Dual-Membership, Dual-Priesthood

Brian Johnstonapostasy, christianity, Culture, curiosity, faith, families, inter-faith, marriage, Mormon 59 Comments

A good friend from my high school and college days contacted me a couple of months ago. He told me the news that he was engaged. He and his girlfriend had finally decided to get married. They have been living together for the past 5 years, and felt they were ready to take this big step and start a family. I was excited for him! I could hear the change in him through his voice. He was really at peace with taking this step in life. He wanted to do a good thing.

Here’s the kicker: He wants *ME* to perform the wedding ceremony. I was touched. It’s a big honor.

They are not members of the LDS Church. They are not religious. I do not even think my friend believes in God. He is an artist and musician, and he is pretty far out in his view of the world. He sometimes calls me “Elder” because it is amusing, and he remembers 20 years ago when I went on a mission. It is my endearing nickname. I used to play music with him, but made a big life change and left to serve a mission. It was a radical and foreign concept to him. It always struck him as cool though, in a hardcore devout kind of way. At least that is what he tells me.

So he tells me “You’re the only one I know who can pull this off. You’re the only clergy I could tolerate to officiate the ceremony. You *have* to be there or it just won’t work.” Yes, he thinks of me as church clergy. I teach in the LDS Church. I’ve baptized, confirmed, blessed and even ordained people. That makes me clergy right?

I did some poking around and realized that the LDS Church is not going to authorize me to marry two non-members, even though I’m an ordained Elder in the Church.

So I needed to come up with plan B.

I joined the Universal Life Church and requested ordination as a minister. They have only two items in their creed: Promote religious freedom, and Do that which is right. Neither of those conflict with my LDS beliefs in any way. They authorize their ministers to perform weddings and any other ordinances people want.

I’m now a “priest” in both Churches. Am I an LDS apostate?

Or am I doing a practical, Christ-like service by reaching out to a friend at the level of faith they are ready to embrace? My friend wants to do something good, and he wants it to be a religious ceremony. He is reaching out toward faith in the best way he can.

When I officiate, I’m going to be wearing a medieval priest cassock and probably a stole with a Celtic cross, Taoist symbol of good luck and the 4 Led Zeppelin rock band symbols embroidered on it. How cool is that???!!!

Comments 59

  1. Something about your post is a little un-nerving. You have been blessed with the power of God not from man or a mail-order catalogue – but from God. To conform with your friend’s wishes you will set aside that to give him a bowl of porridge. There is a reason there is order to the Priesthood not sure you chose the best way. Can’t say however I haven’t considered this myself – I just have come to the conclusion that to bring honor to God we honor His Priesthood by living by His rules – ‘If you love me keep my commandments…’ Commend your friend for his good decision to get married.
    As an aside this also reminds me of my grandfather while stationed in Okinawa was asked to perform a marriage as the group leader (?) in their service branch. When he did this he indicated that on this day they were so happy to join these two people together in marriage. He indicated in the ceremony that he was performing both a wedding and a divorce at the same time (!) – he proceeded to explain to these two members that until they were sealed by an authorized servant of God the words were true – ‘until death do they part’. They were married in the Salt Lake Temple later.

  2. Personally I have no problem with your solution and find it admirable and elegant. There are likely many who disapprove of your tactic as does the prior commenter Paul. Given the recent policy change in the Church Handbook of Instructions regarding dual membership, I wonder if you may be endangering your membership in the CoJCoLDS. I suspect that local bishops have more or less complete discretion in the matter and that individual responses would vary considerably. I don’t see a conflict since your friend believes in you and your friendship rather than in any particular church. I’m not even sure that God disapproves of trying to serve your friend. Essentially you’re using legal authority as a recognized clergyman to perform the wedding. It’s too bad you could not get a variance or waiver from your ward or stake to perform the ceremony.

    When I was on my mission a branch president asked my companion to perform a wedding since all of the branch presidency would be out of town on the day of the wedding. The branch president thought he’d cleared it with his stake president and the mission president. My companion performed the wedding ceremony believing his call from the bp and his ministerial certificate gave him appropriate authority. I met the family again in my last area on my mission — they were happily married. I found out some months after that ceremony that although it was legal someone in the regional leadership or in Salt Lake took exception to allowing full time missionaries to perform a wedding. A notice was issued that it was not to happen again.

    I don’t think a civil or non-temple marriage is also a divorce and I find the story told by Paul about his grandfather’s wedding explanation somewhat un-nerving as your story was to Paul. I thought his grandfather’s words unduly impolite for the circumstance. But that’s just me. Paul and I obviously see the world in different terms.

  3. I’m glad you’re doing the wedding, but if the guy wants a religious service of sorts, I think you could do it without the trappings – the cassock, cross, and Led Zep runes. That seems mocking.

    I think it’s great that you are able to perform the ceremony legally (make sure all the ducks are lined up locally) and that you are doing this for your friends. So wear a pair of khaki’s and an open collar button down shirt, and a tie if you want to (or not if you don’t) but don’t dress like a character from a surrealist play. Do them the honor of taking their wedding seriously.

  4. Whew! I must agree that Paul’s grandfather’s story is a doozy, and I go beyond ‘unnerving’ to ‘condescending’ and ‘vaguely horrifying from any etiquette/manners standpoint.’ What a thing to hear on your wedding day. I’m sure he’s a nice guy and meant well…but, well, wow.

    Valoel, I think it’s a lovely thing to do for your friends. If you believe that one Priesthood is True, then utilising a lesser and earth-bound/temporal ‘power’ for a day in the service of your friends, seems to me to be a very appropriate and loving thing to do. I wish you, and them, all the best.

  5. Ann, I got the sense that the pseudo-cassock was the couple’s choice and that they asked him to do so. Do you still think he shouldn’t in that case?

  6. Personally, I would thank him very kindly that he considered me for the task. I would also commend him for taking such a huge step in his life. After that, as I hold both my Priesthood and therefore the authority of the LDS Church very seriously, I would explain to him why I am not ordained to perform weddings. I would then offer to help him as a clergy member he respects to find someone (doesn’t even have to be LDS, and if they have to wear the “get-up” then most certainly not) more suitable for the task that he would feel comfortable with.

    Its a tough spot.

  7. My daughter was just married by a friend and church member with an ULC ordination. The card from the ULC just means that the state recognizes the marriage as legal. It’s civil and not religious so so your priesthood has nothing to do with it. Ignore the hand wringing and have a good time. My daughter included a mariachi band that I thought was a nice touch.

  8. Post

    The people I will marry are eccentric to say the least, but they are very sincere about this. It is serious to them. They wanted symbols from their life that would give the ceremony important meaning. I can see how it seems a caricature to most people, but to them it’s a huge inclusion of faith and religion in an important moment in their life. This is as far as they can go with the light they have right now. They are not going to get baptized in the Church and married in the temple. Not now. Probably not ever.

    Am I selling them a bowl of porridge for their birth right? That’s a great question!

    I could be selling them short. They will not be married in the temple for time and all eternity. They will not be eligible for all that goes along with that.

    I could also be giving them a bowl of porridge when they come to me, wasted away, weak and dying of hunger. They need some broth or some simple grain porridge. I *should* give them a 36oz filet mignon. Let’s assume that represents the best meal they can eat (Temple Marriage). Fine. It would kill them. They can’t even chew it to swallow.

    “If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?” Luke 11:11

    The bowl of porridge will give them what they need. It will keep them alive so they can build their strength and maybe someday eat filet mignon in the palace. That’s not my call. The Lord will call them, and His sheep hear his voice.

    BTW they know that I am not performing the ceremony as an LDS “minister.” That was made very clear to them. The state where the wedding will take place requires the officiant to be “authorized” by their Church to perform weddings, and the couple must accept the officiant as clergy.

    When I pronounce them married, it will be “by the authority given me by the state of __________” In technical terms, it will be a civil wedding.

  9. This is very complicated. On the one hand, I think your friend’s obvious respect for you and the fact that you have made it clear that you are not acting as an Elder of the LDS Church give me some confort. On the other hand, there is much about this situation that smakcs of making light of sacred things: The internet ordination, for convenience sake, to a loosley defined Church, the unusual wedding-day get-up, etc. I personally would be hesitant to do it, but would probably pray hard to see what I should do. Have you tried that?

  10. There may be a way to conduct the ceremony without the additional ordination. I understand that Quakers (who don’t usually have a presiding figure / priest) will conduct weddings and have everybody present (men women and children) sign the marriage documents. T

    he belief that every believer in Christ is called to his ministry allows the marriage to be conducted by those getting married and officiated by everybody present.

    I really like the community aspect, but I have only read about it and think there is special legislation in place that may preclude any groups beside Quakers from getting married like this.

    I was originally married in a drive thru in Vegas. I promise that my marriage is happier and more sacred than anything that I can imagine. The person conducting, the location, the clothes worn or even the religious or legal significance means nothing compared to the commitment, love and shared experience I have with my wife.

    I really hope you have a great experience as not everyone has the opportunity to play such a great roll in a friend’s life – a friend that obviously looks to you and your life as a source of religious inspiration and authority. It is a credit to your faith and friendship.

  11. Your point about giving porridge vs 36oz fillet (!!) is well-taken. I think the corresponding ‘danger’ is that we think we have the Best Fillet, the True Fillet, the Only Fillet, so we can sometimes think there is nothing to be learned, nothing the ‘porridge eater’ can offer. For me, that’s an unbearably dry space to occupy, and simply increases the risk that, going through life with all the Answers, eventually the questions can really overtake you when you least expect it.

  12. Valoel — If you can get a hold of your priesthood ordination certificates (to Priest or Elder), that should be enough for you to get a marriage license for your friends from the court house. Your LDS certificate to ordination as a Priest should be equivalent in the eyes of the county clerk to the Universal Life Church certificate that you printed out yourself. Just tell your bishop you want a copy of your certificates for genealogical and family archive purposes.

    You really shouldn’t let your Bishop control your life by making him let you think you shouldn’t officiate this marriage through your capacity as a Mormon priesthood officiant. There’s a story in the Old Testament that I cannot place, it’s about a woman who has given birth and is giving suck to the child, she wants to wait until the child is weaned before she takes it to the temple to be blessed. When she is questioned about when the child will be taken to the temple, she replies explaining her desire to wait until the kid is weaned, and she is told in response, “Well, only you can know the right ways of the Lord in this thing.”

    In the case of your friends’ marriage, I think you’re in a very similar position.

    Myself and several friends and cousins have been ordained to the Universal Life Church at the click of a button. I received mine in 1999. *grin*

    That every male in the Church is a Priest was an important part of the genius of Joseph Smith, Jr., the Prophet. It really tied in with his ideas of the Law of Consecration, methinks. Imagine if only we could implement our consecrated communities where, like Catholic monasteries and convents, everything everything is tax-exempt! Joseph Smith, Jr., had an amazing understanding of what could be enabled if only our country really meant what it says about “freedom of religion”.

  13. Valoel, very cool indeed. I don’t have a problem with this at all; and I don’t think Christ would either. He’d be pleased by the commitment your friends are making, and the role you get to play. Symbolism, Ceremony, and Story is the language we use to commune with God. Has been since the dawn of man. To esteem one symbol over another, to call mine “true” and your’s “counterfeit,” to me is missing the point entirely; it is esteeming the symbol above the underlying meaning or message, which to me borders on idolatry.

    I find it hard to believe that a couple would choose their wedding day to mock anything. We should take them at their word, and honor the “language” they’ve chosen to represent their covenant. The lesson we should be drawing here is one of tolerance of others beliefs (or non-beliefs); this has nothing to do with dishonoring priesthood, or the “right” authority, or anything like that.

  14. Valoel – I think that your solution was perfect. The couple did not ask you to marry them because you were Mormon, but because you were their friend. Your priesthood authority doesn’t enter into this really, you just needed to become authorized to perform a wedding. It wasn’t possible thrrough the LDS church, so you recieved that authorization elsewhere. Rock on.

  15. Maybe I’m missing something, but I find Paul’s grandfather’s story in #1 a little disturbing.

    Was the couple getting married LDS? If they were, I don’t think it necessary to remind them that their marriage was both a wedding and a divorce. Using the word “divorce” in a ceremony seems totally wrong. Celebrate their commitment and their love — this is an amazing and major step in their lives! — but choose another opportunity to preach the virtues of temple marriage.

    If the couple was NOT Mormon, then I find the story downright distasteful.

    But again, maybe I’m missing something.

  16. 1835 Doctrine and Covenants, p. 251
    Section CI.

    1. According to the custom of all civilized nations, marriage is regulated by laws and ceremonies: therefore we believe, that all marriages in this church of Christ of Latter Day Saints, should be solemnized in a public meeting, or feast, prepared for that purpose: and that the solemnization should be performed by the presiding high priest, high priest, bishop, elder, or priest, not even prohibiting those persons who are desirous to get married, of being married by other authority. We believe that it is not right to prohibit members of this church from marrying out of the church, if it be their determination so to do, but such persons will be considered weak in the faith of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
    2. Marriage should be celebrated with prayer and thanksgiving; and at the solemnization, the persons to be married, standing together, the man on the right, and the woman on the left, shall be addressed, by the person officiating, as he shall be directed by the holy Spirit; and if there be no legal objections, he shall say, calling each by their names: “You both mutually agree to be each other’s companion, husband and wife, observing the legal rights belonging to this condition; that is, keeping yourselves wholly for each other, and from all others during your lives.” And when they have answered “Yes,” he shall pronounce them “husband and wife” in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by virtue of the laws of the country and authority vested in him: “may God add his blessings and keep you to fulfill your covenants from henceforth and forever. Amen.”
    3. The clerk of every church should keep a record of all marriages, solemnized in his branch.
    4. All legal contracts of marriage made before a person is baptized into this church, should be held sacred and fulfilled. Inasmuch as this church of CHrist has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy: we declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife; and one woman, but one husband, except in case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again. It is not right to persuade a woman to be baptized contrary to the will of her husband, neither is it lawful to influence her to leave her husband. All children are bound by law to obey their parents; and to influence them to embrace any religious faith, or be baptized, or leave their parents without their consent, is unlawful and unjust. We believe that all persons who exercise control over their fellow beings, and prevent them from embracing the truth, will have to answer for that sin.


  17. I think it’s a great idea! I don’t see how it conflicts with holding the Priesthood. On top of that it’s a secular wedding.

    Just the other day actually I was thinking about eventually getting a license to do marriages–to go along with my (hopefully) fruitful career in marital counseling/academia.

    To me the temple sealing is not even in the same category as any type of wedding, so I don’t see the conflict.

  18. Becoming certified to legally perform a marriage seems ok to me. To wear as Hugh Nibley said “the garbs of a false priesthood” is done by those who attend commencement exercises
    throughout the world.

    In my humble opinion, you would be legally authorized to perform an ordinance, “until death do us part” and could have a wonderful opportunity to stress that eternal love can draw them toward an eternal marriage that can only be performed by those who, “seal on earth as it is sealed in heaven”.

  19. They are not going to get baptized in the Church and married in the temple. Not now. Probably not ever. … They will not be married in the temple for time and all eternity. They will not be eligible for all that goes along with that.

    I don’t mean to be rude, but you couldn’t be more wrong! They will be eligible for all that goes along with all the blessings you’ve ever been taught about and more in the Millennium. You couldn’t possibly sell your friends short, not even if you tried.

    If I were you, I would not say anything at all about “until death do you part”, as those words have never been in any of the sectarian marriage ceremonies that I’ve ever witnessed. Heck, I would probably even go so far as to mix the language of 1835 D&C Section 101 with the language of the temple marriage ceremony (lds endowment dot org). When I marry in a Catholic church, I intend to have the Priest consecrate our vows with a dialogue very similar to what is said in a Mormon temple.

  20. PLEASE do not say, “’till death do you part” or anything similar. Say anything else you want, but not THAT. None of the non-LDS marriages I have attended lately have included that phrase or anything similar.

  21. PS: People are saying your priesthood has nothing to do with this. I must disagree. I think your friend obviously sees you as having righteous priesthood authority, or he would not be asking you to bless and consecrate his marriage! You possess a priesthood that is more legitimate than any other on Earth, and I, for one, think that is should be by the power of this priesthood that you unite and seal a blessing upon this couple.

    If you have to use a Universal Life Church certificate instead of your LDS Priest certificate to get a marriage license for your friends, then that is a technicality and legal workaround, and it is only the technicality itself that has little to do with your priesthood. As for the wedding itself, that has everything to do with your priesthood power and authority!

  22. You mention that “The state where the wedding will take place requires the officiant to be “authorized” by their Church to perform weddings, and the couple must accept the officiant as clergy.”

    Do you mean that there are no Justices of the Peace, or such civil authorities that can perform marriages in that state?

    Becoming a JP would be the best way, otherwise, to gain legal authority to fulfill your friend’s request. Second best would be to become a military chaplain.

    I don’t know what the official LDS doctrine is on this matter, but I think it is definately a step-up to help your friends get married. It would really be sad if no one could get married at all if they weren’t ready to get married in the temple. The main thing is that it be legal. As far as joining another church to do it–hopefully you can repent fast enough to make it ok again.

  23. Love the zep runes idea. We had our Bishop perform our wedding and a friend sang the Led Zepplin song Thank you. It was a lot of fun. It is nice of you to do this for your friend.

  24. Hmm…. I find the Dual-membership idea very disturbing.

    Additionally, wearing such a get-up is not appropriate- the job of clergy is to provide guidance not just acquiesce to a couples demands.

    Better to just have performed the marriage using your certificate of Priesthood ordination- which should have been enough to get a marriage license. Try to find a compromise with your friends by pointing out that by asking you to serve as the clergy preforming the marriage they are asking you to represent God, and that therefor you need to represent God coming from your religious views- not theirs, and therefor your dress should be consistent with a presentation of God that you find comfortable.

    I think you made a mistake in asking permission first. (As the likelihood of the Bishop refusing permission was very high). This is one of those times when asking forgiveness later might have been better.

  25. RE, I didn’t get the idea that the costume was the couple’s idea. If that’s what THEY want, then of course it’s fine.

  26. Post

    I didn’t ask permission from my bishop. He has no jurisdiction over what happens in another state (not his ward) to people who are not even members of the Church. I am not driving up there multiple times to meet with the BP in the ward boundaries where they live. It’s 700 miles away, and I doubt it would be productive. I’m guessing the local BP would want to do the marriage. My friends would not want that, so there’s no point in pushing it. They don’t really care about it being a Mormon wedding. They want me because i’m the only religious person of any faith tradition they think they can tolerate. I happen to be Mormon. They think that’s cool.

    I’m not magic or special, just familiar and acceptable. They’ve known me a really long time, and don’t think I am a total fraud and a glassy-eyed, koolaid drinker like almost all other religious people they know (their opinion of organized religion).

    I can’t use my LDS Ordination certificate because it would invalidate the legal status of the marriage in their state. The law states (in this particular state) that I must be authorized to perform marriages by my Church. The Church does not authorize me to perform marriages. I have priesthood sufficient to do it. I do not have permission. To do it anyway would risk me performing an illegal marriage, which is a crime.

    To be clear, the costume is completely the couple’s idea. They wanted to make sure I was comfortable with it. I am. I did not suggest it. They want their wedding to be dignified. They perceive it as dignified and not comical. I may not end up getting the cassock. I will probably have something though with the symbols. Last minute details are still in flux.

  27. The temple recommend question asks about affiliation with any organization that is in opposition to the Church and its teachings. If, as you state in the post, nothing in their creeds is in opposition to the Church and its teachings, you can do this and still be totally temple worthy. If that is the case, I see no problem in this if you do it without implying you are using your Priesthood or representing the Church – and I think it is a wonderful gesture.

    Personally, I wouldn’t use my own priesthood ordination certificate, since that would imply the approval of the Church. This option seems better to me.

  28. I hadn’t read #27 when I wrote the last paragraph of #28. I can plagiarize with the best of them, but I didn’t do so this time. 🙂

  29. We eloped to the temple (which was a nightmare). Somehow the concept of ‘Yes, we want to get married, just us, no other people’ blew some peoples minds.

    What we consider our wedding, we ran ourselves. No priest in charge, just us.

    Go for it, if the ULC is the quickest way to get set to perform civil marriages then I think you’ll be fine.

    And the Church of Zepplin sounds like fun..

  30. Valoel – awesome post.

    Anyone want to lay bets on how quickly there will be an official pronouncement read at the pulpit?

  31. Reverend Valoel (ULC)
    Elder Valoel (LDS)

    Wedding performed by Reverend Valoel on behalf of the State of ________ for my friends early in the month.
    Elder Valoel will be baptizing and confirming his daughter later in the month.

    2 Churches. 2 Ordinations. 3 Ordinances.

  32. Your solution is reasonable. You meet the needs of your friends, and you don’t abuse your priesthood ordination.

    I have a friend in Utah Valley whose daughter recently decided to marry her boyfriend. They wanted a Wiccan marriage, and the boyfriend’s father offered to perform a ceremony. My friend (a very active Mormon) was a bit disturbed and called the Utah County clerk to find out if the marriage would be considered legal. They told her that as long as the couple obtained a valid marriage license, anyone could perform any kind of marriage ceremony to solemnize the marriage as long as that couple recognized that person as having authority to do so. Who knew it would be so easy?

  33. I’m guessing the local BP would want to do the marriage.

    While you’re probably right that “there’s no point in pushing it”, it doesn’t matter what the local Branch President “wants”.

    With proper application of your priesthood, you could get the fact of a solemnized marriage recorded at both the State and the Church (redundancy for posterity; the Church will probably do a better job protecting records into the future than the State, especially our church).

    I suppose a modern bishop or branch president wouldn’t hold Section 101 of the 1835 edition of the Covenants and Commandments revealed by Joseph Smith, Jr. But according to him, “the solemnization should be performed by the presiding high priest, high priest, bishop, elder, or priest”. “Presiding” in not a qualifier specifying an order of preference, it is used in reference to a particular office, that of “presiding high priest”. If the “or” in that sentence is considered to be a logical or inclusive disjunction, then as both an Elder and a Priest you are more than authorized by Joseph Smith (even if not by the modern Handbook of Instruction) to officiate in the capacity of the Church. Lists of logical disjunctions do not impose an order of preference, they produce criteria to test for valid candidacy in the evaluation of a truth table.

    Even the Church Handbook of Instruction says, “Who May Perform a Civil Marriage: … Unless contrary to legal requirements, a Church
    officer may perform a marriage for a member of his unit outside the boundaries of that unit. … Civil Marriage for Nonmembers: Authorized Church officers may perform marriages for nonmembers without receiving special

    Strictly speaking, you are an officer of the Church, being ordained to the office of Elder in the Order of the Melchizedek priesthood. You should be able to be “authorized” by the local branch president without special First Presidency approval, assuming his stake president doesn’t oppose.

    But considering all that is said in Scripture and policy, any reasonable and righteous leader in the Church should see the logic in allowing you to perform the marriage on behalf of the Church — if only you want the marriage archived at the world’s greatest genealogical purveyor, the Mormon Church. All necessary arrangements should be able to be made over the phone.

  34. I think they use the term officer in a more corporate sense. Only the Bishopric are officers in the local congregation. I would not have legal authority to act for the Church in my local state and community. I am a spiritual officer, but not a legal officer. It’s sort of like calling someone a Vice President on their business card, but they are not actually listed as an officer of the corporation in the records of your state charter division. Lots of people have titles, few have real legal authority (recognized) in many companies.

    I could be wrong, but that was my interpretation.

  35. Well, I ran it by my 13-yr old, and he thinks it’s the compassionate and right thing to do, so it must be so.

  36. Are you planning to accept any money offered to you for your services (as is common in many other churches)? If you accept money to preform a ceremony under the auspices of a different church, is it still priestcraft?

  37. Reverend Valoel (ULC)
    Elder Valoel (LDS)

    “Priest” is probably a better title to use with your capacity in the Universal Life Church, this title has a bonus of giving props to your true self & tradition.

    My cousin Andrew Hildenbrand has performed a marriage of his friends under the capacity of the Universal Life Church (lay and for no pay, of course [they did drink ale at the reception, though]). Andrew considers himself desirous to be an authentic Christian priest, and he seeks after the doctrines of the 1st century church. He has converted his family away from trinitarianism, they understand the Eloheim to be the grand council of the gods, they have renounced all the churches as being in apostasy, and their father ministers to the family as patriarch of Sundays (with the assistance of his wife in leading lessons, etc.). (I am amazed at how “Mormon” his family has become since adopting 4 Russian orphans 7 years ago, especially since they were so “evangelical Bible Christian” growing up.) Andew has studied at seminaries in Illinois, Kentucky, and Texas, and he specializes in the history of the Hutterite movement in particular and the Restoration movement in general.

  38. Post

    #38 “Are you planning to accept any money offered to you for your services (as is common in many other churches)? If you accept money to preform a ceremony under the auspices of a different church, is it still priestcraft?”

    No. I would not accept money for performing the ceremony. I would not be comfortable with that for the exact reason you mentioned. I personally don’t like the idea of being paid to give someone service in a faith or religious sense. I’m not knocking anyone else who does it, but I would much rather just enjoy the experience of doing this for them. I don’t want to feel like it’s a job. I have a normal, everyday job.

    They did insist on paying for 1 night for me at the hotel where the ceremony and reception is being held.

  39. Another Universal Life Church wedding I’ve witnessed was performed by a descendant of Joseph Smith, Jr. I grew up in Platte City, Missouri, up the street from a woman whose last name was French. She was divorced and remarried to a man surnamed Smith. Mrs. French also had a black man for a boyfriend. So growing up, I frequently saw her, Mr. Smith, and her black boyfriend going on dates together. The household was secular/atheist, and Mr. Smith was an ex-Mormon that preferred academia to theology. I also thought it was funny that it was Mr. Smith who was bred to practice polygamy (at least theologically), but it was his atheist wife that ended up practicing polygamy!

    Mr. Smith took out a Universal Life Church ordination so that he could marry my friend Mr. Kruse to his step-daughter V. French. And wouldn’t you know, like mother, like daughter. My friend Mr. Kruse has had to put up with his wife’s polyandrous indiscretions at least once, when she went to France for a summer without her husband! Polyandry may not been for every woman, but I’ve known at least two women eager to practice it in my lifetime!

    Mr. Smith did officiate a very nice ceremony at Fort Leavenworth for Mr. & Mrs. Kruse to-be, and he was able to do so because of the Universal Life Church.

    Just another example of the likes you’re associated with through the Universal Life Church (even if I can’t also talk around here about the ULC zombie wedding I went to once *wink*).

  40. > Given the recent policy change in the Church Handbook of Instructions regarding dual membership,

    Reference, please.

  41. I have no idea what the rules on this are in the LDS church. Sounds fine to me. If you are concerned, talk to your bishop. If for some reason you aren’t allowed without some disiplinary action and you don’t want to go down that road, perhaps you can find someone else that is LDS and has the authority to do weddings. Again, no idea how any of that works. Personally, I totally think your heart is in the right place, which is most important. You could do it now and ask questions later if you are intent on performing the ceremony. Either way, do what you feel in your heart is right, not what others tell you is right.

  42. Hey Valoel. I really enjoyed your post and it’s nice to see how things are progressing since you brought it to the attention of another board.

    I think that what you are doing for your friends is compassionate and should be viewed as what it is, an act of love. I applaud you for your willingness to meet their needs even though it takes you into murky waters concerning priesthood and religious affiliation. However, from the little I’ve been able to get to know you, I know you have given this matter considerable thought, meditation, and prayer. I personally think your decision to “join” another church is just a legal loophole so that you have the authority to perform the marriage service. God knows where your heart lies even though others may not fully understand or accept your decision.

    Having said that, I would like to share a brief story about a Chilean poet, his wife, and a BYU professor who happened to be a bishop at the time. As an undergrad, I met a poet in Chile that was related to much more famous poet, a deceased Nobel laureate in fact. I passed along his info to a professor, who in turn met with him during a research trip. Several months later, my wife and I attended a presentation that said professor gave and he invited us out to lunch. (Bear with me, this story is relevant.) In our conversation, we thought it would be really cool to bring this poet up to BYU, which happened several months later.

    The professor and the poet became rather close. During another trip to Chile, the poet and his wife asked the professor if he could be their religious adviser. In fact, they called him “Obispo John” (Bishop), although John wasn’t his name. Now, the bishop/professor explained that he held no ecclesiastical authority over them, but that he was perfectly comfortable discussing religion and spirituality with them. They still jokingly referred to him as their “obispo,” and he didn’t do much to dissuade them.

    Now, I don’t see a huge difference between this situation and Valoel’s. He got a piece of paper that allows him to legally perform a service, but as far as the relationship between the couple and him, they simply see him as a friend that they respect and revere for his level of spirituality.

    Please let us know how it all turns out.

  43. I just returned from the wedding of two pharmacists outside St. Louis, Missouri (reception and lodging at an interesting Tudor-style Holiday Inn made from an old huge quarry-stone barn).

    I just wanted to give a status report concerning “till death do you part”: nothing about parting at death was mentioned in the ceremonies, and all ecclesiastical language had an eternal perspective. The couple joined right hands at an alter during the vows. The couple is converting to Missouri Synod Lutheranism (the husband’s faith), and they were married in a modern Catholic cathedral and ceremony (the wife’s faith; Mass was held 1 hour after the wedding instead of during the wedding).

  44. In California, anybody can go to the courthouse, and be deputized as a county clerk for one day to perform one wedding. I was released several years ago as a LDS bishop, but last year some friends wanted me to wed them. I went and did the paper work, and performed the wedding. Easy.


  45. Well I just come by this.
    As a leader in church I just want you to considering this.

    You can perform a civil wedding if you have your authority. No problem. But if you where to say with the power of my priesthood or similar it is not approved by the church since there is only called leaders that should perform a wedding members or not meaning the bishop or stakepresident. When they are released they might have the civil right as here in Sweden, but The church are not approving us to use it since we are relesed.

    But if you have the right to perform civil wedding thru a proper institution not using your priesthood it would be appropriate.

    But I do think it is a bit tasteless to use that kind off dresscode on thus important occasion, What does that say about your view of marriage and importance of that. -i would prefer more reverence even if it is just by “the authority given me from City counsel or whatever” I would for my own view state my own “standars”.

    Good luck in doing it right, hope you find a good choice considering you are asking you probarbly fell unsecure with some parts of this. Usually this is good sign to stay off, not going further, you have probarbly gone over your own border and want others to give some acceptance. Well the source is tha same do you seek answers merely from people or also from your havenly father. You can always get support on these kind of blogs etc.

    Live long and prosper anyway,
    John H

  46. Valoel;

    You have said that you don’t plan to inform your Bishop about this, since
    he doesn’t have any jurisdiction about marriage in another state. What happens if he finds out about it anyway, disagrees that it’s perfectly OK for an Elder to act as a minister of another church, and asks why you didn’t counsel with him before you went throught with it? Do you have an answer ready, do you think it will satisfy him, and are you ready to accept the consequences in case it doesn’t?

  47. Elder Valoel,
    You are the coolest thing since sliced bread…okay…maybe air conditioning. I think it’s awesome what you’re doing for your friend. I also think that it shows just how much he respects you for even having asked you. If you were in my town, I’d ask you to perform mine (whenever we actually set the date…LOL).

  48. “Given the recent policy change in the Church Handbook of Instructions regarding dual membership, I wonder if you may be endangering your membership in the CoJCoLDS.”

    Could you please enlighten about what specifically this policy change is. Apparently some (including myself) have not heard what this is.

  49. While living in Mexico, a cousin of my husband’s got married in the Catholic Church. Because we were the only couple he knew who were still married after 5 years, he wanted us to be the ring godparents (don’t know the right terminology in English–sorry–“Padrinos de Anillos” in Spanish). It was kind of odd that he would ask the only mormon relatives he has to perform this function, but we saw it as a great opportunity to show our support and love. We had to hold the rings in our hands while the priest sprinkled them with holy water and then hand them over to them. NO BIG DEAL!! Had we refused, we would have been the closed minded mormons.

    Especially since you will be performing this as a civil and not as a religious wedding. It would be quite different if you were to stand on a street corner and preach a new gospel… the only question I have is what are you going to do with your ordination after the wedding? Are you keeping it or canceling it?

  50. Guy Smiley (52.)–

    I think there is basically no chance that anyone is still reading this thread (I just came across it randomly), but I’ll answer your question:

    There are only a small handful of actions which, according to the Church Handbook (I have read the book as part of a calling, not a stolen/online copy, thank you!), REQUIRE a disciplinary council. Among them: Officially joining another church.

    The handbook makes clear that simply attending another church is not sufficient; but whereas you “officially” joined another Church, you are technically in definitional apostasy.

    Whether or not anyone would actually make a stink about this is a different question, so please don’t shoot me. I’m just the messenger.

  51. “The handbook makes clear that simply attending another church is not sufficient; but whereas you “officially” joined another Church, you are technically in definitional apostasy. ”

    I dont have the handbook so I have to ask – would this be the case even for this church
    as it does not preach anything at all against our beliefs

    Being affiliated with this church wouldnt go against you for temple reccommend would it

  52. MM is getting funnier ever day! Great!

    This marriage thing, is it legal in your state if you preside?, as a citizen or witness or something?

    If its legal once they get a marriage license, and there is no real need or a ceremony, then it doesn’t really matter if you then do a religious ceremony as an Elder/teacher Lds, so you don’t need to join any internet church and risk getting into trouble with your Bishop.

    By the way if your B does find out, tell him that the Universal Life Church is a modern day Free Masonry unit! should be enough to avoid any disciplinary action.

  53. Oh forgot, this is true as far as I remember:

    “but whereas you “officially” joined another Church, you are technically in definitional apostasy. ”

    So be careful with this game.

  54. I think this idea of “preaching” when marrying someone is borderline offensive. Not because in some cases it works, but because in most cases it makes people feel uncomfortable and puts across, to those already on outs with the LDS church, that the officiator is alluding to the inferiority of the ceremony and the futility of their arrangment. And let’s face it, if your kids are marrying out of the temple (not as the case in the of the Okinawa story, where the married were not of the LDS faith) they know; why deliver a low blow on a day when they are trying to get on with their lives? Obviously they’ve come to the point in their lives where they feel like they can make a major commitment, why not let ruminate in their minds the acceptance and love of all those present without the brash assertment (and implied condemnation) of the person performing the marriage?

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