Mormons’ favorite scripture about salvation contains a caveat to the traditional Christian doctrine that we are saved by grace. For Mormons, “it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do (2Ne 25:23). Since nobody does all they can do, this phrase places Mormons in a precarious position—salvation-wise. While it is relatively easy to believe that deceased loved ones inherit the celestial kingdom, doubt exists about oneself. Have I researched all the genealogy, done all the temple work, read all the scriptures, served in all the callings I could have? Possibly my elderly family members are more neurotic than others, but I haven’t noticed that their faith has contributed to peace of mind at the end.
Of course, Mormons don’t have to wait for the approach of death to begin scourging themselves for unworthiness. Yesterday my visiting teacher, a young single mom who divorced her husband because his mental illness made him abusive to her and their small children, testified of the benefits of temple attendance. With tears in her eyes, she wished she and her husband had attended the temple together. She thought it could have made their marriage better.
Now I’ve never heard anyone suggest that temple worship can cure mental illness and abusive relationships, but this young woman was convinced she hadn’t done all she could do. In her mind, attending the temple with her husband might have qualified her for the miracle that could have saved her marriage.
Wouldn’t it be healthier for her to believe that the grace to cope with the trials of mortal life comes to good people of faith from a benevolent heaven rather than to beat herself up for not keeping every commandment perfectly enough to merit God’s favor?
Believing that grace is a gift to those who believe and demonstrate their faith by living lives of loving kindness might calm frazzled Mormon nerves better than a dose of Zoloft .