognize that now is the time “to prepare to meet God” (Alma 34:32). If the repentance of the wayward children does not happen in this life, is it still possible for the cords of the sealing to be strong enough for them yet to work out their repentance? In the Doctrine and Covenants we are told, “The dead who repent will be redeemed, through obedience to the ordinances of the house of God,

“And after they have paid the penalty of their transgressions, and are washed clean, shall receive a reward according to their works, for they are heirs of salvation” (D&C 138:58–59).

We remember that the prodigal son wasted his inheritance, and when it was all gone he came back to his father’s house. There he was welcomed back into the family, but his inheritance was spent (See Luke 15:11–32). Mercy will not rob justice, and the sealing power of faithful parents will only claim wayward children upon the condition of their repentance and Christ’s Atonement. Repentant wayward children will enjoy salvation and all the blessings that go with it, but exaltation is much more. It must be fully earned. The question as to who will be exalted must be left to the Lord in His mercy.

There are very few whose rebellion and evil deeds are so great that they have “sinned away the power to repent” (Alonzo A. Hinckley, in Conference Report, Oct. 1919, 161). That judgment must also be left up to the Lord. He tells us, “I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men” (D&C 64:10).

Perhaps in this life we are not given to fully understand how enduring the sealing cords of righteous parents are to their children. It may very well be that there are more helpful sources at work than we know (see John K. Carmack, “When Our Children Go Astray,Ensign, Feb. 1997, 7–13; Liahona, Mar. 1999, 28–37). I believe there is a strong familial pull as the influence of beloved ancestors continues with us from the other side of the veil. (Ensign, May 2003, p.61)


There are some great spiritual promises which may help faithful parents in this church. Children of eternal sealings may have visited upon them the divine promises made to their valiant forebears who nobly kept their covenants. Covenants remembered by parents will be remembered by God. The children may thus become the beneficiaries and inheritors of these great covenants and promises. This is because they are the children of the covenant. (See Orson F. Whitney, in Conference Report, Apr. 1929, pp. 110–11.)

God bless the struggling, sacrificing, honorable parents of this world. May He especially honor the covenants kept by faithful parents among our people and watch over these children of the covenant. (Ensign, Nov 1990, 32)

Boyd K. Packer (Quorum of the Twelve)

[After quoting the Orson F. Whitney quote said:] We cannot overemphasize the value of temple marriage, the binding ties of the sealing ordinance, and the standards of worthiness required of them. When parents keep the covenants they have made at the altar of the temple, their children will be forever bound to them. ("Our Moral Environment," Ensign, May 1992, p.66)

Russell M. Nelson (Quorum of the Twelve)

The realities of agency and occasional choice to do wrong need to be reckoned with in the passing of some of our youth. Even though their bodies may be mature, their heads are strong and sometimes puerile [immature]. Their behavior may be furtive or unfortunate. When those deeds result in disobedience or demise, their parents and loved ones need special consoling.

That was the subject of Elder Orson F. Whitney's conference address in April 1929. He said,

[Quotes the Orson F. Whitney quote].

Our young sons and daughters—precious youth of the noble birthright—if called through the gateway by whatever cause, will yet participate in the glorious gifts provided by the atonement of Jesus Christ. (The Gateway We Call Death, p.52-54)

Joseph Fielding Smith (Quorum of the Twelve)

Those born under the covenant, throughout all eternity, are the children of their parents. Nothing except the unpardonable sin, or sin unto death, can break this tie. If children do not sin as John says, "unto death," the parents may still feel after them and eventually bring them back near to them again....

All children born under the covenant belong to their parents in eternity, but that does not mean that they, because of that birthright, will inherit celestial glory. The faith and faithfulness of fathers and mothers will not save disobedient children

Salvation is an individual matter, and if a person who has been born under the covenant rebels and denies the Lord, he will lose the blessings of exaltation. Every soul will be judged according to his works and the wicked cannot inherit eternal life. We cannot force salvation upon those who do not want it. Even our Father's children had their agency before this life, and one-third of them rebelled.    

It is the duty of parents to teach their children so that they will walk uprightly and thus obtain the blessings of their birthright.    

But children born under the covenant, who drift away, are still the children of their parents; and the parents have a claim upon them; and if the children have not sinned away all their rights, the parents may be able to bring them through repentance, into the celestial kingdom, but not to receive the exaltation. Of course, if children sin too grievously, they will have to enter the telestial kingdom, or they may even become sons of perdition. (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:91)