The Doctrine of Transferability & LDS Adoption Policy

The Doctrine of Transferability states:

“When a man and a woman are married in the temple for time and all eternity and then separate, the children will go with the parent who is justified and who has kept the covenants. If neither of them has kept his covenants, the children may be taken away from both of them and given to somebody else and that would be by virtue of being born under the covenant. A child is not to be sealed the second time when born under the covenant, but by virtue of that birthright can be transferred. (Questions Frequently Asked About the Temple and the Endowment. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1981, 10).

Let me see if I have this straight: In a Mormon afterlife, children can be taken away from less righteous parents and given to more righteous ones by virtue of the sealing ordinance. Children can thereby be transferred from one family to another, never taking into consideration what the child may want. It’s all about the more righteous parents being “justified.”

Sounds an awful lot like LDS adoption policy to me.

Should anyone be wondering why LDS first mothers are such a hot mess most of the time, this is a perfect example of why. This is what we were taught from the time we were small enough to sit on our mother’s laps. That if we aren’t perfect, we deserve to loose our children. Not only do we deserve it, but we should expect it, too.

LDS first mothers have been taught since our youngest days that if any parent isn’t righteous enough, he or she will have their children taken from them in the next life and transferred to someone else, some more “qualified” and “worthy” couple. The pattern has already been set in our doctrine – we are mere players on a stage at this point. Parents that are “unrighteous” in this life lose their children and the more righteous (and infertile) ones feel perfectly justified in facilitating the transfer of those children into their family. After all, it is a pattern God has set forth for the eternities. Why not help Him along right now?

21 thoughts on “The Doctrine of Transferability & LDS Adoption Policy

    • I heart you, Von. And you are so very right – this has little to do with what is best for children (unless you are LDS and then this doctrine is perfectly fine. If you feel otherwise and you happen to be LDS, then you very well may be an apostate or heretic and getting dangerously close to being Kate Kelly’d.)

  1. I’ve never heard of the doctrine of transferability. Where did you find this book or publication? I googled a lot of different things and couldn’t come up with anymore information.

  2. My ex husband, and remember this is less than a year after I had relinquished my son, told me that his dominion over me as a priesthood holder was to decide when I was capable and ready to be a mother. He told me explicitly that I was not good enough yet, and until I learned to be a better housewife and mormon woman, I would never have children.

    So. Even in marriage, I still was being told that I wasn’t good enough to be a mother. Despite the fact that when I was pregnant, it was the fact that I wasn’t married that led them to push/force adoption on me. Which one is it, guys? As it appears here, it’s both. My failing was simply my gender.

  3. I have to say it, even at the risk of offending what I assume are perfectly nice people, but this sealing, covenant stuff is just plain crazy. It’s brainwashing people to believe ridiculous things, I guess because having something rigid to hold onto makes some folks feel more secure, but look at the harm it does. You might as well believe in fairy tales. IMHO If my comments outrage you, please keep it to yourself. I have enough outrage of my own, thank you very much.

  4. Wow. just wow. There must be a lot of LDS ‘indoctrination’ in many other ”religious” organizations as well because that thinking of take the child and give it to ”better/married/”pure” people” is so widespread in a lot of ”religious” organizations. They believe they are ‘god’ instead of following Him they claim to -be- Him and they ‘make the rules’ accordingly. I’m trying to figure out where they find ”perfect” people. As it is stated, “all have sinned and fall short..” Or is breaking marraige vows/divorce/committing adultery the only sin according to them. No. That can’t be either, cause us unwed mothers were, ya’ know… uh, well, but I guess coveting(children that aren’t yours) and stealing(children that aren’t yours and lying(to and about children that aren’t yours) and all that other doesn’t count. In the (for our example and learning) story of Solomon and the two harlots(whores) Solomon using the wisdom of God…did NOT split the child in two. Which is exactly what adoption does. I guess they haven’t made that connection ….YET! Another big point to that example is that GOD left the child WITH it’s MOTHER, whore or no. Didn’t give it to some ”nice” married couple in the court. Great big …DUUUUH. Children belong with THEIR REAL mother.

  5. What we see is how deeply people can delude themselves. How easy it is for an idea to catch on, to seep into people’s minds. How an act of such terrifying consequences can slip below the radar and be seen as the right answer. Salvation. We see how easy it is for women to become possessions, and for everyone to look the other way. Religion is dangerous, it’s a form of mind control. I am sorry that this happened to mothers but it’s never to late to change your perspective.

  6. The Church isn’t perfect. How could it be? It’s run by imperfect beings…humans. But, the gospel is true and the church is doing it’s best to follow the teachings that Jesus gave. God does allow, even his own church, to stumble and learn from it’s mistakes. That is the whole purpose of this life… to learn to be better than you were yesterday. There is a difference between Doctrine and church policies. This “Doctrine of Transferability” is just a statement of “what if.” It’s more of a policy than real doctrine. As far as Temple ordinances are concerned, this is simply a statement on how to handle (how to record the even in church records) children’s sealings to parents in the event of a separation of a couple who had children born under the covenant. The church does not literally take away any child from anyone. And, it does not judge who the better parent is. Only Jesus can truly judge anyone. We have no real knowledge of how God will deal with such situations in the afterlife. I think we can safely assume he will make sure all parties involved will be justly and mercifully dealt with. I’m confident he will consider what the child will want. Either way, this “Doctrine” is only setup for children underage who cannot make choices for themselves. Once they are legal adults, the church has no say. Even then, this “Doctrine” is only a guide line. Two parents after being sealed, have children, and then separate, are the ones who have to decide what happens to those children. The church does not interfere with such situations. This is nothing like adoption. Women are not mere incubators. The church, nor God have ever thought or taught such a thing. I testify to all women by our God in Heaven that this church upholds all females in the highest regard. You are all precious souls and priestesses of the most high God. What ever the adversary is doing to persuade any of you to become bitter or hostile towards the church, I hope you can soften your hearts, forgive the church of it’s short comings, and gently guide and direct the leaders of it with the inherent God given nurturing that you all possess. The church needs your influence! Don’t give up on it. I hope anything I’ve said here hasn’t made the situation worse.

    • Actually, the church DOES interfere and have “say” even when a child is no longer under 18 and is well past the age of majority. I have first-hand knowledge of this.

      I was born in the covenant (BIC) to my natural father and natural mother. My natural father molested me and my sisters. When my mom found out, she divorced him when I was 19-years old. Several years later, my natural father went to prison for his crimes. During that time period, my mom remarried an incredible, loving, Christ-like man. When I was 27 years old, my step-father legally adopted me. One of the first things we did was go contact the temple to make arrangements for me to be sealed to him. The temple president told us no, essentially reciting what is contained in the quote in the body of the blog post above. I can’t be sealed to Phil H. because I was BIC to Lynn B. The sealing to Lynn B. will remain intact until I am later “transferred” to Phil H. (or some other man) in the after life. We’ve asked a second time and were told the same thing by a second temple president, who this time emphasized it didn’t really matter to WHOM I was sealed, just that I was sealed to someone in a parent-child relationship.

      [Which then begs the question: Why do we spend so much money and time making sure the “right” children are sealed to the “right” parents when we do temple work? If it doesn’t really matter to whom we are sealed, just that we are sealed, then why not just pick some random couple and have everyone sealed to them? Why not have everyone sealed to one of the twelve apostles because presumably, they are a pretty righteous bunch of men, right? Oh wait. . . we already tried that as a church. Then a prophet went to the temple and prayed to God about it and then, over the pulpit in conference, told the church to stop doing that and to be sealed ONLY to our natural parents. So which is it? Are we to be sealed only to our natural parents with the expectation the sealing will be transferred to someone else if our natural parent isn’t righteous enough? Or does it not matter to whom we are sealed because eventually we will be transferred, via the sealing ordinance, to someone else if one of our parents doesn’t qualify for the Celestial Kingdom?]

      Perhaps you cannot understand how deeply damaging this particular facet of the Doctrine of the Family is to a sexual abuse survivor, how it is like salt rubbed vigorously into already wounded heart. To use Book of Mormon language, this particular “guideline” as you call it “enlarge[s] the wounds of those who are already wounded, instead of consoling and healing their wounds” (Jacob 2:9).

      In regards to my own journey and walk with the church: Thanks for the lecture, but no thanks. A few years ago, it might have really hurt me, but today, I know exactly where I stand with God. I know exactly who I am and the worth I have in His eyes. It is He who has shown me the lies that have been riveted on the hearts of the children by their fathers, it is He who has walked with me through this valley of darkness. It is He that “calls me chosen, free forgiven, wanted, child of the King, His forever, held in treasure…” NOT “the church” and most definitely not the “members.”

      Further, I find it terribly fascinating that you, some random dude on the internet feels the need to call me to repentance, when the men in my life who know my story most intimately – my husband, my new and improved dad, and my bishop – have only words of love, support, and understanding for me. While these three very important men in my life remain deeply rooted in Mormonism, they have seen how mightily I have suffered for decades because of “guidelines” (AKA doctrines) of the church. They have not lectured me even one time as you just did, they have never called me bitter or hostile. In fact, the words they use to describe me are rather the opposite: resilient, forgiving, gentle, remarkable, faithful, long-suffering, patient, persistent, compassionate, sympathetic, kind. They know me. They know my heart, not just the small sliver revealed on this blog. You don’t. So perhaps next time you feel the need to mansplain the gospel to me (or some other woman in my situation), may I suggest that you stop and ask, “Do I know all of her story?” If the answer is “No, I don’t,” then might I suggest you save the well intentioned lectures for another time?

      • I’m sorry I’ve caused contention. I wasn’t speaking to you in particular. My comments were in general. I am giving my opinion and my heart felt plea to anyone who will consider what I have said. I do not know you. You don’t know me either. I’m truly sorry for the trials you endured as a child by your birth father. I believe that who we are sealed to is very important. The new revelation given to that prophet to seal to natural parents was inspired by God. He only allowed the sealings to the general authorities in the early days of the church because he was giving them a chance to learn and grow. Not all things in the church are given freely by God. Questions need to be asked. Once the new knowledge was gained, church records indicate most of those sealing were stricken and re-done to natural parents. 60 years worth of sealings had to be redone. As such, the church is trying to follow a pattern of child sealed to natural parent where possible. But just as the scriptures teach us to have faith that a child under 8 needs no baptism, so too does a child not need to perform a sealing more than once. God will take care of the family links in the afterlife. This too requires our faith to trust in his wisdom and that all will be right in the end. Now that I think about it though, there are 2 sealings that take place. First the child is sealed to the parent. The second one is when you get married to your spouse. You are sealed to them and you leave your father and mother forever. This sealing is more important than the sealing to your parents. It is not with your parents that you will gain the eternal progression that the Celestial Kingdom will provide. Only with your Spouse does that happen with. I don’t deny it would be nice to have all of your family around you in the end, but that can only happen according to everyone’s own righteousness. At least the important part is done, being sealed. The rest is up to each individual. Transferability was what allows for a situation like yours to be fulfilled. This is a gift from God. Not a punishment. Without it, you couldn’t be allowed to be with your new father in the afterlife, even though your child sealing has already taken place to someone else.

      • “Without it, you couldn’t be allowed to be with your new father in the afterlife. . . ”

        And this is supposed to bring me comfort how?

  7. i have enjoyed this post, and the comments. I am not LDS so i can’t really comment on any of it, but Melynda, you are a brilliant writer and your comments are spot on. I have so much respect for you for speaking out, and speaking up. Always a pleasure to hear more, i learn so much from you. thank you

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