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BOB - I get tired of hearing members at funerals or otherwise saying: "God must have needed them for more important work". Is there anything in the church that indicates this is doctrine? I maintain we are taken because we we are mortal and subject to the laws of nature here. Thoughts??
JOEL - Nothing that I know that would be called "official" doctrine; just anecdotal experiences and personal opinions of various church members. It's mostly just one of those "make them feel better" things people say to try and assign some meaningful reason for the death of someone. I have heard it said quite often as well, but not described as a real doctrine of the church by any church leaders although some have hinted at it.
There is one somewhat related scripture about missionaries who die:
"I beheld that the faithful elders of this dispensation, when they depart from mortal life, continue their labors in the preaching of the gospel of repentance and redemption, through the sacrifice of the Only Begotten Son of God, among those who are in darkness and under the bondage of sin in the great world of the spirits of the dead." (D&C 138: 57)
However, notice that God doesn't take them because He needed them. First they die through whatever might naturally happen to them, but then God does use them once they are there in the spirit world, and I am sure this not only happens with missionaries.
Joseph Smith said something that hints at what you are referring to:
"The Lord takes many away even in infancy, that they may escape the envy of man, and the sorrows and evils of this present world; they were too pure, too lovely, to live on earth; therefore, if rightly considered, instead of mourning we have reason to rejoice as they are delivered from evil, and we shall soon have them again. The only difference between the old and young dying is, one lives longer in heaven and eternal light and glory than the other, and is freed a little sooner from this miserable wicked world. Notwithstanding all this glory, we for a moment lose sight of it, and mourn the loss, but we do not mourn as those without hope." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 196-197)
At the funeral of James Adams, the Prophet Joseph Smith said:
“I saw him first at Springfield, [Illinois,] when on my way from Missouri to Washington. He sought me out when a stranger, took me to his home, encouraged and cheered me, and gave me money. He has been a most intimate friend. … He has had revelations concerning his departure, and has gone to a more important work. When men are prepared, they are better off to go hence. Brother Adams has gone to open up a more effectual door for the dead. The spirits of the just are exalted to a greater and more glorious work; hence they are blessed in their departure to the world of spirits.” (History of the Church, 6:51–52)
These are the only statements I can find that specifically addresses this, but even then it is not as if God caused them to died so they could go there and do the work. Rather He takes them or allows them to die from some natural or manmade cause, because they no longer need to be on this earth and are ready to go and then He uses them for the work in heaven.
I don't think God has actually killed anyone on purpose since the Old Testament (1 Sam 2: 6, Deut 32: 39, the flood of Noah in Gen. 7, Sodom and Gomorrah in Gen. 19), although He might intervene at times to prevent a death. When Joseph Smith said that God "takes" someone it could mean that He just doesn't intervene in their death. All good and faithful members of the church are "needed on the other side" to perform missionary work there, but I don't think God causes their death for that reason; they are certainly needed on this side of the veil too for the same purpose.
What we could say is that God does indeed need them on the other side to do a important work, but He doesn't kill them on purpose to bring them there; they died because of some disease or they were hit by a car. When the Teton dam in Idaho broke and flooded many homes in 1976, President Spencer W. Kimball came to provide some support for the saints. When he was asked, "Why did such a tragedy as this flood happen to us?", instead of offering some meaningful higher lofty purpose for it as they were expecting, he simply said. "Because the dam broke."