Baptism for the Dead

An essential step toward immortality and exaltation is taken on behalf of those already dead, in recognition of the fact that God’s kingdom ultimately should comprise all who have died, not just those who actively work to build it.

Believing in baptism as an essential ordinance of salvation, and one that could only be experienced by mortal beings, Joseph Smith sought revelation from God on the fate of those who died without having received the ordinance of baptism from an authorized priesthood holder. He received the revelation on vicarious work for the dead, learning that baptism and other essential ordinances could be performed by Latter-day Saints on behalf of deceased persons.

. . .The earth will be smitten with a curse unless there is a welding link of some kind or other between the parents and the children, upon some subject or other—and behold what is that subject? It is the baptism for the dead. For we without them cannot be made perfect; neither can they without us be made perfect. Neither can they nor we be made perfect without those who have died in the gospel also.

See also baptism.