Why Do Mormons Have Large Families?
“Is she your daughter?” I’ve heard this question dozens of times about my youngest sister Dionna. Technically, she could be my child. After all, her birth occurred after I began my freshman year at college.
I am the oldest of 8 children and one of 240 descendants of my paternal grandparents. Before joining The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often inadvertently called the Mormon Church, my husband, overwhelmed with the magnitude of my extended family, said, “This isn’t a family — this is a nation!”
Large families are one distinguishing characteristic of Latter-day Saints (“Mormons”).
The Family Is Ordained of God
And [Jesus] took a child…in his arms [and] said…Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth…him that sent me (Mark 9:37).
Families are central to God’s plan. Latter-day Saints believe that all mankind lived with God, or Heavenly Father, spiritually before being born into physical bodies on earth. In that spirit, or pre-mortal, existence Heavenly Father presented a plan of salvation whereby His children could obtain physical bodies on earth through the organization of the family. Returning to live in the presence of God as family units is mankind’s ultimate goal.
In October 1995, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ issued The Family: A Proclamation to the World and detailed Mormon beliefs on the family.
All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.
In the premortal realm, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshiped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize his or her divine destiny as an heir of eternal life. The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.
Mormon Beliefs: Be Fruitful, and Multiply, and Replenish The Earth
Children are an heritage of the Lord (Psalms 127:3).
Moses recorded God’s commandment to Adam and Eve in Genesis 1:28. “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.”
Elder Neil L. Andersen, a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles extolled the virtues of bearing children in his October 2011 General Conference address entitled Children,
This commandment has not been forgotten or set aside in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We express deep gratitude for the enormous faith shown by husbands and wives (especially our wives) in their willingness to have children. When to have a child and how many children to have are private decisions to be made between a husband and wife and the Lord. These are sacred decisions—decisions that should be made with sincere prayer and acted on with great faith.
It is a crowning privilege of a husband and wife who are able to bear children to provide mortal bodies for these spirit children of God. We believe in families, and we believe in children. When a child is born to a husband and wife, they are fulfilling part of our Heavenly Father’s plan to bring children to earth.
While children are sought for and lovingly reared and cared for, there is no Mormon family quota. Mormon families with many children are not “better” than Mormon families with fewer children.
A Large Mormon Family Epiphany
I played the piano for my Grandmother Genevieve’s funeral services. Her vast posterity stood to sing one of her favorite hymns “How Great Thou Art.”
The music swelled until every soul with fervor proclaimed,
When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: “My God, how great Thou art!”
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art! 1
In that moment as their voices rushed over me, I saw and understood God’s plan for families better than ever before. From my position at the piano above the congregation, I saw a united throng of faith-filled souls, declaring His existence and acknowledging His Son Jesus Christ, whose love for Him and for each other overcame even the sorrowful loss of a beloved Grandmother. I saw friends, confidants and advocates with whom I laughed and cried, who fortified my weaknesses and needed my strengths in return, and who helped me to be a better person and seek the Kingdom of God. I saw my family.
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have moved 67 times and have not tired of experiencing this beautiful earth! I love the people, languages, histories/anthropologies, & especially religious cultures of the world. My life long passion is the study & searching out of religious symbolism, specifically related to ancient & modern temples. My husband Anthony and I love our bulldog Stig, adventures, traveling, movies, motorcycling, and time with friends and family.