MISTY - My aunt told me last night that she has read doctrine that says Latter Day Saints have a requirement of having children to get to heaven. I have been a member for over 30 years and have never heard this can you help me clear up this matter?

JOEL - If we are to be exalted in heaven we should try to obey all God's commandments the best we can, including the command "to multiply and replenish the earth" (Gen.1:27-28).
It should be a natural desire that God's children, who want to follow His will, would want to have children.
President David O. Mckay said:

"The Lord has spoken out very strongly in this matter, constantly and continuously. He said, as one of his important commandments, "Multiply and replenish the earth." (Genesis 1:28) That wasn't just a hoping so; it wasn't just something that would be kind of nice to do. The Lord said, "Go forward now, husband and the wife; love each other." They will have their children, and then they will work together for the children to see that they grow up in righteousness." (Melbourne Australia Area Conference, 1976)

And President Ezra Taft Benson said:

"We believe God is glorified by having numerous children and a program of perfection for them. So also will God glorify that husband and wife who have a large posterity and who try to raise them up in righteousness." (God, Family, Country, pp. 257-58.)

We are here to perfect ourselves and live the commandments to the best of our ability, and obtain experience in this life that will be necesary for our exaltation.
Almost everyone will receive some level of heaven (most of which do not require having children), but we have been told that those who are exalted will be able to bear spirit sons and daughters. It is therefore logical to conclude that if we are to have spirit children in heaven we should first have that experience while here on earth.
President George Albert Smith said:

"How will those feel who fail to obey that first great command [multiply, and replenish the earth] when they stand in the presence of the creator, who says to them, as He said to those in olden times, "Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven." How can they comply with that invitation if they have no children to take to the Father? They must remain childless throughout eternity. They have been blind to their rights and privileges. It is only by a proper understanding of the laws of God, and by compliance with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, only by doing what the Lord has said we should do, that we will enjoy the fulness of happiness that our Father in heaven has promised those who are faithful. I do not feel to censure, but with all my heart I pity the man and woman who grace their home with the lesser animals of God's creation, and keep away from their firesides those angels from His presence who might be theirs through time and through all eternity." (CR1907Oct:38)

So your aunt is correct for most healthy active LDS couples who wish to obtain exaltation. Some poeple, however, are physically unable to have children, and God certainly will not deny them heaven for something beyond their control. President Smith continues:

"I realize there are some men and women who are grieved because they are not fathers and mothers, they are not blessed of the Lord in that particular, they have no children of their own, and by no fault of their own. I believe the Lord will provide in such cases. If they will do their duty in keeping the other commandments, their reproach will be taken away." (CR1907Oct:38)

Elder Hugh B. Brown said:
"There are, of course, circumstances under which people are justified in regulating the size of their families.
Where the health of the mother is concerned, and where the welfare of other children would be adversely affected, parents sometimes, under the advice of their physicians, deem it wisdom to take precautionary measures ...
The Church cannot give a blanket or over-all answer to the question which would be applicable to all situations. Seeking divine guidance and searching your own souls is recommended, but in a long lifetime of counseling on these matters, the General Authorities of the Church are united in recommending generally against birth control." (The Way of the Master, pp. 114-15) TLDP:529-30

The Church General Handbook of Instructions states:

"Husbands must be considerate of their wives, who have a great responsibility not only for bearing children but also for caring for them through childhood. Husbands should help their wives conserve their health and strength. Married couples should seek inspiration from the Lord in meeting their marital challenges and rearing their children according to the teachings of the gospel."

The bottom line is that God has commanded couples to provide bodies for His spirit children, so they can progress to eternal life. Disobeyong this commandment is like disobeying any other commandment, which would preclude us from obtaining the highest level of the Celestial Kingdom. But, as Elder Brown said, the Church can give no official all-inclusive statement regarding the choices couples make in regards to having children. For those who could have children or could adopt, but for whatever reason choose not to, their decision for this is between them and God. Only God knows the heart and mind of His children and will judge each one of us accordingly.

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