Plan of Salvation (Chronological)
At birth, a veil falls on the mature spirit. The spirit now has a physical body but remembers nothing about pre-existence. It is common in Mormon circles to hear the assertion that spirits born to Mormon parents must have demonstrated particular worthiness in the pre-existence. Such worthiness is often stated as being valiant.
Whereas God teaches us through David that we are born sinful:
Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Mormonism teaches that we are born sinless:
Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God having redeemed man from the fall, men came again, in their infant state, innocent before God. D & C 93:38
Furthermore, Mormonism contends that a child, until the age of accountability at 8 years, cannot sin!
Wherefore they cannot sin, for power is not given unto Satan to tempt little children, until they begin to become accountable before me; D & C 29:47
This contention is clearly in conflict with our Savior's warning towards anyone who would entice a child to sin:
"And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. 6 But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Matthew 18:5-6
Jesus said to his disciples: "Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. 2 It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin Luke 17:1-2
This teaching of perfect, sinless children is used to substantiate the belief that children who die before the age of accountability will receive eternal life. Joseph Smith even had a vision in which he saw these children in the celestial kingdom.
And I also beheld that all children who died before they arrived at the years of accountability, are saved in the celestial kingdom of heaven. 19
Children, as spirits, are in the presence of God before birth, and since they begin their mortal life innocent and free from sin, it follows that if they die before they arrive at the years of accountability, they are still in the state of purity and innocence which entitles them to go back into the presence of God and have salvation. 20
These include every child regardless of faith. This teaching attracts people who have lost a child. However, it offers a false hope and belies the power of God to instill saving faith in a child (illustrated by the unborn John's reaction to Mary's presence). In the Bible, it is the faith of little children that is held up to all of us as the faith to emulate.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Luke 1:41-44
People were also bringing babies to Jesus to have him touch them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 17 I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." Luke 18:15-17
This teaching of Mormonism presents another example of doublespeak. On the one hand, Mormonism makes a great case that the purpose of life on earth is to be tested, to demonstrate one's worthiness. It also teaches that after being raised to maturity it is essential for a spirit to gain a physical body; so that it might endure temptations that can only occur to a being with a physical body. And it teaches that Lucifer's rejected plan was to save mankind by not giving them agency and thereby not allowing them the choice to sin. On the other hand, Mormonism teaches that children who die before a certain age gain the celestial kingdom. They do so without demonstrating their worthiness on earth, without enduring physical temptations and, by not being allowed to sin.Premortal ExistenceMortal Existence: Purpose of Mortality