According to Mormonism, only the worse of the worst will go to outer darkness. “Second, the word hell is used to refer to outer darkness, which is the dwelling place of the devil, his angels, and the sons of perdition.” (True to the Faith, p. 81) Mormonism designates only a relatively small handful of people as sons of perdition thus reserving outer darkness for only a few.
But is that biblical? In that regard, Jesus’ parable of the wedding guests recorded in Matthew 22:1-13 is especially pertinent since the man without the wedding garment is cast into outer darkness (v.13). In fact, Jesus’ whole purpose for telling this parable was to warn against that fate. Therefore it is only fitting to see why that man was cast out.
And it was because he refused to accept the gift of a wedding garment! That the wedding garment was something given to him, and not something he himself owned or purchased, is evident both from the culture of the day and also the words of the parable themselves. Note that Jesus is talking about the wedding of a king’s son (v.2). In the culture of the day, when princes married, the king provided the wedding garments for all attendees. We can be confident that this was well-known to Jesus’ original listeners.
That this was the case is also seen from the parable itself. “So those servants went into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests” (v.10). Obviously these people who were gathered neither had the time, and probably most neither had the means, to provide their own wedding garments. They came directly from the highways and the byways. Especially interesting is that the servants didn’t just gather the good people either. They gathered “both bad and good”.
The sobering truth about outer darkness is that it is not reserved for just a few. It will be the destination for all who don’t accept the king’s great gift of salvation. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). I have asked many members of the LDS Church whether or not eternal life is a gift or a reward. Without hesitation, they say that it is a reward. In saying that, they are faithfully echoing LDS teaching.
But that is so tragic. Refusing the king’s gift infuriates him. Look at his reaction. “Bind him hand and foot, and take him away; and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (v. 13). You can just see the king’s red face and blazing eyes as he gives this order. How dare anybody refuse his gift! In a similar manner, everybody who tries to provide for their own salvation or even thinks that they have to contribute to their own salvation, will experience the same reaction when they meet their Maker.
Eternal salvation and life are God’s gifts to us. They were purchased with the precious blood of his Son. The only God-pleasing reaction is to eagerly accept them and profusely thank him for them. My prayer is that many more Mormons will do just that.