My wife and I advocate for adoption through foster care quite a bit. When we encounter those who bristle at the thought of bringing children into their family via adoption, we point out that we are all adopted by God.

In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. (Ephesians 1:5-6)

I’m curious what the standard LDS response is to this verse which states that we are adopted as sons of God (and therefore not naturally-born family members). Anybody got any help? I noticed how clunky the verse is in the KJV, so I wonder if it’s just not noticed all that often in the LDS teaching that we are literal sons and daughters of God. If this is one of those things that’s in some LDS – FAQ, and I missed it, I’d love to see a link.

15 thoughts on “Adopted

  1. In a past post, I made these similar observations. The main point is the verse in Ephesians, but I’m tacking these on for good measure.

    Not Everyone is a child of God

    John 1:12-13
    Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent,nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

    Here we see that only those who believe in the name of Jesus have been given the right to become children of God. Notice the word “become”, that means it wasn’t their natural state, it’s something that happens to them. It’s a right that has to be given to people.

    1 John 3
    No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.

    Notice here again, not everyone is a child of God; only those who do what is right. In fact not only are not all born of God, some are even born of the devil. Does LDS doctrine make room for Satan being the father of men?

    1 John 5
    Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

    There’s a logical argument being made here that goes like this: If A=B, and C=B, then A=C.

    God’s children (A) = overcome the world (B)
    Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God (C) = overcome the world (B)
    God’s Children (A) = Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God (C)

    I think the New Testatment quite clearly contradicts the idea that all men are children of God. Only those that believe in Jesus are children of God and they only gain this status after they are “born again”.

  2. I can’t tell you what the “standard” LDS answer is on the verse from Ephesians (because I don’t know). But I can tell you what I came across as I was preparing a lesson on Ephesians for the Gospel Doctrine class in my ward. And that is the footnotes in the NET Bible translation, which you can find at What this translation’s footnotes point out is that the term Paul is using was (at least originally) a legal term referring to having the rights of a son as an heir, not the mere fact of being a child. In that culture, being the child of someone didn’t entitle one to be an heir (especially for females!).

    So from an LDS perspective (or at least my LDS perspective), the way I would understand that verse (which, as you say, isn’t very clear in the KJV) is that while all people are children of God in one sense, we aren’t adopted as heirs unless we put our faith in Christ and become joint-heirs with him (which has both a present reality and a future one).

    And the idea of people (even nonbelievers) being descendants of God isn’t foreign to the New Testament. Paul appears to teach that in Acts 17:28-29, even using a word that can suggest a genetic relationship. (I realize that other intepretations are possible.)

    As to the writings of John, I wouldn’t want to be held to a particular interpretation without further study. But at first glance, John seems to be using “children” in a metaphorical sense that is something different than the somewhat literal son/daughtership of LDS doctrine. Certainly, nonbelievers aren’t “children of the devil” in the same sense that all people are children of God.

  3. Sorry about the bad link in the post above. It’ll work correctly if you remove the trailing period.

  4. Here are two LDS scriptures, emphasis added:

    Mosiah 4:7:

    And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.

    Moses 6:68:

    Behold, thou art one in me, a son of God; and thus may all become my sons. Amen.

    The LDS belief is that our spirits were created by Heavenly Father; thus, we are all literally his children. We don’t know what that creation entailed in terms of actual events or actions on Heavenly Father’s part—really no idea at all.

    But we also recognize that the scriptures refer to two different types of “children of God”:

    1) Those who are spiritually created by Heavenly Father (i.e. everyone),
    2) Those who are spiritually reborn by faith in Jesus Christ.

  5. And since I just taught this in class yesterday, I’ll add some verses from Romans 8 (which, in case you had forgotten {wink}, Mormons also believe is scripture):

    14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
    15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
    16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
    17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

    (My favorite part is “joint-heirs with Christ”—a lot to think about there….)

  6. I believe also that there is LDS doctrine about being adopted into the Abrahamic covenant, since otherwise only the seed of Abraham would be eligible; everyone gets adopted into it.

  7. LDS doctrine has both adoption into the House of Israel (which Katy mentioned) and a lot of subtly different senses in which we are or can be “sons of God.” They can be overlapping and confusing, especially since sometimes “God” means Heavenly Father and sometimes Jesus Christ.

    BrianJ’s Mosia scripture in context is a major source for the set of doctrines.

    My point is, LDS doctrine includes more than one way in which we are or can become “children of God,” so a place in the scriptures that indicates that not everyone is a child of God isn’t that theologically troubling to your average Mormon who is well-versed in Church teaching.

  8. “if you can’t see it, touch it, measure it, does not make sense, it doesn’t exist.”

    By that standard, then love does not exist, neither does faith, thought, hate, emotions, attitude,

  9. Looks like the Dark Angel came back and took away more of Gods words. If the devil was to appear he would most likely pose as a prophet. All of his words would sound good just like a prophet. Not only was Joseph Smith a Liar, he was also a bigamist. (A marriage triangle). If you don’t believe me go look it up on the Internet. It isn’t hard to find.
    Jesus said many will come in my name. You should be careful to pick the right Jesus . . . . . 1 John 5:12,

  10. If you think having more than one wife or husband is Ok. Just think what it would be like if your husband was in the next room having sex with another woman. Or the other way around, your wife was having sex with another man. Or all three were in bed at the same time. Ewww. I would be upset hurt, mad and sick to my stomach. It would be torture. Think about it. Would the Holy Spirit pick some one like that with the word of God. I would think not.

  11. The Morman Church is nothing more than a social club. When you read the church’s doctrine, your reading fiction. It is fabricated. Then your trying hard to figure out what he meant when he said that your Adopted. It is fiction, your not adopted. We are all equal in the eyes of God. We are all Brothers and Sisters. It’s easy to understand. I started reading the book on Mormon. In the beginning he goes on and on, about who faught war after war, after war. None of these wars or people ever existed. Then what is the point in making up history. He is creating filler. Filler makes pages and pages of words. Lawyers do it all the time.
    Now, just because God talked to me doesn’t make me any more or less than you. If Jesus was here I think he would still have an arguement with the Church. Jesus would be mad as Hell. I can just see the tables turning over now. That’s just my opinion, you can have yours. You can erase what I wrote here too. Have a great day. Love Mel

  12. Mel, though I am not a fan of the Mormon Faith, you of all people have no right to speak to others of ‘false prophets’ and ‘throwing out more of the Bible’…I’ve read enough of your so-called prophecies to recognize that they aren’t the real thing. Clearly you’re a wounded man, speaking from your woundedness. I encourage you to find a Bible-believing church (one that believes all of it, and not just the parts you agree with), and submit to them as a member, preferably one that offers a good counseling program. Bless you, really.

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