Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?
As a genealogist and a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, from time to time, I am confronted with negative comments about the Church and about use of the FamilySearch.org Family Tree based on a misunderstanding of the Church's teachings about baptisms for the dead. One comment I heard recently came from a person who expressed concern about using the FamilySearch.org Family Tree because she did not want "her ancestors to be baptized into the Mormon Church." The response to this concern has been made a part of the Gospel Topics Section of the LDS.org website. Quoting from the article entitled, "Baptisms for the Dead,"
Some people have misunderstood that when baptisms for the dead are performed, deceased persons are baptized into the Church against their will. This is not the case. Each individual has agency, or the right to choose. The validity of a baptism for the dead depends on the deceased person accepting it and choosing to accept and follow the Savior while residing in the spirit world. The names of deceased persons are not added to the membership records of the Church.
The New Testament indicates that baptisms for the dead were done during the time of the Apostle Paul (see 1 Corinthians 15:29). This ordinance was restored with the establishment of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.The key to understanding this doctrine of the Church is our belief that we exist as individual spirits who can make choices even after we die. So providing the ordinance of baptism for a person who has died through a living proxy, merely gives the dead person the opportunity to accept or reject the baptism according to their own agency. The ordinances of baptism for the dead are performed on behalf of the deceased individuals in one of the many sacred buildings that we call temples.
As a genealogist who is also a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I believe that by offering this opportunity to my dead ancestors, I am provide something that they cannot do for themselves and further, that they may never have had the opportunity to do during their life on the earth in mortality. Of course, none of these deceased people are in any way compelled to accept the baptism and as is explained above, their names are certainly not added to the membership records of the Church.