Waiting Outside the Temple

This story in the Arizona Republic got me thinking. It recounts the temple wedding of a Mormon convert. His mother opposed his baptism, and when it came time for him to be married she was devastated by her inability to attend the ceremony. The article was, I thought, a poignant telling of the story, one that nicely captured the mother’s pain. Among other things, the article notes that in countries where marriage must be a civil ceremony Mormons are allowed to be sealed immediately after a non-temple wedding. But not so in the United States, where a couple must wait a year before they may be sealed. Relaxing this policy strikes me as a good idea. I think that the church should continue to emphasize temple marriage and can even continue to teach that civil marriages followed by temple sealings are disfavored. Providing the option of a civil marriage followed by a temple sealing, however, would give families in difficult situations a tool for assuaging understandable pain. It could also alleviate a point of animosity against the church without compromising its doctrinal integrity.

I do think that Mormons need to do a better job explaining why non-Mormons cannot attend temple sealings. This is universally explained in terms of the absence of a temple recommend and this, in turn, is explained in terms of worthiness. Hence, non-Mormon parents are told that they are excluded because they are “unworthy.” It’s understandable that they feel terribly judged by this. The sad thing, of course, is that this is not actually the reason that they are excluded. Rather, they are excluded because they have not made the covenants of the endowment. For example, a Mormon in perfectly good standing who is otherwise worthy to enter the temple also cannot attend a temple marriage if he or she is unendowed. Explaining this without treading on the esoteric aspects of the temple to which Mormons vow secrecy is difficult. The real problem, however, is not that non-Mormons are “unworthy” to be present at their children’s weddings. Rather, the problem is that they have not made the covenants that any witness of the ceremony must make in order to avoid what for Mormons would be an enormous blasphemy. The blasphemy, however, would not arise because of the unworthiness of the non-member. Rather, it would arise because the actions of the Mormon participants would violate sacred covenants that they have made. I realize this is unlikely to make much of a difference to the hurt non-member parent. On the other hand, it is worth repeating that the exclusion of non-members from the sealing ceremony is not a judgement of their moral depravity. Rather, it is the result of the way that esotericism and covenant intersect in the liturgy of the sealing ceremony.

My own mother did not attend my wedding. Having grown up Mormon, having been through the temple, and having left the church, she thoroughly understood how the Mormon universe worked. I thus had the luxury of not having to explain it to her. I don’t think, however, that this lessened the sting of the day for her, nor my regret at her absence around the altar, although my regret centered less on her exclusion from the endowment per se than on the different religious paths that we have trod. The beauty and power of that moment in the sealing room, however, justified my regret. Indeed, if I am honest with myself I think that it also justified the pain I’m sure I inflicted on my mother. It’s a hard and bitter thing, however, to admit, even to oneself. Finding better ways of managing that bitterness would be welcome.

154 comments for “Waiting Outside the Temple

  1. When you consider how much pain it causes the chick to marry a Mormon guy, I think that it’s just downright selfish for others to focus on their own pain.

  2. I witnessed two sealings (my own and, years later, my brother’s) years before I received my endowment. When my brother was sealed, my older brother and sister were around 13. I have known multiple older kids who were also sealed. So we can’t say that the “rule” is that only those endowed can attend.

  3. I have attended temple sealings that have been followed by a “ring ceremony” later on the same day. For the couples involved, this was very helpful in assuaging hurt feelings among family members. I believe that the church has discouraged or does discourage such ceremonies, but they seem like a reasonable compromise to me.

    I’m not sure a sincerely curious outsider—or, more to the point, an excluded family member—would be satisfied by the “blasphemy” rationale for excluding non-believers. It likely raises as many questions as it answers. On the other hand, it does, as you say, move the discussion away from “worthiness,” which is inevitably unhelpful and misleading.

  4. Personally, I wish we’d let the sealing stand on it’s own and allow a civil service however it made sense for the couple, if at all.

    In addition to the family issue, I have a completely secular — perhaps silly — reason for wishing we could allow civil ceremonies. When I was married, I was allowed to wear my wedding dress — even though the train had to be bustled (to stay off the floor) and the sheer fabric at the neck filled (even though it was completely garment-appropriate) and sleeves added (even though it had sleeves to the elbow and I had fingerless gloves that reached the bottom of the sleeves). But in the last decade or more, I haven’t seen anyone married in “wedding dress” unless it was very simple and plain. The rules (at least in the temples where I have attended weddings) are much more rigid than they were 25 years ago.

    I understand that the sealing is sacred, but it’s also a huge life milestone, a wonderful event, and a reason to celebrate. The whole event is wrought with much culture in addition to religious significance. It seems a shame to require couples getting married in the temple to forgo the parts of their culture that are completely in line with moral living in order to be married “in the Lord’s way.” Do the two really need to be deemed incompatible?

  5. I live in England where sealings may be carried out on the same day as the wedding. It is not that all weddings here must be a civil service – the Anglican Church has religious weddings that don’t need any form of registrar present – the legal requirement here is that all weddings must be open to members of the public.
    Both my wife and I are converts, and none of our families were allowed in the Temple, but having a religious ceremony in the Chapel (each ward has a person who is a legal registrar for weddings and funerals) followed by a reception was a good way of settling any disagreements for both of our families. Then in the evening we travelled to the Temple (several hours journey) supported by our friends in our ward.
    Even though I knew that in the US LDS marriages were usually performed in the Temple, I was surprised to learn that there was no way of having a Chapel wedding followed by a Sealing later that day. So I totally agree that something like this would be very beneficial to part member families.

  6. Of course, the pain of the parents lasts but a short while, but the pain of the chick marrying the Mormon guy lasts for Eternity…

  7. I was absolutely blindsided by this event, and I suspect many of us raised in the church are (that is, those that are given the opportunity to be blindsided as opposed to just continuing blissfully blind). I walked with a certain thrill, a certain exhilaration behind my wife and soon-to-be father-in-law up to the temple doors. I initially tried to take her arm until I realized there was something significant going on. There at the doors, the look on my new father’s face as he passed his daughter off to me, together with the looks from the rest of her family all gathered outside of the temple, was devastating. They’d all taken two days and driven 6 hours in order to stand outside of the temple and wait to congratulate us when we walked out. Without attempting to propose policy changes here, I can say that I wouldn’t do it like that again for anything. I can think of half a dozen alternatives, none of which entered my mind until I saw the tragedy of what is for me my most sacred event.

    I likewise think it’s critical that we recognize and (at least attempt to) communicate the sacred nature of the ceremony, and the importance of a distinction between sacred and profane that doesn’t reduce to an issue of mere worthiness. The entire ritual, movement from covenant to covenant and sphere to sphere, culminating in sealing at the altar, requires a set-apart building. We couldn’t have the ceremony – and wouldn’t have our notions and experience of the sacred – outside a house set-apart, “wherein the ordinances of the priesthood [can be] revealed.” I agree with Nate’s emphasis on the importance of the covenantal aspect and what’s revealed in the temple, but want to add an emphasis on the necessary, sacred context for such covenants.

  8. Robert,
    My wife and I were encouraged by our bishop to have a ring ceremony as part of our reception. And a family friend of my wife’s who was in the Stake Presidency conducted it. So it’s not discouraged, or at least not universally.

    And Alison,
    My wife wore her wedding dress at the sealing not quite 8 years ago.

    And Nate,
    I tend to agree.

  9. What do commenters think about the LDS parents waiting outside the temple with the nonLDS parents, as was proposed in the article? Is that a sacrilege from temple worthy LDS parents to decline to attend the temple in order to be a support to the parents excluded by rule?

  10. I read the article too and agree with your take on the subject.

    This is off the subject but are you aware of how Matthew Cowley’s father was not able to witness his temple sealing? Matthew Cowley met his wife while he was a law student at George Washington University in the early 20’s(a lot of LDS attorneys have gone there think Ernest Wilkinson and Harry Ried for example) while his wife was LDS they didn’t think they could afford to travel to Utah and were planning to be married civilly and be sealed later after he graduated.(This is what Spencer W. Kimball and Camilla Kimball did though in different circumstances).

    His father Matthias Cowley (a former apostle who had been forced out of the quorum of the 12 for his support of plural marriage after the first and second mainfestoes)heard about this and would not allow it. Somehow he got the money together for his son and bride to travel to Salt Lake to be sealed . At his time Matthias could not enter the Temple because he had been disfellowshipped.(he was reinstated shortly before his deat). Matthew tells the story of how his father walked him and his bride to the gate of the Salt Lake Temple and watched them go inside for the sealing he was unable to witness even though he made sure it would happen.

  11. My husband was a convert and our stake president refused to give us recommends if we were planning to have a ring ceremony. So we didn’t. We had pictures of us putting rings on each other on the temple grounds.

    His family was OK with it, but some nonmembers in my family refused to attend the reception in protest.

    It would be nice if we could apply the same rules worldwide.

  12. Clive, when I lived in England (Leeds) the couples had a civil ceremony first. I was told it was due to “traveling together” — although it’s hardly a long trek to London.

    Sam B., may I ask where you live? I have long found the temple rules to vary from place to place, but have been told in the last 5-10 years (when my nephews started marrying) that the rules have changed at least in Salt Lake/Utah County temples. The only person I know who actually married in their wedding dress was a woman who had a very simple dress — out of a couple dozen weddings.

    From what I understand (I have no married kids, yet), the dress must be (natively) long sleeved, neck to collarbone, no train, no beading/sequins, etc. None of these dresses, for example, would qualify.

    If this information is erroneous, I’ll be glad to hear it. But I’ll be disappointed to hear that so many were told this before they married. (Although not completely surprised.)

    A few years ago I was helping a friend prepare to receive her endowment. She wanted to wear an ankle-length dress instead of a floor-length one. I called three temples and talked to the matrons of each one. I could not get a straight answer as to whether that would be allowed. The best I got was, “Well, we prefer floor-length.” “Yes, I know, but would she be allowed to wear this dress or would she be required to change?” “Well, we prefer floor-length.”

  13. Also, my wife wore a dress of her own design to both the wedding in the Chapel and the sealing, with no problems – and is was quite an ornate dress.

  14. As a teacher of Hebrew I am often asked by my students why Mormons do not proselyte to Israelis. It has been a question that I have an auto-response to for the last years, much like the function of gmail–without thought I say something to the effect of: “I am glad to belong to a church that respects eternal consequences and wants nothing more than families forever. To take an Israeli and convert them to our faith would not build their family here on this earth, and as Latter-day Saints we are very concerned with the relationships that we have in this life as well as the next.”

    But the scenario that James wrote of above contradicts such noble sentiments. I was the bride in the story he shared, and there is no doubt that I have stood up for the rights of Jewish families far more often than I have my own. How that day has continuously hurt relationships in my family is simply mournful. My parents are worthy of the expression, “I have a family here on earth, they are so good to me, I want to share my life with them through all eternity…” and I should have considered my own responsibility to those I was born to as much as my own desire to celestially enter my new family – and certainly more than I did.

  15. My wife and I were married in Bulgaria and the closest temple was Freiburg. I had to leave the country a few days later because of school and so we planned on getting sealed as soon as she could receive her clearance to go to the US from immigration (it took about three months). When I was in the US and preparing for our sealing, you would not believe how difficult it was for me to convince the bishop and stake president to that we could not have been married in a temple there. Of course, it was only a thousand miles and six countries away, but it just felt like they hadn’t seen it before. I eventually had to have a discussion over the phone with the secretary to the 1st presidency to get approval, which they eventually did. After having gone through all that, it may have just been worth it to wait a year.

    I don’t see why it wouldn’t be a reasonable compromise to allow for civil marriages prior to the sealing for the reasons set forth in the article. If it’s done for almost all memebers except for the US and Canada, it may be a great way to build some good will with family members in the US. I wonder if we have gotten to the point that we do this just because we have done it forever rules.

  16. It is my understanding that the sealing at the temple wedding and the sealing after a civil wedding is the same. The temple wedding is for all time but when you get sealed later you get that promise also. The difference in national laws dictates when and how the wedding is to take place.

  17. Hans, you should have done what my wife and I did. We went inactive, lived together for a few years, got married, had a few kids, re-activated, and then got sealed. If you’re like most people, then you won’t die in the process, so that you’ll still be able to endure to the end and everything. That’s how the gospel works.

  18. Alison,
    I know that the UK law is that all weddings must be public – I was brought up in a Vicarage in the Church of England. This is because of the part in the UK marriage service that states “if anybody present can state any reason why these persons cannot lawfully marry…” – for this to work the marriage must be open to anybody to attend.
    Because of this law obviously marriages cannot be held in Temples here.

  19. It just proves Tom Petty’s point: the waiting is the hardest part.

    “it is worth repeating that the exclusion of non-members from the sealing ceremony is not a judgement of their moral depravity”

    wink, wink, nudge, nudge. If we didn’t think there was something wrong with them, we wouldn’t exclude them! It makes me think there is a vast untapped market out there for off-temple recreational waiting areas. Skeeball and alcohol to drown your sorrows in while your ungrateful offspring deliberately excludes you from one of the biggest days in their life.

  20. It brought up a whole heap of pain to read the Arizona article. My parents did not attend my temple wedding as they are non-members, and that hurt will never quite heal, I don’t think. They felt insulted and disappointed, and it increased their antagonism towards the church. I don’t blame them one bit. I have often wondered if I could go back in time knowing what I know now, if I would make the same decision.

    I need to do some more thinking and reading about this, but my understanding is that the MAIN objection from a doctrinal standpoint of having a civil marriage prior to a temple marriage, when not required by law, is that the trappings of civil marriage will somehow detract from the sacredness of the temple sealing. I totally agree that if the current policy were to be reversed tomorrow, many brides (and grooms, but I’m going to be sexist and place most of the blame on brides and the mothers of the intended couple) would have lavish ceremonies at the chapel, out of keeping with the sacredness of the sealing that was to follow.

    Why not then make a policy that any members who wish to be married civilly first and immediately afterwards to be sealed may do so, but only in a city hall or courthouse? No chapel ceremonies or big church weddings. The only thing members like me have wanted was for their nonmember parents or siblings to not feel excluded from the marriage ceremony. You can fit a few extra people in a courtroom, but there’s way less opportunity for the pomp and circumstance which, I assume, are at the reason for the objection. As atheists, my parents would have LOVED to see us married at the courthouse. They would have been thrilled at the simplicity, and at the family getting to be together. I would have been much happier too, and excited to be sealed in the temple later on.

    Maybe I have oversimplified the issue, but it’s something I thought of just last night, so I’m trying it out.

  21. Alison, myself, my sisters, sisters-in-law, and niece have all been married in the last decade, and several in the SLC Temple. We all were able to wear our (sometimes elaborately beaded) wedding dresses to the ceremony.

    I did have to wear a very lovely sleeved undershirt thingie for the sealing ceremony (this at the LV temple), because my dress was short sleeved (and my train had to be bundled up, too).

    The one exception that I have personally heard of was from a close friend, who chose an cream-colored wedding dress. She wore a different, white dress to the sealing.

    So now you have my anecdotes!

  22. DKL,

    Couldn’t do the inactive thing, I was enrolled at BYU. I felt my case was interesting because it had to go all the way to President Hickley. I felt he had more important things to do than consider the mileage between the place I was married, the date of consumation and the proximity of a temple in Eastern Europe.

  23. DKL: You are a very funny and witty guy, now please knock it off with the links to crude jokes. The Care Bears are watching…

  24. xenologue: It’s an interesting proposal. I kind of like the idea of confining it to the civic symbolism as a way of insuring that there are no competing religious symbols with the sealing ceremony.

  25. My wife was a convert and the only member of her family who joined the church. She was the only surviving daughter and her father had looked forward to the day he could walk his daughter down the aisle. They would not allow us to have a civil ceremony followed by the Temple sealinig, not would they allow us to have a ring ceremony. So my in-laws and all their family who had traveled from Illinois and Wisconsin to Oakland stood outside the Oakland Temple with a large contingent of my non-member relatives.

  26. Keryn, I’m thrilled with your anecdotes and Clive’s! (Personally, I think we need a manual that is the same for every temple and without individual spin!) And hope to see the same thing when all my daughters start getting married. :)

    And I’m glad to hear your “undershirt thingee” was “lovely.” First they brought me some — I swear — FLANNEL, elastic-wristed pajama sleeves. When I nearly burst into tears, my mom asked if there were “any others more in keeping with the style of the [non-flannel] dress.”

    There was a girl next to me in the bride’s room who ended up much worse off, however.

    Thanks to both of you. I can stop playing up the “It’s like an Indian wedding! You get a ceremonial dress and a party dress” thing.

  27. I’m frankly cool with the “hang outside with the other parents” practice, but I know my wife would hate it.

  28. Xenologue–

    Don’t you think that there are a lot of post-temple wedding receptions that are completely lavish? As I have had a few occasions to walk through the Joseph Smith Memorial Building and caught a glimpse of a few, I have no doubt that there are. As you have noted, people with non-member/inactive parents, just want to have their parents present, why restrict their ceremonies? Should church leaders just “ban” all lavish wedding celebrations or maybe we should just make the move to teaching correct principles and let the people govern themselves, knowing that some will put an undue amount of emphasis on the party, but the large majority will still focus on the beauty and power of the sealing ceremony.

    p.s. glad I got to be at the temple with you and Mr. Xenologue :)

  29. My wife deliberately picked out a wedding dress that she could wear inside the temple (it helped that she was an RM and knew what to look for)…

    I guess I don’t understand what the reception has to do with anything. Have a nice wedding, go over to the temple, have a reception that night. I don’t see why the Church couldn’t just insist that the sealing occur on the same day as the wedding.

    Then again … I’m the jerk who thinks that active, endowed, temple recommend-holding relatives aren’t automatically entitled to attend a temple wedding (and none of my aunts and uncles were invited, for various reasons).

  30. I wanted to add that it does seem to be a new policy at certain temples that brides must wear a temple dress. My cousin got married last year in Salt Lake and was told that that was a new policy in all Utah temples. Another cousin getting married the Las Vegas temple also has to wear a temple dress for the sealing.

  31. “Don’t you think that there are a lot of post-temple wedding receptions that are completely lavish?”

    Yes. My uncle, a SoCal lawyer, remortgaged his house to pay for his daughter’s wedding reception, because that’s what they do down there.

    I’m also opposed to nearly every usage of the word “worthy” in the Church, simply because it’s too easily confused with (self)worth.

  32. I think the idea of LDS parents waiting outside is horrifying, but that’s the point, isn’t it? No parents should have to be outside.

  33. Carrie, I think the thing that bothers me the most is the inconsistency: I attended two weddings less than a year ago in the SLC, and both girls wore their wedding dresses. And my cousin got married in the LV Temple last August (or Septmember) and she wore her wedding dress during the ceremony. So…like I said, the inconsistency is troubling to me.

  34. My sister wore her wedding dress inside the temple this past Saturday (Oakland temple). A few weeks before the wedding, the Matron told her that if it had any sequins it would not be allowed. It has a few sequins and beads sewn into the lace trim at the hem, but she brought it and evidently it passed muster. She did have to wear arm thingys to make the sleeves long, but they were cute stretch satin.

  35. I’d like to see a hundred articles like the Arizona one in papers all over thee country. Then maybe the brethren would begin to understand what a problem existing policy is. I’m on record as strongly favoring the fix Nate mentions in his first paragraph.

    If I had to do it over again, I definitely wouldn’t get married in the temple. I’d do it civilly and wait my year for the sealing.

  36. If one of my kids marry into a family where everyone isn’t mormon, I’m going to discourage the temple wedding.

  37. The current policy makes a mockery not only of family love, but also of our belief in temple work for the dead. My husband and I married in my parent’s living room so my family could be present and so his LDS parents need not defend a public wedding to their friends. (Oh, and 6 months later my mother-in-law insisted we parade about their ward so everyone could see I wasn’t pregnant, but I digress.) The gain was so great and the only loss I could imagine was our death before we got to the temple, a loss easily rectified by temple work.

  38. A data point.

    Br.and Sr. Mitt Romney were married in a civil ceremony in order to accomodate her parents who were not LDS. They then travelled from Detroit to SLC for the temple sealing.

  39. I’d like to see a hundred articles like the Arizona one in papers all over thee country. Then maybe the brethren would begin to understand what a problem existing policy is.

    When loved ones refuse to act as you think they should, do you pressure them by parading what you see as their weaknesses in front of the press, inviting scorn and misunderstanding and possible picketing by outsiders who think it’s their business to tell your loved ones that they’re filled with hate?

    Maybe I value the temple sealing so much because I never had a chance to have one, but I’m heart-broken at some of the comments here. I wouldn’t be married anywhere else, no matter who could or couldn’t be there, no matter how exclusionary you all think it would be. You treat it as if it were an item to be ticked off some checklist on the road to salvation, to be done whenever it is convenient, not as a blessing in which to start your marriage. Sure, you can probably catch up at some point — the gospel is full of second chances — but why would you want to start off without that blessing when you have the choice?

  40. I didn’t like the newspaper article. It seemed one-sided, all about the pain and anguish of the groom’s mother. I don’t suggest her pain wasn’t real, but I think that this severely limits the discussion. The emotion of the story is so powerful that you are seen as being cruel unless you start with the premise that the Church should be less cruel and insensitive to others. The emotion is so powerful that to disagree is just seen as additional cruelty.

    What follows is perhaps off topic and cruel.

    I thought the mom in the article was a meanie!. Her opposition, the anti-mormon support groups, and the screaming at her son. I thought it was especially self centered that she framed the whole “going to wait at the temple” as a statement that the Church had won, rather than a statement of support for her son. I don’t understand that kind of thinking. I was relieved that she finally saw it differently. That was a hopeful turn.

    I am skeptical this mother would have been pleased with your two ceremony solution. Some people yes, this mother? I don’t know.

    I liked when the son explained to his mom that “This was [Annie’s] day.” For me that is really a key point. The Mom was so caught up in her feelings she seemed to miss that the ceremony was about the couple.

    What should be at the heart of the marriage ceremony? What should be kept at the periphery?

    I have been to lots of weddings in my life, and sometimes am disappointed to find there were hard feelings. “The whole day was ruined” because of the flowers, or the dresses, or someone’s hurt feelings. It seems to me they missed the heart of the ceremony.

  41. Nate: I don’t think the problem is that we don’t do a good job explaining why some cannot attend temple sealings. Nobody cares about attending the sealing per se. They care about attending their child’s wedding, and that need not be the same thing. If we would only permit a civil ceremony followed by a sealing, there would be no issue.

    I am convinced that the current policy does enormous damage to the church and to part member families. For every parent excluded from their child’s wedding due to this possible, the church makes dozens of enemies and many family relationships are severely strained. Relatives and friends all talk, and they all talk about how the Mormon church won’t let the nonmember parents attend their own child’s wedding. There is no explanation good enough. It is an indefensible policy that is at odds with the mission of the church.

    I was married in the temple while my in-laws stood outside. I agree with Kevin above. I would not do it again. I am deeply embarrassed that I was not more sensitive to my wife’s family’s feelings.

    I also strenously disagree with those who suggest that a civil ceremony, no matter how “lavish”, detracts from the temple ceremony. I think that separating the two does precisely the opposite. It allows for a grand celebration with family and friends and a wedding is something to celebrate. Yet, it also preserves the sanctity of the temple sealing by isolating it as a separate, spiritually significant and independent event.

  42. Ardis: Of course we all want to start off our marriages with a temple sealing. But it is a policy (of recent vintage, and applicable only in two countries) that forces couples to choose between family and a temple sealing. We can have both, and having both does not diminish the temple. It enhances it. It certainly would have in my case. My wife was in tears and was heartbroken to leave her parents at the door. That feeling certainly did not elevate the temple ceremony. It greatly detracted from it and the temple then became a symbol of division.

  43. Kevin: While we may agree that the civil marriage policy should be changed, I disagree with you about the value of marrying in the temple. I think that a marriage in the temple is superior to a civil marriage with a sealing immediately following, where such an arrangement is not required by law. It provides a theological unity to one’s life, and frankly I would personally have felt terrible going through a civil marriage followed by a sealing. My point is only that the civil option should be available as an imperfect choice to mediate a difficult situations. It doesn’t make the choice any less sad.

  44. Gary: My claim is not that non-member family members feel pain because of how we explain their exclusion from the temple. You are quite right that the pain comes from the inability to be present at the marriage ceremony. Rather my point is that we exacerbate the pain by explaining the exclusion from the temple poorly. As I acknowledge, even a better explanation will leave the pain. That is why I think that in some cases the best option is an open civil ceremony followed by a sealing.

  45. Mark, at the time the Romneys were married, it was standard for couples who would have to travel to SLC (and possibly stay overnight before the sealing) to be married civilly first. It probably wasn’t to accommodate her parents. My parents, and probably just about everyone east of the Mississippi before the DC temple was built followed the same practice.

  46. Gary, the comments that hurt are not the ones you refer to; I’m neither supporting nor opposing the current policy, whatever its vintage. I do oppose those who would try to change the policy by handing anti-Mormons one more club with which to beat the church.

    Mostly, I refer to those people who would postpone the temple wedding if they had it to do over again, and especially those who indicate they would discourage any temple ceremony at all. These are people who do not understand temples blessings, no matter how prominent their names.

  47. Being a convert, I was married civilly for many years before my sealing. They are very much two separate events in my mind and I am quite thankful they were not blurred together.

    I wouldn’t do it another way, and I will urge my children to space them as well. The endowment and sealing, if they are going to do them, deserve more consideration than being crammed into the intense flurry of activity surrounding a wedding day.

  48. Kris,

    I’m glad you were there too. When I think of that day, your presence in the room is one of the things that stands out in my mind.

    By the way… we really do need to write that up!

  49. The Arizona Republic likes to publish controversial articles about the church leaving the comments section open for all the anti-mormons to respond. At the same time they will publish stories about illegal immigrants not allowing comments.

    They have successfully exploited a rule which has brought about some good dialogue here. However, I have to agree with Ardis. If I were to participate in a civil ceremony either before or after my temple ceremony to appease my father in law or some of my aunts and uncles, then I am afraid that it would diminish the temple ceremony in their view. Also, I wouldn’t want to set a precedence of bargaining my principles. I know others don’t see it this way, but I have always been able to explain these situations to my non-member family and have them understand. If you are going to build that bridge, then it is your responsibility to help them understand.

  50. For the first several years that I studied the church, I thought Mormons who get married in the temple wore tuxedos and wedding dresses just like couples do in normal weddings. I mean, that’s what everyone’s temple wedding picture showed: smiling bride and groom, outside the temple, tuxedo and wedding dress. A lot of them even had wedding parties complete with bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower girls and ring boys. Judging by the photos, what happened in temple weddings seemed to look an awful lot like what happened in non-temple weddings.

    When I’ve complained about the church’s temple wedding policy over the years—that a couple can’t have a civil ceremony first and then get sealed later that day—the most common reaction I’ve received from the rank and file has been, “We don’t want the weddings of the world.” So I was a little bit surprised to learn what temple weddings really involve, that the groom doesn’t wear a tuxedo and the bride doesn’t have to wear her wedding dress (and arguably there’s little point with all the stuff you have to wear over and under it). That the wedding party and families have zero function in the ceremony. If Mormons are really so interested in not having the weddings “of the world,” why do they go so far out of their way to make their weddings look like the weddings “of the world”? Why dress up the sacred in the [apparently] profane?

    It seems to me that having a civil ceremony for family and friends followed by a temple sealing would be a fantastic application of “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.” It would allow couples to end the horse and pony show while giving the temple the space it deserves. Good luck finding a downside to that.

  51. my-bad: “Appeasing”? Really? What you call “appeasing” your father in law, I would call lovingly welcoming your father in law to be a part of his child’s wedding. For the life of me, I cannot understand why that is viewed as diminishing the temple ceremony. However, for those who feel that way, they should certainly be free to be married in the manner that respects those feelings. On the other hand, those who believe that a civil ceremony where all family and friends are invited, followed later (maybe the next day) by a sacred and private temple sealing would preserve good family relationships and add to the sanctity of the temple sealing should be entitled to proceed in that manner.

    Ardis: I understand your clarification. I am one of those who would wait for a year if I had it to do over again. I think I understand the value of temple sealings, but perhaps there is something I do not fully understand. One thing I do understand for sure–I deeply hurt my wife’s family by not waiting. I created a rift and resentment against the church that never healed, even though we otherwise enjoyed good relationships with her family. I have seen that repeated many times in other families. Many people who would otherwise be friends of the church have become embittered unnecessarily. If I had to choose between those two options today, I would wait a year for the temple sealing. However, I think the policy forcing couples to make that choice is a serious mistake, and I would much prefer not to force couples to make that choice. I don’t think that reflects a lack of understanding of the importance of the temple. But I would be interested to know what you believe a couple would lose by waiting for a year that is not outweighed by the value of preserving and enhancing family relationships and good relationships with the church.

  52. I do feel for those in the situation of needing to wait outside.

    Thanks for this article, when the AZ article came out, I tried to post but couldn’t get a username that was not alredy claimed. So I gave up. Here is what I wanted to say about that article:

    If I ever marry, I can relate in that my Dad is not of this faith. I read the article and I care for that lady’s heartache. But honestly I think that her son could have done a better job of showing concern for his mom’s feelings..ie the article mentionned he posted about the upcoming wedding on facebook. He is 22 as I recall, so I guess that explains it. But it would be nice if he had shared “his status” w/his mother first. Certain things should be shared with those closest to you prior to posting on fb.

    I do disagree w/those who think having the civil cereomony would diminish the values associated w/temple marriage. as was stated in an earlier post, there is more that could be done to support the nonLDS family.

  53. The use of the term “civil marriage” in the LDS Church is virtually a contradiction in terms. All legal marriages are civil marriages in the sense they are approved by the state, but the only purely civil marriages are those that are performed by a judge. The rest are all religious marriages of one stripe or another.

    Now of course the very use of the term implies that many members do not think that a marriage performed outside the temple is a marriage at all. One of the interesting consequences of this is that the church has essentially no theology about non-temple marriages. The general impression one gets is that they are a non-sacred union.

    It seems that the church allows bishops to perform them as some sort of afterthought. They are not allowed to be performed in chapels, because by all appearances the church does not consider them worth consecrating at all. So the question for any member/non-member couple is, if they can’t get married in the temple, why in the world would they want an LDS bishop to perform their wedding ceremony?

    After all, every other denomination on the planet considers such an occasion worthy of the highest regard and holds them in an actual church. Where in LDS theology getting married by your bishop instead of some random justice of the peace is a matter of no consequence whatsoever. And ordinance that isn’t worth the priesthood of the officiator. A non-ordinance ordinance, essentially. Hence the term “civil” marriage.

  54. As a single person, I have thought a great deal about what I would do were my prospective in-laws unable to attend the sealing. I used to think that a later “ring ceremony” might be the answer, but I have since attended a few of those. Without exception, they were shoddy, thrown-together affairs that were more insulting to the non-members involved than just doing nothing would have been. Current church policy engineers an unnecessary loyalty test, with a punitive year-long “waiting period” for those who “fail” it. I have since decided that, if faced with this situation, we’ll get sealed in the morning, and then have a civil ceremony (quietly arranged ahead of time with the reception center––what the Stake President doesn’t know won’t hurt him) at the beginning of the reception. I’m sure some would disapprove, but I doubt they’d disfellowship me for it.

    I do oppose those who would try to change the policy by handing anti-Mormons one more club with which to beat the church.

    Ardis, this particular “club” isn’t exactly classified information. If this policy is really worthwhile/beneficial, making it more widely-known (and, again, it isn’t bound by any oaths of non-disclosure) shouldn’t be a problem. If, on the other hand, policy defenders are unable to articulate any cogent and convincing rationale––and if this thread (not to mention the others like it in the ‘nacle) is any indication, it seems that even many members are unconvinced––then perhaps a little exterior pressure may not be such a bad thing. I suspect such pressure has played a role in other important changes in church history; the priesthood ban, for instance.

  55. There was a girl in my singles ward who was a convert of a few years. One day this subject came up with her mother. It had been the elephant in the room for a few years, so it was obviously a subject they did not want to bring up. “Mom, what would you think if I got married in the Temple?”
    The response was “Well, I thought about that when you joined the church. I was going to be very mad. Now that I’ve seen what being a member has done for you, and seeing you hold to your values in every other way… I’d be disappointed if you didn’t.”

  56. Good point. Thanks for bringing that to my attention. This policy should be changed in the LDS church.

  57. In terms of theological coherence, I think it would make a good deal of sense to separate marriages and sealings for _everyone_ in the church. Have everyone be married in a religiously significant ceremony / ordinance in the chapel. Then two or three years later have that marriage sealed in the temple, if the couple is worthy of such a sealing.

    Change ‘get married in the temple’ to ‘develop a marriage worthy of being sealed in the temple’. Being sealed in the temple won’t do any good relative to a non-temple marriage if one of the partners won’t do what is necessary to be sealed a few years later, right?

  58. Ardis, I am as touched by your commitment to the temple as I am impressed with your excellent offerings to Mormon studies, so it saddens me that my defense of a civil marriage first to preserve family bonds may have hurt you. I think we who have argued for civil marriages prior to temple marriages in troublesome cases do understand temple blessings. Understanding temple blessings doesn’t seem the sole determinant of righteous action here. Critical as they are, temple blessings are among numerous precious blessings demanding our loyalty, including the blessing of, and resulting obligations to, goodly parents. I accept (though too poorly, of course) the divine challenge to honor our mothers and fathers, facilitate eternal bonds of love and love our neighbors as ourselves, as I know do you. We’re just balancing the competing values a little differently. If that requires a year wait for a temple sealing, so be it, but it is a high price for a good choice. I see a temple marriage as preferable to a sealing but not at the unnecessary cost of a broken family. I don’t see this as a choice between God and family, but as a challenge to serve both because God values both.
    I’d add another comment which does not relate to anything you said. I sometimes think Mormons glorify suffering and persecution a bit much. It’s an extra badge to be rejected by your family on your wedding day. It doesn’t matter whom you estrange; it’s their fault for not understanding. You, the courageous victim, are the righteous party. Some members unconvincingly spoke to me in these terms arguing I should have only a temple marriage. Fortunately my wonderful Bishop did not.

  59. #58 Can I just say Wow. I couldn’t disagree more. “a marriage performed outside the temple is[n’t] a marriage at all” and “they are a non-sacred union.”

    All legal and proper marriages are honorable in the Lord’s eyes. Hebrews 13:4 says, “Marriage is honourable in all” I know of no leader of the Church that has taught what you are saying.

    Bishops are directed by the Church to perform civil marriages and the ceremony states that the couple is making sacred covenants in the presence of God. The Bishop also invokes God’s blessing upon that marriage as part of the ceremony, and he concludes in the name of our Savior. It should be clear from this practice that the Church approves of civil marriages. We wish everyone could have a temple marriage. If not, we want them to get the best kind of marriage they can.

    The Church prefers that civil marriages be done in the home or the Church (in that order). Other places are not forbidden, just not preferred. As to chapels, the only restriction is that you are not supposed to take videos there.

  60. Bishops are directed by the Church to perform civil marriages and the ceremony states that the couple is making sacred covenants in the presence of God. The Bishop also invokes God’s blessing upon that marriage as part of the ceremony, and he concludes in the name of our Savior. It should be clear from this practice that the Church approves of civil marriages.

    True, Dean, but the officiant does not actually invoke priesthood authority. As Mark D. noted,

    …in LDS theology getting married by your bishop instead of some random justice of the peace is a matter of no consequence whatsoever. An ordinance that isn’t worth the priesthood of the officiator. A non-ordinance ordinance, essentially.

    There is no qualitative difference (according to LDS practice) between marriage ceremonies performed by LDS Bishops and those performed by anyone else, from Justice of the Peace to Wiccan High Priestess, provided they are legally authorized. Any legally recognized marriage is identically as valid as any other legally recognized marriage (I am ignoring the issue of legal same-sex marriages here).

    While, as you say, “the Church approves of civil marriages,” the difference (theologically and culturally) between an eternal marriage and a marriage for “time only” is so vast, one might argue that they are ontologically distinct, not just of different duration. This point was driven home to me once in an early-morning seminary class, when the teacher explained that a man and a woman who had both been previously sealed to other (now-deceased) spouses may be married in the temple for the duration of their mortal lives, prompting a classmate to ask: “But isn’t that like … a ‘one-life stand’?” While I’m sure many couples would be deeply offended to hear their marriages spoken of in those terms, the point is not altogether without merit in the light of LDS theology.

  61. Molly, I agree with you. I have less problem with waiting a year, then I do the valourizing of new converts who sacrifice their families on the altars of the temple and the guilt-inducing commments that some members make about how they don’t truly value a temple marriage as they struggle to balance their family relationships and their new religion. One thing that nobody told me is how every baby blessing, every child’s baptism, etc would re-open the wound caused by my choosing to exclude my parents from my wedding. These events are completely stressful for me, instead of the joyous occasions that they should be. Instead of having opportunities to share the gospel with my parents, I have had to spend over a decade trying to build bridges and heal hurts that I have come to the conclusion were not really necessary

  62. Over the years, my wife and I have regretted that we did not get married civilly first so all family, friends, younger siblings etc. could have been there. We loved our temple wedding, but it was exclusive, not inclusive. For a church that places such enormous emphasis on family, to exclude family — especially parents, siblings, best friends — seems cruel.

  63. I have a solution for the whole debacle: prohibit Church weddings all together! This is what happens in many countries of the world. I live in Mexico, where I was married 1 1/2 years ago at a civil ceremony, and later sealed in the temple, a day later. Mexico does not permit ANY clergy member to marry a couple. Marriage must be effectuated by a judge, either at one’s home or at the civil registry. Complete separation of church and state is an important tenet of government here. I wish it were the case in the U.S., where government should be DIVORCED of sanctioning marriages. CIVIL-UNIONS should be the only function of government, and if a couple so desires a MARRIAGE or SEALING, that should be left up to the Church.

    Instead of calling on the Church to change, I call on the government to change, and the Church would then be OBLIGATED to respect the law.

  64. Alison (12),
    We were married in the South Carolina temple almost 8 years ago. My little sister was married in San Diego four or five years ago, and I can’t remember whether she wore her wedding dress or not—I don’t remember her not wearing it, but my not remembering doesn’t, frankly, mean much.

  65. As to chapels, the only restriction is that you are not supposed to take videos there.

    That is assuming the bishop performing the marriage is willing to marry you there at all. The 1998 CHI says that “the person who performs the marriage determines the location”. In my limited experience along the Wasatch Front, a non-temple marriage in the actual chapel is virtually unheard of.

    Members understand that non-temple marriages are for time only. A non-temple marriage performed by a bishop is not considered an actual ordinance however, for time only or for any other duration. “Civil Marriage” is the official term.

    As Latter Day Guy notes above there is no invocation of priesthood authority. Instead the officiator invokes his “legal authority”. The rationale behind all this, even the term, is well established. The practical consequence, unfortunately, is that non-temple wedding ceremonies tend to be a badge of dishonor not to be spoken of except among close friends and family members.

    A secondary, and perhaps more important consequence, is the effective discouragement of non-temple weddings has a tendency to influence many members of the church not to get married at all. The general idea seems to be, if you can’t get married in the temple, i.e. to a temple worthy member of the church, you are better off never being married, never having children, etc. By the time members are in their thirties, this is rather counterproductive advice, and bespeaks a lack of respect for the religious merits of a non-temple marriage, as if there weren’t any.

  66. Mark D.,
    Really? That’s kind of sad. All of the (limited number of) civil weddings performed by a bishop that I’m aware of have happened at the church building, presumably in the chapel. And there generally isn’t any social stigma I’m aware of—usually, people are excited for the couple. Of course, my experience is all outside of the Mormon Corridor, and is also hugely limited (I’m probably vaguely thinking of 4 or 5 weddings in various states that I’ve heard about).

  67. Latter-day Guy: FWIW, your solution probably has legal problems. The sealing in the temple will constitute a legal marriage. You’ll be handed a marriage certificate by the sealer. If you then try to perform a subsequent civil marriage the only way that you or the officiating officer will be able to do so is by lying to the state. The church is almost certainly not going to perform a sealing WITHOUT either proof of a previous civil marriage or WITHOUT performing a civil ceremony.

  68. Sam B., I don’t think there much in the way of social stigma to having a non-temple marriage at all. Most people don’t even know, of course. And certainly non-temple wedding ceremonies etc are generally regarded as a happy occasion, as they should be.

    The issue is two-fold – (1) the speculation that will ensue about the reason why any member of the church is not getting married in the temple, (2) wonderment about the wisdom of any member of the church actually doing so. It is as if the person concerned was choosing not to be exalted, especially if he or she marries a member of another denomination.

    That gets back to the important issue. Do leaders (especially local leaders) of the church advise members in their thirties or later to postpone marriage indefinitely in favor of the possibility of having a temple marriage at some point later in life? My general experience is that they do, and that speaks volumes about the attitude towards the religious benefits of a non-temple marriage, i.e. it would be better to be married in the temple in your seventies, than to be married to a non-member in one’s thirties.

    It would be nice if the teaching was: get married in the temple if possible, but get married. That is not what I have seen though.

  69. I was married in the temple, and my dad couldn’t attend. He is not LDS, and I grew up LDS. He’s always known that there would be a possiblity that we got married and he wouldn’t be able to attend.

    But my dad still loves me. And the trust we have in our relationship transends his attendance at a ceremony. He came and supported my decision. He understands my beliefs, and I understand his – even when they are at odds with one another.

    It would have hurt me if he would have been offended, yes. Do I wish that he would have been able to attend, yes. But I wish that because I wish that he would have a knowledge and testimony of the gospel.

    Of course, I’m not really into all of the pomp and tradition of weddings, and no one in my family is, either. I wore a black dress and didn’t have a reception. For me, it was all about the actual covenant made – not the “wedding.”

  70. 72, Really? I know of several couples who, on a significant anniversary, renewed their wedding vows; I assumed that holding a later civil ceremony would be, legally, the same kind of thing––just sooner than usual.

  71. In light of the information Kristine offered in comment 49, I’d like to withdraw my # 41 and apologize.

  72. On a lighter side, both sets of parents were delighted to stand outside my Temple marriage. Why? Because it was free! Niether side had much money. We had a reception later that day at the chapel, sheet cakes, punch, and a reception line. We gave the bishop two hundred bucks to the Ward budget, to have the members clean up the light mess, and we left on our honeymoon.

  73. I think that Molly Bennion (#63) has summarized the issues perfectly.

    Mark D.: The current Handbook does not discourage marriages in the church. It states that marriages in a home or in the church are preferred to commercial commercial wedding chapels. Your experience is quite different from my own. I have attended (and performed) several ceremonies in the chapel, and that is considered quite normal here. I cannot imagine a Bishop who would refuse to do that. I guess this is one of those practices that differs depending on local custom.

    As to whether leaders advise that no marriage as preferable to marriage to a non-member outside of the temple, your experience is also different from mine. Although I have heard that from some people, I have also heard the opposite view expressed many times also. But I don’t think that those who are opposed to a marriage outside of the temple base their objections on a belief that such a marriage is not a valid marriage. I think their advice is usually rooted in concerns about inter-faith marriages in general, and the complications that often arise as a result.

    Latter-day Guy: As Nate said above, there can be only one legal wedding. If you get sealed first, that is your wedding and there can be no other. I suppose you could follow it with some kind of ceremony, but that will not be a wedding and everybody in attendance will know that. If you want your Bishop to conduct that ceremony, he will consider himself bound by the restrictions in the Handbook on those ceremonies. If you get somebody else to perform it–well, I guess you can do what you want. I suspect most members will be somewhat uncomfortable at such a ceremony, but who knows? I am doubtful that it would achieve your intended purpose.

  74. #60: There was a man in my ward growing up who joined the Church in part because he couldn’t be there for his daughter’s sealing. I’ll have to check Mom’s book for the details when I get home today.

  75. I disagree with Nate that converts or Mormons outside the U.S. are somehow receiving an inferior or second-class Gospel experience for having their civil marriage performed outside the temple. What is important theologically is the temple sealing. These people will receive all of the Gospel blessings that a couple of young coeds who marry in the Provo temple will receive.

    But this difference in our perspectives is really immaterial, because we agree on what the proper remedy should be: allowing civil marriages outside of and prior to the temple sealing.

    When I got married (in the Provo temple), I was young and, frankly, selfish. I was just thinking about my new wife and myself; I wasn’t thinking at all about our respective parents, none of who could attend. But as I’ve grown older, matured, and witnessed the vast destruction of goodwill towards the church whenever this happens (and out here in Illinois, it happens all the time), my perspective has changed on this issue. I don’t believe the current policy has any underlying rationale that justifies the tremendous damage the Church absorbs every time this happens. I love the Church and hate to see the many deep and serious wounds it so needlessly sustains over this policy. For a missionary oriented church such as ours, goodwill is important, and we just flush a whole bunch of it down the toilet every time this happens.

  76. If you get sealed first, that is your wedding and there can be no other.

    Yes, quite. As per #75, this second ceremony would have the same legal effect as a vow renewal ceremony: that is, none. No marriage license would be involved. It would be strictly symbolic. Nevertheless, you could still tick most of the boxes on the list of traditional wedding expectations––flower girls, organ processional music, the father giving the bride away, etc. As long as it looks and sounds like a wedding, tweaking the words of the ceremony wouldn’t really be a big deal, I think.

  77. If there’s a less… “ivory-tower” way to explain this other than “it is the result of the way that esotericism and covenant intersect in the liturgy” there might be more traction to gain.

  78. I think it’s worth it to note the author of this article is a disaffected member (possibly former member)–disaffected nonetheless. The article is a typical Arizona Republic hit-job piece on the Church to make them out to be the bogey man. Don’t be fooled folks.

  79. I’m not the most sentimental guy in the world, so I have little patience with attitudes that I can only view as pettiness. To place a higher value on the emotional satisfaction one can derive from witnessing an event–even an event as important as the wedding of a loved one–than on the choice of said loved one to participate in the most sacred, eternally significant rite of his or her religion, is, to my mind, despicably selfish.

    I’m the only Mormon in my family of origin. No blood relatives of mine were present at my wedding. However, nobody in my family gave me any trouble about my and my wife’s choice to be married in the temple. Why? I like to think it’s because they love and respect me, and have some understanding of what it means to act like grownups.

    I don’t mean to minimize the pain of anyone who is excluded from a loved one’s wedding, merely to put the scale of this sacrifice in perspective. Also, I did not address the proposed compromise–fully compatible with LDS doctrine–of permitting a civil ceremony outside the temple followed immediately by a temple sealing. Aside from the popular explanations offered by many Mormons to explain why this practice is not currently permitted except where local law makes it necessary (i.e. “weddings of the world,” etc.), does anybody know of any official (or at least “high-level”) explanation for this policy? I’m not of the belief that Church policy or those who set it are perfect, but I’m generally cautious about concluding that they are wrong in any particular, especially when I don’t know “their side” in any particular controversy.

  80. Why has nobody thought of that solution before, Steve! It’s so simple and elegant. When your emotionally-distressed mother expresses her pain and disappointment at not being able to attend your wedding, just tell her to grow up and stop being so despicably selfish!

  81. I think Steve’s point is reasonable, but one of the more important questions is does this policy strengthen the Church or hinder it? The costs in strained relationships, public relations, future membership prospects, outreach, etc. is significant.

    And what is the benefit? The desire not to endorse a non-temple marriage as a sacred, divinely endorsed institution, primarily, on the grounds that it will increase the the number of such marriages among members of the church, by making the trappings of a Mormon marriage common between those that do and and do not complete the second step.

    If the reduction in temple marriages and sealings were significant in the long run, the Church could be considered to be failing at its mission, in part due to the reduced activity, tithing, and commitment level of the persons concerned during this earthly life.

    However, the Church is also failing to the extent it drives away otherwise potential members and those who might otherwise think highly of the church as an institution, discourages some members from getting married in the first place, increases the likelihood that a part-member marriage will be performed by a minister of another denomination, reduces the number of children born into the church or who would be likely candidates to be baptized in the future, and so on.

    I was present at two non-temple marriages performed by a bishop, one in a backyard, and the other at some sort of reception center. Because neither was held in a church, the sacred nature of the event seemed to be almost entirely missing. One of those was a Mormon / Catholic marriage. The horrors of the parents of the Mormon bride notwithstanding, I imagine the whole thing would be far better served to be performed in a Catholic church, by a Catholic priest than a nominal “civil” marriage performed on the site of some sort of wedding hall, immediately prior to the reception. In the latter it would be treated as sacred, in other non-church contexts, it seems more like an artifact of an entirely secular (i.e. “civil”) occasion.

  82. The temple petition folks correctly point out that waiting a year between the marriage and the sealing is not doctrinally required (since it’s allowed in countries where it’s legally required). They’ve made it pretty clear that the reason for the rule in countries like the US is that they want people to understand that the temple wedding is the real wedding and isn’t just something tacked onto the real wedding.

    I say they ought to give folks a little more credit about being able to separate the two. I live in Europe, and I’ve attended plenty of French weddings. The legal proceedings at city hall don’t detract from the big church wedding (for those couples who choose to have a church wedding).

    Similarly, my social group is full of expats. Here the idea of having the “legal wedding” separate from the church/community wedding is more the rule than the exception. For example, one of the ladies in my German class in Zurich was recounting today all of her plans for her big church wedding. Meanwhile — legally — she and her S.O. have already had an “emergency wedding” (signing the legal papers) because she wouldn’t have the right to live and work in Switzerland otherwise. And my little brother had exactly the same type of “emergency wedding” — he and his Scottish bride flew to Vegas to tie the knot legally (so she’d have the right to stay in the US), and it didn’t detract a bit from the big church wedding they had later in Scotland (which I attended).

    In short: Sealing is so much more than just signing the legal papers. Trust people to understand that. Don’t require them to tack on the legal-paper-signing in the same ceremony, as though they’d otherwise regard the sealing as secondary or unimportant.

  83. What is not needed here is another comment, but here I am, anyway. The OP raises a valid question, namely why not a consistent standard worldwide for a worldwide church.

    It seems the non-US rules allowing a legal ceremony prior to a temple sealing are the exception to the US rule of sealing and wedding combined in the temple. That does not answer why the US-rule could not be changed, however.

    One of the bits of counsel I have heard consistently through the years is to focus on the sacredness of the temple ceremony and to avoid that which distracts from it. As the comments reveal, behavior on that score is all over the map.

    I do feel the pain of families who are excluded because of non-membership. There may also be the case where LDS family members are also excluded because of worthiness issues. I have struggled to explain the exclusion to non-believers, and in the times I’ve tried have never felt like I’ve done an adequate job. Most memorable recently was when my barber accosted me with the question, just as I sat in her chair, “It isn’t true that you Mormons don’t allow the mother of the groom to attend the wedding, is it?” She became more animated as sharper instruments moved closer to my ears. I felt fortunate to get out of the chair with my only my hair cut.

  84. Why not then make a policy that any members who wish to be married civilly first and immediately afterwards to be sealed may do so, but only in a city hall or courthouse? No chapel ceremonies or big church weddings.

    I agree this is a reasonable compromise. It’s not unreasonable to insist on no competing wedding “in the eyes of God”.

  85. I personally think the setup in the states is ideal. The problem here is not God’s rules, but our failure to be effective missionaries and explain temples, covenants, etc.

  86. Have everyone be married in a religiously significant ceremony / ordinance in the chapel. Then two or three years later have that marriage sealed in the temple, if the couple is worthy of such a sealing.

    @62 also an excellent suggestion. Encourage people to see it as a separate “rite of passage” that an existing civil marriage may aspire to.

    I’ve seen a lot of hand-wringing about how temple marriages have no better success rate than any other kind of marriage. Perhaps if we change “temple wedding” from a goal for two horny kids (who can’t help but be influenced by the fact that they can’t get it on otherwise) to the model where an existing young couple strives for the next step — that might encourage a better success rate.

  87. in #87 Mark D. wrote, “The desire not to endorse a non-temple marriage as a sacred, divinely endorsed institution”

    You continue to assert this, and I still think it is an unfair interpretation. VIZ.:
    – the Church authorizes bishops to preform civil marriages.
    – Bishops invoke the blessings of God upon the couple during the ceremony.
    – Bishops tell the couple they are making sacred covenants before God as part of the ceremony,
    – the Church encourages such marriages be performed in the home (most sacred next to temples), and in LDS churches.
    – our scriptures teach opposite to your view (such as Hebrews 13:4; 4 Nephi 1:11; D&C 49:15; none of which have the context of temple marriage)
    – The vows are essentially the same in civil marriages performed by Bishops as in the sealing ordinance.
    – life shows that happy marriages are possible without the covenants of the temple.
    – Church leaders do not teach what you are here advocating as our view of civil marriage.

    It seems to me this is not a good vs evil thing, it is a good vs better thing. I see clear and profound differences between a civil marriage and the sealing ordinance. The latter is clearly preferred, yet civil marriage is still far more, than a civil contract, even though by definition it is performed by civil (rather than priesthood) authority. Marriage is ordained of God. The practice of the Church clearly demonstrates the Church’s interpretation. Again, a life long marriage has clear differences to an eternal one. But to say that we only hold the latter one as sacred or divinely endorsed is an extreme position that I think is unjustified by the facts.

  88. in #65 Latter-day Guy wrote, “True, Dean, but the officiant does not actually invoke priesthood authority.”

    I see it differently. The Bishop is a priesthood authority, authorized by the Church to perform the ceremony. True, he doesn’t invoke priesthood authority in the ceremony itself. I would see that as improper. A civil marriage is by definition performed by civil (not priesthood) authority, so the Bishop says something like “by the legal authority as an Elder of the church” I don’t remember the exact words, but it was just last Saturday that I attended a civil marriage in our chapel performed by our Bishop for two ward members.

    Anyway, I think your interpretation fails to account the above. I completely disagree with Mark D. that it is “An ordinance that isn’t worth the priesthood of the officiator.” Why authorize Bishops to do it then? The long standing practice of the Church argues against your interpretation. I will grant that it is a civil ceremony rather than a priesthood ordinance, but see it as quite a stretch to get from there to your interpretation. I agree with you that the validity of a legally recognized marriage does not depend on it being preformed by Bishop or a Justice of the Peace. I disagree that there are no qualitative differences in such ceremonies.

    Not withstanding your delightful experience in Seminary, and the clever retort by one of your peers, I think you haven’t made a convincing argument that civil marriage and eternal marriage are “ontologically distinct.” We agree they are of different duration, but the vows are essentially the same.

    Important point. (to me anyway). Successful marriages are not established by any ceremony temple or otherwise. They are established by principles. Chief among them in my view is time spent together (you simply can’t build a relationship of any kind with out spending time together). A temple marriage has no more power to bind you together than a civil marriage if you haven’t taken the time to build the relationship. That’s one way I see the two types of marriage we are discussing as ontologically connected. And why I view the vows in Mormon civil and temple marriages as essentially the same. It is the keeping of those vows that build the relationship. It is why I see the two types of marriage ceremonies as good and better rather than good vs evil.

  89. Embarrassingly enough, this is the first time I’ve thought much about the distress of parents unable to attend their children’s temple marriages. While the article was overly dramatic, enough commenters have shared personal experiences of weddings causing unintentional rifts to underscore that this is a significant issue. Looking through the lens of a parent now, I have a better grasp of how stressful it would be to watch a son or daughter join another faith and then be excluded from participating in important rituals with them. I don’t know what the solution is but I’ve certainly changed my earlier, quite harsh opinion (ie get over it).

  90. As promised earlier – this is from page 95 of Mormon lives: A year in the Elkton Ward by Susan Buhler Taber:

    When we went to Florida to visit [Peter’s] parents, the word came out that nobody could attend the wedding in Washington. His mother his the ceiling. That was an evening not to forget. He was the only son, Astrid the only daughter. Astrid had to explain what is the big deal. She explained that it is for eternity. They asked Astrid what the requirements were and she told us you have no sex before marriage. I thought, “This religion must be good, a better religion than most.” Then his parents asked me to go to the bishop in Wilmington and ask if there could be a wedding in the church if Peter and Astrid went to the temple later on. His mother wanted a big wedding with everyone attending the ceremony.

    I called Bishop Cross and made an appointment. I said, “Can’t you have the ceremony in the church? You see, in Europe you are married by the judge or the mayor and after that you go to the church of your choice. The civil ceremony is the legal marriage, not the church marriage.” He said, no, that cannot be. He sent Bishop O’Day to the house to explain it, and I think, to patch things up a little. From what he said, I thought, “This is a church that goes on principles rather than for the accommodation of certain people.” I was glad Astrid had found something that was meaningful to her.

    The wedding was in Washington. Romkje and I went to the temple. We sat in the hall; Astrid was inside getting married. We went back to Wilmington for the reception.

    The speaker here, Karel VanderHeyden, joined the Church about three months later.

    “A Church that goes on principles rather than for the accommodation of certain people.” That’s the Church I’m proud to belong to. We accommodate the law in this matter where we have to. That doesn’t mean we have to accommodate the whims of the world.

  91. “A civil marriage is by definition performed by civil (not priesthood) authority…”
    “I will grant that it is a civil ceremony rather than a priesthood ordinance…”
    “I disagree that there are no qualitative differences in such ceremonies…”

    Okay, then. What are those differences? Why is it better to be married by a Bishop than a Justice of the Peace? Both ceremonies would result in precisely the same legal union, indicating that the officiant’s priesthood (or lack thereof) is irrelevant, ergo the civil marriage ceremony, even if performed by an LDS Bishop, is not a priesthood ordinance.

    “…I see the two types of marriage ceremonies as good and better rather than good vs evil.”

    I don’t think anyone is arguing that civil marriages are evil. However, in my experience, when LDS folk get married outside the temple, it is viewed as some kind of failure. I’m not suggesting that such an attitude is good or reasonable, just that it is a cultural reality within the Church.

  92. My parents were married in three different ceremonies, and celebrated three different anniversaries.

    They were first married by a Russian Orthodox priest in Japan, when my Dad was a soldier in the US Occupation after World War II and my Mom was still Russian Orthodox. Her parents and family were present.

    He only later found out that the US government didn’t recognize marriages under Japanese law. They went to the US Consul and filled out some forms. They were told to walk around the block while the forms were processed, and when they returned, they were told that they were now officially married.

    Later he was sent to the US for discharge, and immediately called back to Japan as a missionary. He baptized my Mom, and I was born a few months later. When he completed his mission (and the US law had been changed to allow Japanese natives–including me–to immigrate), we all sailed for the US, and were sealed together in the Salt Lake Temple with my Dad’s parents present, me then being sealed to them.

    My Dad passed away last year at age 81. The rather odd circumstances that took them through three different processes/ceremonies to become fully married and sealed didn’t seem to impair their marriage. They spent most of their retirement years working in the Jordan River Temple.

    On the other hand, when a non-member parent says they want to be there for their child’s wedding, I think it involves more than sitting in a sealing room while the bride and groom kneel at an altar while a blessing and covenant are pronounced, without the parents being given any speaking role, and no opportunity to show off to a bunch of invited guests, no walk down the aisle, no fancy dresses and tuxedos in the ceremony, no stained glass windows, no piles of flowers, no traditional Catholic or Protestant clergyman (or woman) in their shiny robes, no organ or string quartet playing, no opportunity for her to be told by dozens of family and friends “What a beautiful and impressive wedding ceremony” while they all drink wine and champagne. Even if a non-LDS parent were present for the sealing ceremony, it would be a vast disappointment compared to the expectations many of them had built up over years of raising a daughter, or even a son.

    My guess is that part of the agony is the fact that, if the bride has not been previously endowed, the ordinances leading up to the sealing itself can take several hours, while the non-member parents who flew into town for the reception have nothing in particular to do as parents. I might suggest that the couple could simplify thiings a little by having the bride go through the endowment (and preliminaries) the day before, before the parents come in, and then have the sealing the next morning, when it would take a minimum of time (about an hour for getting dressed and the sealing proper), and then changing to come out on the grounds of the temple for pictures. Since there are no photos in the temple, the record of the day will have all the non-LDS parents in them. They can be invited to be involved in all of the wedding reception aspects, clothing, music, flowers and decorations, lots of people.

    We are so used to inexpensive air travel in our day that we forget that not too long ago it was quite possible for people to get married in a location where one or both sets of parents could not physically be there. It is still not unusual for soldiers to marry their sweethearts in stolen hours before they have to deploy overseas, with no fancy wedding reception.

    It might offend many parents, but the issue will have to be brought up, whether what they think they are missing is being present at the exact instant that their child becomes a married person, or missing the cultural aspects of the big public wedding that lets them show off their generosity to their child. The first issue is a concern I can sympathize with, and that the alternatives that members in Europe have to put up with, with a simple civil ceremony, might alleviate. The second issue, though, is “not worthy” of being honored.

  93. Dean: the Church authorizes bishops to preform civil marriages.

    Yes, “civil” as in a non-priesthood marriage. There is no reason why a “civil” marriage needs to be performed by a bishop (or a priesthood holder) at all. It is all for show – i.e. it allows the couple the pretense that they were married by some sort of divine authority, when according to the wording of the ordinance no such endorsement has actually occurred.

    Bishops invoke the blessings of God upon the couple during the ceremony. Bishops tell the couple they are making sacred covenants before God as part of the ceremony

    True, except that more authority is exercised in setting apart someone to be a primary teacher, or blessing them to recover from a common cold.

    the Church encourages such marriages be performed in the home (most sacred next to temples), and in LDS churches

    All rhetoric to the contrary, a home is a rather humdrum, ordinary place to host something like a marriage ceremony. More particularly, holding a wedding at a home instead of a chapel emphasizes the church’s half-hearted endorsement of what is going on.

    our scriptures teach opposite to your view (such as Hebrews 13:4; 4 Nephi 1:11; D&C 49:15; none of which have the context of temple marriage

    The vows are essentially the same in civil marriages performed by Bishops as in the sealing ordinance

    The vows, yes. The authority, no. The presence of the bishop there is superfluous. The couple is making covenants with each other. The bishop is just a stand in for the local justice of the peace, with a little doctrinal commentary thrown in.

  94. To elaborate, the following passage from June 1998 Ensign article by Elder Kree-L Kofford demonstrates what the relatively recent teachings of the Church are on the subject:

    Know this: your feelings will be greatly different than those you have seen in evidence at marriages conducted in country clubs, wedding parlors, cathedrals, or even Latter-day Saint chapels. You’ll quickly realize that the temple is the real thing.

    To compare a civil marriage to one performed in the Lord’s way is like comparing a big flashlight to the sun.

    A civil marriage has two basic ingredients:

    1. The bride and groom make certain promises to each other.

    2. The bride and groom can then legally live together under the laws of the land.

    Of course, the one officiating will dress it up as much as possible. There will be counsel about the role of the husband and the wife and the need for love. There will also be sage comments about the institution of marriage.

    But no matter how it’s packaged, that’s all a civil marriage will ever be. The addition of words from scriptures, so often incorporated into civil ceremonies, such as “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder”, does not change that fact.

    Just as the baptisms conducted without authority in the meridian of time were eternally powerless, so too is a civil marriage powerless to do anything but qualify the man and the woman to live together under the laws of the land.

    Adorning the ceremony with a minister or even an LDS bishop, a beautiful church or other building, tuxedos, limousines, music, and all of the other trappings will not change that.

    An empty box is not given substance by the most beautiful gift wrapping. So it is with a civil marriage. It is not the Lord’s way, and no amount of rationalizing will ever change that unchangeable fact.

    In the temple you make covenants and promises to Heavenly Father. The authority for the promises in a celestial marriage comes from God, and the consequences of your failure to honor those promises also will come from God.

    In a civil marriage, the authority for the promises between bride and groom is the integrity of the two people. It rises no higher than that. It cannot. Its authority comes from man and not from God.

    Need I say more?

  95. Mark D.: The statement quoted from Elder Krofford should not be described as the “teachings of the Church.” His teachings should not be described as the teachings of the church. They are not, and some of the attitudes he expresses are offensive and wrong. A temple sealing is not made more sacred by demeaning the significance or value of the marriages of the vast mojority of people. Those marriages are sacred, and profoundly meaningful. The families formed thereby are every bit as real as your family and are recognized as such by God. There is one difference, and one difference only–a temple sealing means that marriage relationship is sealed for eternity, subject to certain other conditions being satisfied. The eternal nature of a civil marriage is subject to those same conditions, plus one additional condition–one more ordinance has yet to be performed to make that union an eternal. Our doctrine suggests that this will in fact occur for a great many of those marriages. To denigrate those marriages by comparing them to empty packages as a way of exalting temple sealings is inappropriate. To quote a certain church leader, “No amount of rationalizing will ever change that unchangeable fact.”

  96. Gary L, I agree with you on what the teachings of the church should be. The problem is that the Ensign is an official organ of the LDS Church, and this appears to be the most recent article on the subject. If the leaders in charge thought that the position of the Church on the subject should be represented in a more neutral way, perhaps they should have found a different author.

    Some of his more controversial characterizations aside, I think he makes abundantly clear why the Church calls non-temple marriages “civil” marriages. “The authority comes from man, and not from God.”

  97. I like to think it’s because they love and respect me, and have some understanding of what it means to act like grownups.

    Steve, I’m sure it was unintentional, but what you are saying here is that my in-laws didn’t love their son and aren’t grown-ups. Ouch.

    Sister Bennion, that was a beautiful and cogent explanation of the issue, thank you.

    And while we’re all lining up on the valuing-the-temple-or-not battle lines, I might as well join in with my personal take: If I had to do it again, I can’t imagine waiting a year after my wedding to be sealed. But having my husband’s parents not be in attendance was excruciating. It’s an impossible choice. Let’s do away with it.

    If the church has various concerns about allowing civil ceremonies (as it does in other countries), fine, at least do away with the year waiting period for cases where parents of the bride/groom are not members. This would leave all the social incentives intact for Utahns.

  98. This seems like such an easy problem to solve.

    Why not keep the current rule, with one exception: if one of the people getting married has a parent who does not hold a current temple recommend, then that couple is allowed to have a civil ceremony, provided that the sealing then take place within one week.

    This compromise would: (1) continue to stress the importance of the sealing to all of our marriage-age youth, while (2) removing this massive source of pain from so many families.

  99. I could just see parents letting their recommends expire in order to exploit that.

  100. “Steve, I’m sure it was unintentional, but what you are saying here is that my in-laws didn’t love their son and aren’t grown-ups. Ouch.”

    Sister Blah, if your in-laws placed a higher value on their own involvement in your “big day” than on respecting the choice of their son and his bride, then I quite intentionally assert that they acted selfishly. Now, it may have been more a matter of misunderstanding–not everybody quite “gets” the significance to their LDS friends and family of a temple marriage. Still, parents should respect that their child’s wedding is not “their” (the parents’) day, and any objections they may have should be rooted in concern for the child, not merely the parents’ emotional investment.

    I remember reading an Ensign article written by the LDS daughter of non-LDS parents, describing her parents’ negative reaction to her announcement that she would be marrying in the temple. On the MORNING of the wedding, her father looked her in the eye and said “I’ve waited twenty years to walk you down the aisle, and now I don’t even get to go to my own daugher’s wedding.”

    Miserable, selfish, immature, spiteful, small-minded S.O.B., in my humblest opinion. Saying something like that to a bride on her wedding day…it doesn’t get much tackier than that. He might as well pray for rain while he’s at it.

  101. quoting from # 97:

    “Why is it better to be married by a Bishop than a Justice of the Peace? Both ceremonies would result in precisely the same legal union…”

    I agree they have the same “legal” impact. But a Bishop also invokes the blessings of the Lord on the couple. That is beyond civil authority.

    “the officiant’s priesthood (or lack thereof) is irrelevant…”

    I would agree if we are only talking about legal authority to perform a marriage. But, the blessings a Bishop pronounces on the couple extend beyond the legal. I think a Bishop is way more betterer!

    “civil marriages … some kind of failure. I’m not suggesting that such an attitude is good or reasonable, just that it is a cultural reality within the Church.…”

    A misunderstanding among some, that I assume we are both trying to correct.

  102. #99 Mark D.

    You make several comments about civil marriages in the Church that I feel are derogatory.

    “It is all for show”
    “it allows the couple the pretense”
    “more authority is exercised in setting apart someone to be a primary teacher”
    “All rhetoric to the contrary, a home is a rather humdrum, ordinary place to host something like a marriage ceremony.”
    “the church’s half-hearted endorsement”
    “The bishop is just a stand in”

    I understand your feelings about this. I completely disagree though. I see the vows and the blessings invoked by a Bishop in a civil marriage as real an meaningful. You seem to me to be saying that they are a sham, and beneath it all the Church holds malice towards such activities. I don’t agree, and notwithstanding your persuasive assertions I don’t think you have made convincing case that it is a sham.

    In my opinion, next to the presence of God, the home would be the most appropriate place for a marriage (after all we are creating a new family). Over the years, I have become less and less inclined to enjoy all the pomp and pageantry of some marriages. I think they miss the mark and emphasize the wrong things (flowers, dresses, tuxes, dinners, etc).

  103. “Still, parents should respect that their child’s wedding is not “their” (the parents’) day…”

    That’s frankly a really odd assertion, Steve. Why isn’t it the parents’ day? In my view, a marriage was the uniting of two family lines, not just two individuals. That’s a rather extreme take on American culture of me-first (or me-only) individualism to see a wedding as exclusively between the bride and groom. Of course, that’s your right to subscribe to that culture, but what about parents who are from different cultures? In my inlaws’ culture, marriages are all about the family lines. I thought that was the LDS culture as well–a way in which we stand apart from “the world” in our view of marriage. Family line is very important to us. We even have a unique rite involving family line–the Patriarchal Blessing. When my sister was sealed last week, the sealer acknowledged the parents and grandparents in the room and talked about the family lines joining. Family lines continuing on both in front and behind the couple is the symbolism of the famous opposite mirrors in sealing rooms.

  104. #100 Mark D. you quoted from an Ensign article by Elder Kofford. I would just add, context is everything. He wasn’t really speaking to our topic. He was trying to convince unmarried youth of the preference for temple marriage over civil marriage — a yet future choice for them. I think it only fair to assume that he would say things quite differently to a married couple who asked if their civil marriage was a sham in the eyes of the Lord and the Church.

    I think neither of us would use his article as a club to beat up someone who had a civil marriage. I hope we can both agree that those who would do such a thing in the church are taking him out of context.

    On a slightly different note, regardless of the possibility of the Church allowing civil marriages along side the sealing ordinances. I am skeptical this will solve the problem. It may soothe things for some, but if you are angry, you will find something else to be offended by. (folks will just argue that it was a sham and just for show — hah!). I really doubt that the proposed solution would do much for the mother in the newspaper article. Her bitterness and anguish seemed to me to be much deeper.

  105. Also, seriously, don’t talk about my inlaws not loving their son. Them’s fighting words.

  106. “I might suggest that the couple could simplify thiings a little by having the bride go through the endowment (and preliminaries) the day before,”

    I think the bride should ideally have an opportunity to go through the endowment months before, and to attend other sealings so that she knows what the heck she is getting herself in to.

  107. Steve: I agree that the father in the example you quote was wrong to say what he said. But that isn’t what this is about. Consider the following:

    Daughter: Mom and Dad, I am getting married in three months, but unfortunately you, my grandparents and my siblings won’t be permitted to come because I am being married in the temple.

    Father: This is such an important family event. We really want to be there–it would mean a great deal to us and to the rest of our family. We certainly respect your religion, but we don’t understand why we can’t attend your wedding.

    Daughter: Well, it is because only Mormons in good standing who have made temple covenants are permitted to atttend the temple.

    Father: I understand that. In fact, I have read a little about the sealing ordinance. Could you not be married in the church, and then have the sealing ordinance in the temple? I understand that happens a lot. That way your family could attend, and you could still have that temple sealing that we know is so important to you.

    Daughter: Yes, but the church has a policy requiring that we wait for one year after a civil marriage before we can be sealed. We don’t want to wait.

    Father: Why do they have that policy?

    Daughter: I don’t know. I suppose it is intended to encourage temple weddings rather than civil weddings.

    Father: Does your church believe that civil marriages are not legitimate marriages?

    Daughter: Oh no, to the contrary. However, they are for time only, and we want to be married for all eternity. That happens only in temples.

    Father: By waiting for a year, would the sealing somehow be less effective, less sacred or less meaningful?

    Daughter: No. It is just as sacred and meaningful no matter when it occurs.

    Father: Then wouldn’t it make sense to include all of your family and loved ones in your wedding ceremony and then get sealed later. We have looked forward to this day for so long, and we all want to be a part of it.

    Daughter: No, we don’t want to do that. I can’t really tell you why. It’s just not the way we do things in my church. Sorry. Please try to understand. This is my big day, and I don’t want you to ruin it by being upset. You can still come and wait outside. There is a really cool visitors center at the temple which you could visit and learn more about the Mormon church while I am getting married.

    Would you really accuse this father and mother, the grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, siblings and close friends of being selfish because they are deeply hurt by this?

  108. Raymond,

    In regards to your comment #98, I think a lot of couples would benefit from having been around the block a few times before being legally married. : )

  109. President Kimball is quoted in the current YW manual as suggesting that those who marry civilly when they could marry in the temple may be jeopardizing exaltation if they die before being sealed. (Lesson 15, YW Manual 2):

    President Spencer W. Kimball told the following true story:

    “A few years ago a young couple who lived in northern Utah came to Salt Lake City for their marriage. They did not want to bother with a temple marriage, or perhaps they did not feel worthy. At any rate, they had a civil marriage. After the marriage they got into their automobile and drove north to their home for a wedding reception. On their way home they had an accident, and when the wreckage was cleared, there was a dead man and a dead young woman. They had been married only an hour or two. Their marriage was ended. They thought they loved each other. They wanted to live together forever, but they did not live the commandments that would make that possible. So death came in and closed that career. They may have been good young people; I don’t know. But they will be angels in heaven if they are. They will not be gods and goddesses and priests and priestesses because they did not fulfill the commandments and do the things that were required at their hands.

    “Sometimes we have people who say, ‘Oh, someday I will go to the temple. But I am not quite ready yet. And if I die, somebody can do the work for me in the temple.’ And that should be made very clear to all of us. The temples are for the living and for the dead only when the work could not have been done. Do you think that the Lord will be mocked and give to this young couple who ignored him, give them the blessings? The Lord said, ‘For all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead.’ (D&C 132:7)” (in Conference Report, Japan Area Conference 1975, pp. 61–62).

  110. I felt empathy for the groom’s mother who could not attend the temple wedding. It was a touching article. However, this mother was a professional wedding planner. I think the newly-wed couple may have dodged a bullet. With all the “Bridezilla” type wedding shows on TV, expensive wedding planning is just a repulsive and over-the-top excess. (Sometimes, Mormon couples fall into this trap, as well.) I notice in the article, the couple had a small reception at the bride’s home. As a wedding planner, the groom’s mother probably felt a vested interest in planning the wedding to show off her skills, and this would have been a far different event had she been able to wrest more control. Some of her contents revealed that she thought the event was somehow “all about her”.

  111. Vera, the fact that a mother who raised her son and was not allowed to attend his wedding is deeply hurtful. Why must you assume (other than ill will) that she thought the event was “”all about her”” (emphasis in original and quoted exactly. How about this. You are a mean person who seeks to minimize the hurt a mother feels from being left out of one of the most important moments of a son’s life. It tells her he doesn’t care about her now, nor later. I’ve been left out of 6 (count them, six) siblings weddings, and this tells me they don’t give a (choose your swear word) about me as a person. I assume the mother feels the same. Her job has nothing to do with it. Just keep on being cruel and feeling smug.

  112. I love temple weddings. They’re truly great. I had family who waited outside- people who loved me and whom I dearly loved. I am grateful those loved ones weren’t offended by those few moments apart. Their presence at all the other gatherings that day was important and their support was deeply meaningful. I’d not do it any other way if given the chance. As has been alluded to by others, beginning with a temple wedding can make a huge difference to couples.

    Alison Moore Smith: I wore my grandmother’s wedding dress to the Bountiful Temple (15 years ago, granted). But the matron had me bring it in to be pre-approved because it was “candlelight” (aged off-white). I agree that a simplified policy would… simplify things, but I’m glad I had access to a case-by-case ruling.

  113. #111 Dean: He wasn’t really speaking to our topic. He was trying to convince unmarried youth of the preference for temple marriage over civil marriage

    So the end justifies the means? You can spin the truth in order to motivate people to do what is right? In any case, what Elder Kofford says is the more or less the way the doctrine about civil vs. temple marriages has been taught for a long time. You might want to check out the First Presidency Message from President Kimball in 1974 for another example.

    You should not assume that my description of what the doctrine of the Church has been (at least in the recent past) is what I think it should be, by the way. My point is that in my opinion teaching that civil marriages are little more than legal permission to live together, and the doctrine that they are not priesthood ordinances at all (but rather the bishop standing in for a local judge) probably causes more harm than good.

    Treating any marriage that way is contrary to what is taught in the scriptures, not to mention long standing religious tradition. In fact, much of the doctrine on the subject appears to be opportunistic, a purposeful dismissal of the sanctity of ordinary marriages in favor of scaring people into a better one. The oft taught quasi-doctrines that there is no possible progression between kingdoms nor any opportunity for people that had the chance to marry in the temple in this life to make it up in the next have a similarly opportunistic air about them.

    In my opinion, marriage (any marriage) is so important that degrading ordinary “civil” marriages, or marriages between members and non members, or motivating people never to be married because the prospect of a temple marriage isn’t at hand, etc. is a serious error. That is why (in my opinion) it would be better to treat non-temple marriages performed by a bishop as an actual (albeit lesser) priesthood ordinance, with the understanding that it is a sacred arrangement for time only, subject to further work to have it sealed in the temple at a later date. As it is, other denominations take such marriages far more seriously and I think that is sad.

  114. Over the years, I have become less and less inclined to enjoy all the pomp and pageantry of some marriages. I think they miss the mark and emphasize the wrong things (flowers, dresses, tuxes, dinners, etc).

    I completely agree. However, I don’t think the social and religious value of the participation of the extended family of both parties at a marriage ceremony should be underestimated. Making sure they have no meaningful part if they are less active or non-members weakens family relationships, and indeed makes an end run around one of the primary purposes of wedding ceremonies in the first place – the familial and social recognition and participation of the sanctity of the relationship in the first place.

    If a couple goes off and has a marriage in a secret chamber, no matter how holy, that purpose is defeated, and the familial and social support for that relationship is weakened. And that is why, in my opinion, it would be preferable to split all LDS weddings into two ordinances, a preliminary one before the same audience as might come to sacrament meeting, and a later one in the temple, for those that are worthy to be there.

    Scaring people into the temple doesn’t sound like the best way to promote true faith to me. The increased level of compliance associated with the policy that an ordinary “civil” marriage is just a legal formality with no priesthood authority at all, sounds to me like a false economy, as if the merits of temple marriage have to be sold on illegitimate grounds. People going through the motions of activity to ensure that their relatives and associates don’t think their marriage is a manifestation of a spiritual failure doesn’t seem particularly faith building to me either, to say nothing of the treatment of marriages between members and non-members who have no such option.

  115. Vera, forgive me for being so harsh. I am assuming that you grew up around Mormons and don’t understand the place that a wedding has in the larger US society. The only reason that a mother would be left out of a standard US wedding would be some terrible (possibly criminal) rift between her and her son. It’s a gigantically big deal, and tells the person so excluded (because of “unworthiness” as mentioned earlier) that their relative finds something deeply wrong with them.

    When you’re told that a family member finds you unworthy, well, it’s difficult to recover from. Please have a bit of compassion, I’m sure you will once you understand the non-mormon perspective.

    And those of you think your family is fine with you excluding them, maybe they love you and just see no reason to tell you how hurt they feel by their exculsion. I know a case or twelve like that.

    Mormonism is evangelical. Why drive just those people (family members of those that have joined the church) far far away?

  116. One comment too many: If civil marriage has so little value, why care about the prospective sexes of the two partners?

  117. djinn, don’t people elope or have destination weddings that exclude the parents?

  118. If the Church allowed immediate sealings after a civil wedding everywhere we would see Church members following the excessive ways of the world in have some massively expensive wedding followed by a temple sealing. The temple sealing already takes too much of a backseat to the overblown receptions we see.

    Keep it simple is the counsel with regard to wedding receptions. It used to be that nuts, mints, punch and cake were all that were necessary for reception. Now we have to have a full blown, catered meal. It is such a waste. My father-in-law offered to give me the money if we just eloped (and our reception was relatively simple–with the exception of the ice sculpture). I would have been happy to take the money but my bride didn’t think that was a good idea.

  119. Thomas, I’ve never understood the idea that we have to put restrictions on receptions, civil ceremonies and so on, so that they don’t “overshadow” the sealing. How can anything “overshadow” the sealing? The sealing is supposed to be of paramount importance in itself. If we worry that something else will overshadow the sealing, and make rules to ensure that that doesn’t happen, that in itself sends the message that the sealing is so unimportant that we have to make arbitrary rules to elevate its importance.

    I see the same thing on other church policies. BSA says you can become a Boy Scout at age 11. But the church wants Scouting to be associated with the priesthood, so we segregate 11-year-olds in their own patrol, often within a troop that has barely enough boys to function anyway, all so that they can become “real” scouts at age 12 when they’re ordained, and the priesthood will seem more important. If becoming a Deacon is as important as we say it is, then it ought to be ok that they have been full members of the troop for a year before being ordained.

  120. If the Church allowed immediate sealings after a civil wedding everywhere we would see Church members following the excessive ways of the world

    The Church should drop the entire idea of calling _any_ non-temple marriage a “civil” marriage. It is a first class insult.

    Second, a doctrinal distinction should be adopted between a LDS non-temple marriage ceremony and a non-LDS one. If an ordinary LDS wedding actually had some doctrinal significance, the Church could (for example) actually refuse to perform any such ordinances outside an LDS chapel.

    No ceremonies in homes, wedding halls, reception centers, etc., but rather something in a church that actually befits the sacred nature of what is going on.

    It used to be that nuts, mints, punch and cake were all that were necessary for reception.

    Around these parts (Wasatch Front), it still is. A catered meal is an almost unheard of exception, something perhaps engaged in by the extremely wealthy.

  121. Left Field, of course people elope and exclude people from their weddings all the time. I can guarantee similar painful fallout happens, with repercussions that often last for years–same behavior, same consequences. Hurt feelings all around. However, blame is limited to the couple themselves (or to whatever was seen as causing the breach.) When a couple excludes a family member from an LDS wedding there’s a nice, convenient institution to blame, much more convenient and a much bigger target. I believe the topic of this post is the fallout from such behaviour on the institution itself.

  122. Djinn: True, but then in some ways, Gentile weddings are more exclusive than LDS weddings. A nuts, mints, punch, and cake reception means that you can invite everyone and anyone, in some cases, even the general public via a newspaper announcement. A catered dinner as is more common in Gentile weddings means $X per plate, and a limit on the guest list. That requires the couple to put a dollar value on their friends and relatives, which I think is reprehensible. Often, if you don’t make the list for the $X/plate dinner, you don’t even get an announcement of the marriage.

    I have a friend I’ve known since elementary school. Although we seldom see each other any more, we’ve kept in touch over the years. One year when we were in our 30s, I got a Christmas card that mentioned a girlfriend. The next year, I got a card that included a woman’s name, but with a different surname. I hadn’t received a wedding announcement, but I wondered if perhaps they had been married. I couldn’t figure out how to ask without it sounding like “So, are you two living in sin or what?” Every year I got a card from the two of them, but I never knew they had been married until they happened to mention their fifth anniversary.

    I was a little hurt that I hadn’t received an announcement. I lived in an adjacent state at the time, but probably would have made the trip if I possibly could have. In any event, I would have wanted to offer my congratulations and offer a gift. I learned later that non-LDS weddings often have a limited guest list, and that if you’re not invited to the reception, you don’t get an announcement. Somehow, that information didn’t do much to alleviate the hurt at being left off the list. Of course, I got over it, and I don’t suggest that that hurt is equivalent to a parent missing their child’s wedding, but Gentile weddings could stand to be a bit more inclusive as well, and a parent missing a child’s temple wedding at least usually is aware that a marriage is taking place.

  123. Yes, of course, Left Field; marriages are by their nature exclusionary; not everyone gets invited. But a core of people, namely the parents and the siblings always always always always always are invited in today’s American society unless there is a serious rift; in such a situation it’s understood by all and sundry that something is seriously wrong.

    A single mother who raised her son (the example in the article) is not equivalent to a friend you seldom see anymore (your example). But yet you feel a “little hurt,” now imagine that pain raised (exponentially) to the level of a parent who expected her whole life to see her son married.

  124. I agree (as I already said) that there is a big difference between a friend you seldom see, and a parent, but I disagree that a marriage celebration has to be exclusionary. In my experience, Mormon wedding receptions tend to have an open invitation to anyone who wants to come, so it is possible to invite everyone. I understand that if a meal is served, there is a limit to how many can be invited to that particular event, but I really, really dislike the idea that the couple has to weigh your relationship against the cost of the reception, and if you’re found wanting, you not only don’t get invited to *anything*, you may not even hear of the wedding. That just seems wrong. You shouldn’t have to put a dollar value on your guests. It’s probably my Mormon background, but I think a wedding generally ought to include some event to which anyone who knows them can come to wish the couple well, even if they just get a couple of mints and a cup of punch.

    I also disagree (I’m not trying to be disagreeable, really.) with your pentuple “always.” I think there’s lots of occasions when a couple might elope, without it being due to a rift with the parents. Perhaps they decide to marry on a whim; perhaps they want to avoid the expense and hassle of a traditional wedding. That doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a particular problem with the parents. In fact, If you’re really estranged from your parents, there’s no particular reason to elope at all. You could just have a traditional wedding without inviting them. And if a couple decides they really want to get married on top of Mt. McKinley, I don’t think that indicates any serious rift with Mom if she can’t make the climb.

    Generally though, the parents will be invited unless there’s a particular reason for not doing so. I’m not sure that I would say that deciding to have a religious ceremony in a place inaccessible to the parents is any more heinous or indicative of a family rift, than is deciding to have the ceremony on a mountaintop where the parents can’t come. If anything, it seems like the religious motivation ought to be more socially acceptable than the couple just wanting to have the wedding in a Really Cool Place where Mom and Dad can’t come.

  125. Let me pose a hypothetical, appropriate to this Easter holiday:

    Every year since Jim was a little boy, his Grandma hosted Easter dinner for the extended family. It was always a delightful occasion, and the meal was always centered around Grandma’s baked ham. Grandma’s ham was her prized recipe, and had won her the blue ribbon at the county fair each year she had entered it. Hosting Easter dinner and seeing the whole family enjoy her ham together was always one of the highlights of Grandma’s year.

    As a young adult, after a time of personal spiritual discovery, Jim converted to Judaism. The kashrut rules, like every aspect of his new faith, are very important to him. Easter Sunday is approaching. What should he do?

    I suppose the answer depends on how much importance Jim attaches to keeping kosher. Let’s say, hypothetically, that they are sufficiently important to him that, despite immense regret, he opts not to participate in Grandma’s Easter dinner. Now a second question: how should Grandma react? Should she get angry at him, attempt to “guilt trip” him into changing his mind, complain to the rest of the family, have the story of her grandson’s meanness published in the local paper, etc?

    I’m no authority on etiquette, but to my mind, trying to get a Jew to eat pork sounds like the epitome of bad taste.

    I have difficulty taking seriously anybody who says (in essence) “I respect your religon, but I want you to compromise an important facet of it to accomodate my feelings.” I suppose that to someone for whom religious practice and belief is at most a pleasant little hobby on the side, the choice to put one’s religion before the feelings of family members may seem cruel. But I think anyone who understands how central religious belief and practice can be to some people’s lives would at least be understanding–and hopefully supportive–of Jim’s decision, even if it causes him or her grief.

  126. I’m a convert to the Church, my husband is not and he is Jewish. We
    are both active in our religious faiths and include all holidays.
    We have a daughter and she has been raised LDS and is at BYU and devoutly LDS with a great respect for her Jewish heritage. I’ve read all these posts knowing that one day soon she will be making that decision. Her father will understand why she will choose the Temple.
    I know this because when she was a teenager she questioned the importance of keeping the Word of Wisdom, with utmost exactness. She wanted to know what a teaspoon of wine would taste like. I tried to
    help her understand but in the end it was my dear husband who got through to her. He told her that it’s a matter of who you are and what you believe. And that when she became a member of this Church she took on certain beliefs that came with the whole package and that
    we and others outside her faith expect her to live as her religion teaches. If she does not,they and God have a right to be disappointed
    with her behavior. He told her that because he is Jewish, he is
    expected to keep Kosher. It isn’t up to him to pick and choose what he will and won’t follow–it’s the whole package.
    When my Jewish in laws are in our home, I don’t expect them to eat what is not right to them. I expect that they will not expect our daughter to marry in a way that is not right to her. It’s a matter of respecting the meaningful way what her religion means to her. She is an adult and not a small child who needs to make decisions to please other adults. That said, I’m glad my parents and my in laws
    were able to watch my husband and I marry–they were his best friends.
    We’ve been married this summer 25 years. But I know them. Had we been both LDS they would have expected us to live our new religion–
    exactly. It’s the way both sets of parents raised us–you keep all the tenets of your religion–you commit all the way.

  127. The temple sealing already takes too much of a backseat to the overblown receptions we see…Keep it simple is the counsel with regard to wedding receptions

    Sincerely, I have no idea why we should have counsel to keep a reception simple. I had one much as you suggest (BYU Alumni House garden, eclairs, fruit, and frappe thing, a string quartet and a receiving line). But why would it make the sealing less meaningful if I had a huge dance party? Is there something inherently wrong with a gorgeous dress with a train and sequins? Is there something wicked about dancing? Or even (gasp!) catered dinners? (We had a catered breakfast in SL a few blocks from the temple.)

    To me it’s mostly a nonsensical oddity like the “counsel” to make sure funerals aren’t really about the deceased, but a sermon to non-members in attendance. What?

  128. P.S. #134– I forgot to say that I do wish the non-member parents could
    witness the sealing part of the temple ceremony.
    Years ago someone LDS had told me that temple sealing rooms have side door that opens directly to outdoors and had hoped that non-member parents could then come in that way to see the “wedded” part of the ceremony. That hasn’t happened but it would be nice if there were a way like that. I suppose
    though that if they drank coffee that morning perhaps it defiles the temple even though they’re not members of the Church?

  129. LeftField, maybe your barely seen friends felt really uncomfortable about their situation due to their perhaps mistaken but easily understood understanding of yours eemingly set-in-stone (refer this and numerous of the bloggernacle posts) beliefs and didn’t feel comfortable sharing their living situation. I think its a completely side issue to that of this string. These slight friends telling you that they were getting married may have interpreted by them as tantamount to letting you know they were previously sinning in your estimation. Better to just keep quiet.

    That said, I think it has almost no relation to the situation we’re talking about, when a parent is disallowed entrance to a child’s wedding. Why can’t you understand this? Why do you equate this casual relationship — with someone you barely know that didn’t invite you to their wedding, which for all they knew, and reinforced by reading this thread, you didn’t even consider a real marriage — with a temple wedding that excludes mothers. Not a casual friend. A mother. Excluded.

    The logic stream, as far as I can reconstruct it seems to go:

    There are people I barely know that didn’t let me go to their wedding.

    THis shows that just because I know someone doesn’t mean that I get to attend a wedding.

    Therefore I can exclude anyone I want (because they’re people I know,) including my parents, from my wedding because I get to exclude whomever I want because just knowing someone (to whatever degree) doesn’t indicate that they have a right to attend.

    I need not point out the logical errors.

    I confess a certain surprise that I haven’t been booted off. Thanks.

  130. I’m going to put this in really simple terms. Families are expected to attend the marriages of their family members. If a close family member is excluded ( A grandparent, a parent, a sibling) it means in the culture at large that those excluded are unworthy; that they have done something really bad to prevent them from attending this all-important rite. It means the married couple doesn’t care about them. Period. And might positively think quite ill of them. This now, is in standard non-mormon culture. Hard to get past. For years.

  131. I totally get how hurtful it would be to be excluded from a child’s wedding. But it really bothered me how not supportive this mom was of her son. When he was on his mission, she sent letters challenging his faith. That’s just awful. I would never do that to one of my kids, especially if they were out there preaching faith in Jesus Christ. And then to do this interview and talk about how hurt she was and make it all so public is just selfish. She wants everyone to feel sorry for her, but it will hurt her son and his wife and won’t do anything to change the circumstances. She should writes a letter to the prophet, not call the local paper. Totally lame.

    However, I do agree that it would be nice to have the civil ceremony as an option. I probably wouldn’t have chosen to, but my husband and I aren’t super close with our parents. And our marriage was so sacred and what the officiator said was so powerful that I wouldn’t have traded that. If my marriage and sealing had been separated, I think it would have felt different somehow. But I don’t know. I’ve been to a few Catholic weddings and a few family sealings and it is all sacred. It’s funny that our wedding took about 5 minutes and the other weddings took closer to 30 minutes.

    I totally agree with whoever said before that women should be encouraged to get their endowments well before the wedding. Because it was a lot to take in and I wasn’t quite prepared for it and there was major pressure because if I had decided I wasn’t ready, my wedding would have been cancelled.

  132. Jen, many of us are close to our parents. We don’t want to hurt them, neither do we wish them to hurt us. These two facts do not appear to apply to you. Parents and children who are otherwise close can have their relationships cruelly rent, whether it makes sense to you or not, simply because in America and other countries, the marriage ceremony is a family event, and when family is excluded it hurts, and colors the abandoned person’s vision of the married couple for whatever reasons. Maybe all the non-temple goers are really bad people. but they still are hurt, and the exclusion from such an important event, especially for people that were not raised in the Mormon church says loud and clearly that those left on the steps are not worthy and are not really members of the family worthy of acknowledgment. Whether this is correct or not, that’t the way it pretty universally reads.

    I’m happy to hear that many of the conference speeches this conference at least touch upon treating those that are not members of this specific church with kindness and understanding. I think that’s all anyone asks.

  133. Sorry djinn, your first paragraph in 137 is quite difficult to follow, but if I understand, you’re suggesting that I wasn’t invited because my friend somehow thought I would be judgmental. Or perhaps it’s you who thinks I would be judgmental. Nonsense. Read what I wrote again. I have no idea what my friend’s premarital activities might or might not have been. Nor did I care. And receiving a wedding announcement wouldn’t have given me that information anyway. Remember that the very reason I didn’t just ask if they were married was that, although I was fine with them either being married or not, I didn’t want it to sound like it made a difference to me. Still, we’ve been friends for nearly all of our lives (and please don’t denigrate my longest-standing friendship by calling him a “slight” friend or someone I barely know) and I would have appreciated knowing that he was getting married.

    I have said twice (three times now) that me not being invited to my friend’s wedding is NOT equivalent to a parent not being invited. My point had nothing to do with those being equivalent, and that is why I twice (three times now) was very careful to explicitly stipulate that they are NOT equivalent, so that I wouldn’t be misunderstood on that point where we agree and could go on to make my other points about non-LDS weddings where we might disagree. So for the fourth time now: yes, I do understand that, and no I don’t equate the two situations.

    I have no idea where you might have gotten the idea that I don’t consider his marriage a real marriage, or even less of an idea why he would think that. Perhaps you have me confused with another commenter on this thread.

    The irony here is that I mostly agree with you on the major points. It is hurtful that parents are excluded from temple weddings. I am strongly in favor of changing the policies to allow a public wedding immediately before the sealing. I am against policies that artificially seek to denigrate non-temple marriages and other wedding events on the misguided notion that doing so elevates the temple sealing (see comment 127 above). My comments about non-LDS weddings have nothing to do with justifying current temple policies, because I disagree with those policies as you do.

    If you would like to address the points that I did make about non-LDS weddings, I’ll be happy to discuss the issue, but I object having to respond to accusations based on things that I did not say. Please don’t paint me as some sort of “civil marriages are evil and excluded parents should just get over it” fanatic. I have said nothing of the kind, and those sentiments are 180 degrees from what I believe.

  134. Left Field, you could just ask this friend if he’d gotten married. Stranger things have happened. I did not get that you and your friend had been friends for life. So ask him already. Thank you for your kind take on the exclusionary practices of mormon-nonmormon marriages. As a complete offside. I know you. Sorta. For what it’s worth. Now, you can probably figure out who I am.

  135. Left Field, you could just ask this friend if he’d gotten married. Stranger things have happened. I did not get that you and your friend had been friends for life. Forgive (or not) my misunderstanding. Thank you for your kind take on the exclusionary practices of mormon-nonmormon marriages, and forgive (or not) my unjustified words. As a complete offside. I pretty sure I know you. Sorta. Though I could be imagining it. For what it’s worth, though I certainly could be entirely wrong, and leave that as an option. Now, you can maybe just possibly figure out who I am.

    I know you’re an exemplary, forgiving individual. Forgive me for any hurt I might have caused. Now to undercut the previous kind words, Mormons, especially in the academy, have a difficult place, as no one wants to say anything that could be seen as even slightly offensive; but are afraid their own behaviors may be interpreted as offensive by, uh, guess who. So it’s missed communication, walking around on tippy toes and the when it come to personal relations, and a certain nervousness all around. There’s an undercurrent you may simply be completely in the dark about. This friend from childhood may wish to keep in touch, but fear moral approbation, and so tries to keep contact at a minimum. I made that entire last line up as I do not have the facts. (Except that I might, or I might just be imagining things.–Oh look! A unicorn! And a Rainbow!)

    This is all supposition (or just fantasy) and should be treated as such. In fact, perhaps the entire comment should be ignored. But again, thanks for all the conference speeches asking for kindness (which I’m sure you always expressed) towards the other. You see, the problem isn’t you (whomever you are,)

    It’s the larger society that misreads, badly; Mormon practices, such as Temple Marriages, which I have seen in action multiple times. You may think that I sound like not the nicest person towards Mormons on the planet, but the truth is, I defend them (us?) all the time. With same attack-dog fervor you see here that seems to be my only setting. Except that I have actual examples of decent Mormon people that I hope turns the tide a bit.

    There’s this greek word “Agonistic,” it implies argument marked not only by conflict but mutual admiration. I hope you see but a hint of that here. I would not comment if I didn’t see you as someone from whom I could learn, in spite of my admittedly terribly difficulty with tone, etc.

  136. Though, you Left Field, are perfectly justifiable (no religious overtones implied) are perfectly justified in kicking me to the kerb.

    Yours in san serif,


  137. Sorry about the no editing allowed function, I see many mistakes; perhaps I can pretend to be a non-English speaker. I was raised on Klingon, that’s it! era’nganbej neH jIH ‘ach ‘e’ vIQIjlaH

  138. Steve:

    “I have difficulty taking seriously anybody who says (in essence) “I respect your religon, but I want you to compromise an important facet of it to accomodate my feelings.””

    In what way is not having a civil ceremony before being sealed (the same day) an “important facet” of our religion? It isn’t even an unimportant facet—it simply isn’t a facet at all in the practice of our religion in most countries outside the US (where couples get married civilly then sealed in the temple with no 1-year waiting period, or historically in the US (my pioneer ancestors, etc).

    In your analogy, it would be more like the kid converting to Mormonism, then telling grandma he can’t come to her party because ham is against Mormonism (which it sort of is in Spring, as opposed to Winter). She would be hurt for basically no reason.

  139. Cynthia,

    My analogy was focused on the dilemma CURRENTLY faced by Mormons with non-LDS family members: marry in the temple (to the exclusion of said family members) or marry outside the temple and wait a year before availing themselves of the blessings of a sealing. The feelings of non-LDS friends and family are of course extremely important, but obtaining a temple sealing most certainly is an “important facet” of the LDS faith. Current Church policy requires a painful choice between these two important (to most practicing Mormons) priorities.

    I defer judgement on the Church policy prohibiting civil ceremonies on the same day as the sealing (except where law necessitates). I can certainly understand the arguments in favor of softening this policy (as would my mother, I’m sure), but, being unaware of the reasons for this policy, I’m hesitant to condemn it.

    I’m grateful that my (non LDS) family was supportive of my and my wife’s decision to marry in the temple.

  140. And I am very grateful that my relationship with my inlaws has remained strong despite the discomfort over the wedding.

    Thinking more about my reworking of your analogy, I have stumbled on a reason for keeping the current policy that seems worth taking seriously (unlike, I’m afraid, all the other reasons I’ve ever heard). And that is that some couples may really want their wedding to be the same as their sealing. In the absence of a harsh church policy mandating such, it would seem capricious and unfeeling of them to opt for this when it would exclude dear family members. With the current policy, they can throw up their hands and say, hey, don’t blame me, blame the policy. As you say, under the current policy being sealed vs not for a whole year is a very important fact of our religion.

  141. We had a ring ceremony after our temple wedding. My wife’s non-member family thought (correctly!) it was a sham wedding meant to assuage their feelings about being left out of the real thing. It didn’t make them feel any better about the whole thing.

    Several of my non-member friends expressed similar skepticism about the ring ceremony (their feelings about it were relevant but not as important as my new family-in-law’s feelings about it).

  142. djinn,

    Sorry, If I know you, I don’t think I’ve figured it out yet.

    Really, I have no idea why I wasn’t invited. It could have been an inadvertent error. It could have been a question of the non-LDS wedding customs I was discussing. Maybe he assumed that because I lived out of state, that I wouldn’t be able to come. Maybe my invitation was lost in the mail, and he was also hurt that I didn’t respond or attend.

    Yes, of course I could have asked, but I didn’t want to risk damaging our friendship by raising the issue of my not being invited. To this day, I haven’t breathed a word about it to them so I don’t think they even know it was an issue for me. At the time, I was afraid that asking if they were married might come across as implying judgment if they weren’t, or as being confrontational about my lack of an invitation if they were. It was a little disconcerting to have his wife’s name show up on his letters with no explanation, but I guess I just decided to regard them as a couple of uncertain legal status. It wasn’t until five years later that I even found out for sure that there had been a wedding from which I had been (apparently) snubbed. By then, it was a little late to let it affect our friendship, so I just kept my mouth shut. Due to distance, we have for years fallen into a comfortable, mostly Christmas-card relationship, but I don’t get any sense that he’s avoiding contact or has any issues with me. Our relationship is such that I ought to have been invited (or at least informed), but I just regard that as an inexplicable anomaly.

  143. Please visit the temple wedding petition website to familiarize yourself with the many aspects of the policy. There are many personal stories and comments that reflect both an LDS and non-member point of view. The solution is quite simple as I see it. Grant members worldwide the free agency to choose to have the legal civil aspect of the marriage performed where all family can participate and then give the couple the needed time to be “sealed” in the temple as is done in many countries without penalizing the couple with a one year wait.


    It might also interest you to note in the media section of the petition site that there are letters with a correspondence with Elder L. Tom Perry discussing the concern.

  144. My non-LDS parents visited in the temple waiting room while I got married to my wife. The never complained nor did anything to mar that happy day. May they be blessed forever for it!

  145. I’m the mom of Nate mentioned in the post. I totally understand the dilemma here. I myself was married in the temple. By the time my dear son married, I was no longer married to his father. And I no longer participated in the ceremonies of the church. Describing the path that led me here is still an object of mystery, belief. I had no bad feelings about the desire of my children to marry in the temple. I have a very deep understanding of where that comes from. And I supported that decision. It comes from deep within a person. The part that troubles me. And I have found no way to bridge this gap. Here is who I am: I have not endured to the end. I have failed. I am to be pitied, prayed for. That does make me sad.

  146. djinn, I did not mean to be unkind or smug stating that a mother who is a professional wedding planner may have a more than vested interest in her only son’s wedding. I meant to echo what has already been posted here, the event is not as important as the life-long marriage. Celebration of events is great, but I have attended wedding events for members of my extended family, who are not members of the Church, which boggled the mind in terms of extravagence, hoopla, pomp, and circumstance. They were awesome events, but often caused debt for many years. The financial strain, as well as all the strain from the planning is intense, and seems unrealistic in expectations. Sometimes the unions do not survive payment of the debt incurred by the event. Life afterwards may seem anti-climactic. Usually, these couples have lived together for years, even having children together, before the wedding. I do not see the point. Many people, just prefer something simpler, and more private. Whatever the plans of the couple, loved ones should support those choices.

    I remember we helped provide a simple garden reception for a foster daughter, who was married in the temple. She had had no contact with her immediate family for several years, but invited them to the wedding reception and for pictures at the temple. They had offered no financial or emotional support to the bride. Yet at the last minute, they all felt the need to chime in with their objections to feeling left out of the actual temple wedding. That is the type of selfishness I object to.

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