In 1968 I immigrated to Canada from England where I had joined the LDS Church the previous year. I was 24 years old and so completely enamored by the idea of being with the Saints in North America that I left my parents and family, taking my two little boys I joined my husband in Ontario. I thought that I could learn how to be a ‘good Mormon’ from the wonderful examples I was sure existed in North America. The people who would be exactly like those dear young missionaries.
Fast forward now to 1974 – I was divorced, had moved to Edmonton, Alberta. I had met and fallen in love with a wonderful, gentle man, a fifth generation, Mormon bachelor who would provide righteous priesthood leadership for me, my sons and by then a 4 year old daughter. I needed that in my life. I wanted so badly to do what God expected of me and I was ‘worthy’ by LDS standards to have this marriage performed in the Cardston, Alberta temple.
Acting on the advice of others I received my endowment the previous week in order to give it my full and undivided attention. The next week was a blur of excitement and preparation for the big day when I would become Jim’s wife for time and all eternity.
Each member of my family in England received a wedding invitation, though of course I knew they would not be able to attend. One cannot expect people to pay airfare to attend a reception and then wave goodbye as I went off on my honeymoon. I longed for the presence of just one family member, but none of them were members of the Church and I accepted that this was not to be. The fact that they were so far away mitigated the disappointment and I moved forward with the wedding with little more introspection than that – I was marrying the man I loved – what did all that matter?
It mattered a lot. I became very tearful at one point on our honeymoon with sadness at the distance between me and my family. I comforted myself with the thought that maybe, one day, they too would become members and that I needed to set the example of sacrifice for my beliefs. I don’t believe I even examined this from their perspective at all. The Church was true and I was true to it. I would show my family by my actions that my choices were the ‘correct’ ones.
I had attended a wedding in England prior to emigrating and it was lovely. My friend married a returned missionary in the chapel – not as a second class Mormon who was ‘not worthy’ or who chose not to marry ‘inside’ the temple, but as a worthy member in good standing. The following day, they went off to be sealed in the London Temple ‘after’ spending the night together in a hotel.
I felt no loss whatsoever; I had been with her for the special moment when she and her sweetheart said “I do.” I didn’t know what would happen in the temple and just felt happy for her. If I had met Jim, (my husband of 39 years) in England, this is what we would have experienced – a chapel full of parents, siblings, cousins, nephews and nieces and friends coming together to rejoice with us that we had found love with each other and were making a public commitment to be legally and lawfully wed.
In recent years I returned to England for the wedding of my beloved niece where her proud father walked her down the aisle in traditional English style and she was then married to her sweetheart as fully believing, worthy individuals. They looked so young and innocent with a future of ‘happy ever after’ shining in their eyes. After a fun filled reception, Jim joined them at the London Temple where that marriage was sealed for eternity. That’s the way it happens in the UK today, and in some other countries due to the legal requirements of that country.
It is my opinion (perhaps some fellow Brits will comment on this), they would not want anything to change. As soon as marriage laws changed in South Africa, the requirement became the same as it is in North America and that is what will happen in the UK too should their laws allow full authorization for marriages to be performed ‘inside’ a temple. British people love having a wedding to which all members of their family are invited. There are no hurt feelings and none of the loneliness I, and so many others experienced at their weddings. No mothers waiting outside the temple crying while their children are inside doing who knows what? Church leaders do not appear to recognize how much pain this policy causes to loving family members who just happen to have different beliefs. Those parents have made innumerable sacrifices for their children throughout their lives and may even be financing this big event but due to a Church Policy, they are unable to fully participate, and nobody will give them a ‘good reason’ why.
In the Young Women’s program of the Church they are taught about the importance of a temple wedding. We must be careful in our use of words. A marriage is a legal contract, a wedding is the ceremony that may accompany the contract, the sealing is the authority to cause that contract to become an eternal covenant made with the spouse and the Church. In the manual used to teach young women, there was a story told by President Spencer W. Kimball about a young couple who didn’t ‘bother’ to be married ‘inside’ the temple – he didn’t know why. He even says that they might have been good young people, but they were in an accident after the wedding and they both died; they were not sealed, thereby- forever separate. When someone suggested the temple work might be performed by others for this young couple his response was:
“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). (my bolding).
As I looked for the link to this lesson I discovered that www.lds.org has changed somewhat and perhaps this awful story is no longer being used as of 2013, yet the one year wait ‘penalty’ has not been lifted. Are the Saints in other countries less worthy of the Lord’s blessings because they are married civilly first? They actually seem more blessed as they have the privilege of enjoying both a beautifully inclusive wedding and a sealing in the temple?
It would be so easy for the Church leaders to end the one year wait policy that North Americans and others are subjected to – simply for obeying the commandment to Honor their father and mother and for loving their families.
On this same visit to www.lds.org I discovered the following teaching in the lesson on temple weddings as of the beginning of 2013.
“Why is family important? The family is ordained of God and is central to His plan for the eternal destiny of His children. This divine plan makes it possible for individuals to return to His presence and for families to be united eternally.”
Are families in other countries in some way different from those in North America?
With the LDS understanding of the importance of families it seems incongruous that the Church would ‘punish’ couples for honoring that divine plan.
If it is permissible for Saints in other countries to marry civilly and to then give their full and undivided attention to the actual sealing of that marriage, why do North Americans need to be punished? Why are they singled out for a one year wait?
My friend Michelle James Spencer joined with me in a petition campaign to plead with Church leaders to review this policy, to cause them to become aware of the damage that is being done to the sacred family unit and good will towards the Church. We collected hundreds of signatures in 2010 from Mormons, Catholics, Lutherans and so on, and dropped it off at the Church Office Building in Salt Lake City. The following year 2011, Michelle and I met with Michael Otterson of Church Public Affairs who graciously received the petition of new names from that year, reminding us that the one year wait imposed on those who marry civilly is merely a policy, that policies can and do change. We were hopeful.
In early May 2012 my husband and I were also graciously received by Mr. Otterson. My husband was a believing member and wrote a heartfelt letter to President Monson to consider the heartache of the stories included with the letter. This letter needed first to be approved by Mr. Otterson before he was willing to pass it along to the 12 apostles who would then decide whether to do anything about it. He approved the letter and as of April 2013 we have heard nothing more.
Faithful members of the Church need to know:
• This is a policy and not a doctrine.
• They have the agency to choose the type of wedding they have based on their circumstances.
• That having a civil wedding does not make them unworthy.
• That God commands them to honor their parents.
• That obeying a policy has nothing to do with loving God.
• Choosing a civil wedding is about honoring family.
• There is no redress for ordinary members to appeal regarding any policy.
• If a couple has previously been endowed, are completely worthy of a temple recommend yet choose to be married civilly, they do not lose that temple recommend. They are even allowed to perform proxy sealings but are not permitted to have their own sealing ceremony until one year after the civil marriage.
I welcome your comments and feedback.
Jean P. Bodie.
I was a returned missionary and my husband a convert of 6 weeks when we were married in my parents’ living room. I’m sure our choice inspired some annoying gossip among our friends in the singles’ branch, but as the only members in both of our families, we are very glad that we were able to share that day and ceremony with the family and friends most important to us. And we were that much more grateful when DH’s mom died so unexpectedly just a year later. Given all of the sadness we felt at losing her, I’m grateful we didn’t have to add regret at her missing the marriage of her only son to that heartache. We were sealed about a month after her funeral along with our six week-old daughter. I like to think that by being a part of the first ceremony, her heart was opened to the church enough that, in some way, she was present at the second one too. And those are my two cents on civil ceremonies and temple sealings.
Wow. I married a convert of two years in 1977. His mother was particularly hurt by the church’s policy on Temple marriage first or wait a year for the temple. By father and fiancée insisted on temple first. I was willing to do civil first so my In Laws could be there. I knew people who had married in the 60’s in Idaho civilly then had the temple sealing the next day. To help soothe my mother in law we turned the reception totally to what she wanted. I never was able to develop a really close relationship with her. I do wish that the church would change their policy on wedding ceremonies vs temple sealings precisely for the reasons in your article.
Perfect, perfect, perfect. Thank you Sister Bodie for sharing your heart.
Thank you Sister Bodie for pointing out that the “one year wait” is a policy and not doctrine. Those guilt inducing stories we’ve all heard do nothing to help our faith or love for our Heavenly Father, but foster a nagging feeling of guilt and inadequacy that I’m sure Heavenly Father would disapprove of.
Once again, Jean, you hit the nail right on the head, but with compassion. Thank you! Temple weddings and baptisms for the dead make my heart ache with all the pain and offense they cause. If Mormon culture truly does value family, as it claims to, it will stop tearing them apart with its practices.
Is anyone aware of any current petitions or efforts to change this? I’d love to contribute.
Come back and read next Sunday’s post…
As a mother of four daughters, I would be would be crushed if I missed any of my children’s weddings if they chose a church (any church) over me, and the remorse and rejection would haunt me until the day I died. I think that parents of other faiths would be utterly concerned, skeptic, and alarmed about our church because it encourages temple worthy couples to exclude their own parents (from other faiths) from a temple wedding ceremony. Those feelings of resentment and anger from non-members tend to compound and cause tremendous distrust toward our church, and so I whole-heartedly agree that the North America policy needs to change, and members of the church need to stop judging temple worthy couples who choose a civil ceremony first so that their parents can be present during the wedding ceremony. I applaud your effort and your petition!
Thank you so much for the stories and positive feedback. My gratitude also to Rational Faiths for allowed me to guest blog on their site.
I do hope to raise awareness of this issue. So many people have heart wrenching stories of being excluded from their children’s special day. To be told that your beliefs mean you do not qualify as someone who can witness this event is truly hurtful. People of other faiths love their children too.
I think we all need to learn to actually walk in their shoes.
LDS people love their church so much, surely there is room in their hearts for understanding how others can feel that way about their own beliefs. Is it really necessary to put our neighbors through this kind of painful experience? I don’t believe it is.
“It is my opinion (perhaps some fellow Brits will comment on this), they would not want anything to change.”
As a fellow Brit, I can say I definitely don’t want things to be changing here. I’m so pleased we have a law specifying a wedding must be publicly accessible. It serves to protect the vulnerable, and I’ve been unnerved to think that protection isn’t routinely available in other nations. Of course, the big bonus of all that is we get to have our weddings accessible to all our family too.
Thanks for weighing in Hedgehog. I hope that nothing changes in the UK or other countries so that you may continue to enjoy weddings.
I don’t think any wedding happens without some stress, but I bet that your weddings are less stressful than in North America. I think that in the UK you should not have to get to the temple the same day as the wedding. If a civil wedding is required by the law, why do you have to go the same day to the temple. I know that there are two temples in England, but it is still really far for someone who lives in say Cornwall or Scotland. Do they give those people extra time to get to the temple?
For a church that values family so much, this punishing of couples who would choose a civil ceremony because they want their parents and close family members present makes no sense. And making people wait a full year is a punishment. Making non-LDS parents miss their child’s wedding if performed in a temple is a great way to alienate them from the church. Surely that’s not the intention, but it’s absolutely the result. I do hope this will change, and would support any petitions for changing it.
Jean, this is beautifully articulated. Thank you for sharing your own marriage experience and your thoughtful actions to encourage change within the church. Very well done.
Jean, excellent post. Your voice is well needed! One day this policy will go away…hopefully sooner than later…
I completely agree that the policy should be changed. My sister recently got married and she and her husband chose a civil ceremony outside in a beautiful garden. I think about the blessings of participation this gave us all (compared to the first two siblings who had temple weddings). Her husband is a convert and only child, and his entire extended family was able to be there. My father was able to officiate, and my uncle (non-member with no children of his own) was able to walk my sister down the aisle (highlight of his life). I am SO glad they chose this, and I shudder to think about the pain that would have occurred otherwise, and the joy that we would have missed out on. I also felt a bit of wistfulness, especially as they read their vows to each other, that in my temple wedding there was no opportunity for such a personalized, heartfelt public declaration of love. Maybe someday my husband and I can do a vow renewal for one of the big milestone anniversaries.
I completely agree with you on all parts. I don’t think there should be a waiting period between being civilly married and being sealed in the temple.
My Fiance and I are having a civil wedding because he was recently baptized, and it is also church policy that you must wait a year after baptism before you can be sealed in the temple. He and I can both still go to the temple, and take our endowments out, yet we cannot be sealed for a year after his baptism, and then since we are being married civilly, it will reset to a year after our civil marriage.
It is my understanding that you can’t take out your endowments until 1 year after baptism, either. You can do baptisms for the dead, though.
Thank you for this well articulated article! We also felt pressured to wed in the temple at the cost of excluding immediate family members. What was supposed to be the “happiest day” for me has been actually the least memorable with the absence of my loved ones because they weren’t church members.
Wonderful work with the letter/petition — hope things do change for the sake of our kids in the future!
As my spouse is a non member, I obviously didn’t have a temple wedding. I have since take out my endowments. Having children that know one of their parents and that parents’ side of the family won’t be able to attend a temple sealing has made them question the logic of this policy (actually I thought it was doctrine; thank you for making that clear.) Maybe a better compomise can be reached by the time they reach marrying age. Thank you for this thoughtful article.
We did exactly as you did, went to the Temple and hoped that we would show both of our non-member families the truth through the example of our commitment.
…mostly is sewed seeds of resentment that took years to blossom, but like all weeds, are hard to eradicate.
The positive part was that I think going to the Temple did help our children to want that experience when they married. Life has so many compromises, and it is often many years before you can see the fruit of a decision or act.
I appreciate all your thoughtful comments and there is something you can do to help Church Leaders to see it from an outside perspective – how it feels to be one of those excluded ones. The Barker brothers do have this website now dedicated to the issue. Just in case you didn’t see it at this site, here is the link to it.
There you will find other stories like yours possibly and a template for a letter to send to the First Presidency. Please won’t you join in this process to try to bring about a positive change that will benefit all. It’s difficult to be happy at a wedding, when one knows the pain others are feeling.
I thought I was alone with my feelings on this topic. It broke my heart that my father had to wait outside the temple and my mother could go inside for our wedding 26 years ago. It alienated my father from the church…before that he was fine with weekly dinners at our house with the missionaries…after that he was much less supportive.
My wedding was as much sadness and happiness because much of my family couldn’t attend. I was willing to do a civil ceremony and then go through the temple a year later but the social pressure and reaction of my mother and a few of my husband’s relations was terrible to bear… the first question from my own mother … “what have you done to be unworthy to get married in the temple?” The answer was absolutely nothing other than loving my father and not wanting him to be totally left out.
Frankly, it angers me that this policy is not consistent for all members and proves to me that policy and gospel truths are not always the same in our church. If I had it to do over again, I would have chosen a ceremony that allowed me to show my father I loved him enough to be sure he was included in my special of all days.
Nancy we would love to hear your wedding story. Would you like to submit it?
I am very sorry you feel that you have had this experience and feel that your committment to the faith and your choice to be married in the temple has pushed your family away or left them out of a very important day and event. That is not what the gospel is about or what marriages are about, either. However, I feel very differently. I also married a convert. He is the only member of his family. His mother and his brothers could not attend the ceremony and they waited outside the temple while we were married, however, we took time to explain to them why this was. His mother was sad, but being a devout Catholic she also understood the importance of sacred ordinances and worthiness. She respected our decision. We chose to not have a ring ceremony, which is a common practice in North America where this issue exists, because she did not feel the need to have one ease any sadness she may have felt. I, however, have been to countless ring ceremonies which occur before the reception and feel like a wedding except the couple is already legally married. The bishop explains why the couple was married in the temple and talks about eternal marriages and the Priesthood. The couple can say some words to each other but not a formal exchanged of vows as vows have already been made between them and God in the temple. And they can exchange rings and kiss and walk down the aisle and all that glitz and glamour, if they choose, and if this helps to ease the sadness with the non-members in the family.
I think, in this regard, then there are accomodations made. I personally think that a the temple ceremony is so beautiful and amazing and miraculous that any civil ceremony would pale in comparison, but that has been my experience and my feeling. As far as lifting the year requirement. I think that the year requirement must stay in place for new members following baptism. There is simply too much learn before you enter the temple and you must be ready! In regards to members who have met that year mark and then are faced with the choice of appeasing families and being married civilly first, I think that they should truly evaluate what is the most important to them and what is going to be make the most sense for their situations. The church and the gospel and the temple practices are not meant to tear families apart (and anyone who thinks this isn’t true needs to relook at the church’s teachings and temple pracitices – it is about building eternal families!).
So should the year wait be lifted for members who could go the temple but are being married civilly first? I don’t know. There is only one person who does, God, and if/when He decides this is the case then the Prophet will tell us and I will believe it came from God. Until then, though, I believe in following the revealed teachings of the gospel with faith, knowing that I will never have all the answers and knowing that that requires a great deal of sacrifice. Afterall, Christ suffered and sacrificed all for us so I will sacrfice all for Him to receive those blessings He has in store for me. I save my questions of “why” for when I meet God face-to-face and all will make sense.
I think it highly unlikely that “Church leaders do not recognize how much pain this policy causes to loving family members who just happen to have different beliefs.” These men are educated, seasoned, Christ-like men of God who have spent countless hours listening to and counseling and serving others. They understand a great deal more than you may think. And possibly see a whole lot more to this whole question. And then there’s the sustaining them as prophets, seers, and revelators. There is certainly nothing in our religion anywhere that indicates that in following God, we will not be put in painful, difficult, and heart-wrenching situations; having to sometimes choose between obedience and the feelings of a loved one. I believe it was the Savior who more than hinted at such when he said, “he that loveth son or daughter (etc.) more than me is not worthy of me.” God decides what sacrifice/price to put on temple sealings and I have profound respect for his anointed. The more I study about them, the more I know that there is very little they do not understand about what we go through. Actually, I am in awe of the fantastic courage and devotion they exhibit by holding to what has been revealed, waiting upon the Lord for further instruction, and not caving into external pressures of every kind. Once mentioned in Camelot: The harder the truth, the truer the friend that tells it. What may seem harsh or uncaring can sometimes be just the opposite.
tldr; Thoughts about how a ring ceremony fits into all this?
I just got married in a California temple. Most of my extended family and friends were unable to attend. Most of them have known from the time I was little that this would be the case. However, as the situation became real, it was much harder than expected for them and for me.
To mitigate bad feelings we had a ring ceremony/reception on my Aunts farm later that day. As the exchangeing of rings is not an official part of the temple ceremony, couples can chose to exchange them publicly infront of non- members and members alike. Ring ceremonys have recently become fairly popular, but sometimes there is still a stigma against them. In prepareing for the ring ceremony, we went by a set of guidelines on lds.org (I can’t find them now).
The general gist was that the ring ceremony should not in anyway replicate a marriage ceremony, so as to not detract for the sealing ceremony. Ex. don’t walk down the isle, dont play the wedding march, if the bride and groom say things about eachother don’t say anything that sounds like a promise or a vow.
I was just wondering how that fits into all of this. Are saints in other countries not given similar advice about their weddings that take place before the sealing? I mean I can kind of understand the point of not wanting to detract from the sealing. It’s eternaly important and if overshadowed it might become kind of “hidden” and secretive in a bad way. I understand that, but still, it all just doesnt sit right with me. Especicially if that is not a world wide sentiment, it seems like it only causes more pain. Another “penalty”, as you describe the one year wait, unique to the member here in north america.
Anne, I appreciate the fact that you have faith in the Church Leaders and have a desire to be obedient; you said, “There is certainly nothing in our religion anywhere that indicates that in following God, we will not be put in painful, difficult, and heart-wrenching situations; having to sometimes choose between “obedience” and the feelings of a loved one.”
I understand your perspective and if it had been a case of obedience that we were discussing I would agree that a believer wants to obey. This is NOT about obedience. We do not obey ‘policies’ especially when there is no explanation given for them in the first place.
Joseph Smith made it very clear that marriages were to be performed in a public place. Polygamous marriages required secrecy; it was illegal. Nobody can explain how the policy came to be touted as a commandment from God himself and nobody can explain why people are punished in North America for choosing a ‘commandment’ to honor thy father and thy mother.
Commandments trump policies.
I don’t know why members assume this is a commandment from God himself.
Don’t members believe that God gave us a brain to use, to think for ourselves, to question and to learn?
Didn’t even Joseph Smith’s wife, Emma, question the prophet and so we got the Word of Wisdom?
I cannot understand why some members believe that it is right to have obedience without question?
Why does emphasis on obedience to God’s laws always seem to be associated with threats of penalties for failure to obey?
When I took out my temple endowment in 1983 there were blood oaths associated with death penalties for revealing the secret names, signs & tokens we were taught.
Why is ‘obedience the first law of heaven’?
In Mormonism you end up feeling that the more obedient you are to the rules, the more worthy you are, & so are deserving of blessings.
It’s an authoritarian, orthodox superstitious regime which preys on the fears of its members.
I thought the God of Mormonism is a God of love. Wasn’t the Jesus of the New Testament supposed to supercede the rigid Mosaic laws of the Old Testament?
Where has that God gone?
Unless members question, like Emma Smith, then rigid harmful policies will continue to hurt families, which I don’t believe is God’s way, do you?
Regarding Marci and Anne’s comments;
if you really think anyone older than 12 who isn’t retarded needs a year to prepare for the temple, then perhaps your comments should be taken with an absolute pinch of salt. The temple ceremony is neither difficult (nor interesting in my opinion) to understand or perform. I have been with members who have attended the temple over decades but can’t remember the words before crossing the veil and on that basis you could say constant preparation is required before every visit.
My temple ceremony was pleasant but nowhere near a description that could say a civil ceremony looks pale. I would assume if you really think that, that you have attended cheap and horrid weddings. LDS weddings can be cheap, but still wonderful, and although the boring and uncharacterised typical chapel template the Mormons use may not look as aesthetically pleasing as the temple room, it’s bigger and with creativity can look much more than pale and accommodate a much more spiritual and loving environment. Non-LDS UK weddings I have been to smash both lds and temple ceremonies. European weddings that’s at be done at the town hall can be a bore, but Temple ceremonies are generally insincere unless you know who is marrying you. 5 minutes of giving a background on your relationship can never equate to a church official who has known you for years of even your whole life.
You mention truth and friendship, but truth by definition is not what is contained in the temple. You can believe it is true, but the warm fuzzies are not a dictionary definitive (and we are speaking English here) evidence of truth but that we feel good about what we believe a church leader once said god told them. Truth would be that Celestial marriage never used to be eternal marriage. Celestial marriage WAS originally plural marriage. A revelation was not passed to changed this, but like many things the church does… such as policy we read about in this blog… it just became the culture. So should we stick to what is true doctrine?
There is no need for guilt and hurt. We know this life doesn’t come without it, but living a poster boy Mormon life brings more guilt and hurt than being able to be oneself without indoctrination. This indoctrination is what brings so much hype about temple weddings, but the amount of disappointment after the event is the reality here. Many still live in the hype.
I’m personally thankful for my adamant character that enabled me to have photos taken in the chapel after my wife was walked down the LDS chapel isle to the awesome wedding march and not some crappy folk tune or funeralised modern pop song remix. I had a cheesy cheap wedding and fun funky reception, but my family and friends both in and out if the church were able to celebrate with me and no one was offended. I never got a letter from any leader about how I should have stuck to policy. And I still got married in the temple.
Tori in the UK members are ‘married’ in the chapel because of the legal requirement that anyone has to have access to watch a marriage being performed. We had flowers on the pews I walked down the aisle by my non lds dad (the best thing was he flew from Australia to do this and I don’t think he would have if he had to sit in temple garden instead) Young women sang songs a family sang families can be together forever all my pre-lds friends came along and then we went into the cultural hall to a buffet provided by relief society and a barn dance and everything was exactly like a real wedding because that’s what it was all vows were exchanged in the chapel in front of family and friends and every Mormon wedding I have been to has been along the same lines I don’t see why pressure to get sealed to your spouse in the temple has to be an either or situation and it would be nice to remove some of the judgements about whether a couple is ‘worthy’ or not to be in the temple
I have six children; all born under the covenant. Fortunately, my marriage in 1969 was a traditional English wedding in a Mormon chapel, followed later in the evening by the sealing. Many years later I watched my eldest daughter sealed to her husband… as they rose from the alter and came around to each other, where they hugged and wept; it was immensely moving—the hug—not the ceremony! As the years passed, I found myself unable to believe any longer, I chose not to renew my recommend. My integrity stopped me from conforming to requirements I no longer felt inspired or divine. Consequently, although the remaining children held their traditional weddings, I became unable to witness some of their sealings, so I stood outside and took care of the children…. but at least I got to see, and take part in their civil weddings.
The idea of living in a country where LDS marriages can only take place in a temple and not civilly, where non LDS loved ones are simply forbidden to witness such a marriage, I find horrendously cruel and heartless. The church has made so many changes through the years – even to the endowment itself that I find it frankly inconceivable and incredulous, that the 1st Presidency has failed for so long to have the compassion and love to make sufficient adjustments in the sealing ceremony to accommodate non member relatives for such a significant and momentous occasion. Shame on them.
Thank you so much to those UK brothers and sisters who offered their perspective again.
Is it possible that this is a cultural issue? Robbie Bridgstock wrote:
“…a traditional English wedding in a Mormon chapel, followed later in the evening by the sealing.”
Has the ‘wedding and sealing’ inside the temple become just that – a cultural issue?
Having Utah all to themselves for the first 10 years as I learned in Institute class, gave the Saints an opportunity to establish a way of life that revolved around the not so secret practice of polygamy. This then became ‘our way’ of doing things, which would have been just fine because everyone else was doing it ‘our way’ – in Utah.
When the government of the USA forced the Church to give up polygamy, that didn’t result in all members switching from ‘our way’. Polygamy continued for a short time and those who were not prepared to give it up altogether are those who call themselves FLDS today. They truly believe, as shown by their actions that they truly believe that polygamy is part of the inspired program – ‘our way’.
‘Our way’ changes as Stephen Bloor mentioned. Those of us who are old enough, remember how different temple work used to be.
All church manuals and documents no longer refer to polygamy. Even almanacs that give a biography of church leaders only list the first wife and no plural wives.
In the future when the Church has realized that it is not necessary to ‘punish’ members who choose to be married civilly as is done with great enjoyment in other countries – those who have been obedient to a mere policy may wish that they had ‘obeyed’ the ‘commandments’ of God rather than give up their agency to follow a policy.
When black men were given the right to hold the priesthood, I was thrilled; I sat down and cried the minute I heard the news.
Church leaders today are saying that ban was not doctrinal, but ‘everyone’ believed it was, including most of the Church Leaders. Saying now, it was not doctrinal does not mitigate the pain of all those who suffered as faithful black members for over 100 years. It was a cruel and harsh thing to even contemplate today. It will be that way with temple weddings one day when members all over the world will be held to the same standard.
The change will come – the sooner the better.
When I was a Christian, I reason like this
“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40
“Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.” Matthew 25:45
Therefore the first time anyone closed a temple door to anyone who wished to be a part of a loved ones wedding, the LDS barred Christ from that temple too.
What is a temple without Christ? A mockery that is what.
I am a convert to the church and while I struggled somewhat to marry the man of my dreams without my family present, I was absolutely unwilling to give up the blessings and sacred beauty of a temple marriage. I explained to my family what was going to happen and why I was choosing to do this. I also explained that I in no way wanted to exclude them but this was something of the greatest importance to me. I had started to prepare them early on after my baptism. They were sad to miss it but were understanding because they understood what it meant to me. I chose to do a ring ceremony afterward and all of my family and friends who couldn’t be there were able to see a ceremony quite similar to a civil wedding. It was beautiful and my dad was able to walk me down the isle. In my eyes we all got what we wanted. Temple marriage is what binds us together for eternity. That is the important part. It’s not the reception or even who is there. It is the beginning of your eternal family. I feel that the church is not trying to exclude those of our loved ones not of our faith or not currently holding a recommend but they are trying to place importance where it belongs. I understand there are many who experience hurt and misunderstand this policy but I feel that if we explain ourselves with the spirit and testify of the temple and the dealing power we will do more long term good than changing a church policy. If you want everyone to feel included have a ring ceremony.
No Temple ‘Sealings’ are what bind you forever – a wedding is a wedding and a sealing is a sealing.
And the family that you have who accepted your choice is only one in thousands upon thousands. Read their stories and look at the other perspective. Why should they be required to accept your choice to put a church policy ahead of them? They did it but that doesn’t make the exclusion right or necessary.
Please read Henry Lions’ post above; he hit the nail on the head. The gospel is about Jesus and following him, not about following the dictates of a handbook.
Thank you for sharing your experience. I agree with you completely. My husband and I had a similar ceremony after our temple sealing in order to include all of our friends and family who where not LDS. I thought the ceremony was beautiful and made it so that we could share our special day with everyone but the temple ceremony was by far the most incredible part of my day. Because of being a member of the Church I have not been able to participate in all of the activities of my family but I think that making a special effort to include them as well as having a fun reception afterwards made for a wonderful day for everyone. I think this as principle is true for life as well. Although we do not do all the same things we love each other and make sure to be apart of each other lives.
Amazing. I also feel that the church would progress more and change its outdated and unnecessary policies if it wasn’t run by a host of men that are all the same and share too many similar views. No progress can ever be made if it is almost completely run by older, white, straight, conservative males who feed each others views. We just run in circles.
(Not saying older, white, straight, conservative men are bad– just saying there has to be diversity. Throw in more races from other lands, get women in there, let gays in *Church has changed its stance on gays from believing it was a choice and sin to acknowledging (finally) that it isn’t a choice and not a sin, though there still needs a lot more progress on this one. And balance it with more liberals. Please.
Jean, thanks for keeping discussion of this issue going in the media and amongst the members. This is a GLARING, myopic issue that hurts so many people.
What is amazing is that almost no one is benefited by this policy, and yet it is held to as tightly as if it were “nigh unto the sin next to murder”! Think of the ripple effect of this policy enforced in countless homes and families. If the leadership is imagining this is actually motivating people to be more interested, friendly to, and open to consider the church and its teachings, they are crazy.
Who doesn’t acknowledge that the percentage of families with non-member, inactive-member, or exmormon member constituents is INCREASING every year, not decreasing, and this policy is a sharp stick in each and every one of those people’s eye. It represents a trauma they cannot possibly ever forget, and very possibly ever forgive either.
What is striking is how readily the church is eager to show compassion in other cases where POLICY and even DOCTRINE apply, while in this case it is blind, deaf and dumb.
For example, in the temple there are countless exceptions made for people when their individual circumstances do not permit them to follow the letter of the law with respect to the temple ordinances. Disabled people are mercifully spared the need to stand up and sit down, to put on robes when their abilities are precluded, and to provide answers to sacred oaths when they cannot hear or speak. Policies are apparently NOT more important to the church than people in these cases.
In another example, the recent spirited debate in Utah concerning immigration policy was instructive. Recall that recently the Utah legislature was planning to pass very tough Arizona-styled laws that would harshly scale up enforcement of current laws and deeply impact the families of many illegal undocumented persons, until the church pressed for compassion and consideration for the undocumented families and their relationships. Why, I wonder, can’t this same compassionate ethic apply to marriage prohibitions, since it is NOT a commandment?? The church wishes to ask the government to show a very specific compassion on people DUE TO THEIR GEOGRAPHY, and yet wishes to punish different, otherwise worthy members DUE TO THEIR GEOGRAPHY.
It is time for this policy to change.
“Why, I wonder, can’t this same compassionate ethic apply to marriage prohibitions, since it is NOT a commandment?? The church wishes to ask the government to show a very specific compassion on people DUE TO THEIR GEOGRAPHY, and yet wishes to punish different, otherwise worthy members DUE TO THEIR GEOGRAPHY.”
Non worthy or non tithe paying family members are not helping the church financially whereas illegal immigrants are often member families who slavishly work for the church.
The temple wedding issue is due to their GEOGRAPHY also, because as you know, people in other countries may be married OUTSIDE the temple and then sealed inside.
COMPASSION is not really what is happening in the illegal immigration issue – it’s about hard working slaves and membership retention.
The Church will not voluntarily change the policy because they would lose a huge amount of tithing revenue. Ask any bishop how much of the tithing he receives is “catch-up” tithing so that members can attend the weddings of their families and friends.
Jean, thank you SO much for writing about this. This has ALWAYS bothered and hurt me, even though I was lucky enough to have a civil wedding. But I know this is only because my awesome husband was willing to marry me before I ever converted (2 years later). This “policy” is hurtful and has no doubt driven deep permanent wedges of pain between families when there’s really no need for it. It has never made any sense why you can’t have a civil wedding (and your DREAM wedding) for everyone, and a private (or public, if you choose), sealing for you and your hubby. A sealing is NOT the same thing as a marriage. It’s God’s contract and binding law, added to a lawful marriage that makes the bond eternal instead of temporal.
Raised as the seventh child in a Mormon family, I was married in the Oakland Temple after serving my mission to Sweden. 8 years and 4 children later, my attempts to justify the church with science and reality failed. My second marriage was in a beautiful Oregon vineyard, with a raucous reception enjoyed by believers and non-believers alike.
One of my then-faithful daughters chose a civil marriage to her wonderful (if atheistic) physics professor. Another faithful daughter chose to marry her faithful husband in the Boston temple, while my wife and I waited outside.
Thank you for helping us all question irrational and arbitrary rules that place church over family.
Unfortunately, Mr. Millkron’s comment reflects the truth of the matter. It’s not about morality, theology or faith…….it’s about money.
Are you still keeping up this site Barker brothers?
It is some time since we had contact about this issue. At the time we signed the petition in the Utrecht, Netehrlands church; all the sisters signed, the brothers debated about authority and signed later, half of them. For an article I am writing: I wonder what is the situation as of today. Has anything changed? Has there been any reaction? In 2016 I understood, through the grapevine that the Brethren thought about a mandatory/recommended civil weddding to ease the pressure of the church to perform same sex marriages. Did that come up? The article will be about ‘absences in ritual’, and this is a rather ‘good’ example.
Wouter van Beek, Netherlands