Temple Marriage Policy

What would a guest blogging stint be without a little friendly ark steadying? To wit: I propose that the Church do away with its policy that requires a one-year wait between a civil marriage ceremony outside the temple and a temple sealing.

I’m hoping that someone can explain to me the compelling reasons underlying this policy. What comes to my mind is not so compelling:

– It seems as though the main reason is a matter of wanting to preserve the dignity of the temple, to make the temple the site of marriage par excellence in the Church. We don’t want young people to think of the temple in secondary terms, as an afterthought. [But for those who believe in the efficacy of temple sealings in the eternities, how could the temple ever have such a second class status in the minds of our people?]

– Maybe there is a paternalistic concern to prevent young people from blowing a wad on extravagant wedding ceremonies. [But a hard and fast rule is unnecessarily overbroad; thrift and simplicity is already engrained in Mormon culture.]

– There may be a carrot effect in encouraging your inactive Aunt Sally to see her bishop and get her act together so as to be able to enter the temple for the wedding.

I must be missing something. What is it? Because here is how I see it:

1. I see no theological reason that the civil portion of the wedding has to take place in the temple. We are accustomed to bifurcating the civil marriage to comply with state law and the religious sealing for eternity (IE we don’t make new converts get remarried for time in the temple, we just encourage them to get sealed). There is nothing special about getting married for purposes of state law in the temple; what is special about the temple is the sealing.

2. Civil weddings followed by temple sealings are already allowed in various areas of the world (particularly in South America and Europe) where the government does not recognize civil weddings conducted in the temple. This practice doesn’t seem to have diminished the gravitas of the temple in these areas.

3. But my main reason for making this suggestion is that I don’t think we fully appreciate the *huge* amount of goodwill the Church loses when it tells people that they cannot witness the weddings of their sons or daughters. And this from the Family Church TM.

This may not come up that much among those who are in a position to really do something about this policy, since such people generally live in Utah, and when their children marry it usually involves the joining of large Mormon clans. But I live in Illinois, and out here it is not unusual for one or both young people to be converts and the only member of the Church in their families.

Have you ever had to have that conversation, telling someone that as a matter of policy our Church will not allow parents and other beloved family members to witness the wedding? That is a very, very difficult conversation to have. And since it appears to me to be theologically unnecessary, I think we should change the policy.

Please don’t tell me that a ring ceremony alleviates this situation. The rules are very strict to prevent such a ceremony from having the appearance of anything resembling a wedding or an exchange of vows. Well, those very rules prevent such a ceremony from having the desired effect of being a faux wedding ceremony, tossed as a sop to the non-LDS relatives. The ring ceremonies I’ve seen have been unavoidably lame, and you would have to think those non-LDS relatives are idiots to believe they would be satisfied by such a performance.

My best friend and I each got married at about the same time in August of 1980. We each married girls who were converts and the only members of their families. I got married in the Provo temple; he got married in a Lutheran church, and they waited their year to be sealed. At the time, I thought I was making the better decision. But in retrospect, none of my wife’s family was able to be there, and my own parents and most of my family weren’t able to be there either. As it happened, my father then died the night before our reception.

If I had it to do over again, I would have preferred to have a simple civil ceremony where *all* of our family and loved ones could be present, to be folllowed immediately by a temple sealing. But even without the policy change I suggest, I think that if I had it to do over again, I would have waited to get sealed. My inlaws were good sports about not getting to attend, but by now they are like my own parents, and I feel embarrassed that I married their daughter without them present. And I just don’t see the need for this exclusion.

183 comments for “Temple Marriage Policy

  1. Kevin, I couldn’t agree with you more. My wife is a convert to the church and we married in a nice civil ceremony before being sealed a year later. I would not change how it went at all. Having my wife’s family at her wedding was so important to her, to them, and me. I can only imagine the rift that might have been had her immediate and extended family not been able to see that most important day in our lives. My wife’s mother was later baptized, and I can’t help but wonder if that would have happened if she held negative feelings toward the church because she wasn’t able to see her daughter get married.

    As far as waiting one year to be sealed, I don’t think it was not necessary in our case. We were ready to be sealed very soon after the wedding, but we did wait the required year and it was a very special day as well. However, I agree with you that a one year wait seems somewhat arbitrary and by being more lenient the church could alleviate much pain felt by families in similar situations. Great post Kevin.

  2. Interesting post, Kevin. I think I agree with you, but I have to give it a little more thought.

    I think you’re absolutely right that the policy is meant to discourage dual ceremonies. If it were possible to do the civil ceremony and then the temple ceremony next week, I think a lot of people would choose that option. And so the policy seems designed to forestall that.


    A few possibilities spring to mind:

    1. I think you’re right about the desire not to downplay the temple marriage. If this really is the ceremony that matters for eternity, then perhaps the church should take steps to make sure that the temple sealing takes front and center. Otherwise, temple sealings may become like the ring cermonies you mention — viewed as second rate.

    2. I think there may be something to the idea of moral cleanliness. If someone is getting married in a civil ceremony, perhaps he’s less worried about keeping commandments.

    A related idea is that perhaps temple marriages serve as a chance to announce to the world that one has kept one’s covenants. Tacky, yes. But we all know that, as a practical matter, a civil-wedding invitation from a child of a good Mormon couple is viewed as code for “oops, they slept together before the wedding.”

    3. There’s always the accident-on-the-way-to-the-sealing fear. This is mitigated by the possibility of sealing after death. But it’s still a possibility.

    Yeah, I don’t find those reasons particularly convincing myself, either.

  3. i really regret getting married in the temple instead of doing a civil ceremony and then getting sealed later. most of my wife’s family is inactive, and none of them are endowed, and so she had no family members in the temple with her. i felt bad about it at the time, but didn’t give it too much thought. but now that i look back on it i think that it was a huge mistake, and i wish that i had given more thought to how we were excluding her family from a very important event in her life. i don’t think that any of her inactive or non-mormon family members gained a more positive image of the church by being excluded from the ceremony, but rather just felt left out. and it really made my wife sad to have no family members w/ her.

    i’m sure that some people will be offended by what i’m going to say, but what the heck. one other benefit of getting married civilly first and then sealed later is that my wife wouldn’t have been endowed and worn garments during the first year of our marriage. they were such a visual turnoff to me that i think that they were detrimental to our sexual development as a couple.

  4. If a couple is married civily because they don’t want to continue living in sin, then there gonna have to wait a little while before they can be sealed–perhaps a year or so.

    So if we’re worried about “lowering the bar” (as it were) by separating the civil ceremony from the sealing, perhaps the fact that “worthy” couples are carted off to the Temple almost immediately after their civil union will signalize to the community that “one has kept one’s covenants”. (Not that it’s ant less tacky as Kaimi said)

  5. I’m being a little tongue in cheek, but I wonder, what with the increase in temple divorce if a one year probationary period before the sealing might help all marraiges–regardless of “worthiness”–take their covenants more seriously.

  6. Very interesting post, Kevin.

    I was married in the Temple with none of my family there. We later had a ring ceremony that was very elaborate by LDS standards: walking down the aisle, string quartet, readings by family members, lighting candles, nice country club facility, etc.

    My experience suggests a couple of things:

    (1) The ‘niceness’ of the ring ceremony was augmented by the fact that my parents could afford something nice. Without a generous budget, it would have been lame.

    (2) I think bishops have a lot of control here; I am sure some bishops would have nixed our elaborate plans.

    (3) It was awkward with the family, but whatever happened to Matthew 10:37? It might be important in the development of a new convert to realize that commitment to the gospel requires a rather large break with past traditions.

    (4) I could have framed it better. Instead of saying, in effect, ‘you can’t come to my wedding’ I could have said, ‘of course we’ll have a big, huge, weepy, expensive shindig where you can walk me down the aisle in front of all of your friends. The only thing that will be different is the vows won’t be there’

    (5) Something else that is often overlooked: 100 people who would not have let the missionaries in the door listened to a bishop talk about eternal families and temples for a half hour. There is value in that.

    To sum, I think we should keep the one-year policy, and encourage nicer ring ceremonies (perhaps in the chapel?) as a missionary opportunity.

  7. Great post Kevin! I am a convert, the only member in my family, and I am getting married in May. This is an issue that continues to befuddle and sadden me. I have times where I breakdown and sob at the thought of my parents and siblings not being there to see me married. As a little girl you always dream of your wedding day: your dad walking you down the aisle and giving you away, your mom helping you get ready, your sister at your side as the maid of honor. Instead I will now have a couple of friend help me get ready (my heart aches at the thought of not having my mother there helping me put on my dress) and during the sealing I will look over to see…well who exactly? A few friends, an old bishop? My parents will be patiently waiting at home, twiddling their thumbs as their daughter gets married. The most important day of my life, and the most important people in my life will be absent. On the day I confirm my eternal love, those who I love most will be nowhere to be found. I will exit the temple a married woman and be greeted by…..no one at all. And this is the happiest day of my life?

    As a convert I have taken great pride in coming up with ways to explain church doctrines and practices to those in my family. I have constructed great analogies and examples to help them understand things. Yet explaining this practice of excluding families from weddings I admit to being completely stumped by. I cannot for the life of me come up with a reasonable explanation for the practice. With an issue like garments you can say something like “well it is like the special garments that Catholic priests wear, only we wear them under our clothes.” What parallels can you find to the exclusion of families from weddings? I do not know of any faith of any time period that had or has a policy of secret weddings. Any explanations then simply fall flat. Saying for example “it is very holy” or “it is very sacred” is automatically offensive for it implies that those excluded are not holy and not sacred. “Mom, Dad, you gave me life. You brought me into this world. You nurtured me and gave me everything I needed. You loved me and made me the woman I am today. But I am sorry my wedding is too sacred for you to attend.” What are more holy than families??

    Kevin you make a great point about how the policy extinguishes goodwill towards the chuch. I can’t think of a better way to turn people off to the church then to explain to them that they are not allowed at your wedding. It is a case of meat before the milk. Without a whole lot of background information and context people are left with a bad taste of church in their mouth. My mother is constantly having to explain to the caterers, florists, and such that, no, she will not be present at the wedding. They are all shocked. What are these wedding professionals left to think about Mormons?

    Sorry for this long rant. Kevin just really struck a tender nerve and it poured out of me. I just keep asking “why, why why???” And I have no answers.

  8. The policy isn’t ironclad–exceptions can be granted by the office of the First Presidency.

    One friend married in India, and flew a few days later to Manila to be sealed.

    A young man I knew worked for an airline, so his immediate family would fly for free. His fiancee, in South America, couldn’t afford to fly to Guatemala to the temple, so they requested, and were granted, an exception so she could become “immediate family” and fly for free to Guatemala to be sealed.

    But, I don’t know of any cases where the First Presidency grants exceptions due to “the bride’s family won’t be able to attend.”

    Jack’s right about the tacky speculation that some might engage in based upon the time between wedding and sealing, if the one-year waiting period were abolished.

  9. Kevin, the “compelling reason” is perhaps that the civil ceremony, especially if done in another church, is a mockery of the true ordinance, much like getting baptized superfluously in another religion. It is true that there is a high cost to maintain the sanctity of the temple wedding, as many people can relate from their own difficult experiences, but apparently it is a cost the brethren think is worth paying. Hopefully you find that argument compelling, since apparently the Lord’s authorized servants do. :)

    In some countries, the Church allows the separation because to not have both ceremonies would mean that those saints were not legally married, opening up a rather nasty can of worms that apparently is considered not worth opening.

  10. Kevin, you can’t know how much I needed to hear that.

    Thank you. Now reading the rest of the posts.

  11. Frank,

    A mockery?

    Well, then it’s a mockery which is required to obey the law of chastity. And a mockery which the church is busy spending money to “defend.” And a mockery which is the high point of many people’s lives.

    We can point out the imperfection in civil marriage — namely, that it’s not eternal. But I don’t know that it’s appropriate to call it a mockery. (Do any church leaders actually call civil marriage a mockery, or is this just your own argument? It’s not clear from your phrasing, but it looks a little like you’re attributing this view to church leaders, possibly after some logical sleight-of-hand).

  12. Can anyone tell me why sometimes on this site a poster follows a pointed and condescending jab with a smiley face icon? Is this meant to soften the blow? Because frankly it makes the comment seem all the more patronizing. Maybe it is just me.

  13. Katie,

    I think it’s due to Frank’s being an economist. Economists, like lawyers, are generally devoid of social skills. Economists compensate through the use of smiley faces. Sometimes lawyers do the same: :)

  14. katie –

    I just had a recent experience on T&S where I realized I was being a very uncharitable reader/commenter.

    I think the smiley faces are just indicators that mean “read this in the most chairitable light possible.”

    So that’s what I’m trying to do now. Of course, until I get that down, I’m commenting less than usual. But that’s my take on the smiley face. He didn’t mean it condescendingly and the smiley face was just a signal to that effect.

  15. As for the general thread –

    I thik Julie’s comment on Matt. 10:37 was the best comment made so far.

    We may be a “family friendly” church, but family does not always trump all. We have to deal with scriptures like Matt. 10:37 as well.

  16. Katie,

    Staring at a blog has been know to produce eye strain. I use smiley faces to remind people to smile, thereby prompting an eye blink. :)

  17. Thank you, Kevin, for opening this topic. It’s a difficult one, but if we can give some of our brothers and sisters comfort and understanding pertaining to this challenge, this can be a uplifting thread.

    My wife and I are both converts. No one in our family is a member. And the religious marriage ceremony in Belgium, always in the Catholic church, is the absolute highlight in one’s life. Add to this that I am an only son, and my wife the only child AND grandchild in her family. How did we manage the impossible challenge of a marriage none of our kin could attend? We arranged for both of us to be a long time in the U.S. in 1979 and married here in Utah. It made the acceptance for our family somewhat more bearable, but it was not ideal. On the other hand, our sealing was a very private and very spiritual event, just the two of us in the Logan temple. No worries whatsoever about guests, reception, etc. And our families survived it and their understanding and respect came with the years. Katie, I hope this is some comfort to you.

    But I do hope our Church leaders will assess the possibility to have non-recommend-holders attend the sealing ceremony, some way or another. To feel the Spirit at such a moment would be a great missionary tool and it would ease many tensions. I am confident it’s on the mind of GA’s and that some day things will change in this ongoing process to improve our relations with non-members.

  18. [quote]
    Economists, like lawyers, are generally devoid of social skills. Economists compensate through the use of smiley faces. Sometimes lawyers do the same: :)

    Indeed, and those of us who were economists and then became lawyers are even more in need of compensation.

  19. If I could change only one church policy, this would probably be the one. I agree completely with Kevin that this policy does enormous damage to the reputation of the church and to family relationships. My wife was a convert and her family could not attend. Twenty five years later, it still hurts her and her family. I am ashamed that I was not more sensitive to their feelings. If I had it to do over again, I would get married in a civil ceremony and wait the year. I would recommend this to my own children if they find themselves in a similar situation, and I might go so far as to not attend my own child’s wedding if their spouse’s parents could not attend, if only to ensure that they don’t feel left out. In virtually every case of which I am aware, this policy has engendered resentment which does not easily dissipate.

    I can’t tell if Frank is really serious with his mockery comment, but I hope not. The current policy has not always been the policy. Members of my own family were married in civil ceremonies on the late 60’s and then married in the temple a day later. It was not a mockery then, and it is not a mockery now. The current policy is viewed by many as making a mockery of the church’s commitment to strengthening family relationships.

  20. Kevin — I was thinking about this the other day, particularly in light of friends who lived in another country when they were married. They had to be married first civilly and then went to the temple the next day. I wish I could have done this. For my non-member family, my temple marriage seems to be a hurt that will never go away (I will be celebrating my 12th anniversary in April). I think in many ways my temple sealing would have been more special and spiritual if I had not been trying to balance my joy of making covenants with my husband and Heavenly Father with the tears and angry feelings of my parents.

  21. I don’t know, I don’t like Mathew 10:37. It’s not loving. It doesn’t sound like Jesus.

    On the other hand, I am opposed to waiving the one year wait, I realize as I read the posts that it’s not the worst thing to get married civilly, we are dealing with that now, because my daughter’s boyfriend’s family is not active and/or members. But I think they should wait, to see the importance. I think they should earn it, somehow.

    Pretty bummed out, though.

  22. I guess I mean the wait if they are not worthy and that’s why they are being married civilly. I guess if they are worthy, all things being equal, why wait?

  23. The policy does make room for exceptions, but the threshold to meet to gain First Presidency approval is a high one.

    In my experience, there is a huge difference between a marriage in the Temple and one outside of the Temple. There is a spiritual dimension to a Temple Sealing which may not be fully comprehendable to an unendowed person. I completely understand Frank’s description of a civil ceremony being a mockery of the Sealing. If a couple is otherwise worthy to be sealed, but choose instead a civil ceremony, that actually constitutes a sin, to prefer a substitute for the Temple. Thus, a 1-year repentence period is justified.

    However, I also understand how arbitrary and unfair the policy seems, especially to part-member families.

    I think I would keep the policy intact, except allow exceptions to be granted at the Bishop’s discretion (or perhaps, a Stake President since there might be more than one Bishop involved), including in the case of part-member families. Since he is already intimately involved and aware of the many different facets of each unique situation, he can be empowered as a Common Judge to make a wise decision.

    Nevertheless, if such a policy change should occur, I think Bishops should still be counseled to prefer a Temple marriage only without a civil ceremony, so as to underscore how important the Temple is. It doesn’t help the public image of the Church either to say “We believe that the ordinances of the Temple are the highest spiritual pinnacle we can attain in our lives, but in your case, we’ll make an exception and put other considerations first”.

  24. annegb — Not sure that I agreee with your “they should have to earn it” idea. For newer members or those just returning to activity sure, they should not enter the temple hastily not because they don’t “deserve” it, but because they should be spiritually prepared for the covenants they are going to make. For other worthy members, who are trying to accomodate family, why punish them or make them seem less “worthy”. I know we like to bring out scriptures at this point about not looking back when we have put our hand to plow or that the Saviour came to set children against parents, etc.but in a church where we like to say “Family — it’s about time” I have to wonder if a day really makes a difference?

  25. We must be careful not to oppose civil ceremony and religious ceremony as a choice one can make and then frown upon the civil ceremony. In many countries the civil ceremony is a legal obligation, the only valid ceremony which has to precede the religious one. But in those countries the civil ceremony is usually a low-key administrative thing, only attended by a minimal group, while the religious ceremony is the “real” festive, ritual ceremony attended by all. Let’s keep in mind the international differences. And many many converts are in non-US countries.

  26. Jim: A civil ceremony followed shortly by a temple ceremony does not mean that the couple is preferring a substitute for the temple. Nor would a policy permitting such action be inconsistent with the church’s teachings that temple ordinances are the highest spiritual pinnacle to which we can attain. The sanctity of the temple is not at all diminished by a couple who choose to have a civil ceremony in which their family can participate and then have a private, sacred temple ceremony where the temple ordinances are performed. They are different ceremonies and one does not diminish the other. By separating them, family relationships are preserved and the couple still enjoy all of the blessings of the temple. That seems like a pretty good result to me.

  27. Thank you Wilfried.

    Another thought or two, I am thinking that an elaborate worldly reception following a temple marriage could be more of a mockery than a humble civil marriage that worthy members choose in order to include loved ones.

    In such a case, would we refer to not getting married in the temple as “sin”? Is the “one year repentance period” that Jim Richins mentioned really necessary? One year is a rather arbitrary date — Is most other “repentance” measured by time restrictions? What if after one year one was still not “sorry” for choosing to wait? I don’t think a recommend would be denied for this, would it?

  28. Jim Richins: “There is a spiritual dimension to a Temple Sealing which may not be fully comprehendable to an unendowed person.”

    If this is the point, then the vast majority of young marrieds should have to wait years and years and YEARS before being allowed to be sealed in the temple. I know that my comprehension of my sealing was more like an unendowed person’s than my current one.

  29. Jim,

    The one-year repentance is an interesting idea, but I don’t know that it holds up. A few reasons:

    1. The history of the wait period, as Gary’s comment notes.

    2. The aparent incongruity. In my observation, time off from the temple is pretty limited — friends who have had moderately strong sexual sins have been barred for four or six or nine months. So “break the law of chastity = 6 months, civil wedding = 1 year” seems odd.

  30. Justin–maybe Mr. Richin’s comment referred to the more outward spiritual dimensions of the temple sealing, rather than a young married’s actual comprehension of their significance.

  31. Economists, like lawyers, are generally devoid of social skills. Economists compensate through the use of smiley faces.

    I know of at least one economist who, unable to compensate for his lack of social skills, posts under a self-deprecating pseudonym. He never ever uses smiley faces.

  32. “If a couple is otherwise worthy to be sealed, but choose instead a civil ceremony, that actually constitutes a sin…”

    You’re kidding, right? I was a convert, joining the church in March 1989. My wife was a lifelong member. We got married in December 1989 and were sealed in the temple in March 1990. The policy then (don’t know if it still holds) was that if a new convert was married in the same year he or she was baptized, the one-year waiting period began to run from the baptism date rather than the civil marriage date. As I understand it, this was to help alleviate some of these concerns that arise with the family of new converts not being able to go to the temple. Thus, if I had been baptized on January 1, 1989 and married on December 31, 1989, I could have gone to the temple the day after my civil wedding on January 1, 1990 (assuming worthiness was not an issue).

    As I understand it, the one-year rule is not about repentance for choosing a civil ceremony. I was never told that it was a sin to get married civilly; in fact, I was counseled by my Bishop that the Church discourages long engagements and that getting married civilly to avoid a long enagagement was perfectly acceptable, indeed, perhaps preferable, to waiting an entire year after my baptism before marriage.

  33. My brother in law was married civilly in an LDS chapel to my sister nine months after he was baptized and the whole non-LDS side of the family was present. They were then sealed about six months after the wedding. I don’t think this required First Presidency approval for the “less than a year” condition, but it may have helped that my Dad was their Bishop at the time.

    BTW He’s not the bishop of his ward anymore so nobody come ask me if they can move into his ward for this arrangement (:

  34. Jim Richins: “There is a spiritual dimension to a Temple Sealing which may not be fully comprehendable to an unendowed person.”

    Would this possibility necessarily outweight the possibility that spirtitual dimensions might be more fully comprehendable to the unendowed who might observe a temple sealing?

  35. Sorry for the miscommunication. Civil marriage is not a mockery in itself. But choosing civil over divine when the choice is placed before us does seem problematic, right? It would be a mockery for a believing member to get re-baptized in another church wouldn’t it? Is it not plausible that a similar issue is involved here?

    Also, this may be mostly a concern when the marriage is performed at another church. Perhaps a truly civil ceremony, with the Justice of the Peace, would not be such a big deal. But I don’t know. Wilfried has pointed out that there is a rather large difference between the civil and the religious weddings.

    Lastly, I think the way we approach the issue is crucial. I think Kevin’s post hints at this. Start with the assumption that the policy is, or at the very least, was useful, then think about what that implies and why it ir or was considered a good policy. There is probably some reason why this policy exists, so first we need to be able to appreciate that as yet unknown reason as sufficient to compel the President to make this policy. Before doing that we are hardly in a position to know if the policy should be changed now or in the future. I think the most likely candidate is to preserve the uniqueness and importance of the temple ordinance. I gathered this from doing a little reading on lds.org after reading this post. But that is strictly my impression and if somebody has a better explanation then I’m all for it.

    What I am not all for is simplistic claims that “no reason I can think of is compelling and so the Church leaders probably are mistaken in propagating this policy”.

    Trying to understand the policy is much more productive than just pointing out that we don’t understand why such a policy exists and then inferring that it is probably a bad idea.

  36. I guess it depends on how one defines “sin.” If the choosing of a lesser good is sin, then a civil marriage might be sin by that definition.

    My understanding is that the one-year waiting period grew out of a concern that temple sealings were becoming rather an afterthought to an elaborate “church” wedding, with thousands in the bridal party (ok, so I exaggerate) and horse drawn carriages (giving a whole new meaning to bridle party–and you men thought it was the bit in your mouth that gave us the word). The wait gives one a decent interval to let the confetti and the rice settle, and to keep the temple ceremony from being merely an afterthought to the “real” wedding.

  37. 1. A sealing is not a marriage. Unlike all other Christian denominations, we disaggregate the religious ceremony from the civil union. God’s rules for the sealing do not respect, nor should they, the rules of men.

    2. The Lord does not want married members of the Church to exist in a non-sealed condition. The rule you question is designed to discourage, not encourage, non-sealing unions.

  38. Liberalization of the policy regarding ring ceremonies might help. Julie, you were lucky, most bishops would not allow anything as elaborate as what you got. But of course, that in and of itself would require a change from current policy. And if we are going to allow ring ceremonies that look and taste like wedding ceremonies, why not go all the way and just allow civil marriages?

    The Matthew passage is an interesting gloss to this situation, but my argument is that the current policy is theologically unnecessary, unlike becoming a Christian, so I think invoking it here is somewhat artificial.

    I don’t think there is any great advantage to getting married for time in the temple. The point of that portion of the marriage is to comply with local laws regarding civil marriage. In my state, that would be 750 Illinois Compiled Statutes 5, “Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act.” For purposes of getting married “for time” (IE under the law), I don’t see any substantive difference between doing it in the temple, by the bishop in the cultural hall (with the basketball hoops in the “up” position, of course), in the Lutheran Church or by a judge in marriage court (we actually have such a thing here in Cook County, where I work). The temple is significant for the sealing for eternity, not for the civil marriage to comply with local law.

    I don’t think the Church needs the one-year waiting period. I think most young people would continue to marry in the temple, and those that did not would continue to respect the temple and look forward to being sealed there. But if the powers that be decide to keep the current policy, I would encourage anyone who finds himself or herself in the situation I did as a young person to wait the year. When I got married at 21 (about 10 months after coming home from my mission), I frankly was pretty selfish, focused pretty much on myself and my bride-to-be. I just wanted to get married, and I didn’t care that much about the feelings of others, about who wouldn’t get to come or what they thought about it. But I see these things differently now.

  39. Hi, Bob,

    1. I agree, a sealing is not a marriage, and we do disaggregate the religious ceremony from the civil union. That we do so is a big part of my point. The fact that we disaggregate them makes my proposal possible: a civil union outside the temple to conform with the law, followed by a temple sealing in the temple.

    2. Well, if we don’t want married couples to exist in an unsealed condition, then why not change the policy, which would allow sealing promptly following civil marriage?

  40. Katie, I was in a very similar situation, and I’ve never regretted not waiting and choosing the temple marriage. We too had an “old bishop and few friends” at out wedding. Now I wish I had encouraged my dad to come and be there waiting for us- consider inviting them if feelings aren’t running too high.

    We had the awkward ring ceremony a la what Julie warns of; that I do regret! (Words of wisdom; be perfectly clear about what you want the priesthood leader to say). I’m glad it is all far behind us. What a family has done to support a marriage goes so far beyond walking someone down the aisle or wearing a frilly dress.

    Wilfried’s perspective of the civil ceremonies required in some countries is different than mine. The weddings I attended of my brothers-in-law in England were ‘church weddings’ in the chapel with singing, flowers and pew ribbons followed by an afternoon reception. The sealings were that evening. I even had to beg my other sister-in-law to come to the temple; she figured it had been a long enough day with all her kids and she would rather head home! So I suppose I can see the argument that having the civil wedding can really take away from the temple ceremony, especially because they would often be elaborate weddings (ie looking forward to their father walking them down the aisle, biggest day of my life, etc).

  41. Kevin,

    So what was the reason for which the policy was first implemented? What about that initial reasoning has changed or was always wrong? If you don’t know, why not assume that you don’t have all the facts, rather than assume that you do?

    As best I can tell, you are saying that the holder of the sealing keys implemented a random policy for no credible reason, and then maintains it for no credible reason. This seems improbable. Further, it sets aside entirely the possibility that the policy might be the revealed will of God, even though the reasoning remains unrevealed, which is entirely possible.

  42. Frank, as near as I can figure, the main rationale underlying the policy is the first one I listed originally, and which you also came to in looking over lds.org: to protect the dignity of the temple (however you want to say it). I’m not prepared to say that there is nothing to that rationale; Claire”s example suggests that there is something to it, and it was probably rooted in actual negative experiences. But I do think that the other side of the coin–the tremendous loss of goodwill to what is still a missionary oriented church–has not been adequately factored into the current brightline policy. If one has not personally been through such a situation, one might not fully realize the harm done by the current policy.

  43. The points Kaimi raises about the 1-year repentence period precisely underscore my point that the decision should rest with the Common Judge who is closest to a given situation. A 1-year mandatory wait is completely arbitrary, and does not reflect the fact that some individuals may be adequately prepared and worthy for the Temple in less time, and others may not. Still, as a general a guideline to help all Bishops maintain a similar standard of worthiness, I think it is probably a good compromise.

    If an otherwise worthy couple voluntarily chose a marriage outside of the Temple, in *exclusion* of a Sealing, then I think that does constitute a sin. Maybe not the same kind of sin as adultery, or even neglecting home/visiting teaching, but insofar as it places God second to another consideration, it is idolatry.

    Currently, many LDS couples must make what is, in practical terms, an exclusive choice, only because current policy dictates the 1-year wait. Other couples are not placed in an either/or situation simply because geography. If the policy were changed to allow the Bishop’s discretion, I think that would be a wonderful thing, so long as the sanctity (and possibly other lessons taught by the current policy) is preserved.

    I do not think it is appropriate to allow non-recommend holders to attend a Sealing. An individual who is endowed but has allowed his/her recommend to lapse, needs to get that taken care of regardless of an impending Sealing in the family. An un-endowed individual may be worthy, and more likely to feel the Spirit more strongly in the Sealing room rather than outside the Temple, but he/she has not undertaken the covenants preparatory to a Sealing and so there is a good chance that much will be misunderstood. Although we may desire to provide every chance to allow any individual an opportunity to commune with the Divine (that is definitly a good thing), I don’t think that desire outweighs other considerations in the Temple.

    As I stated earlier, my experience with weddings outside vs. inside the Temples shows a stark contrast. If I was a bit more intelligent, I might be able to adequately describe the difference, but I trust many of us already understand. I think one of the reasons for the difference is that for those who attend a Sealing, each of them already possess at least some rudimentary testimony about the connection to Eternity that exists within the Temple. Therefore, I think they more fully appreciate the ordinance and the extent of its influence.

    Any person can understand this in an intellectual way – that can be explained in words – but to truly comprehend in a spiritual way can only be understood through the Holy Ghost. I can imagine that that special “something” that exists in a Sealing could be restrained if there were individuals in attendence who did not take this connection to Eternity seriously, perhaps even harbored thoughts like “how quaint, these Mormons are, and how curious are their beliefs”.

    I am sensitive to concerns about part-member families attending a Sealing. I think the current policy can be improved. But, we should also remember that the covenants made in the Temple are sacred enough that they merit defense, even at the expense of our fortunes, our families, even our lives.

  44. “If a couple is otherwise worthy to be sealed, but choose instead a civil ceremony, that actually constitutes a sin…”

    I know anecdotes only carry so much weight in a discussion such as this, but I found this one compelling. A friend of mine from Provo but living in the East got engaged a couple of years ago to a woman who was a convert, the only one in her family. Her joining the church in her late teens had been the cause of considerable familial strife. Informed of her baptism, her father, who was somewhat familiar with church doctrine and customs, had stormily protested, “Well don’t expect me to show up and sit on the lawn outside the temple during your wedding!”

    Upon her engagement to my friend, and after prayerful consideration, they decided they would get married outside the temple first, wait a year, then travel to Provo so his LDS family members could attend the sealing. In fact, they decided to get married in her parents’ church. When they told her father this, he was so touched that, remembering his angry words to her when she had been baptized, he said “Well then, in a year I’m going to travel to Provo so I can sit on the lawn while you get sealed.”

    Since then they have enjoyed a closeness with her parents that they never thought would be possible because of her membership in the church. This closeness has created an environment much more conducive to sharing her faith with her family. At the same time, I don’t think they cherish their temple sealing any less than anyone else. All in all, I can’t think of a way to construe the situation as anything but win-win.

  45. Kevin, it’s worth pointing out that the difficulties of the current policy fall most heavily on converts, who also happen to be a segment of the LDS population almost entirely underrepresented in LDS higher councils. Perhaps having someone like Elder Uchtdorf in the Twelve will be a conduit for a more balanced consideration of issues like this one.

  46. Wonderful to share this with us, Jeremy. It illustrates there are various possibilities to ease the pain and come up with solutions. Of course, not all will work as well, for circumstances are different in every country. Much depends also on the emotional maturity and benevolence of the non-members.

  47. I am disinclined to think that the Brethren are unaware of the familial costs involved. I recall hearing the issue mentioned numerous times by chuch leaders, with a full understanding that it is a painful thing for many families. So yes, I agree it is a high cost, but I am far from convinced that it is one that the Brethren (or God) have failed to consider in deciding the best policy.

    Of course, should the policy change, because the personal and social costs to those converts, their families, and others outweigh the benefits, I’d have no problem with that either.

  48. Getting married in the temple now and getting married later isn’t a matter of indifference. People should *hunger* for eternity. Counseling with the Lord might lead to hard and heartwrenching exceptions in some circumstances, but we should never talk as if putting off temple marriages to please the inlaws were a normative or even just equivalent choice.

    I realize that’s not the main point. The main point is that no one should have to make the choice. There seem to be two main arguments:

    (1) sealings shouldn’t be performed in temples or, if they are, anybody should be able to come.
    My objection to this line of reasoning is that under it there’s ultimately no reason for excluding anyone from any part of the temple ceremony. If people are well-behaved, why can’t they come watch baptisms for the dead? Why not the endowment? Granted, there are covenants of secrecy in the endowment, but why not take them out? If we’re going to steady the ark, let’s not be bashful. So unless one advocates throwing the temple wide open to anybody, one has to admit that there is a reason for the privacy of the temple and for limiting access to it to endowed church members. If that is the case, the only reason for insisting that unendowed family members still get to witness weddings is that one *feels* that there interest is important enough to outweigh the need for sacred privacy. The Church *feels* differently. What about your feeling is superior to theirs?

    (2) People should be able to go straight from a civil ceremony to a religious ceremony or vice versa
    As Wilfried points out, this is only a question in areas where civil ceremonies are affectations or performances for the benefit of the family. In those places where the religious ceremony is without legal effect, the church doesn’t impose any restrictions.
    I agree with several of the good reasons given for the Church’s policy here. Let me just address one

    “It seems as though the main reason is a matter of wanting to preserve the dignity of the temple, to make the temple the site of marriage par excellence in the Church. We don’t want young people to think of the temple in secondary terms, as an afterthought. [But for those who believe in the efficacy of temple sealings in the eternities, how could the temple ever have such a second class status in the minds of our people?]”

    I find the rebuttal truly astonishing, although that may be just because, hanging out in social conservative circles as I do, the influence that laws and rules have on people’s evaluations of things is a commonplace. Of course the temple and temple sealings could take on less importance among a people that notionally believed in the efficacy of temple sealings. Much of what we do with respect to the temple–the worthiness requirements, the privacy, the attention to materials, the reverential hush–is hard to understand if we think that none of this helps us to properly value the temple and what goes on there.

  49. The problem with stories told by jeremy is that they are anecdotal, and limited in their application. While I think it is great that the in-law relationship has improved, i don’t think this story supports abolishing the waitinig period.

    The purpose of a temple marriage is the sealing. A civil ceremony first distracts from the purpose. While families are good, sealed eternal families are better. Not to become a lightning rod for controversy, but if I had to choose between my son or daughter having a good relationship with their inlaws or having a temple wedding I would pick the temple wedding first any day. I think the policy protects the sanctity and importance of temple weddings.

    however, I am sensitive to part member families, inactive families etc. I think it is important to be respectful and understanding in approaching those not able to enter the temple. We should respect the feelings of those around us, but not the point where eternal principles are established.

    in response to Dave’s comment regarding converts bearing a disproportionate share of the difficulties of this policy, I would state that any difficulties are a GOOD thing for converts. This policy emphasizes the difference between a civil marriage and a temple wedding. By emphasizing the difference, we are better able to realize the importance.

  50. Re: “the difficulties of the current policy fall most heavily on converts”

    True, but I just want to point out that difficulties also fall on older siblings like me — in addition to no one from my husband’s family members being at our wedding, because they weren’t members, none of my brothers and sisters were, either, as they were too young to be endowed. Pretty sad!

  51. I wonder how we reconcile the notion of choosing civil marriage over temple marriage a “sin” when we consider the fact that Spencer Kimball was married in a civil ceremony first. It is true that he lived in Arizona, but if it is a sin, then any sacrifice should be made to avoid the sin (he could have waited and saved enough money for the trip to St. George before getting married, for example). It should also be noted that there was no waiting period imposed upon him–he was sealed in the temple a few months after his civil ceremony. Just something to think about before we get too carried away.

  52. Claire, thank you for your thoughts. Like you, despite my sadness I would never consider choosing a civil ceremony over a temple one. It is just too important and too fixed in my mind as my goal. What I wish is just not to have had to make a choice between the two. As you suggested I invited my parents to wait outside the temple but since the wedding is in OKC and the reception is in Tulsa (where they reside), they would just as soon skip the hours of driving. And I think it might actually be worse to have them sit outside. The whole time they would just be thinking, “my daughter is getting marred inside, and we’re not there!”

    What made your ring ceremony so embarrassing? Would you mind sharing? I am trying to figure out just who to ask to officiate and I am finding it difficult to choose. Even before your comment I had already anticipated that having just the right person do it is important to avoid embarrassing comments.

    Perhaps the solution to all this is to have the sealing room off of the temple lobby with a plexiglass wall in-between the two. That way non-members could watch what took place without upsetting the sanctity of the room. A “crying room” for the unendowed. J {a I’m joking, non-patronizing smiley face}

  53. I agree, Kevin. And &*#%&#*@! I was just about to post about the same topic today over at Bird’s Eye View! But You have treated it more eloquently than I would have.

  54. My grandparents were born and reared in Arizona, and were just a few years older than President Kimball. They were married by their bishop in St. Johns, and within a month traveled to Salt Lake to the temple to be sealed.

    Steve’s suggestion that “[Pres. Kimball] could have waited and saved enough money for the trip to St. George before getting married” ignores the economics of early 20th century life in eastern Arizona. The couple, being unmarried, could not have traveled without chaperones, and the trip, even to St. George, would have taken several days. Most families didn’t own automobiles, and the roads were dirt trails. If Pres. and Sister Kimball, or my grandparents, had had to save enough to travel to the temple, they could not have afforded to get married.

  55. I wish that each time a sentence is said dealing with the choice between civil marriage and religious marriage, we could add “in the U.S.”. When members from abroad read about the value of the latter above the former, about the waiting period, seeing even words such as “sin”, they might get very confused. In many (most?) countries the civil union, done at the townhall, is the only legal way to get married and must always precede any religious marriage. Such a ceremony may then follow in a church but has no legal value. In those countries, our Church members can go to the temple right after the obligatory civil marriage, without any waiting period. Just to clarify, before I’m getting e-mails with panicking questions from Belgium!

  56. Katie–

    The only other ring ceremony that I have been to (besides mine) was awful. I think the problem is that bishops don’t know what to say in these situations. Our solution: we wrote word for word what we wanted the bishop to say and gave it to him. (Gee, now that I look back, he really was accomodating.)

    Also, per Jeremy’s story, my parents DROVE from Texas to Utah to be in the waiting room while I was sealed. (Ring ceremony and reception was a week later in Texas.) My parents are amazing people.

  57. Many comments seem mired in a false dichotomy. It is not either/or. We can have both. A couple who chooses a civil marriage is not choosing that instead of a temple marriage. They are choosing to become married in accordance with man made laws by virtue of man made civil authority. They can also choose to be eternally sealed, which is quite a different matter, in accordance with God’s laws in the temple, and a prior civil marriage has absolutely nothing to do with the sanctity of the temple ceremony. I can see no downside in choosing to celebrate one’s civil union in a manner that involves the family of both spouses, while still respecting the sanctity of the temple ceremony.

  58. Katie-
    my wife is the only member in her family, and we got married in the temple. it was tough.
    Most of the ring ceremonies i had ever seen involved either a hasty ring exchange outside the temple, or else involved some bishop rambling on and pointing out over and over about how this was _not_ a wedding, as if that needed to be stressed any more.
    So we took the officiator out of the equation and didn’t have one. maybe part of this is because we were getting married in utah, but we both live in massachusetts, so we didn’t have a close relationship with any bishops there or anything.
    We had my brother-in-law talk briefly, our moms did readings and our dads each said a few words. there were a couple tasteful musical numbers, and then we spoke briefly about our feelings for each other, exchanged rings, and thanked the guests. the talks were probably more akin to toasts than talks. the whole thing lasted about 25 minutes, and then we had a nice sit down dinner.
    A lot of my guests said it was one of the best receptions they had ever been to, and they really liked the ring ceremony and thought it was very unique and more meaningful than others they had seen. of course, this was in the land of cultural hall nuts-in-a-cup receptions, so that might not mean much. we also had to compete with pres. Hinckley, who was having some function in the room next door.
    I think it is possible to plan something that is touching and special for the non-temple attending folks, without being condescending or minimizing the meaning of the temple ceremony itself.
    good luck

  59. “I can see no downside in choosing to celebrate one’s civil union in a manner that involves the family of both spouses, while still respecting the sanctity of the temple ceremony. ”

    It’s not a question of respecting the sanctity of the temple ceremony. No one is suggesting that it’s impossible to have a civil ceremony without mocking the sealing altar. It is a question of the value one puts on temple marriage. If one is willing to put it off for a year, that says something about the relative value one puts on temple marriage as compared to other things. Maybe those other things are as valuable as you think they are. Usually not.

  60. I would state that any difficulties are a GOOD thing for converts.

    Sorry, but to me the “..for converts” qualifier makes it sound too much like some sort of hazing–like they have to do some sort of Abraham/Isaac gesture to prove (to us?) that they’re really committed, that they’ll pick the church over their family. If that’s the case, and the decision really is some sort of test of converts’ faithfulness, then this isn’t really about the temple ceremony per se, it’s about sacrifice in general.

    And the point about converts bearing the burden more than the rest of us is crucial: if all my family’s going to be at the temple because they’re all LDS, what’s my Isaac on the altar? Don’t I have to somehow show the same level of commitment to church over family that a convert does? How would that occur? Growing up, I heard numerous stories about people showing their commitment by getting married in the temple even though their familes couldn’t be there. And that demonstrated TO ME the importance of temple marriage, but it demonstrated it to me at the cost of no one I know. Are converts thus given this challenge for a symbolic, pedagological reason, one that benefits the rest of us at no cost to us?

    I guess the underlying question of this thread is: is that a sacrifice that the Lord will always requires of us–all of us?

  61. Consider a hypothetical couple who live in Las Vegas. They have gone through the process to prepare for their wedding. They have been interviewed by their respective Bishops, they qualify for a Temple Recommend and have a Recommend for Living Ordinances, a legal marriage license, etc. They stand at the entrance to the Las Vegas Temple, and say to each other:

    “Wouldn’t it be a hoot if we went down to the Strip and got married down in the Chapel of Love!!”

    THIS is a mockery and constitutes a sin. In my mind, it unequivocally justifies a 1-year waiting period. If the policy in question were universally rescinded, the sanctity and importance of the Temple would be decreased.

    Given the priorities evident in some Latter Day Saints (particularly in and around Utah, much less so in Belgium, I’m sure), I can fully imagine such a scenario happening. Such a couple thinks that it is just a 1-year wait, and then we can get that whole “Eternal rubber-stamp” out of the way.

    If the policy in question were changed, such a scenario would become not only legal, but could no longer be considered sinful.

    If it is possible to be married in the Temple, then that should be the first, really only, choice. If it is not legally possible, then the Sealing should follow as quickly as possible.

  62. Adam: Two points in response. First, the basic question raised is whether the one year waiting period is a good idea. If that is the question, your statement that “if one is willing to wait a year, that says something about the relative value one puts on temple marriage compared to other things”, is no answer. The issue is whether we should force people to make that choice in the first place.

    Having said that, I agree that being willing to wait a year says something about the way one values the two alternatives. But the alternatives here are not temple marriage versus other things. The alternatives are civil marriage now (something that is recognized by the church as a good and holy institution in and of itself), with a temple sealing a year later or a temple marriage now accompanied by (in a great many cases) enduring resentment, hurt, anger and bitterness. My wife and I made the wrong choice 25 years ago. All of the blessings of the temple were available to us, we simply had to wait for a year. That wait would have had no negative effect on us or our marriage. We deeply hurt some very good people by making the choice to ignore her parents’ feelings and to proceed with a temple marriage that excluded them. My wife felt like she had put a dagger in her parents’ hearts as we left her at the temple doors. Neither parents nor daughter ever really recovered from that hurt. It took me years to realize just how selfish I was in not recognizing what I was doing to her family. I would not do it again, given the same choice.

  63. Jim: I would agree that the couple in Las Vegas going to the Strip first are indeed denigrating the temple ceremony. But that example is so far removed from the real life choice that many couples are forced to make, it is not even in the same universe. There is a huge difference between that kind of flippancy and those who desperately want their loved ones to be a part of this important ritual. The latter are motivated by love for family and devotion to God. It is precisely because they love their family and their God that they might choose defer their own sealing for a year.

  64. I wish that each time a sentence is said dealing with the choice between civil marriage and religious marriage, we could add “in the U.S.”

    Thank-you, Wilfried! I am someone who was married at church in front of all my family and friends.

    The positive: my wife was indulged in her every childhood wedding fantasy, my father-in-law got to give her away in his family tartan, my nonmember family got to enjoy the occasion, and I was able to sing to my wife at the reception afterwards. We then went to the Temple to be sealed.

    The negative: none.

    Jim, I think you have to trust the members more. If a couple have been deemed spritually mature enough to be married in the temple, then they should be trusted not to blow it at a LV wedding chapel.

    Trust the Saints.

  65. Ronan, Gary, et al.

    You seem to not be understanding my point (not doubt, because I am not explaining myself well).

    It doesn’t matter if the Las Vegas couple is a likely situation or not – the fact that it is possible given a change in policy is the concern. Furthermore, similar to Franks earlier comments, changing the policy would also change certain lessons we learn from it, at least one lesson is that a Temple marriage is important enough to risk alienating some family members.

    Nevertheless, as I have stated before, I agree that the policy could be improved. I wouldn’t necessarily say that I trust the members any less, but I definitely trust that a Bishop would have the wisdom and discernment as a Common Judge to help manage the competing desires of maintaining the sanctity of the Temple and part-member families.

    I would keep the policy in place, but only change it so that exceptions are more easily accessible through the Bishop.

  66. The tricky thing about policies is, they have to be formulated to cover a wide range of cases. I think putting the decision as to whether a couple should be allowed to marry civilly, then in the temple the next day or whatever, in the hands of the local bishop would put inhuman amounts of pressure on the local bishop. It would be extremely hard for him to justify making anyone wait, and any decision to make someone wait would be taken as some sort of personal judgment. I’ve never been a bishop, but that sounds like a really tough spot to be in. Sure, it’s tough to deny someone a temple recommend, but I think that is probably an easier line to hold.

    I think it is really cool how people in some countries can do both. But there’s no getting around the fact that it makes a huge difference when the choice of whether to have a civil ceremony is not at all theirs. I definitely like Julie’s scenario, where it is called for. It seems to me this is a much more promising avenue for asking bishops to exercise judgment tailored to the needs of the individuals in question than the other.

    “Trust the Saints”
    This is a nice idea. How about this: let’s trust *both* the Saints *and* the leaders by encouraging those close to us, who have non-member family etc. to approach their bishops with well-thought-through, appropriate ring ceremony plans — plans that are edifying and channel the appropriate emotions of those present, but also provide an opportunity to teach our doctrines on eternal marriage. This is the sort of thing that would show the seriousness with which we hope couples will approach such an important moment.

  67. My concern is that the value of the temple sealing is protected.

    If concerns for family are SO great there are exceptions, or you can wait a year. The policy is put in place to protect the value of the temple sealing. you just have to weight the costs.

    When I said that the policy is good for converts, although sacrifice might be implied, this is not the main reason it is good for converts. If you grow up in the church, it is instilled how important the temple ceremony is. If you are a convert, you may not have that stressed as much. with the policy, the temple sealing is more set apart from a traditional wedding, highlighting its importance.

    In response to Gary’s comment, I am sorry about the resentment you endured. You stated that being sealed a year later would have no effect on your marriage. This may be true for many people. I do think that being sealed straight away had an impact on my marriage. The ceremony itself, although somewhat of a blur, helped me through many rocky times and helped my wife and I establish a family based on the gospel. I think this is essentially why temple marriage is “protecting” by a waiting period. It encourages couples to establish an eternal family on the principles of the gospel, starting life in the way the Lord would have them do. I don’t think it is necessary to alienate others to prove one’s testimony, but in the end we have to make choices. The problem is to prevent a temple sealing from becoming a temple wedding only.

  68. #23 Kris, Yeah, that’s what I meant. I wasn’t thinking of otherwise worthy couples. I was thinking of couples who had had troubles with immorality, in my reference. It does seem like it would be a kindness and not take anything away, if the couples are otherwise worthy, to make allowances. “If you must err, err in mercy.” That’s a good thing.

  69. That said, some good friends of mine just had a beautiful civil wedding so that her parents could be present, and will wait a year to be sealed, and I think they made a sound choice. I don’t think it implies they do not take the temple seriously. Far from it. Their willingness to wait a year, in this case, shows that they take the temple seriously enough to follow the pattern we’ve been given, while responding to their particular situation.

  70. Woodboy, good idea. We are looking at that sort of thing in our family, is why I’m interested in this thread.

  71. And thank you Ben. I must say, that God is mindful of His children, because I truly needed this thread.

    Thanks to you all. Pro and con.

  72. Thank you Kevin for bringing this up.

    When the bride or groom’s parents can’t attend the wedding, it is so painful. If you’ve had friends join the church, or been friends with someone who marries a convert, it is just so hard to explain. There’s no theological reason for the year wait so it looks punitive and controlling. My husband’s best friend refused to come to our reception because he could not be satisfied with our explanations of the temple, and they were never close afterwards.

    My friends arranged a good ring ceremony–just a gathering of the immediate family and grandparents and closest cousins or friends, filling the Relief Society room a couple hours before the reception. Each parent and grandparent got to say something, and the bride and groom gave each other rings and appreciation. I don’t remember the bishop even being there.

    My oldest child is 10, but if she were to marry someone who’s parents could not attend a temple wedding, I would support her marrying where closest family can attend and be sealed later, even for a years’ wait.

    And like Wendy, all my siblings were too young to attend my wedding.

  73. I take issue with MArk B.’s assertion that my post “ignores the economics of early 20th century life in eastern Arizona. The couple, being unmarried, could not have traveled without chaperones, and the trip, even to St. George, would have taken several days. Most families didn’t own automobiles, and the roads were dirt trails.” If we are dealing with “sin” here–and that is the word that we are using–then no conditions merit such behavior. My point is that perhaps we should consider the problem from a point of view other than “sin” which, in my judgment, makes unnecessary demands on our discussion. If civil marriage between worthy people is a “sin” then it is a sin regardless of the “economics” of life anywhere at anytime. My solution is to simply state that this is not a sin, nor is it a mockery, and that this is evidenced by the fact that a prophet of God found reasons sufficient to marry outside of the temple. If it were a sin of the magnitude discussed in this thread, I doubt Kimball (or Mark’s ancestors) would have done it. But whatever we do, let’s not create a double standard. If we call it a sin, then that is what it must be, regardless of how inconvenient it may be to keep the commandment involved.

  74. I would also point out that plenty of people during the period under consideration made all of the arrangements Mark B. mentions, including travel over dirt tracks over the course of several days, with chaperones along for the ride. It was far from impossible.

  75. Steve–

    I’m not interested in entering this debate, but I do think one thing you wrote needs attention:

    ” . . .that this is evidenced by the fact that a prophet of God found reasons sufficient to marry outside of the temple . . . ”

    He wasn’t a prophet when he got married. He was a young man of no particular authority. If we start making idols of the (youthful) lives of church leaders, we’re in big trouble.

  76. I have no intention of making of idol of anybody. I am simply pointing out the fact that if we are going to call this a sin, we had better be prepared to cast a wide net, and we might be surprised at the sort of people that have engaged in this particular “sin”

  77. If you grow up in the church, it is instilled how important the temple ceremony is. If you are a convert, you may not have that stressed as much.

    I just don’t buy this. We might be acculturated to the idea that the temple ceremony is important, but the member born Mormon has to arrive at a personal conviction of that just as the convert does. I don’t think the convert should have to do something “extra” to prove that they “get it,” while it’s assumed that born-Mormons picked it up along the way. Maybe there is justification for imposing the waiting period, but I don’t this sort of Abrahamic test is it.

  78. A young lady where I take water aerobics is getting married in a year in a nondenominational “chapel” (read: wedding business) and the cost will be no less than $5700 not counting the dress, catering, who knows what else. I got married as an atheist in a Las Vegas casino when I was 17, in 1982, and the total cost was $200. The reception was at my new husband’s home which had JUST been vacated by his ex-, and she had trashed the place. We spent the entire night before the wedding just cleaning the place as best we could. My dress cost $99–was a return–and my veil about $150. We paid to have an audiotape made of the ceremony–which is just static now–and a friend did the photography. Another friend made the cake. We honeymooned in his old van out in the desert, skinny-dipped in rock pools fed by ice cold springs, and used most of the money earmarked for the wedding to replace furniture his ex- had destroyed before surrendering the house back to him as the court had decreed. Ideal start? Heck, no. But we didn’t start owing thousands for a big wedding, and my husband “forgot” to invite the parts of the family that it turned out couldn’t get along with me, so it was really good. I even got some useful wedding gifts. I think we are still using some of them.

    Fast-forward to summer of 1997. We and friends drove to Dallas, Texas, then the closest temple. Our kids swam in the pool at the motel. I had pneumonia. We had a true miracle concerning a gold watch which I will tell to anyone who emails me and asks. On Friday we received our endowments. On Saturday we were all sealed together as a family. I think the motel bill, gas, food, and temple clothing rental all totalled around $200. My children put their little hands on ours and we saw the Spirit in their faces. Not once in the temple did I cough or have an asthma attack.

    The next day during Sacrament meeting, my 8 month old WALKED for the first time, three months earlier than her siblings had done.

    This is MY life. I couldn’t go back and rearrange it. I wish I’d found a testimony many years before 1997, but I didn’t. There is no ceremony like a temple sealing. My parents and nonmember friends couldn’t be there, but honestly, it isn’t about any of that anyway. The laughing and dancing, the garter tossing, the cake cutting and the rings don’t matter a bit.

    Don’t steady this ark. God knows what He is doing, and when He asks a sacrifice of us–such as abandoning the dream of a big Charles and Diana type wedding for a simpler, sacred temple ceremony, He has far better gifts to offer us if we will look for them. Those who can’t have the temple ceremony will settle for the world’s, and that is fine if that’s what they’re ready for. In 1982 I was ready for a casino wedding chapel. My newly divorced husband and I sure weren’t ready for the temple then! People who ARE ready and who need the civil ceremony first are right to pursue existing channels for exceptions…but only the Lord could decide it’s time to change the policy itself.

    Nonmembers who feel excluded need do only ONE thing to find the way to be INCLUDED. And we know what that is. I feel in my heart that it is wrong to change the system to weasel around Moroni’s promise. My parents refuse to try it, though they could do it in their room alone and never tell a soul they are going to do it. They’re too proud. Go into a room apart and pray to know it’s true, with full intent and sincerity of heart. That’s the key we MUST give the people we love. They can use it or not. If they won’t use it, well then, they can’t attend a temple sealing, and it DOES diminish the sealing to provide a sop to those excluded. There is nothing wrong with a civil marriage. But it’s like the glory of the stars compared to the glory of the sun, and let’s not pretend otherwise, Saints!

    Beyond that we only have to trust that it will all work out okay.

    (sorry if I’m going on, I’m sentimental tonight, and on narcotic pain meds!)

  79. Sheri Lynn-
    While I see your intentions in your statements are well intended, I don’t think they would be well recieved by a non-member who didn’t understand the gospel. Just imagine a conversation between a non member parent who is told they won’t be able to attend their daughters wedding with a member releative of the groom-to-be using the attitude that you seem to suggest in your post.

    Non member mom: I… I…I just don’t understand. I can’t see my daughter be married?

    Well intended overly zealous member: Well, you could see your daughter be married if you only read the Book of Mormon, pray about it, and later be baptized into our church. Oh and then you’ll have to wait a year.

    Non member mom: begins to sob uncontrollably.

    Well intended overly zealous member: hands mom a handkerchief and pats her on the shoulder. So you see the matter is really in your hands, Do you want to see her get married or not?

  80. Elder Ballard has warned against such atttiudes in sharing the gospel with other people. In his book, Man’s Search for Happiness, he describes an account in which members although well intended, were overly zealous and over-bearing when sharing the gospel. This non-member family was turned off to the church and later Elder Ballard apologized for the lack of tact the members had shown them. We need to be bold but as Elder Maxwell said, “Be bold with meekness.” We cannot expect to solve our problems by making Mormon of all our neighbors and family.

  81. I’m not sure whether to thank Kevin for bringing up this topic or not, for it has stirred up a lot of painful and difficult emotions for me.

    I am the only member of the church in my family. I became a member when I was 18 years old, in 1976, and married about a year and a half later in the Alberta temple to a lifelong member. My parents were not thrilled that I became a member in the first place, feeling that it was a rejection of them and all they had taught me, but they were loving and supportive enough to attend my baptism. As a new convert I was very idealistic, and it was extremely important for me to do everything “right”, as defined by the leaders of the church. Temple marriage was encouraged by my bishop, friends, and my husband’s family to the point that I remember thinking that I wouldn’t have felt married if I had done it civilly. There was only one way for me to be married, and that was in the temple. We talked to our bishop about the possibility of having some kind of a ring ceremony for my parents, but were told that we couldn’t do that because it would be a mockery of the temple ceremony, so that idea was scrapped. In the end, the only thing we felt we could do to try and make them feel better was to give total control of the reception to my parents, which was a small consolation to them.

    I am now embarrassed and saddened to admit that at the time I sort of looked at my parents with pity because they weren’t members and thought that by marrying in the temple, as painful as that would be for them, they would wake up to the fact that the church was true because I was willing to make such a sacrifice for it.

    My wedding day still remains, to this day, one of the most painful memories of my life. My parents drove 2 ½ hours to the temple and then waited outside. The most difficult thing was when my mother handed over my wedding dress (that she had lovingly made), to my mother-in-law, who escorted me into the temple. My mother was sobbing with the pain and sadness of seeing her daughter go off to get married without her. To add insult to injury, a well-meaning woman from the visitor’s centre stopped her as she was walking away and asked if she would like to view a film. That was not the right thing to say at that time!

    As I walked into the temple, I had a horrible sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, and I couldn’t stop crying because of the pain this decision was causing both me and my parents. I cried all the way into the sealing room, through the ceremony, and most of the rest of the day. At the time, the only consolation I could give myself was the fact that I loved my husband and was doing what the Lord expected of me, and that it would all work out in the eternities. I was doing the “right” thing and perhaps someday my parents would understand the truth and join the church.

    I had a difficult time enjoying my honeymoon. I felt sick to my stomach. In fact, to this day, whenever I think of my wedding day, all those emotions come flooding back. I hate thinking about it.I feel that this has created a real rift in my family. Don’t get me wrong. I have not been disowned or anything like that. But, after 27 years, the pain is still there, and my father (my mother passed away 20 years ago) is no closer to understanding any of it. My daughter got married this summer in the Las Vegas temple, which also opened some of the old wounds and difficulties with members of my family. My father was unable to attend anyway due to health problems, which made it easier for us, but it led to the subject of my temple wedding and my father mentioned to me again how I had broken my mother’s heart. All I could say to him was that I regret that.

    As I reflect on these painful memories and think about the present church policy, I am struck by the incongruency that I see. If I happened to live in England, for instance, I could have had the civil marriage first, then be sealed shortly after. If I was 10 years older, I could have done the same thing here. Or if I had the right connections with General Authorities, or a different bishop, perhaps it would have turned out better. I can understand some of the arguments in favor of the policy, but I still think it stinks. Whatever happened to “I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves”?

    I believe that temple sealings are very sacred. I understand the principle quite well. My temple marriage has been a great blessing in my life. However, the policy that says that you must wait one year following a civil marriage to be sealed in the temple does not, as far as I know, imply that those who get married civilly are committing a sin. They just have to wait, for some reason that has never been adequately explained to me. Therefore, I have to conclude that there is nothing inherently sinful about getting married civilly first, then waiting a year to be sealed. The problem, as I see it, is that the present church culture, influenced by policies such as this one, has created a situation where there is such incredible pressure to marry in the temple, as the “right” way to be married, that anyone who thinks about doing otherwise, even to preserve family relationships, lives in fear of going to hell or being stigmatized as somehow being “less righteous”. As important as the principle of temple marriage is, is it not also important to love and respect your parents? If I were to do it all over again, I would definitely choose to preserve my relationship with them by waiting the year to marry in the temple.

    As far as “lavish” ring ceremonies being a mockery of the temple, I have seen some very lavish temple weddings and receptions. How much better to get all the pomp and ceremony out of the way with a civil ceremony, and have a quiet a sacred temple ceremony shortly afterward, without all the “hoop la”.

  82. If I got endowed and married tomorrow, my mom could be there. None of my friends who are members have been endowed, my stepfather is in town for two days a month and has thus had his recommend expire, my four younger siblings are too young to get their endowments, my older brother and his wife are nonmembers, and the entire paternal side of my family (father, stepmother, aunts, uncles, etc.) is nonmember.

    I was sent to a psychologist for six months before my dad would even let me join the church (I was under 18, and had to have his consent) — and he’s still hurt about my making that choice then, today, 16 years later. He thinks I chose my mom over him. I had to walk to church (about three miles away) as a 13 year old visiting him on summer break, because he refused to take me.

    Moreover, I’ve never seen (in my memory at least) both of my parents and their spouses in the same room — and two of my siblings have never met the other three. The first time my youngest sister (on my mom’s side) met my stepbrother, her eldest brother, was at his wedding. It was the first time my stepbrother’s parents had seen each other in 13 years. Weddings are pretty much the only occasion that draws my family together (though I almost managed to get some of my siblings to meet during a random surprise Disneyland vacation three years ago.) Therefore, my wedding is presumably going to be my one shot at even getting them all in the same room. They won’t show up for a ring ceremony.

    I resigned myself to a yearlong wait to enter the temple after a wedding that for all I know may never happen, when I was about 14 years old. The alternative simply isn’t tenable. I’d be lucky to be allowed to speak to my youngest brother and sister at all if I — in my father’s eyes — refused to let them attend my own wedding; I’m already on thin ice and can’t talk about religion to them at all. And just never mind the pain of being, you know, completely alone during the ceremony.

    I’d love it if the church would change that policy, but I’m willing to bear the costs of choosing a civil ceremony even if they don’t. A year wait is a small price to pay in any event — though ironically it means I’ll almost certainly marry a fellow convert/part-member-family type, as I doubt most dedicated LDS moms in Utah would be happy about their sons marrying some girl in an (oh horrors) church wedding. Though actually it’d probably be in a garden; my family always gets married in the same Unitarian Universalist church in California (the only building on Earth that I know that all of my parents’ current and former spouses have actually been in, and the home of 3 of their combined total of 7 weddings) and I’m not sure I want to repeat that one as two of the three have ended in divorce.

    In any case, policies are made for the ideal or the majority, and not the exceptions and out-lying types. I know I’m an exception, especially as compared to the ideal. The policy being changed would be, you know, great, but I don’t expect it because I can’t. The policy was written for returned missionaries who have their Eagle scout awards, and cute girls with YW medallions now attending BYU in pursuit of their “MRS;” I’m willing to endure it since I’m in the same church as the rest of them. ^_^

  83. It’s interesting to me that most converts who have excluded their non-member families by opting for a temple ceremony have regretted it. I guess as we get older we see the royal law of ‘love’ taking precedence over everything else.

    My husband and I were converts, had the church wedding (as is required in England). Then we were allowed a couple of days grace to make it to the only temple hundreds of miles away. We couldn’t afford it, didn’t know how to reach it, etc. had no support because the branch was poor and couldn’t help us. We went on a regular temple trip on a bus the year after and had close member friends there with us. It was every bit as special and a wonderful day for us. (Although I have been told I cannot claim to have had a ‘temple marriage’ as we didn’t go immediately – so what? We’ve been happily and lovingly married for 37 years so I can handle that).

    I’ve been to dozens of church civil weddings followed by temple sealings in England and they’re wonderful occasions. Nothing detracts from the sacredness of the temple ceremony, indeed the temple ceremony is looked on as the ‘crown’ of a wonderful day and everyone is happy – members and non-members alike.

    Handbook says civil weddings may be in the chapel but they should be devoid of ‘pomp’ and ‘extravagance’ – both very subjective terms! Can’t have wedding marches – again a very subjective term? We went through a period some years ago where Bishops were banning Mendelssohn’s wedding march, but allowing the bride to leave to other classical music?! I’ve never understood that. I think sense prevailed eventually. Our brides seem to have as lavish a weddings and receptions as they want. It still doesn’t detract from the temple ceremony.

    Katie – your story made me weep. 100% I would have a civil ceremony and wait a year for the temple – but that’s just old rebellious me!

  84. Sheri, Judi, Sarah, and others further up the thread, I do appreciate your contributions to this topic. In spite of the challenges we faced, it’s heartwarming to see we all pulled through somehow as converts and had experiences none of the large Mormon-Utah-families ever had and cannot understand without having lived through it. The topic, as I have mentioned, brought back our own memories, as my wife and I were married without any of our families present. But we still love the Gospel and remain immensely grateful for our unique temple marriage.

  85. I didn’t mean to come across as overly-zealous. Just to say that my temple ceremony meant ever so much more to me than the wedding that everybody could attend. I also fear ark-steadying. Uzzah wasn’t chastised lightly.

  86. I agree completely with Ann that the civil ceremony does not detract from the temple ceremony. If we teach our members that the civil ceremony detracts from, or constitutes a mockery of the temple ceremony, then that is what they will believe and they will tend to behave accordingly. On the other hand, we could easily teach them that the temple is the pinnacle, but we should never give offense to loving parents whose only desire is to share in the wedding celebrations of a son or daughter, and that to deprive them of the opportunity to participate in this important ritual would detract from, or even constitute a mockery of the temple ceremony since we should never divide a family in the process of creating a new one. If that is what we teach them, then guess what? It would not occur to people who have been taught to see things in this light to argue that a civil ceremony in these circumstances detracts from the temple ceremony. Indeed it would add to it by including members and non-members alike in a joyous celebration, while preserving the sanctity of the subsequent temple ceremony.

  87. Another side to the current policy – I know one couple who made the choice to marry civilly, not because of non-member relatives, but because they were young (both 18, I think), and felt ready to marry for time, but not for eternity. They have since been married in the temple.

  88. “Just to say that my temple ceremony meant ever so much more to me than the wedding that everybody could attend.”

    The temple ceremony is *supposed* to mean more to *you*. The “wedding that everybody can attend” isn’t for you; it’s for other people (non-member parents and other family) to show love and inclusion to them.

  89. Thank you Sherri Lynn for sharing your story with us. I think it helps us realize there is more to the sealing experience.

    Not to dwell on the converts but I think my comment was misunderstood.

    “We might be acculturated to the idea that the temple ceremony is important, but the member born Mormon has to arrive at a personal conviction of that just as the convert does.”
    I would totally agree. Growing up on the church alone does not guarantee a testimony.

    “I don’t think the convert should have to do something “extra” to prove that they “get it,” while it’s assumed that born-Mormons picked it up along the way. Maybe there is justification for imposing the waiting period, but I don’t this sort of Abrahamic test is it.”

    I don’t think that converts do have to do something “extra”. They follow the same guidelines and principles as the rest of us. In fact, as pointed out earlier the 1 yr waiting period does not apply to brand new converts (less than one year? though I don’t have the handbook of instructions to show this). Perhaps it doesn’t instill additional repsect for the temple in new converts more than any other member, but I still feel like the waiting period creates a protection for the temple ceremony.

    Personally I feel anything that detracts from the Temple ceremony is a negative thing. I would include in this category many things besides a civil ceremony.

    I have seen many examples of ring ceremonies where the non member family was included, but did not detract from the temple sealing. The best example of this was one of my best friends from high school. He married a girl from Utah and was married in the Salt Lake Temple. They included his parents in pictures outside the temple, and then held a luncheon reception in the Joseph Smith building. The room was not one of the large ballrooms, but was a simple room, but had a gorgeous view of the temple from out of the window. The comments that were made reflected spirit of the temple ceremony without replacing them. It was a wonderful day for all, including my friend’s parents.

    I think if we take the attitude that it will hurt others, it will. If we do everything in our power to include those around us, while still following the example of the prophets I think the Lord will bless us. The temple is the penultimate, and should be protected. our mortal ceremonies should not be allowed to detract from it where possible.

  90. Perhaps this will sound like a flippant comment, but I don’t mean it that way. I also fully admit that I might be missing important aspects to sealings (having never been to one)–but if I am, please enlighten me.

    It seems that a sealing is an intensely personal experience between the bride, the groom, and the Lord. As VeritasLiberat (#97) points out, “The temple ceremony is *supposed* to mean more to *you*.” So why have other people attend this event? It seems to me that making the sealing event open only to those participating would solve a few problems:

    1) no one feels like they are unduly left out–because every one is, regardless of their recommend status. Jeremy (#65) points out the ‘sacrifice’ of marrying in the temple with no non-member family. This way, everyone involved makes the same sacrifice.

    2) Doing this, it seems to me, would increase the sanctity of the sealing–since it’s only between the couple and the Lord–the whole event takes on a higher importance because there’s no “spectators” there.

    3) There would be a culture more inviting to events (civil ceremony, ring ceremony, etc.) that would include ALL family members.

  91. This is going to come across and sounding very terse, but it is not meant in that way at all.

    I don’t understand why this is even a question. The church is generally led by LDS-rasied men who don’t fully understand some conflicts that converts have. But when has the church made a decision which would alienate people to experience their children’s weddings and thus put a negative light on the church WITHOUT divine revelation?

    Having parents at the wedding is important, I understand. But what will come first-appeasing in-laws and parents or eternal progression? If you can do both why not? Because it shows that your priorities are to avoid earthly turmoil?

    My mother and father were sealed in the Tokyo temple, and my father’s family is from california, where my grandfather has been inactive his entire life and my grandmother couldn’t attend the temple because at the time, they didn’t let women who didn’t have a worthy husband take out endowments. My mother is a convert. Neither of their families attended the sealing. They did have civil ceremonies because it is necessary in Japan, but they were courthouse meetings and in the embassy where there were random people wandering around and also other couples waiting to get married.

    My father’s family wasn’t even in the same country when he was married. So along the same lines of thought-the church should be more willing to allow non-member families to experience their children’s wedding, so then my thought is, why didn’t they fly my father’s parents and immediate family out to Japan so they could take part in the civil ceremonies? BECAUSE IT ISN’T NECESSARY. Because having family at a wedding will not change the fact that you are eternally sealed, or not.

    The dangers of intellect and education is that we begin to depend on our own thoughts and reasonings over the will of God. Someone will reply to someone, “you make a vaild point, but…” it doesn’t matter what the valid points are. If they are not in line with doctrine and are merely speculation, they hold no validity.

  92. I like your idea Pris. I think the hurt feelings of excluded family members springs more from the fact that some people will be there and some will not. I think it makes a convert’s parents more irate to know that the life-long member’s family will all be there while their daughter’s family will all be outside. Also, I think having your fiancee’s family there but not yours, can make cause tension between the couple. It would only seem sad and unfair to have the convert’s side of the sealing room sparsely populated while the life-long member’s side is briming with smiling faces. I like the idea of having the sealing be an intensely personal thing between you and the Lord.

    I’d like to thank everyone for all their supportive comments and suggestions. I really like your suggestion for the ring ceremony woodboy! This post has been wonderful to read. Thank you to Kevin for bringing up the topic. I had been feeling rather alone in my sadness about my wedding. It has been nice to hear from others who have had similiar experiences.

  93. Catching up:


    “But whatever we do, let’s not create a double standard. If we call it a sin, then that is what it must be, regardless of how inconvenient it may be to keep the commandment involved.”

    It seems pretty clear to me that whatever “sin” is involved is one of taking the temple lightly, not a God-mandated calendar. You seem to want to take someone else’s comment about a sin, redefine what was meant by the word, discard any other understanding of the situation (someone already pointed out the economic realities in play back in the day), and use your definition as a stick. I don’t think that’s entirely fair.


    “It’s interesting to me that most converts who have excluded their non-member families by opting for a temple ceremony have regretted it.”

    I think you should modify that to “most converts

  94. AAHH! Accidentally hit the tab when I was hunting for the shift…

    Trying again:

    Ann, I think you should modify that to “most converts WHO HAVE POSTED HERE…” T&S is enlightening and thought-provoking, but assuming it to be a representative cross-section of the saints is a serious rhetorical error.

  95. I was thinking about the comments on the image that the church potrays in putting familie first. It’s a policy in the church that a husband or wife can not be baptized withou the consent of each other or that children can’t be baptized withou the consent of the parents. The idea is that the church doesn’t want to make the gospel divide families. There were several times on my mission when someone had a testimony of the gospel and desired to be baptized, but their spouse didn’t want them to. All we could do is put their info in the area notebook and move on our way. Why is there a policy like this that accomdates families ,yet also exists the temple marriage policy that seems to cause so much rift in families? Perhaps it has something it has to do with the difference of immediate families and extended families. Like it was mentioned earlier, Matt 10:37 alludes that estangement bewtween mother and father may be possible in acceptance of the gospel. Our own family is another matter: Neither is man without the woman and the woman without the man in the Lord.

  96. Mike,

    After skimming most of the 105 comments posted here, I was amazed to see your last thought in comment #4 was charitably untouched. It must be your lucky day.

  97. I think if there’s one thing we can learn from this thread, it’s that there are a lot of different circumstances surrounding people’s marriages. Thus, a blanket, one-size-should-fit-all policy probably isn’t the best approach to the problem (thus proving Kevin’s point).

  98. Don’t think this is only our problem. I had a conversation with a lady today whose hobby is photography, and she showed off photographs of her brother’s wedding. (None involved are LDS.) Everyone in the photographs was unhappy. Why? Because the groom’s two brothers had pointedly opted out of attending for reasons that were sufficient to them and inadequate to everyone else. So everyone was mad at the brothers and it ruined the entire thing for everybody. The mother of the bride was maddest of all. The focus was off the union between the bride and groom and on the matter of who would and wouldn’t, could and couldn’t, attend.

    To go a year without the covenants of eternal marriage simply to appease someone else, however dear, is a dangerous rebellion against commandments. You all keep using the word “policy.” Why? Is this church led or not led by the Lord? Humans make flawed policy. You are discussing this as if it is a certain thing that this is not DOCTRINE given to the Saints by the Lord. How can you know that?

    No observation glass in nursery doors may be policy, I’ll grant, but I think when we’re talking about temple sealings, we’d better be aware that we’re talkign about doctrine…? Unless I’m wrong. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

  99. I don’t know how I missed this thread until now.

    My wife is one of three LDS daughters to a non-LDS couple. My in-laws and their extended families have now been through the “wait outside the temple” scenario with two of their daughters and its quite possible it will happen a third time as well. When my wife’s older sister was sealed, one of her aunts cornered her and her sister in a hotel room and really scolded them for the pain they were causing to their parents by being a part of the LDS faith.

    When my wife’s older sister was sealed, my wife still remembered what it was like to see this huge extended Caucasian LDS family leave the temple smiling while all the Chinese non-LDS family members were waiting outside and feeling at best somewhat sad if not angry.

    When my wife and I were married we tried what I think was a novel approach. Only our immediate family members who were endowed and my grandparents were allowed to witness the sealing. All my extended family (uncles, aunts, cousins, etc.), despite being LDS, had to wait outside with my wife’s family during the ceremony.

    My mother was really upset about this. I think our (her) whole life she was imagining that her whole family would witness her son’s sealing. But it was the only way we could imagine to sort of level the playing field between the two families. My relatives were generally supportive though from some of my mother’s comments I have gathered that some may have felt insulted. Some probably had the attitude that they were worthy to be there and deserved to be there and shouldn’t have been prevented. At the same time, my feeling is that LDS people should be willing to commiserate and suffer what others have to go through. If my wife’s parents can’t be at the ceremony, why would we allow my uncles and aunts to be there?

    This probably exists somewhere … but I think Church members really need a book about how to do ring ceremonies well. And perhaps there should be some discussion of ring ceremonies in the Church as well … along with all the discussion of how important the temple sealing is. It was a little surprising to see (as we were preparing) how condescending some LDS people are towards ring ceremonies and the like.

    Too often our great esteem for the temple sealing translates to scorn for all other forms of marriage or for non-sealing type ceremonies.

  100. Several posters have used the phrase “appease family members,” as if our non-member parents were these hateful unreasonable creatures whose anger needed to be pacified. That’s rather insulting to both the non-member family and to those of us who love and respect them. It is not our family’s anger that concerns us, but rather their pain.

  101. That pain is but a tiny part of the pain that all who know about the Gospel yet refuse it will feel. They won’t be separated from an event. They will be separated from their Creator.

    The non-LDS family members who attended our 1982 wedding in a Nevada casino thought that fifteen-minute event was worth traveling across state lines for, but not one will make the much shorter journey down to their knees to find out about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that sealed us together forever. We can bear our testimony and give them copies of the Scriptures but it’s up to them to find out that it’s true. If they don’t, they won’t be sealed into eternal families. I can’t seem to muster the same degree of worry or pain on their behalf because they miss a ceremony they wouldn’t understand anyway.

  102. appease (v)

    1. To bring peace, quiet or calm to; soothe

    2. To satisfy or relieve

    3. To pacify or attempt to pacity an enemy by granting concessions, often at the expense of principle

    I think pain is something to be appeased as well. Appeasement does not always mean anger.

  103. Dani and Pris, I, too like your ideas. I think that’s a good way to handle it.

    I was just reading today in the February 2005 Ensign suggestions about this very topic. Some were, oh, I’m so tired tonight, some were boringly Pollyannish, but others genuinely addressed the topic well, I thought.

    One of the contributors said something similar to Dani’s and Pris’s suggestion: they chose to limit those who could attend the temple ceremony. I think that’s a good way. I’m going to remember that.

  104. “I can’t seem to muster the same degree of worry or pain on their behalf because they miss a ceremony they wouldn’t understand anyway”

    In other words, you don’t give a damn about how they feel.

  105. And, uncharitably speaking, one could say that you don’t give a d*mn about church policies where it conflicts with your own preference. But maybe people shouldn’t assume that about you and maybe you shouldn’t assume uncharitable things about others.

  106. Katie
    I went to my husband’s nephew’s wedding. I even asked if we should go. I felt very sad for his parents who couldn’t attend (lifelong inactives). No one else seemed to concerned about it.
    My feeling was that it was inconsiderate to have tons of other people non important people at the wedding. And any real friend (or bishop) should understand that you are keeping the wedding small out of respect for those who cannot attend.
    The only important people at the wedding are you and your husband.

  107. You don’t understand. You don’t have to, since you and your wife are both of old pioneer stock and the policy doesn’t affect you.

    I’m just a convert.

  108. And it’s more than a “preference” if it involves my daddy, who isn’t in the best of health anyway, and my husband, who didn’t choose to have his wife join some odd religion after years and years of marriage. I wish there was some way that **I** could be punished, if there must be a punishment, rather than them.

  109. All this is anecdotal, and there is no doubt that some will have very strong feelings. But, as a convert, not all my family was able to go to the temple ceremony. If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing. I would still go to the temple and be sealed to my wife.

    I think the one year waiting period is a good thing, and no, I don’t think those who have a civil ceremony first (by choice) are committing a sin. In my opinion, not the wisest choice, but it is something they can choose to do.

  110. Sheri-Lynn: You seem to be comparing the value of temple marriage with the value of a civil marriage and arguing that the former is infinitely more valuable. Relax–as far as I know, nobody here is disagreeing with you. I think the point many of us have tried to make is that not permitting both to occur at nearly the same time creates deep pain for many families and enormous ill will directed toward the church. These are not trivial matters. We question why the church would enact a policy that has that result. The only reason offered so far is that this would somehow detract from the value or dignity of the temple ceremony. I simply don’t see why that would be the case. In fact, I believe that the opposite is true. In my view, it would significantly enhance the temple ceremony by preserving the good will of loving family members who happen not to sure our faith but whose own faith traditions make the marriage of a son or daughter a real big deal. Everybody I know who has been through this experience would agree with that statement, although I recognize that there are apparently some here who have been through that experience and do not agree.

    With respect to your statement that the current policy is doctrine, I must disagree. The current policy is of relatively recent vintage. It is also different in different countries. Members in many countries can be married in civil ceremonies and then immediately be sealed in the temple. I don’t want to get into a debate about how one distinguishes doctrine from policy, but policies which change over time and are different in different countries surely do not rise to the level of doctrine.

  111. Sherri-
    I’d like to echo what Gary just said about it being a policy and not a doctrine. As far as I know doctrines are canonized in some way. Either they are in the scriptures or they are emphasized at General Conference. Even if a doctrine is not specifically laid out in scripture, there is enoufgh scriptural evidence to support it. Doctrines do not change, they are eternal. Even a relatively recent doctrine like the Word of Wisdom can be supported scripturally, ie., “your body is a temple…..” I cannot find a one year waiting period anywhere in the scriptures. And I do think church handbooks count,

    Members of the church were having civil and a temple weddings as late as, according to this post, the 1960;s. And as Gary pointed out, it is still done in other countries. It therefore seems unreasonable that it is a doctrine not a policy. Policies are created to meet a certain need or to solve a certain issue, and they change when they are no longer doing so. For instance a couple of decades ago women had to wear skirts at BYU. I’m sure it seemed like iron-clad doctrine at the time. But lo and behold now all the females are running around in jeans and even capris!

    Sherri, I do not understand you attitude that if someone doesn’t join the church than they deserve any pain they have coming. People are blinded by Satan’s wiles but that doesn’t mean they are not wonderful and good people. The gospel just hasn’t clicked for them yet but that doesn’t mean we can be uncaring to their plight. Who is to say when they will turn and repent?

  112. This doctrine does not exclude anyone. We want all who can be saved to be saved. We want the temple doors open to everyone. Who can say how many investigate and gain testimonies because they want to be at this ceremony and it’s worth it to them to get down on their knees and ask the Lord in sincerity if their children know something they don’t? You seem to think that being or not being able to get a TR is completely out of the control of family members and God won’t tell them the Church is true if they but ASK. That’s all they have to do. They can know for sure and then they too can participate in this ordinance. Most engagement periods are long enough.

    The Lord expects the bride and groom to make themselves worthy of temple marriage. That is very difficult for many, and many make that sacrifice because they know it is important for their FAMILIES. They want the blessings of an eternal marriage enough to brave some family criticism and tears.

    But because someone somewhere is inconvenienced and hurt, this doctrine must be bad, you say. Because not everyone will make him or herself temple-worthy you want to say aw, let the temple seem just a little religious ceremony, an afterthought, to follow the party-wedding that the mother of the bride always wanted to throw and the father of the bride always wanted to pay for. Let’s get rid of the long family conversations about WHY it’s so important for Sister X and Brother Y to marry in the temple even though it isn’t what everyone always dreamed of. No need then for anyone to actually listen to their testimony about it. No problem. We’ll just avoid the whole situation and make the temple an afterthought because someone has some hurt feelings.

    Let us make sure that some hurt feelings never need inspire a little soul-seeking, a little investigation. Let us make sure that no one need ever utter the words, “Well, I suppose I ought to find out what makes this important enough to you that you’re this determined.”


    I have nothing more to say. I just know that that trip down to the knees costs a lot of pride and that repentence in late adulthood is a lot more painful than being excluded ever was. Baptism and temple attendance are far greater joys than any other. Yet I don’t ask those things of anybody or offer those things to anybody. It’s the Lord who asks us for a broken heart and contrite spirit, and asks us to be temple worthy. If He wanted to throw family members an easy way out, the Church would have a different doctrine in place there. And if that changed I would be just as sure that it is true EVEN when it causes pain, as I am sure that it is true the way it is.

  113. This has been an interesting thread and certainly revealing for I did not realize the one-year limitation in the U.S. At least one thing where we have an advantage in foreign countries! In Belgium, like in many other countries, a Mormon couple announces the wedding in two parts on the invitation: first the (obligatory) civil ceremony, which can be enhanced a little in behalf of the non-Mormon family + reception, and then, as a second part on the invitation the mention of the temple marriage, usually one or a couple of days later since the temple is usually not close by.

  114. Quoting Sheri Lynn:

    “That’s all they have to do. They can know for sure and then they too can participate in this ordinance. Most engagement periods are long enough.”
    Me: I’ve never seen an LDS engagement period of more than a year, and the leaders discourage long engagements, don’t they? Even if an engaged member’s family joined the Church upon hearing of the marriage, they would **still** have to wait more than a year to see the wedding…

  115. I would not deign to say the Church absolutely must change its policies. I’m grateful for being married in the temple and wouldn’t change that for anything. Its just sad to see your wife experiencing unhappiness on her wedding day because her own parents can’t be present for the ceremony. And my mother was having bitter feelings as well because members of her family were deliberately being excluded as well (as I explained earlier).

    Cultural sensitivity is a really big issue here. I really get the feeling that some members have very little sympathy for those who are excluded. And sometimes even those who are normally sensitive don’t realize what’s coming out of their mouths. I was at my non-LDS in-laws home previous to our sealing and some LDS relatives (through marriage to my wife’s older sister) were there. One of the women there was in a sense bearing her testimony of the importance of being sealed, praising Diane for making that decision. In the process of doing so, in earshot of my wife’s parents, she said “all that matters is the temple sealing … everything else is just fluff.” I sensed that she caught herself too late… that she realized what she had said. In essence my wife’s parents were hearing that they were being excluded from the only thing that matters from the LDS perspective — that they were only participating in events that constituted “fluff.”

    There has to be a way for us to hold the temple sealing in the highest esteem without putting down other people’s traditions or practices, or even the LDS Church’s own traditions for involving those of other faiths. Anything intelligent and appropriate we can do to be inclusive and sensitive to those of other faiths and belief systems should be encouraged and held up as an example. I’m sure there are people who have somehow managed to handle things things very graciously and I’d love to hear their thoughts, ideas and experiences.

  116. Sheri-
    I don’t understand how your comment about repenting in late adulthood costs more pride than feeling excluded has to do with the theme of the thread. Are you assuming that all non-members are vile sinners? I understand that repentance and baptisim are necessary to enter the kingdom, but one has to feel the need in order to do so. Many non-members lead good lives and would probably be wothy of a temple recommend if only they were baptized. Many good people choose not to get baptized or even listen to the missionaries because they feel they have no need to. They don’t drink. They obey the law of chastity. They pay tithing in their church. They’re honest. So in their eyes they don’t understand the need for the restored gospel. How do you explain the exclusion in temple ceremonies to a person like that tactfully and taking into the conciderations the feelings of that person?
    You’re probably going to respond: “All they have to do is take Moroni’s chanllenge and ASK!” Well, I know that, but how do you create the need for the person to ask? That’s something I learned on my mission. You can tell the whole world to pray to know that the Book of Mormon is true, but if they don’t feel the need to do it, they never will.
    I echo what Gary said about this being a policy and not doctrine. When I think of doctrines I think of Fall of Adam, Attonement, Priesthood, ect. Not 1 year waiting periods between civil and temple marriages.
    Peace out.

  117. “I don’t understand how your comment about repenting in late adulthood costs more pride than feeling excluded has to do with the theme of the thread. Are you assuming that all non-members are vile sinners?”

    Perhaps she does. After all, her civil wedding was in a pretty sinful environment.

    Perhaps she doesn’t realize that when most people talk about a civil wedding, they DON’T mean a white-trashy drunken Las-Vegas style affair with skinny dipping.

    They mean a dignified ceremony in a garden or a banquet hall or something more along those lines.

  118. Wilfried, does the Belgian Mormon couple consumate their marriage in the couple of days after the civil ceremony and before the temple ceremony?

  119. I can’t speak for Wilfried, of course, but I can’t see why they wouldn’t. They are obeying the law of chastity because they are legally married.

  120. To be clear, I wasn’t asking Wilfried to speak for himself, but rather to the custom, if there is one.

  121. GST and Veritas wonder if the Belgian couple consumates their marriage prior to sealing —

    Well, I can’t for the life of me think of a good reason why they should wait. If they’re married, why are we asking in the first place? I don’t typically ask people “how long was it after you got married until you had sex”? It’s kind of a tacky question.

    And do we expect couples in the United States to wait a _year_? Yeah, that’s going to lead to some happy marriages, all right.

    If not, why is there a question of an additional requirement for the poor Belgians? It sure seems like the married-and-sealed crowd is awfully ready to start imposing restrictions on the less fortunate.

  122. If your goal iwere to reduce the likelihood that a non-member will seriously investigate the church with an open mind, excluding them from their child’s wedding is one of the best ways I can think of. Especially if they find out that the temple ceremony which is so important to that child can still be performed later, but the couple was strongly discouraged from doing it that way by their church leaders for reasons that one can only speculate about.

    The suggestion that the only thing which keeps people from joining the church is stubborness, pride or general unwillingness to get down on one’s knees and sincerely pray is strikingly inconsistent with my experience. Some people simply don’t get answers to prayers like others. We like to tell each other that is all so simple–just read the Book of Mormon and pray, and voila, instant testimony. Well, it just does not work that way for a great many people. Good grief, I have friends who are active, temple recommend holding members who have confided to me that they have never had an answer to their prayers. How in the world can we presume to judge our non-member family so harshly?

  123. My understanding of church policy in other countries (and someone who knows please correct me if I am wrong) is that (a) the couple is *not* supposed to consummate their marriage until after the temple sealing, and (b) there is a time limit on how many days may elapse between the civil wedding and the temple sealing, which varies by distance to the nearest temple, but my impression is that you can’t wait more than, say, five days.

  124. Umm, Kevin,

    Not supposed to? That’s mind boggling. What exactly is the rule that they’re breaking?

    And what is the penalty? They don’t get to be sealed?

    I find it hard to believe that “having sex with one’s spouse” is in any way a violation of the law of chastity. Or of any other gospel commandment, really.

  125. Kaimi, if I were indeed asking a particular person that question, it would be tacky. I’m not.

  126. As to the question about “consumate their marriage in the couple of days after the civil ceremony and before the temple ceremony”, I am not sure there is any official guideline any more on this. I think there used to be one though. There may be of course some unofficial counsel still from local leaders who like to impose some extra rules….

    But as has been pointed out, the couple is legally married. Period. Consider also that the time between civil marriage and temple ceremony can last between one day to several weeks. I don’t think the Church wants to develop a policy to decide what the couple may or may not do within certain time frames. What I have noticed is that the Church, more and more, seems to abstain from giving rules and directives in this realm, contrary to the past.

  127. I agree that the couple is married after the civil wedding, and there should not be a policy prohibiting consummation at that point. The case I heard of was actually in South America, not Europe, so perhaps it was something imposed by an overzealous local leader there and there is no standard church policy on the matter. But in at least that one case I know of, such a restriction was imposed (but I also agree that it would be well nigh impossible to enforce).

  128. Right on Gary about judging non-members so harshly. I also don’t think that pride and and unwillingness is the reason that people don’t join the Church. It has much more to do with cluelessness. The spirit hasn’t touched them to get down on their knees to pray or if they have felt the Spirit they didn’t recognize it. We always say pray to know that the Book of Mormon is true or the church is true or to know that Joseph Smith was a prophet, but we really never explain why its so important that we do. Why does the world need to know that we have the restored gospel?

  129. “It sure seems like the married-and-sealed crowd is awfully ready to start imposing restrictions on the less fortunate.”

    Hi Kaimi,

    As the only convert in my family, I’m not IN the married-and-sealed crowd, and I’ve been one of the voices here supporting the liberalization of the American one-year policy, as it would directly affect my family.

    My husband isn’t a member, and if I had a kid doing a temple marriage, I think it would be more appropriate for me to wait *outside* with him.

    I just thought if the Belgians (since THEY only have to wait a few days, the lucky buzzards) wanted to abstain the additional 2-3 days until the sealing, it would be an interesting sign of devotion to the idea of sealing. But I don’t think they should HAVE to.

    And I wouldn’t be rude enough to ask individuals about their own personal affairs, either.

    P.S. Thanks for getting the misspelling fixed (you are the one I e-mailed, right?)

  130. Sorry to misread your intent, Veritas.

    I do think that members in general are sometimes too eager to make other members do difficult things without any good reason. This seemed like another example of that phenomenon, though it sounds now like it’s not really the case in most other countries (with some individual exceptions).

  131. I think part of our problem in understanding one anothers’ points of view is perspective. We are all looking at this from different perspective. I think everybody here cares about others, but if you have parents who don’t care what you do, then sometimes the favor is returned. If you have loving parents you don’t want to leave out, there is anguish in the decision. If, like us, you are looking at a civil marriage for a child, then a temple sealing, and deciding whether to let our life-long goal of a temple marriage for our daughter go (I realize it’s my goal, guys, but it’s a mom thing), and make sure we make nice with the other parents, it’s still an agonizing decision.

    The bottom line for me, I support Kevin’s premise. It seems like it would be a kindness for otherwise worthy couples to be allowed to choose the time line. I don’t think that detracts.

    We need to realize that we all have different life experiences and that doesn’t mean anybody is bad or good.

  132. Allow me to suggest a hypothetical: Assume uniform laws throughout the world. Assume the law does not recognize the temple marriage as legally binding. Assume that everyone can get to a temple within 48 hours without hardship, and that the church imposes no waiting period. In that hypothetical, should LDS couples planning on temple marriage consumate after the civil ceremony and before the temple ceremony? Or should they wait a day to be married in the temple?

    I’m not sure I know the answer I prefer, but I don’t think that it’s a self-evidently tacky or ridiculous question.

  133. I don’t know why this would even be an issue. Legally and lawfully married is completely answered by the civil ceremony. In fact, it is ONLY answered by the ceremony which the law recognizes.

  134. Would a civil ceremony (or something like it) after a temple marriage solve the problem for families where loved ones might be left out? Many of the comments above seem to assume that the only way to include those without temple recommends is a civil ceremony first. Why must one come before the other? This solution could put the temple first while permitting people to include entire families in a real way. Is it somehow insulting to the church or the temple if the couple renews their commitment to each other in a public way a few weeks or months later? It might be touchy, but I can atleast imagine working out a solution to the satisfaction of all family members.

    I haven’t time to read all 140+ prior comments (but I did read more than fifty!), so I apologize if I have repeated something already covered.

  135. Sheri Lynn said: “You seem to think that being or not being able to get a TR is completely out of the control of family members and God won’t tell them the Church is true if they but ASK. That’s all they have to do. They can know for sure and then they too can participate in this ordinance.”

    At the risk of introducing a tangential topic, I must say that I don’t quite agree with this idea– in the sense that (for reasons beyond my understanding) even when we ask, the Lord doesn’t always answer immediately or in a way that we recognize. I had to ponder and study and pray literally for YEARS (longer than anyone’s engagment I know of) before I had even a fragile testimony– and I was born and raised in the Church, and didn’t have to fight with false preconceptions or conflicting religious ideas or emotional resistance. (Eugene England has a nice essay partially dealing with a member he knew who had a similar experience.) There were some pride issues I had(have), I’m sure, but lack of getting down on my knees *wasn’t* the problem.

    At any rate, back to the subject, I do very much like the Dani/Pris idea of limiting the sealing. That seems like a very nice way of addressing both Sheri Lynn’s and Kevin’s concerns.

  136. It’s been mentioned in this thread that the Church discourages long engagements. Exactly how does the Church discourage them? I’m not aware of any official pronouncement on the matter (which certainly doesn’t mean there hasn’t been one). Does anybody know?

    I was engaged for 8 months. Too long?

  137. “I was engaged for 8 months. Too long? ”

    I don’t know. Did you marry, or did you burn?

  138. The engagement, I’m pleased to report, resulted in a wedding, which resulted in a marriage that is still a going concern.

  139. I have tried to scan this thread and I hope that my comments are not duplicative.

    (1) It is critical to distinguish between eternal truth and administrative policy. Eternal truths are essential. Policies can and do change. Church leaders have said this many times.

    (2) The one year wait between civil and temple marriages is clearly a POLICY, not doctrine. It does not apply in countries which require civil marriages, and it did not apply in the United States in earlier times. The case of Spencer and Camilla Kimball has been noted. Around the saem time, in 1920, my grandfather was baptized in Salt Lake City and married only a few months later to my grandmother in the Salt Lake Temple without any special permission.

    (3) I have paid attention and over the years I have consistently heard this explanation for the policy (sorry I can not link to a specific reference, but I have paid attention and have heard this from many GAs). There was a time in the mid-20th C (when a majority of LDS still lived in Utah and environs) when the practice began to grow among LDS couples of having elaborate wedding ceremonies outside the temple with the result that the temple sealing was coming to be treated as an afterthought. The policy was instituted to shift the focus back onto the temple sealing as the central ceremony of the marriage.

    (4) Church policies can and do change as circumstances and facts change. Furthermore, policies are subject to cost-benefit analysis. These analyses can change as facts and circumstances change.

    (5) Since this policy was instituted, the number of convert (and therefore part-member) families in the Church have increased substantially. Furthermore, this is a policy which imposes a disproportionate and unequal burden on converts as compared to all-LDS Utah-based families from which most Church leaders come. Finally, in many, if not all, cases, this policy generates ill-will and offense in situations involving part memebr families.

    (6) Since the policy was instituted, the increased numbers of part-member families and subsequent ill-will and offense have increased the negative consequences of the policy.

    (7) Less extreme alternative policies are available to acheive the positive efects of the policy, which is promoting the importance of the temple sealing. These include teaching and exhortation (which is being done very effectively from Primary through Mutual and Seminary), simply requiring that the temple ceremony precede other marriage ceremonies but with no waiting period, suggesting that anyone speaking at any other ceremony acknowledge the importance of the temple sealing to the couple, etc.

    (8) The costs of ill-will and offense to the ever-increasing numbers of non-member family members are now greater than the instructive benefits of maintaining this particular policy method of teaching the importance of temple sealing. It would be appropriate to find other policies to teach the importance of temple sealing whcih do not carry such high negative costs as have come to attach over time to this particular policy.

    (9) The Church can get stuck in policies (witness the ban on blacks in the priesthood) if the Church leadership is not personally acquainted with the pain and costs of a particular policy.

    (10) It is therefore good for the Church that fora such as this thread air the growing negative costs of church policies so that they can be changed. The squeaky wheel ….. . Kudos to whoever brought up this post and those who shared their personal stories of pain and anguish caused by this policy.

  140. Jim,

    In regards to your Chapel of Love example, I have to bring up, “Teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves.” I know it is cliche’, and I think your position regarding bishops is somewhat reasonable (though couples might “shop” for biships, looking at the bride’s, the groom’s, and possible a singles ward bishop as well) but there is a point where trusting the couple (who have a temple recommend after all) seems like a sensible thing to do.

  141. Hmmmm–

    You’re making assumptions that are way out there. In 1982 I did not know the Gospel. I knew no better and did better than most of what I was taught. But there was nothing trashy or drunken about my civil wedding–only frugal. I happened to LIVE in Las Vegas because of Nellis AFB. It’s an inexpensive place to marry, and we had little to waste.

    And there was no one around but my new husband and I when the skinny-dipping occured. I wouldn’t do it today, but frankly, it’s not anything to be ashamed of. I’ve been washed clean since then. So put those rocks back down. You don’t have the qualifications to be my judge.

    This matter has been on the back burner of my mind all day; the main problem with temple marriage is that so many who are blessed to have it don’t keep their covenants. Yes, worldly marital rites are fluff. The ring ceremony that many hold after temple sealings is fluff. I suppose there is a place for fluff, but can’t we be clear on the fact that it is devoid of true significance? If that offends anyone, then I guess it offends. The flowers, dress, veil, garter-tossing, champagne, rice-throwing–all that is insignificant in terms of eternal companionship. I don’t think you have to be from old pioneer stock to get that. I’m not. I’m the first Mormon in my family.

    They tell us and tell us: the purpose of our being here is to improve the Saints, proclaim the Gospel, save our dead. Still we get bogged down in our “feelings.” Think about Lehi’s dream and imagine it as a parable for this situation. No matter how much he wanted Laman and Lemuel to give up the worldly distractions and seek the white fruit along with him and his righteous family, they would not. Well, Lehi and his righteous family didn’t cross back over to the wordly side of the gulf between them for a little while, in order to make Laman and Lemuel feel better and less “left out.” Nobody took them the fruit they were missing out on because they didn’t come along. And there is no substitute for the fullness of the Gospel, for the progression of understanding and obedience to the principles only the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can teach. To pretend that there is a second best worth having is …beyond sad.

    And as far as righteous people out of our church–absolutely. They are there. I don’t agree that there are many cognitively normal adults for whom pre-baptism repentence will be a cakewalk, but that’s neither here nor there. Why don’t we give righteous nonmembers TRs? Why didn’t the Prophet give one to Larry King? to President Bush? You know the answer. And that’s certainly not because *I* am judging them too harshly or not being sympathetic to their spiritual slowness. We have our open houses, then we dedicate our temples–and close their doors to those who are not only worthy but have the right paperwork. Why not just have someone spiritually sensitive stand at the door–you can go in, ma’am! but you sir, no, you can’t go in, I sense something unclean about you. Whether these are doctrines or policies, they are the best procedures we mere humans have to protect sacred things. They fail from time to time, but why would you want a baptism that leaves part of you up out of the water? Isn’t it better to be sure it’s done right?

    It’s the same thing here, in massive ark-steadying, and if you don’t see that, I’m sorry. I promise I won’t post here again.

    Now,Hmmm, you made this personal. Very ad hominem. Hmmm, you weren’t there 23 years ago when, I as the daughter of atheists, put on a white dress and stood in a pretty little chapel next to the man with whom I plan to spend eternity. It was a long road from there to the temple, but the IRS was happy with the license we got out of it. Our families don’t care a whit for the newer certificate I have framed on the wall, the one with the picture of the Dallas Temple above it. To them the 1982 deal was all there is. They don’t believe in the Gospel and they will not listen. It is THEIR choice. What we offered them they rejected. They think the whole temple thing is silly. Kooky. And why won’t we have a beer with them just this once? It’s homebrewed. It hurts their FEELINGS that we don’t drink it with them. And it’s hot today…why won’t you wear those short shorts I gave you…? You’d look great in them. And why not let our kids go with their friends to see that R-rated movie? Their friends will be hurt, they’ll be hurt and feel excluded if they don’t go….

    So, Hmmm, you can fold your unrighteous and nasty judgment until it’s all corners and put it in your sock drawer.

  142. I have a good friend who is a feminist LDS and sees most things through a “power” paradigm. To her, it seems the Church would be giving up “power over the lives of the members” if it “relaxed its grip over the marriage rites.”

    I’m not so bent out of shape as she is, but I can certainly see why it would be hard for the Church leaders to voluntarily reduce their prominence in this particular aspect of life for the members.

  143. I’m agreed with Sheri — Hmm’s comment seemed like an unnecessary personal attack, as well as a misreading (intentional?) of Sheri’s original comment.

  144. I liked Shawn Bailey’s idea. Have the temple ceremony first, then have the civil ceremony later. You could even have the civil ceremony later the same day, just before the reception party.

  145. Would you get baptized in the Church and then go get baptized in another church to please your folks?

    Let’s stop thinking that the Church has imposed a one-year waiting limit because they want people to wait a year after civil marriage. We’ve done it because we don’t want people getting married civilly at all, if it can be helped.

  146. Adam,

    I don’t think that the “baptism into another church” analogy stands up very well. Civil marriage is something which the church holds up as a good in other circumstances. The missionaries don’t tell you to be baptized Catholic prior to your LDS baptism; they _do_ tell you to be civilly married, if you’re living with someone.

  147. gst,

    It is common practice for active members in Brazil to be wedded civilly one day and married in the temple the next. I have no idea if there is an official consummation policy (it wouldn’t surprise me) but many couples told me that they considered the sealing their real marriage and waited to consummate it until the sealing had been performed. This topic came up with surprising frequency. The Brazilian missionaries that I served with all planned on following this practice. I never heard anything to indicate that it was forbidden to have sex after the civil ceremony and prior to the sealing though.

  148. A., I think the better analogy would be, “would you go swimming with your family after you’d been baptized in the Church?”

    If you’ve been married in the temple, then in the eyes of the law (in the U.S.) and of God, getting married civilly is ineffectual, like comparing baptism to a swimming party. I don’t understand why people get so worked up about calling a civil marriage a mockery of a sacred ordinance. I’ve read every comment on the thread (wow) and I would vote with the people who would get married civilly in order to not hurt nonmember family.

    Of course, I’m not married or engaged, so for me, it’s entirely academic. I understand you’ve got a different opinion.

  149. Swimming? Then why are families so upset about it? Cuz they see it an event of real significance.

    If this were merely a question of voting, I would shrug off your different opinion. Maybe I’d even vote with you. But I can’t stomach the idea that church policy should be decided by bickering and pressure from members.

  150. Adam: I don’t think your analogy to being baptised in another church to please your folks and then getting baptised in the LDS church works. This is not like baptism. When one is baptised in another church, one is taking an action which, by its nature, is fundamentally inconsistent with baptism in the LDS church. That is not at all true in the case of a civil marriage. In fact, civil marriage is required in all circumstances. A temple marriage is a civil marriage, in the sense that temple officiators are performing a legal marriage in accordance with applicable laws. In addition, they are acting by virtue of priesthood authority in performing a temple ordinance. There is no inconsistency between the two.

  151. Shawn & Janey,

    Cute idea, the civil marriage later. But I think it would be a disaster in practice.

    There are very real legal protections that go with legal marriage. If those aren’t present, and a spouse (for example) is killed prior to the legal wedding, it could lead to some very thorny complications. Best to avoid those.

    (In addition, wasn’t there a statute in Utah that prohibited holding oneself out as married if one wasn’t legally married? Didn’t they use something like that to bust polygamists? Nate?)

  152. To Katie and others in her situation:

    I admire your resolve and hope that you find ways to make peace with your family. I ashamedly admit that I used to be someone who looked down on ring ceremonies. I want to share a positive ring ceremony that I attended. At first I didn’t even understand why they bothered… the groom was a co-worker and LDS friend of mine, and the bride had also attended our singles branch in Ohio. Both sets of parents were able to attend the temple sealing. However, as I went to the simple gathering prior to the reception, I was very pleased. The Relief Society room was filled with family members and several close friends, including several of our non-LDS co-workers. I don’t think the branch president was at all involved. The parents shared their thoughts about the couple, and the bride and groom explained why it had been important to them to go to Washington D.C. to be married in a temple. Simple, beautiful, personal, and tasteful. A reception in the cultural hall soon followed. It seems that many additional people came to the reception, such as the friends of the couple’s families which had not been at the ring ceremony.

    Regarding the #99 suggestion by Pris and supported by others, I think I like the idea of LDS family members voluntarily waiting outside the temple with the soon-to-be in-laws who are not able to attend the sealing. I am not yet a parent, but I hope that I would have the maturity and sensitivity to be willing to wait outside and be a genuine friend of the new extended family as my son or daughter is sealed, if the situation calls for it.

    Katie, you commented that your parents are unlikely to travel to the temple. However, if they choose to do so, be sure to contact the temple in advance to ask for the sealer to plan to meet your parents and talk with them, if you think that may help you.

  153. Adam,

    You’d be surprised how much policy change comes from internal pressure. Internal pressure can backfire as well though.

    I find it odd that in one post you say that “we’ve done it because…” (emphasis is mine) as if you had some part to play in the decision and then in your next part say that members don’t have a part to play.

  154. Kaimi (re # 166):
    Anticipating such difficulties, I wrote: “civil ceremony (or something like it).” I take it that the temple ceremony is “legal” in the US, so in the states atleast any later ceremony would be, well, merely ceremonial. Anyway, my point was doing something after the church and legal bases were covered for the sole purpose of including family otherwise left out.

    Still, I am flattered that you thought my idea was cute. Or was that a condescending dismissal? I guess I’ll never know.

  155. I’m not in agreement with Julie’s comment:
    (3) It was awkward with the family, but whatever happened to Matthew 10:37? It might be important in the development of a new convert to realize that commitment to the gospel requires a rather large break with past traditions.

    I married in the temple and clung to the theme of leaving everything behind me with eyes focused on church and obedience therein.
    My mother never got over not attending my wedding. She attended a reception but she’s not stupid enough to think that replaced the actual moment of a vow exchange. It tore our relationship apart and it was never ever quite the same again. Unfortunately she’s passed on now and if I could change one thing in my life I would have had a civil wedding so my dear mom could have attended. What I realized is that this exclusive temple wedding policy is not good for converts or for establishing “families are forever” concepts with non-mormon families and relatives. My mother felt like she had been ripped out my “family forever” theory like a cancer.

    I’d like to see the temple ceremony rules changed.

  156. Some things we are given to understand, and some to take on faith. I never question the Lord, nor the principles and rules of the church. I just live the gospel the best I can. Temple marriage is a choice that all can work towards, if they so choose. It may take patience in cases of unworthiness or a lack of appropriate time to prepare spiritually. Patience is one of the greatest lessons we need to learn. Maybe that is part of why there is this policy. I don’t know. All I know is that my temple marriage and sealing were the beginning of a beautiful relationsip, full of the dedication and loving commitment an eternal wedding implies. Please remember that this church is led by an all-seeing God. He knows things we cannot comprehend. So who are we to question him?

  157. Shawn,

    I meant that it’s a cute idea, as in a nifty idea, fun as a hypothetical to toss around, easy to digest, and it has a nice duality to it. It’s the kind of cute idea that makes a good op-ed or a soundbite. There’s nothing wrong with cute ideas, and they’re certainly a big step up from dull ideas, which are far too abundant. However, one can’t let an idea’s cuteness outweigh its feasibility. And the idea that you floated is cute, but not feasible.

  158. I want to get Married without a Marriage License.
    Then I want to bve sealed in the Temple.
    I live in Utah where Common Law Marriages are accepted as legal since 1987.
    Will the church require me to get a “Marriage License” befor I can be sealed?
    I am against allowing the state to become a third party to my marriage, via the Marriage License.

    Any help here?

  159. Wow, how did I miss this?
    Three members of my ward commenting here (granted two of them are engaged to one another) and I didn’t see it? No one will likely read this any more, but just in case-

    Al, I think that the reason the Church may be opposed is because they tend to require a couple to be legally married even if the state recognizes common law marraiges. Further- the Church certainly does a lot to encourage state support of traditional families, state encouragement of marraige, etc.
    Since they do so much to encourage the state to be an active third party- getting approval to buck that probably isn’t an option.

    Sheri Lynn,
    You seem to think people are being really judgmental towards you? What are you talking about- they disagree with you but how are they horribly judging you?

    Pris- I do like the idea of having the sealing be just between the husband and wife. Although- that would likely do a whole freakin lot to increase the popularity of certain rumors about things happening in the temple that don’t actually happen there.

    As for the difference between policy and doctrine- I think this is an interesting discussion. What exactly is the difference- where is the line? I think that calling something a policy isn’t another way of saying it is false or made up- it is just describing something with accurate language. Sometimes policies stem from direct revelation. An inspired policy is still a policy.

  160. Re: #141, 142, 162 et al (consummation between civil and temple ceremonies),

    A few weeks after this thread was hot, my boss told an interesting story about her wedding. She got married in her native Mexico, where it was necessary to have a civil ceremony before her (Jewish) church wedding. At that time, the paperwork required 40 days between the two ceremonies. The church taught them that they should not consider themselves married until after the church ceremony. At the civil ceremony, the officiator said to the groom, “You may now kiss the bride.” Her dad screamed out, “No!”

    After the civil ceremony, they said goodbye and went back to their respective families’ homes.

  161. “I live in Utah where Common Law Marriages are accepted as legal since 1987. Will the church require me to get a “Marriage License” befor I can be sealed? I am against allowing the state to become a third party to my marriage, via the Marriage License.”

    You don’t have a legal common law marriage until a judge declares that you do. So, in order to have a legal marriage (and one that the Church would allow for a temple sealing) you still have to involve the pretty great state of Utah.

  162. After reading so much that has been said on this topic, I am still lost as to what to tell my daughter that will shortly face this dilema. We want to honor and show our respect for the non-member family of my soon to be son-in-law. But my daughter wants to keep the promises she made to herself that she would only ever marry in the Temple. We will need to research and pray on this matter further.

    I am however still horrified by comment #4. Mike remarked that he found his wife’s garments to be a “visual turnoff and a detriment to their sexuality.” My husband was a recent convert when we had our civil ceremony and so had to wait for our Temple Sealing. But I will never forget the night when we saw each other in our garments for the first time. My husband remarked that he was surprised how pretty I looked in them….and I nearly cried as I thought my husband looked so cute in his G’s. As I think of it now, I am not surprised by his response to me that night since even now, 22 years later, he still tells me that I look terrific in my jammies and fuzzy slippers, or one of his t-shirts and no make-up, and my garments! Perhaps Mike only values the world’s idea of what is attractive….I feel sorry for his wife!

  163. Kelly,
    Don’t pay attention to #4. IMO, love and marriage means you still think the other person looks pretty/cute/handsome in garments, in any clothes, in no clothes, with wrinkles, with scars, anything.
    Just be supportive of whatever your daughter and future SIL want. It is their marriage. I myself would be willing to not see my children marry if it would make the non-member in-laws feel better about it. I guess some kids would want their parents there though. But in my own marriage it was really just between me and my husband. I’d have been happy if no one else had been able to come.
    So for my kids in this situation, I’d say they could go off and elope to a temple and we’d all celebrate together when they returned. I wouldn’t want my kids to give up the temple wedding or feel sad about who was excluded.

  164. Re #82 – Can I apply the same logic to “Teachings of the Prophet XXXX” books that are released JUST AFTER one becomes a prophet, yet quote liberally from his days BEFORE he was ordained a prophet, seer, and revelator?

    Re Temple weddings, I wanted to touch a little on the issue of not inviting certain people to the temple ceremony.

    I come from one of those Utah Pioneer families (50+ cousins on one side, historical homes in Navoo named after ancestors, references in the D&C to ancestors, buildings at BYU named after ancestors, etc.). My wife’s parents are converts and come from small families (she has 4 first cousins).

    We opted for an all-white wedding in the SL Temple (actually, neither of us wanted to be married there, but seeing as that her parents lived there, and my relatives are in Utah, it was the most convenient) — which by definition, (a) called for one of the small sealing rooms off the Celestial Room and (b) requires a SMALL wedding party.

    We had it both ways — my wife didn’t get to have her living grandparents and extended family there. And I didn’t invite a single aunt/uncle (even though all were temple worthy and expecting the invitation). The guest list included my parents, her parents, my two living grandmothers, my brother, her brother and his wife, 3 friends, a friend’s mom, a couple very close to her parents, and her stake president. The sealer was her bishop when she went on her mission.

    Now the shoe was on the other foot for my relatives and me — they were worthy and able to see their darling nephew be married, but were told that they COULD NOT, because of the necessary logistics of the couple’s marriage request. My parents and I took some heat for that from some upset relatives (“we invited YOUR son to OUR son’s wedding”). I felt that I had to be fair and equal to all — since I couldn’t invite all relatives to attend, I would invite none of them (except grandparents). If I were to do it over, I would have said “screw it” and invited one particular uncle.

    But you know what? In the end, we got the wedding WE wanted. One of the most overwhelming experiences either of us have had was sitting in the Celestial Room in the SL temple before the ceremony, waiting for the attendant to take us to the sealing room, and watching our guests file past us dressed in white — all 15 or so. It was definitely a moving experience.

    [Sidebars: I’ve heard that the Church now asks people to refrain from requesting the all-white wedding, and if that’s true, I can understand the logistical/scheduling reasons for it. I also am not necessarily a fan of the “we’ve just got to get married in the iconic temple” viewpoint, and I’m probably a hypocrite because *I* got there, but then again, I did marry a girl who was raised in SLC, even if she’s not “from” there. Also, my sister got married recently in California, and there were so many people that many had to stand, and the group had to take 8 elevator trips to all congregate, and the workers had to tell us to shush several times — 60 people shufflng on the carpet is a dull roar. Thank you, but no.]

    So, yes, (some of) my relatives were offended by my temple wedding — because we didn’t ask them to attend the ceremony. At least one was so offended she didn’t show up for the several-thousand-dollar reception my in-laws threw. And several of my wife’s relatives were offended by the temple ceremony concept itself (it didn’t help that my wife’s older sister married a non-member and they could attend THAT one).

    This doesn’t address the trials of those whose betrothed’s parents can’t attend, obviously.

  165. I am getting married in Dec. and my fiancee is a convert. We are planning a ring ceremony and while looking for ideas I came across this page. I can understand the frustration and disappointment that occurs with this situation, but I have to share my opinion on this matter. The policy has been established by our chosen leaders. We must keep in mind that the inspiration for the sealing ceremony came from the Lord through His servants to us. Although difficult or hard to understand, who are we to question the will of the Lord in this matter? If the ceremony were to only be me and my fiancee because that is the way the Lord commanded, I would be happy. We need to focus our minds and hearts on fulfilling His will and not our own.
    I just want to point out that personal apostasy begins when we question the inspiration of our priesthood leaders. We see examples of this in our day, in the restoration of the Gospel and in the scriptures. Questioning this policy is to doubt its inspiration.
    One last thing, in regards to the sealings in other countries, we must keep in mind that we sustain the laws of the land. If the law of the land calls for a civil ceremony and does not recognize the Temple ordinance, then that is why it is conducted in such a manner outside of the United States. It’s simple doctrine and would serve us well to consider that when looking at doctrines and policies established by the church.

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