For time and all eternity

guestMormon 91 Comments

This post is by Heather B.  My husband and I were married and sealed to each other in an LDS temple over 6 years ago. We were surrounded by around 30 of his closest friends and family, but none of mine. I was a convert to the church of about 2 years when we married, and since we decided to get married in our home state, none of my close friends could make the ceremony (we were students at BYU at the time). My family members were not at all interested in joining the church, and sat outside during our sealing ceremony.

When my husband and I were engaged, I sat down with our bishop numerous times for interviews and to prepare for the temple and sealing. I was told that though my family couldn’t attend, a ring ceremony could be held. When the time for to actually plan a ring ceremony, I found out that according to the Bishop’s Handbook of Instructions:

  • After their temple marriage, a couple may exchange rings at locations other than the temple. If such an exchange is made, the circumstances should be consistent with the dignity of their temple marriage.
  • The exchange should not appear to replicate any part of the marriage ceremony, and the couple should not exchange vows.
  • A couple may arrange with their bishop to hold a special meeting for relatives and friends who do not have temple recommends. The meeting may include a prayer and special music, followed by the remarks of a priesthood leader. No ceremony is performed, and no vows are exchanged.
  • No other marriage ceremony should be performed following a temple marriage.

We ultimately decided to forgo any sort of ring ceremony. We exchanged rings at the reception, in a hurried moment at the side with just our parents. I honestly couldn’t think of a way to have a ceremony that would be meaningful without any vows, any replication of the traditional wedding that my parents had expected for me since I was a little girl. It seemed like adding insult to injury.

I spent most of my wedding day worried about my family. Would some well meaning temple worker say something that would make them hate the church? Would my mother be in tears in all of my wedding pictures? How uncomfortable would it be at the reception, with only my parents, brother, and one aunt in contrast to my husbands many friends and family? Most of my family decided not to travel hours away to simply go to a reception. I honestly don’t think that they did this to snub me, but because culturally, the wedding is a much bigger event than the reception in traditional Christian weddings, and the idea of traveling hours away for just a reception seemed trite. It was not the carefree day that I had hoped for.

While I take full responsibility for choosing to partake in a tradition that excluded my own family, I also look back at my wedding and think, what did the church gain from this? The only answer that I have been given is that the sealing ceremony is sacred. Without going into detail about the ceremony or making light of it, let’s look at arguments against letting non members witness sealing ceremonies:

Temple Clothing: the temple clothing and ceremonial garb worn during a sealing is considered sacred. However, the LDS bury their dead in them, and often have open casket viewings with the temple clothes in full view. LDS funerals are open to everyone. What is the difference between seeing them at a funeral and at a wedding?

A talk with the bishop and limited use recommend for sealings could be issued to family members much like we do for our young people who perform baptisms in the temple. This would allow younger LDS siblings to attend a sealing as well. My husband had two siblings and nieces and nephews we would have loved to attend our sealing. Since young children are allowed in the sealing rooms to be sealed to their parents, so it wouldn’t be that far of a stretch. I cannot believe that a loving Heavenly Father would consider siblings and parents unworthy to witness such an important event.

The ceremony itself is very short and simple, comprosing of talks given by temple presidents that can be found in various church publications. Most of the more sacred parts are held in the celestial room, away from even the wedding guests. Non Members could wait in the sealing room with everyone else during these parts, or if an endowment session took place before the sealing.

The third option is to waive the one year wait after a civil wedding before a sealing can be performed. LDS in many countries are able to have a civil wedding followed by a sealing that day, and include all of their friends and family. If the church allows this in some countries, why not allow it for all members?

As we prepared for our marriage, our leaders encouraged us to use our sealing as a missionary opportunity for my family. I believe that they did this in sincerity and a little bit of cultural naivety. While they saw temple weddings as a glorious symbol of forever families, my loved ones could only see that the church was keeping their family apart. This disconnect killed any chance of a missionary moment during our wedding celebrations.

Do you think that what the church gains by keeping control of LDS weddings outweighs what they lose in relations with part member families and general bad PR? Do you see a day when the church will receive revelation on this issue that will allow the church to evolve as it has in other areas relating to the temple?


Comments 91

  1. Thank you for bringing this up. Its a problem that many leaders seem just ignorant of at times. And it brought back painful memories for me since my wife’s parents couldn’t be at the temple wedding too. This, I believe, only had the effect of making us start married life of the wrong foot. There were arguments with parents and uncles/aunts and a very victorian grandmother who could only look and criticize our ‘church’ wedding, and claim until the day she died that ‘Mormons separate families’. My wife then spent most of the two days and a large part of the honeymoon worrying about her parents.

    Now note that we married in latin america and because of the separation of church and state, we had to have a ‘civil’ marriage in the morning before a judge in a registry as the law requires of all citizens, with two witnesses etc but no white wedding dress, but then due to the church Temple wedding rules, we could not go near each other until the next day after we travelled to the temple to be Sealed. We had the reception that first night when she used her wedding dress but we weren’t allowed to have any ceremony, as you describe. Then at midnight we got on the bus with my family and some people from our ward and travelled the 6 hours to the Temple.

    Yet, the first ‘civil’ marriage was legal and lawful. It fulfilled that covenant requirement we make in the temple endowment. And back then I just didn’t know nor suspected that it was the same to marry civilly and then be sealed a year later after that wait the church imposes. The Sealing ceremony done after a year’s marriage or when one first marries is exactly the same, it doesn’t change. Actually the words of the sealing only change for a proxy because they add that you sister …. act for the dead person and so on. But then the rest is all the same! And if President Kimball could marry outside the Temple due to WW1 and then wait some time to be sealed, and have the same value as any other marriage as well as become prophet later on, then why can’t they at least tell couples who have this difficulty with their extended family that they can marry in Las Vegas or so and then be sealed a year later and that sealing is the same in value and effect. If they have a kid then it needs to be sealed to the parents after birth but they insist that the value of ‘born in covenant’ or ‘sealed’ later is exactly the same. Heck if the spouse dies then a year after death he can be sealed by proxy anyway.

    All they do by insisting that couples marry without the bride’s parents in the Temple is just bad PR, as you say here. My wife’s family still resent the church over this because they couldn’t see their daughter marry in church even though they were all there in the civil (very formal) marriage ceremony when the witnesses signed and they gave us the office marriage certificate. Oh, and the Temple gave us another one which doesn’t have any legal value anywhere.

  2. The marriage sealing, along with the environment (infinity mirrors, etc.), is actually a really beautiful and spiritual ritual. I actually think it makes a marriage ceremony more spiritual than a traditional church wedding. Aside from the culture shock of the temple clothing, I think allowing non-LDS family members to witness the sealing could actually be a great missionary tool. (I hate that term)

    My mother-in-law is a convert and her mother still holds a grudge against the church, some 40+ years later, for not allowing her to see her only daughter get married.

  3. Now with this:

    “The third option is to waive the one year wait after a civil wedding before a sealing can be performed. LDS in many countries are able to have a civil wedding followed by a sealing that day, and include all of their friends and family. If the church allows this in some countries, why not allow it for all members?”

    This isn’t exactly correct because as in our case the country didn’t recognize any church marriages, including catholic church weddings, so our church doesn’t have any other option than to accept civil marriages but then they demand that the couple travel to the Temple as soon as possible, without consummating the marriage, and be Sealed. If one waits three or four days then the local leaders make you wait the year. So it isn’t really that the church allows this by choice but they are forced to accept this setup due to the separation of church /state. It’s the same for the Catholics, Jews and everyone else. We marry civilly in a brief document exchange type ceremony in the morning then head to the church to be married before God, as they say.

    -Also note that the church allowed other variations on marriages. Until the mid ’80’s there was no divorce in the country, but many couples separated and then lived with another partner as a second marriage. But since no divorce meant no second marriage was legal, the members who were in this situation were permitted to go to a neighboring country to be married there, in what was technically bigamy, then return to their own country and travel to the Temple to be Sealed using that second marriage certificate to show civil marriage. Most popular was Sao Paulo registry since anyone from neighboring counties would show up as a couple, marry there civilly while on holidays, and head to the Temple to be sealed. And the church had to accept this for the good of the members, to allow them to be Sealed to someone. (Sealing cancellations where different though)

    If they accepted this set up back in the 70s/80s then surely they can be just a bit more flexible with people like yourself, who’s family may not be all members. I don’t mean letting Gentiles into the temple for this one ceremony, but telling these young couples about the ‘Las Vegas option’. That is to go with your non-member family and any member relatives, get married in Vegas, enjoy this happy time with your loved ones and then quietly and peacefully get Sealed for eternity in a Temple a year later, or better six months later just in case there is a pregnancy there.

    The current way may work for families who are temple worthy on both sides but it does only damage to part member families, as happen to my wife and I back in the 80s.

  4. You asked what the church gets out of the policy. The answer is increased tithing revenues. The policy enables the church to pressure less active, non-temple-recommend-holding fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends of the bride and groom to “repent” and start paying tithing so that they can be “worthy” to enter the temple and attend the sealing ceremony. As long as the number of potential converts (and by extension potential future tithe-payers) so offended by the exclusion policy that they never consider joining the church is lower than the number of non-TR-holding members who can be pressured into coughing up the requisite 10% to the Corporation of the President, the policy will continue. It’s a simple cost-benefit analysis.

  5. A fascinating and poignant post, Heather. Thank you for sharing your experience because I could really empathize with your situation. I was the convert with no family and few friends attending, while my wife had nearly her entire family there. As a male, I wasn’t too upset with it, but upon hindsight, I am sadden at the fact that my parents could not see their oldest son get married.

    I find your questions valid. I, too, wonder why there is such a taboo concerning civil ceremonies before the temple ceremony. In what way would this affect the validity of the temple ceremony? Obviously, it doesn’t, so why not allow it, as you said for all members? If the church is so family-oriented, why can’t there be some concessions for a convert’s family? I think it would be a great missionary tool in allowing the non-member family to witness the sealing as opposed to ostracizing them.

    Again, a very appropriate post and one that deserves some response from true believing members.

  6. Carlos: Thanks for the additional information about weddings and sealings outside of America. It looks like it isn’t as simple as I had imagined. I can relate to your story and know that many others have had the same experiance.

    Clay: I hate that term too, but I can never think of a better way to say it!

    Equality: I think the church underestimates the value of making the temple seem less secretive/cult-like/mysterious. I know lots of people who think they would never even be welcome in an LDS sacrament meeting because of the rules surrounding the temple.

    Tony: I agree. It makes no sense to me other than to create a social stigma around those who choose to wait to be sealed. If we had a traditional ceramony and waited a year to go to the temple, it would have been assumed that we were somehow ‘unworthy’ to get married in the temple in the first place.

  7. I need to think about your post before I respond to the real issues spoken of here, the exclusion of family members from the sealing ceremony.

    But, I have 20 years experience as a DJ doing wedding receptions. I have been involved in ceremonies as well. Here are some observations from my experience:

    1. Most couples getting married today are already living together, so a religious ceremony seems kind of hypocritical. In many cases, they just pick a church to get married in, not one they actually attend.

    2. Most attention is paid to the party (reception)

    3. I’ve done some weddings where it was clear it would be lucky if the marriage lasted for a year. The shortest time was 6 months. There seems to be less emphasis on the committment.

    At least, the LDS sealing ceremony and the activities surrounding it are designed to be focused on the eternal commitment and not on getting drunk and partying.

    Most LDS receptions are low key.

  8. I think this issue is a clash of two cultures that we are trying to force together unsuccessfully. Marriage to a Mormon is not the same as it is to a Catholic, for example (so said my Catholic friend, and I agree). People don’t understand why they can’t go to their son or daughter’s sealing because it is really not the same thing as a wedding, and we’re all trying in vain to make it the same. However, I think more flexible rules should apply in the cases of ring ceremonies, for example. So what it the couple exchanges vows or holds a secular ceremony? I don’t think that takes away from the sealing.

    Your “limited use” recommend idea is an interesting one as well…

  9. Carlos–

    The no-intimacy after civil marriage before temple sealing in certain non-US countries may have been a rule in the past, or it may be a rule that certain local authorities may have imposed, but it is not in the handbook. And it certainly is not part of the law of chastity.

    I do think the current US policy does more harm than good. Fortunately, I do not think it is so ingrained that it would take a major revelation to change, and I think one day we will return to allowing civil marriages followed shortly thereafter by a sealing.

  10. Jeff: I would have to disagree with you. First of all, many people attend more liberal churches that don’t really care whether or not the couple lives together. Just because they live together doesn’t mean they don’t have a faith of their own. It just might not be as conservative as the one you are used to 🙂 The ones who aren’t religious tend to get married at hotels or other venues, but I don’t think that getting married outside a church is any less of a special ceramony to the couple, or means that they will have less commitment. LDS sealings have about the same divorce rates as regular marriages, unfortunatly.

    Shenpa: I totally agree that another ceramony would not take away from the sealing, whether it was done before or afterwards.

    1. Heather, actually LDS marriages have the same divorce rate, but LDS sealings have a substantially lower divorce rate than the population as a whole, less than 20% in fact.

  11. Interesting discussion. There is a lot of pain for the non member families.


    LDS temple marriages have the lowest divorce rates of any marriages in the US. By far. Google it

  12. Temple Divorces are differant than a legal divorce. The temple divorce (or sealing cancelation) rate is very low, about 6%, mostly because they are very hard to get.

    But the actual legal divorce rates between LDS are not much differant than the rest of the population. It’s just that the church won’t allow those couples to get sealing cancelations unless they are getting remarried, and even then, men don’t have to do it, because they can be sealed to more than one wife.

    I’ve had this confirmed by both a sociology prof at BYU, who did a study for the church, and by a stake president. I couldn’t find anything by googling other than the 6% sealing cancelation rate. Care to share your link?

    1. I am sorry that you had a bad experience. I am working on my second marriage, but my first temple sealing. I found your post by looking up ways to do a ring ceremony that will be meaningful for all those that can not go to the temple.
      I am going to walk down the isle, I have brides maids and I think we are going to exchange vows. My bishop is fine with everything and wanted to know if there was a certain script I wanted him to read. He said he just can’t say “you are married as man and wife”…. Maybe I should have someone else do the vows. 😉

  13. “Jeff: I would have to disagree with you.”

    That is certainly your prerogative. I have worked with and spoken with hundreds of brides and grooms.

    “First of all, many people attend more liberal churches that don’t really care whether or not the couple lives together.”

    My experiences are with those married in Catholic and other mainstream Protestant churches.

    “Just because they live together doesn’t mean they don’t have a faith of their own. It just might not be as conservative as the one you are used to.”

    These days, the new order of things seems to be: 1. Live together 2. Have child(ren) 3. Decide to get married. I have been amazed how many are like this. By no means, everyone, but many. I don’t know too many churches that encourage this type of behavior.

    “The ones who aren’t religious tend to get married at hotels or other venues, but I don’t think that getting married outside a church is any less of a special ceremony to the couple, or means that they will have less commitment.”

    That is true in some cases, but most of wedding couples I work with get married in a church. Even if they are married in a hotel, it is often by a pastor or minister of some denomination. My comments about the committment only speak to my observations of the couple, how they treat each other, the way they interact at the reception, etc. It is only my observations. The divorce rate to me speaks to the lack of commitment that many people have toward their marriages. And, to me, that is reflected by their lack of religious faith.

  14. “the new order of things seems to be: 1. Live together 2. Have child(ren) 3. Decide to get married. ”

    This kind of life is what kills the divorce rate in the country. If a couple moves in together with the intent of getting married, then the divorce rate is about the same as couples who get married first. However, if they move in without that intent, live together for a while, and then decide to get married, they’ll get divorced about 80% of the time.

  15. great post!

    I just conducted a ring ceremony in Wash DC and it was such a beautiful experience to be a part of. The Non-member family was so thrilled to be included. but almost as important, the members really supported it.

    I think that there are a couple important historical factors that help shed light on the situation. Until almost the mid-century, the Church was still “hunkered down” in an isolationist, Gathering of Zion mentality. the Church grew primarily from “child of record” births, not converts. I think the temple policy was a “carrott/stick” tool for retention and activity.

    The fact that it is a “bad user-experience” for part member families just wasn’t a factor when the tradition become “the way”. Now that we are an international church and a missionary church, there is clearly a HUGE missed opportunity when it come to missionry work. An opportunity to include and share our beautiful concept of eternal families with the wolrd.

    It is just a bad policy and a hold-over from the “Gatehring.”

    My advice to anyone is to error on compassion for the people being excluded. get married civily and sealed later if you choose. don’t be ashamed, this can quickly start a new tradtion

    If the Mormon family is insistant on following tradition. Or if the Mormon Fiancee is uncomfortble about it. then that is a marriage to avoid

  16. Heather said:

    “This disconnect killed any chance of a missionary moment during our wedding celebrations.”

    Uh…do we really want to change weddings into a missionary opportunity anyways?

  17. My brother-in-law’s first marriage, his father-in-law to be offered him $10,000.00 to elope — just to save on the reception and other costs. His wife nixed that.

    One large issue is the cost and public display associated with many marriages. That is a cultural force that the Church is opposing. I’ve seen ring ceremonies that were pageants as well, and those that were not.

    But there are a lot of issues that are created by any of the paths, including many that are not intended.

    BTW, do you think that this had any effect on your eventual decision to leave the Church?

  18. This is one of those areas that is always difficult to discuss, primarily because the sealing ceremony is very sacred. I think that the reason it is closed doors is not releated to the wearing of the ceremonial robes, but for another reason. There are certain symbols used as part of the ceremony. Those symbols are sacred and kept sacred. Thus, those who have not made covenants to keep those symbols sacred are not asked to participate in or view the ceremony.

    That is the fundamental difference between the sealing ceremony and the funeral that Heather may be overlooking. Now, I’m not being combative, but I strongly suspect that this is the entire reason for the exclusive nature of the ceremony. As for a ring ceremony, I don’t personally feel that there is a problem with it, but I would abide by the letter and spirit of the Handbook if it became an issue.

    Personally, I feel that I would have been happy if the only people at my wedding had been myself and my wife, the official witnesses and the sealer. After all, it is not inherently a social event. It is a covenant between the man, the woman and God. Nothing less. To make a social event trivializes the most important event in one’s life, in my opinion.

    The reception is the time to hold a ring ceremony, I think, were a man in the Church could make a simple statement of his love and devotion to his bride, and she could do the same. Not in the nature of a vow, per se, but a simple exchange, a kiss and then cut the cake. Or whatever.

    That’s why I think the church does what it does. Not that I have any special insight. Now the rules about civil unions and the like are out of my league, and I’m not really sure about all that, especially since they vary so much from country to country. I rather suspect that if you want a clear answer you would need to write to church headquarters and ask for answers along with a group of 300 or so of your closest member friends. When the Church starts getting signed letters from large groups of members asking for answers to specific questions, then those questions may be addressed more directly. Until then, you may well expect silence.

  19. DPC:

    They already are treated as such. Not by everyone, but I know personally that when Heather and I were married, my father had a list of names of less active individuals or some that were struggling to invite to the sealing. I knew many of them well, but I was not going to have any part of that. He invited some anyways (we had quite a few open spots because Heather had no one in the sealing that wasn’t related to me). The primary purpose was to get these individuals temple worthy, not to celebrate a marriage. Funerals typically go the same way. He wanted to invite many of the same individuals (6 years later; still inactive) to my sister’s funeral in hopes of getting them in the “spiritual” environment where they might be touched to come back. Very few attended.

  20. Heather,

    My wife and I have many relatives that are not members of the church, and we agonized at how to best fit both needs. We went ahead with a ring ceremony the day after our sealing. It worked out very well because those who could attend the temple were part of a very beautiful sealing. For the ring ceremony, we created a fairly traditional script, even with the father walking the bride to the front. We had the first counselor from our bishopric who was one of our Witnesses in the temple give an oration of what occurred in the temple for those who could not attend, and then we exchanged rings. We then had our reception. The whole two-day event was executed flawlessly and all had a wonderful time without any feelings hurt for not being able to attend the temple ceremony itself.

    For me and my wife, it was very nice because we had two wedding days, and so we could really enjoy the moment. Because, let me tell you that first day went by awfully fast.

  21. Dan:
    It sounds like you had a very flexible bishop! Mine specifically said we should not use any type of wedding march or walking down the isle, and supported his statement with the handbook. I have heard stories of very liberal baby blessings, and baptisms as well, if you happen to have a bishop who will go along with bending the rules. My bishop was the opposite, and since I needed his approval to get a reccomend for even my own endowment, I had to go along with his interpretation.

    I’ll second what my husband said. My FIL is a stake president and made it very clear that he would like us to use our wedding to help bring back inactive members of his stake.

    I don’t think that the sealing/wedding experiance effected my decision to leave. The temple itself probably did play into it, but that is hard to discuss here without offending. Maybe I’ll find a way to talk around it and post another time.

    Benjamin O:
    I know exactly what you are talking about, but I’m wondering if that part could be intergrated into celestial room? Temple ceramonies have been adjusted more than once, and I think there is always a way if we are willing to look for one.

  22. I don’t know if this has been said, but the Sealing between husband and wife is the pinnacle of Temple ceremonies. It has only come because the person has been washed, anointed, made clean, and then endowed with very powerful and eternal covenants. All those in attendance have experienced the same things. It is not about trying to shun families. It’s about refusing to throw pearls before swine.

    Before anyone lectures me on my poor choice of words (and no, Heather, I’m not calling your family swine, either), let me give you my situation. My husband’s parents could not be at our sealing, either. His grandparents stood in “proxy” for them because of the choices they had made. His father was still an “active” member at the time, but because of his own choices, he was unable to have a recommend. My husband’s mother had chosen, one month earlier, to be excommunicated (yes, it was a choice in this particular situation). So, although they understood everything about the church and had even once made the same covenants, they were not allowed to be there.

    Am I angry at the church over it? No. Obviously if my in-laws had chosen it, they could have been there. Which, I understand is the difference between my situation and those like Heather’s. But I find it very hard to accept the idea that we should allow people to witness such a culmination of covenants strictly because they happen to be related.

    Christ said (Matt 19:29) that those who choose him over family will always be blessed. Yes, this is a church that teaches about eternal families. Yes, it seems ironic and crazy that a Temple wedding seems to break up families rather than bring them together. I’m sure it hurts. I’m sure it’s hard. But at the same time, what are we striving for?

    “Do you think that what the church gains by keeping control of LDS weddings outweighs what they lose in relations with part member families and general bad PR? Do you see a day when the church will receive revelation on this issue that will allow the church to evolve as it has in other areas relating to the temple?”

    To answer your questions: I don’t know what you mean by “what the church gains.” This is eternal doctrine we’re talking about, not some hokey-pokey policy thought up by paid clergy members. What does the church gain? Well, what did you gain? What did you gain from choosing something like a Temple sealing? Of course it’s hard. Why would it be easy? Why should it be easy? Anything worth having in this life comes with some type of sacrifice.

    However, will there ever be changes? Perhaps. I won’t say that they won’t happen because you never know.

  23. Whoa, Cheryl. Watch the sensitivity of your analogies. You are perhaps inadvertently comparing people’s dearly beloved family members to swine. A very unfortunate choice of words. And Cheryl, what we’re talking about is current Church policy, not doctrine. Doctrine is something else indeed, and Elder Ballard and others have written at length about the differences.

    Russell is right on in providing historical context for the origins of the current restrictive policy. Most early members of the Church had been cast out by their families for joining another Church in the first place, so non-member parents attending a wedding would have been a very small minority concern until the 1960’s or so. And no, it wouldn’t require a major revelation to change this as many changes in temple rules have been announced by First Presidency letter-directives, but it would require the top fifteen men to care enough about this to see it as an issue. I think selecting older men as leaders makes it less likely they will have experienced the hurt feelings you write about in your post. If some apostles are selected (soon) 🙂 that have had these experiences or are more sensitive to this issue for some other reason, this will be brought up in their meetings.

  24. Re: sacred symbols – the sealer gave a detailed description of that particular sacred symbol when my twelve year-old son was sealed to us while he was in the room.

    I have not attended many temple sealings. One was a post one-year sealing, and it was very nice. The other two were my own, and a family member’s. To be frank, they both kind of sucked. I mean, it was very nice surroundings and all, but the sealers had nothing to say at all about love or marriage or commitment – it was all “the church, the church, the temple, the temple.” At my wedding (I was 37, my husband 38) the sealer talked to us like we were a couple of Snow College freshmen.

    The special thing about a temple marriage is the spiritual content of what happens, and the promises that are part of the sealing proper. The rest of the ceremony is extremely variable; the couple getting married has no say in the matter, and in many cases it’s pretty lame.

    Based on this, I would say that non-members who can’t attend aren’t missing much. If they DID attend, they’d just be disappointed.

  25. Heather,

    It sounds like you had a very flexible bishop! Mine specifically said we should not use any type of wedding march or walking down the isle, and supported his statement with the handbook. I have heard stories of very liberal baby blessings, and baptisms as well, if you happen to have a bishop who will go along with bending the rules. My bishop was the opposite, and since I needed his approval to get a reccomend for even my own endowment, I had to go along with his interpretation.

    Our bishop at the time is now the stake president of Manhattan. He’s a ho-hum Columbia professor. very relaxed. However, the Stake President was not and even tried to swipe our event from under us days before the event was to have occurred. He said that because our ring ceremony was in New Jersey and therefore a different stake, that we would need to get approval of the Bishop there, and have that Bishop, a person we of course did not even know, preside over the ring ceremony! DUDE! We convinced him of the error of such an attempt.

    I’m sorry your Bishop didn’t let you do this, Heather. I think too many Bishops and stake presidents still adhere too much to the letter of the law rather than the spirit of the law. Particularly in this case, could they point to an actual commandment that would be broken if a ring ceremony would have a wedding march?

  26. John, perhaps you didn’t read my entire comment? I mentioned how the “swine” wording was poor.

    Regardless, I see your point (about doctrine versus policy).

  27. Cheryl:
    I’ve heard opinions like yours many times before. I would like to clarify that I’m not angry/offended at the church. I just disagree with the policy.

    I think that being a parent goes far beyond happening to be related. I have two small children and am pregnant with my third. The sacrafices (and joy) of parenthood are more than I can articulate. According to church doctrine, motherhood is in it’s own way equal to the priesthood, and the highest of callings for women. We are all to model ourselves after a heavenly father and strive for an eternal family. I don’t think the church would classify any of that as “happening to be related”.

    I’d like to hear your take on the one year waiting period between civil marriage and sealings, or the rules regarding other celebrations that do not involve temple covenants. If pearls and swine are the only issue here, then why the extra regulations about what goes on outside the temple grounds?

    What I gained by getting married in the temple was my husband. Since we ultimatly left the church, my legal marriage is the bottom line for our family.

    Would having my family at my temple sealing mean that I had not made sacrafice to get there? I don’t think so. I still would have had to spend the time preparing, be found worthy in interviews, attend my meetings and pay tithing.

    Having my family there was not about me, it was about them. I would have loved to have them with me that day, but I didn’t spend my time feeling sorry for myself, I spent it worrying about my parents and brother. A church that has such a vast missionary program should be concerned with those who are not members as much as those who are.

  28. Ben, Heather:

    Really? I think I might have told my father that the gesture was nice, but that I didn’t want to have relative strangers at my sealing. When I was single and dating, I felt awkward going to weddings with my girlsfriends when I didn’t really know the people getting married. Why would anyone want to go to a wedding of a person they don’t really know? I dislike the practice of having 60+ people in a sealing. You don’t really need it. Do I really care if my cousin’s son and girlfriend are there? Maybe, but only if he had saved me from being trapped on a bus that would explode if it went slower than 55 mph…

  29. Once a temple is dedicated, no adults may enter without a temple recommend. Young children might be an exception because of their innocence before God. It is a matter of keeping sacred things sacred. If anyone come into the temple to witness a sealing ceremony, without regard to worthiness, it might profane the holy things of the temple. No unclean thing can enter into the presence of the Lord, and inside the temple we must consider ourselves as if we are in His presence. If an unclean person entered the temple, it would make the temple unclean too. This is why there are such requirements for people to enter there. It is the House of the Lord. Originally, temple recommends had to be signed directly by the president of the Church, that is how sacred they considered entering a temple. Because of the growth of the Church they have had to change that procedure some, but they have not changed the worthiness requirement.

  30. I guess my problem is that I don’t mind following policies. Having been in enough leadership positions in the church myself, I know how hard it is to come up with any type of guideline, let alone ones that would be implemented for a world-wide organization. Honestly, I have no envy for our Priesthood leaders. What they do is nothing short of miraculous. And yet, there are still many who dislike what they come up with –but how could that ever be avoided? I really doubt it could.

    I think you are mistaking my gusto for the sacredness of a sealing for disgust against any change. Church policies have changed and evolved over time, but the point I guess I was trying to make is what the heck do we do in the meantime? There are reasons as to why the church does things. Do I always understand why? No. But I follow it anyway. Some would call this blind obedience. I see it as having faith in prophets. I don’t doubt that Christ knows what’s going on, and if and when a policy needs to be changed, it will be. In the meantime? We do the best we can.

    P.S. I didn’t mean to dodge all your questions. They just all kind of had the same answer to me. And btw, I have four children, so the parental thing was not lost on me originally.

  31. dpc:

    Really and truly. We did tell Ben’s father multiple times that we would like to keep the ceramony small, but I think the wedding excitment and the idea that there were X number of empty seats got away with my inlaws. The morning of the sealing we found out that a couple of people had been invited that we had no idea about previously. It made it impossible to say No when the extra guests were already at the temple with an invitation to attend. My inlaws had several close friends who were ‘like family’ to my husband, and my father-in-law holds a position in the church that makes members feel honored to attend if invited. It isn’t surprising that they could fill a sealing room if they tried.

  32. I was never a fan of this policy–but it does close up some of the loopholes that exist without it. (Rumors of BYU students going to Vegas for a marriage/wild weekend come to mind….)

    That said, I think the policy seems far overdeterring.

    Speaking of rumors, I heard that the policy has little negative effect in Europe where civil and church ceremonies are separate. (I hadn’t heard of any experiences like Carlos’ before.) Can anyone verify this?

  33. My civil ceremony and church ceremony were separate. We had the civil ceremony in an old palace with immediate family and a few very close lifelong friends. The church ceremony had an even smaller number of people. In my opinion, the only part of the ceremony that non-immediate family and other friends really need to be there for is the reception.

  34. Yes. My uncle and aunt were married civilly in New Mexico and then were sealed in the Mexico City temple 2 days later.

    However, in New Zealand, the rules are like here. My SIL and BIL were sealed in the Auckland Temple and by law they didn’t have to be married civily first.

  35. RE: #33

    Bryce Haymond,

    “If an unclean person entered the temple, it would make the temple unclean too.”

    So, does a temple recommend necessarily prevent this? What does it even mean that a person is “unclean?” What happens if the temple is “profaned?” Who really determines if the person is worthy? Why couldn’t non-members receive a temporary recommend through an interview just as the youth do for baptisms?

    I am not trying to be antagonistic, but I do wonder what your response is.

    Like several folk on this thread, I am not so interested in allowing non-members into the sealing ceremony (although I still see nothing wrong with the proposition) as allowing the couple to have a civil ceremony a day before or after. It seems unnecessary and controlling of the couple’s desire for their non-member parents and/or intermediate family to restrict this practice. As Heather mentioned, the wedding day should one of happiness and joy shared with the family, not one of concern, anxiety, and worry because of the exclusion.

  36. Scottypancakes, I think you hit the nail on the head. The 1 year policy is to discourage young couples from getting married on a “spur of the moment” without involving their bishops.

  37. I just want to remind you that any guidelines governing ring ceremonies only applies if you are using the church building. Anyone is free to rent a hall, have it at home or in a park. Since it is not an official church “anything,” it can be presided over by Bozo the Clown or your Uncle Ned and you can have a juggler, a guitar player or the Vienna Boys Choir there if you like.

    I am sorry that it appears that some do not hold the Temple in more esteem. It is a sacred place where church members go to make important covenants. It is not a place for non-members or those not holding a current recommend. As has been said before, anyone can enter, if they qualify.

    A sealing ceremony is a very sacred event that, under the right conditions, has special significance to those who participate. It is simple and elegant. I feel bad for those here who did not seem to have a good experience.

    It is really up to the couple getting married to help family members deal with not being allowed to go in and finding another way for them to participate. Blaming the church for keeping the temple a sacred place is not the way to go about it.

  38. My wife was baptized when she was a teenager, and her parents are not members. When she was first baptized, her parents all but disowned her, but slowly came around. When my wife (then fiancee) called them to tell them that she was getting married a few years later, her mom’s response was, “So, we won’t be able to see it, right?” Obviously, she was disappointed, but from that time forward they decided to put their daughter’s wishes first. They flew half-way across the country to come to the temple and sit outside with some of my wife’s friends who were not yet endowed (maybe it helped that they weren’t the only ones that were excluded). During the reception that night, my wife’s dad said it was the happiest day of his life. I gained a lot of respect for my in-laws that day.

    I realize that most people don’t have experiences like that–we were lucky. But I wonder why there isn’t more discussion about what the proper response should be for non-member parents. Shouldn’t they be more interested in making it exactly what their son or daughter wants, rather than satisfying their own desires? I’m not saying they shouldn’t feel sad. I sure my wife’s parents felt sad. But they chose to not let that ruin the experience for my wife, and support her. The worldly culture around weddings is too caught up in everything else except what is really important–the husband and wife.

    As far as allow non-members in the ceremony, I agree with what someone else said that the sealing is the highest ordinance that happens in the temple. If we are going to allow non-members there, just because it’s more socially convenient that way, then why not let them in everywhere? Perhaps that’s acceptable to some of you, but I buy into the “sacred, therefore private” principle (call me naive).

    So, should the church never consider social convenience when forming policy? No, I think they should at times, but not at the expense of sacred things. With that in mind, I would support changing the policies around ceremonies outside the temple. I actually never knew such policies existed. My wife and I considered having a ring ceremony, but my in-laws told us not to do it just for them–they wanted the day to be what we wanted. But for those who aren’t as understanding, I don’t see the harm in allowing a full civil ceremony with no time restriction.

  39. The temple is super sacred to some, and a place of potential symbolic spiritual experience for others. The ceremonies are divinely authored to some, and a creative way to teach certain principles and add seriousness to commitments to others. The policies surrounding inclusion and exclusion are eternal doctrines or inspired policies to some, and they are the administrative structures in place for various purposes and can be and have been changed many times to others.

    I’m not intending to set these things up as a dichotomy. There is probably quite a scale, but I want to illustrate the point that people have lots of reasons for their feelings about the temple and the reasons might be just as valid to them as yours is to you. I’m intentionally avoiding giving more details on this subject.

  40. Also, on the subject of sacredness, and casting pearls before swine…

    Many people of other faiths seem to be able to have similar experiences of intense spiritual sacred meditation at totally public places like the Wailing Wall, Shaolin temples, Arlington National Cemetery, etc. with the “unclean” all around them taking photos and carrying on all manner of conversations and behaviors. Perhaps sacred is what you make it.

  41. I should note that my parents were unable to attend my wedding, I’m the oldest child, oldest son. It caused no problems at all.

    But, that is because they were stuck out of country and couldn’t get out of Saudia and into the states in any sort of reasonable time frame. It would have been nice if they could have attended.

  42. Clay, those are some good points. I absolutely agree that how one feels on this matter is dependent on how they view the temple in general. I also agree that there may be more than 1 valid way to view the temple. However, isn’t that a good reason why we should go along with the current policy, considering that it was put in place by church leaders based on their view of the temple? I assume their view of the temple, in general, is more likely to be closer to true principles than my own. And even if it isn’t, then their view is probably just a valid as mine.

    I’m not saying this debate isn’t worth having, but I’m just taking your argument to its logical conclusion, as far as I see it.

  43. I keep reading the same line about temple sacredness. I accept that. Nevertheless, to say that a non-member in someway “defiles” the temple is somewhat…condescending? It is as if people are saying that non-member cannot appreciate sacredness or a spiritual experience. I think Clay has it right, that each individual has his/her own idea in experiencing the sacred/spiritual/holy. I know non-members who are more worthy to enter a temple than some card-carrying members. I am certainly not advocating the access of non-members into endowment sessions, washings and anointings, etc. What point would that serve the non-member? The sealing ceremony, however, allows the family to see what it entails, experience the joy with their child, “feel the spirit.” I guess I’ve just lost my perspective as to why that particular ceremony must remain secretive.

    As Mormon turned atheist, I find being in nature to much more of a “sacred” experience than being in a temple, or watching and hearing my children laugh, teaching my students about tolerance, going with my dad to the lake, having a conversation with my mom on her porch, feeling my wife’s embrace. To me, these are the real sacred experiences. The temple never did that for me, but I can only speak for myself.

    RE: #42

    Mike, you are correct in that a parent’s well-wishes should be given regardless of the marriage snub. But, I think for me it wasn’t that my parents said anything; in fact they were very happy for my bride and me. The problem was -I- knew they felt excluded.

  44. RE: #46

    “I’m not saying this debate isn’t worth having, but I’m just taking your argument to its logical conclusion, as far as I see it.”


    Then wouldn’t another logical conclusion be that by having non-member family attend the sealing ceremony, have a sacred experience, feel the spirit, and develop a desire to have that same experience work closer with the church’s ultimate goal of bringing souls to salvation and Christ? Wouldn’t there be a greater benefit of inclusion and conversion than exclusion and resentment?

  45. “I just want to remind you that any guidelines governing ring ceremonies only applies if you are using the church building. Anyone is free to rent a hall, have it at home or in a park. Since it is not an official church “anything,” it can be presided over by Bozo the Clown or your Uncle Ned and you can have a juggler, a guitar player or the Vienna Boys Choir there if you like.”

    Actually, we threw around the idea of having a ring ceramony in the small baptist church that I grew up in and my mother attends, and our Bishop told us no. Since he had the power to deny us the reccomend that would allow us to have the sealing, we didn’t do it. As long as you need church approval to get the sealing, the church’s power is pretty far reaching.

  46. I’m hard-pressed to imagine a change in ‘policy’ that would allow non-members access to the temple and to temple ceremonies. As Bryce as noted, the temple sealing is the capstone of all LDS ordinances — it is, in effect, the final step in the endowment ceremony. (If you question that, then think about what happens just before the sealing ceremony itself.)

    As for the somewhat snarky “old men” comment, my experience (40 years in the Church and a high priest for the last 20) is that the “old men” in the Church tend to be more thoughtful, considerate, and forgiving than a lot of the younger men (and women).

    If there is a change in policy, it is likely to be a ‘regularlization’ across countries regarding civil marriage prior to a temple sealing. Back when I joined the Church (1967), I knew a young woman, Charlene Webster (no relation), about 4 years old than me (I was 14) who was baptized at just about the same time into the same ward. Since everyone thought at first that we were siblings, and since we were both the only members of our respective families to join, we decided to treat each other as siblings. (And, hey, she was cute, so it was nice to walk around arm-in-arm with her.) When Charlene got married a few years later, it was still Church policy that you could have a civil marriage immediately prior to having a temple marriage. Her father, who owned Webster Pontiac in National City (San Diego), threw a big wedding and reception for her; she and her husband were then sealed in the Los Angeles Temple the next day.

    When I married about six year later, Church policy had changed. Both my (now-former) wife Marla and I were lone members in our respective families, so we had no parents or relatives at all in our sealing. My family was very understanding and actually drove the two of us from San Diego up to the Los Angeles Temple, then waited outside during the ceremony, then drove us back down to San Diego. Marla’s folks were pretty hacked, though they still threw a big reception for us that night and then sent us on a two-week honeymoon to Hawaii.

    [Brief interlude: when we got back to San Diego, we were met at the airport by Marla’s mom, Mary, and her stepdad, Vern, who was a good 10+ years older than Mary. Vern looked at us and said — I believe with utter sincerity (you’d have to know him) — “You two don’t look very tan. How come?” Mary told Vern to hush (he mostly looked confused), while Marla was blushing furiously. I still prefer LDS weddings/receptions to this day, since there is some honest-to-goodness sexual tension present. As noted above, virtually all of the non-LDS marriages I have attended in the past 20 years have involved couples who were at least sleeping together if not actually living together.]

    Anyway, I have no regrets over the restrictions on the temple ceremony. When I remarried after my first marriage ended, it was a civil ceremony since we were still waiting on cancellation of sealings. It was also very underwhelming, emotionally and spiritually, compared to a temple sealing; Sandra’s response afterwards (in private) was along the lines of “That’s it? We’re married now?” It was very different when we were finally sealed (which ended up taking a few years due to misplaced papers).

    [Another brief interlude: when Sandra and I were sealed, her family was able to come, but I was (and am) still the only member in my family. However, Marla — my former wife, who happens to be best friends with Sandra — did come. Before Sandra and I came into the sealing room, the temple sealer asked for a member of each family to be willing to speak and ‘give away’ the respective spouse. When he asked for someone from my family, everyone looked at Marla, she grinned, and said she’d be happy to. The sealer didn’t realize that it was my ex-wife giving me away. ]

    I understand the reasons why the Church changed its policy back around 1970 regarding civil marriage right before a temple marriage, since there were many couples who would marry civilly with the idea of going to the temple “at some point” a few months later. At the same time, many LDS families were following the growing cultural trend of big expensive and competitive (civil) marriages, with a temple sealing the next day. In the past 20 years, I have personally known of (non-LDS) marriages in recent years where the bride’s family has spent well over $100,000 on the wedding and reception, which just strikes me as ostentatious bordering on the obscene. As the father/step-father of six (6) daughters, four of whom are married, I have been grateful for more reasons than one that we as a Church have largely rejected that trend.

    However, even back then (speaking of the early 1970s) the no-civil-marriage policy wasn’t universal, even in the United States. At that time, there were only about 13-16 temples in the entire world, and the policy was that if overnight travel was required to reach the temple — even within the US — then the couple should have a civil marriage before setting out for the temple. With the explosion of temples worldwide, that is becoming less and less of a problem — but as many have noted above, the civil and legal requirements vary so much among countries that the Church has to deal with a patchwork of policies.

    So it would not surprise me if at some point, the Church established as consistent a policy as it could across all countries, one that would allow a civil marriage followed quickly by a temple sealing. (The policy stated above in one country of not allowing consummation of the marriage after the civil marriage but before the temple sealing strikes me as problematic — the couple is legally and lawfully married, they both hold temple recommends, so it strikes me that whether they sleep together or not is no longer the Church’s concern and certainly does not impact their worthiness in any way.)

    Anyway, that’s my $0.02’s worth from someone who has been married three times and lived to tell about it. ..bruce..

  47. Heather….excellent post. Something I have wondered. In the UK I am lucky because we can have a civil ceremony before the wedding. Here is a petition by a friend of mine that was on my mission with me.

    Sign it and get your friends to sign it. I think it is excellent to try to get grass movement changes in this area as the church’s current position is casuistical and archaic.

  48. #47:

    Clay was saying, from what I understand, that maybe there is no right and wrong answer, that it’s just a matter of perspective. My point is that, if that’s true, why not side with the perspective of church leaders? Your argument seams to suggest you think Clay is wrong and there is a right answer. That’s fine with me if you think that.

    I don’t want to debate forever on this. It’s not that important to me that everyone agrees with me. But I have one more question:

    How do we justify the belief that only baptized, worthy people will enter the celestial kingdom? What about the good people who aren’t baptized? What about the good people who don’t even accept Jesus? Isn’t that condescending to them to exclude them? Would it defile the Celestial Kingdom if they were there? My point is that the temple–again, in my perspective–is an imperfect, earthly approximation to the celestial kingdom. Yes, there are imperfections–such as people who aren’t worthy getting recommends, but that’s the ideal.

  49. In case someone didn’t read the previous comments, I meant the preceding questions as paradies on the questions of “How does a non-member in the temple defile the temple?” or “Isn’t it condescending to exclude them?” My point is to replace “temple” with “celestial kingdom”, and see if that’s a valid comparison in people’s minds. It is in mine.

  50. Mike L.
    I totally agree with you. Something has to be said for the standard that has been set. Besides, the Church isn’t going to change policy just because somebody feels bad. It doesn’t work that way. If it did, there would be no Church.

  51. My family has had a similar experience and frankly it’s tragic (sick and wrong).

    I wonder how Christ views this policy? I wonder if he was standing there if he would act as “temple security” and prevent moms and dads from witnessing their children’s marriage?

    Sounds a bit more like something his brother would do. 😉

  52. It’s not unusual to me that non-members, former members would be much more willing to have non-members invade the Temple. I know quite a few people who went once and never when back. I agree with the person who said the ideal is to only have worthy memebers enter. But, that is up to individual members to police themselves. On the other hand, some folks are very hard on themselves, thinking you have to be perfect (which is not possible) to enter the Temple. And that is not what the Lord requires. It does require a certain gospel maturity. Even in a sealing ceremony.

    The admittance policy is not some arbitrary thing thought up to exclude people just because. I know that many of you don’t think much of the church policies and rules are inspired by God. But many of us do and so we accept it as it is. And think it is right. And something that Jesus would do. After all, he threw out those that were defiling the temple in Jerusalem.

    BTW, when was the last time you heard of someone going into a confessional with someone who was making a confession? Other churches have their restrictions as well.

  53. DavidH –

    Yes, that’s one thing I was trying to say; that it isn’t a part of the law of chastity since once you are civilly married you are accepted by God himself as married.

    But the leaders at the time were VERY strict on teaching the no-contact rule until after the Temple ceremony, both Stake and the Area general authorities. I remember Elder Didier, then area president, and then Bishop Brown pushing this strongly in YSA firesides. I don’t know if it was in the handbook but that’s what they demanded of us and of our friends who married in the mid 80s. Hopefully the church has changed this today.

    Maybe I wrote too much here because all I was trying to say is that this policy does a lot more harm than good to the part member family. Not the couple whose parents all have recommends and can go to the actual ceremony but the cases where the bride (especially) can’t have her parents there. In those cases a ‘Vegas’ wedding where all relatives can go, including the recommend, holders would be the better option. Then let them get sealed without the bride’s parents soon after so that the children are born in the covenant.

    Couples should at least be aware of this possibility, knowing that the value of a Vegas wedding plus sealing a few month after is exactly the same as starting life as a ‘sealed’ couple. I get the impression that US couples aren’t told about this option as a fair one but are constantly pressured towards a ‘first time get Sealed option’ even if your parents can’t be there. Although after reading bfwebster I can see why the Church would want to move away from those expensive weddings and civil ones for members. The problem is the damage it does to the part member ones, especially when the brides parents aren’t members.

  54. In response to:
    “Yes, it seems ironic and crazy that a Temple wedding seems to break up families rather than bring them together. I’m sure it hurts. I’m sure it’s hard. But at the same time, what are we striving for?”

    So….what are we striving for?

  55. bbell-

    “LDS temple marriages have the lowest divorce rates of any marriages in the US. By far. Google it”

    Technically true but misleading, even by the church itself. The rates are lower because the church doesn’t always update all divorce events in the membership records because after divorce many couples go inactive, or one partner does, and many members don’t seek out the clerk to inform him of the divorce. The records then lag behind the fact so when GA’s run the numbers to compare Temple marriages to non-Temple marriages they end up with skewed results towards Temple marriages.

  56. Carlos,

    I agree with you (I think) that I don’t see anything wrong with eliminating the time restriction and restrictions on vows for civil ceremonies. I don’t really get that policy, but I only heard about it today so I don’t know much about it, or the reasoning behind that policy.

    But I’m not sure why people keep calling it a “Vegas” option? Is this really what a mother wants for her daughter? For them to run off to Vegas to get married, just so she can see it before they do the “real thing” in the temple? Why do they have to go to Vegas? Why can’t they plan a nice, respectful civil ceremony anywhere else? Are you just using Vegas metaphorically, or are you really suggesting that church leaders should suggest that young couples with non-members parents actually go to Vegas?

  57. Scottypancakes: I’m sure that one of the DM Quinn books talks about couples separated but not divorced due to the country’s laws. I think it was Kimball who pushed for a change in church policy in the 50s because people couldn’t do better. But then you would really need to talk to members who were members back in the ’70s in south america, especially Uruguay,Chile,Argentina and Brazil to confirm this. (by the way ‘Scottypancakes’? did your parent give you that name? 🙂 )

    Reading #34 “The morning of the sealing we found out that a couple of people had been invited that we had no idea about previously” made me remember my sealing that had several Temple workers in the room standing against the wall because they just wanted to see a ‘wedding’ even though we were not allowed to take more than 10 people to the Temple.

    The only solution for me know, after reading all these comments again, is that couples should be permitted to separate Marriage from Sealing as needed on a case by case basis. Just live and let live instead of trying to force everyone to live only as active Utah mormons live.

  58. In response to:
    “It is not about trying to shun families. It’s about refusing to throw pearls before swine.”

    Now we’re talkin…True Blue. That’s the moronism I grew up with.

  59. Many responses. I married civilly and will marry in the temple in the next few months. I think the civil then temple marriage is okay. In fact, it will mean more to me and wife. By the way, its so sacred to us, NO ONE will be there, just her and I, just as it will be in the Celestial Kingdom.

  60. Mike L-

    I just made up this ‘Las Vegas’ wedding to express the worldly wedding where all people can attend. I’m not in the US so I see from movies (probably a poor choice of source) and tv that Vegas has these chapels set up for the crazy couples who meet in Vegas and want to get married. I know its not very academic to use this. It was just what I came up with to express what would be a civil marriage for time only before the government authorities. Now this is different to the civil marriage I had before the Temple one, because that ceremony was more of a sign and exchange documents with little of the ‘love till death do us part’ thing.

    ‘Vegas wedding’ was just to distinguish between the worldly marriage and the sacred Temple Sealing.

  61. I think bfwebster has hit the nail on the head with the reasons for the no civil weddings. Combine that with the church’s policy on Temple admittance and you have a fairly simplistic guide to the current policy, with exceptions made only in locations where Temple weddings are not recognized by the local governing bodies (and since we have that whole belief of being subject to magistrates and presidents and all).

    The sealing ordinance is, ultimately, _the_ crowning ordinance of our faith. I know of none higher explicitly mentioned in the canon. I don’t know that the ‘pearls before swine’ commentary is entirely fortunate in phrasing, but the ceremony does involve certain symbols that endowed members are under oath to keep sacred. When a child is sealed to their parents, this does not change, but nevertheless, unendowed adults are not permitted into the sealing room. I know if instances where an adult child had to wait to be sealed to their parents who joined the church until all had received their endowments. A youth, on the other hand, is permitted to be sealed, I think on the feeling that it is better that they are sealed to their parents considering that it will be some considerable time before they are able to receive their own endowments.

    I doubt that the church will ever allow adult nonmembers to enter the temple and view temple ceremonies. I similarly doubt that the ceremony will be modified in such a way that the nonmembers can attend a portion thereof outside the temple. I can see a change that would allow the bride and groom to have a more formal exchange of rings or otherwise involve nonmember family more extensively, and give bishops further guidance in the Handbook. It is obvious that to me that this is necessary.

  62. RE: #64

    Carlos said: “The only solution for me know, after reading all these comments again, is that couples should be permitted to separate Marriage from Sealing as needed on a case by case basis. Just live and let live instead of trying to force everyone to live only as active Utah mormons live.”

    I think I have to agree with this.

    Let me reiterate that I am more a proponent of a policy reversal for civil marriage than actually having the church change its long held view of not allowing non-members into the temple. I am not so deluded as to think my simple, weak arguments would have sway on anyone, let alone true-believing Mormons. But I do think that it could be done tastefully with escorts and an interview process. It could be limited to only the non-member parents. Or as Peter Brown wrote, having a choice of no one attending. Again, it is a matter of perspective for those who are having the ceremony done. I think there are solutions to this problem without making false dichotomies and slippery slope arguments.

    As far as the church leaders perspective, as true-believer, sure you all have to abide by what they dictate. But I think a good leader takes into account the changing of the times and the needs of the people, and being aware of their own biases. I understand that the church is a theocracy with dogmatic beliefs, so much of this debate is moot, but still worth having.

    I have, I think, officially worn out my time on this topic. I will retire from it.

  63. There is a legitimate ceremonial reason for only allowing endowed adults to attend a sealing. The exception for children seems necessary, and no doubt they are not expected to notice/remember a certain ceremonial detail. That said, I wish the LDS church would allow all couples to hold a prior legal ceremony for the sake of family members, which could be followed up immediately with the temple ordinance.

    I do find it interesting that the LDS church claims to recognize non-temple marriages as legitimate, while at the same time insisting that members in countries that require a prior civil ceremony don’t consmmate the *legal* marriage until after the temple sealing. Something seems inconsistent there.

  64. My wife and I eloped to the “little white chapel of love” in Vegas to avoid the sticky issues of the temple and our diverse families. 10 years on, I think we have one of the strongest and most devoted marriages around. I recognize that my in-laws don’t believe the wedding is valid by the application of D&C 132:7, but it is entirely real to me.

  65. Nick (#71) said,”I do find it interesting that the LDS church claims to recognize non-temple marriages as legitimate, while at the same time insisting that members in countries that require a prior civil ceremony don’t consmmate the *legal* marriage until after the temple sealing. Something seems inconsistent there.”

    As I thought someone already pointed out in this thread, the counsel to delay consummation after a prior required legal ceremony until the temple sealing has been performed is NOT LDS Church policy. It may have been counseled by some church leaders in some foreign countries in past years (Carlos mentioned the mid-80s), perhaps in the spirit of giving more weight to the sealing ceremony; but it certainly isn’t policy now. Some couples may choose to “wait,” a day, but if they do, it is strictly a personal choice.

  66. I know this dialog has been over for about a month but I ran across it and had to leave a comment.

    I see how not having your family in your temple seeling could be very disheartening and am sorry it was such a hectic day for you. That saddens me. I have been a member my whole life, but was inactive for amny years but eventually came back and know have been temple married for 4 years. I completely understand your questions as a lot of people I care about do not or cannot understand my faith. AT the time of your wedding I am assuming you felt the Mormon faith was a perfect fit for your life; so why couldn’t your wedding day be perfect for you and your family?? I think it could have been, it sounds like you Bishop or Stake Pres. made it a little difficult for your ideals. But, it’s not fair to blame them as they were fulfilling their calling the best they knew how. May not be how I would have but, in the church there is one thing I always have to keep in mind…the Gospel is perfect, but the church (or the people) is not. As much as I would love to say the church is perfect, I can’t. If it were, nobody would ever leave the church or go inactive. I say this b/c while reading all the posts I wish there was one simple answer to make everyone happy. But that would be inpossibe, we are all different people with different personalities, expecations, we react differently to many situations.

    Well, now my opinion of the actually question at hand. In the LDS faith the temple IS Sacred. No matter our personal thoughts on the temple; as far as the gospel goes it is sacred. So I would have to focus on the sacred parts of the sealing. I would love to think there is a way non member families could see the sealing ceremony, but b/c of the sacred just can’t be done. I, for one, am not a member that is just filled spiritually by going to the temple. But I do have a testimony of its sacred nature and I do believe I recieve blessings from going. So back to the question someone asked about would Jesus want to see how families are torn apart b/c they can’t be at thier childs wedding? We all know that that is not the Lords intent nor is it the Church’s intent. The church is just fulfilling the Gospel plan as much as been revealed to us. Honstly, anyone of us at anytime could critize some church policy b/c it doesn’t fit us perfectly. But all i know is that the gospel itself is true and one day all these questions and concerns will be answered.

    Sorry if I rambled, It’s very late here and I am a bit of an insomniac. 😉

  67. I couldn’t help but also leave some remarks to the original posting by Heather. I appreciate feeling like there are hundreds or even thousands who feel the exact same way. I am not a convert to the church, however I am also not the typical “utah mormon”. In fact I was inactive for almost a decade of my life. And at my young age of 29.. I have forgotten alot and therefor during my re-activity felt much like a convert.
    I am also a newly wed of a mere two and half weeks. Before I got married I had to do a hefty research term paper on premarital counseling, divorce, rates, etc. The information is enough to make anyone want to stay single and get a dog.
    However, I was married in the temple after much remorse of the same questions.
    I had been “active” for 3 yrs and found “worthy” to go to the temple. I wanted to be married in the temple because of a personal
    choice influenced by the atoning sacrifice of our savior. As a symbol to the savior that I would never “dissapoint” him again in my lifetime. It may sound cliche.. however i wanted an outside wedding because not all my family and friends could attend. I lost alot of friends not just family. I am still torn. I kept trying to convince my now husband to just let us get sealed next year. I was the last to be married in my family and he would be the first to be married in his. I cried for days and counseled with my Father (not the bishop) because I am a Daddy’s girl. I kept telling my now husband “lets just elope” and he would say, “you cant elope to the temple”
    Well.. after my very father told me, “You have to do what makes you happy. When you are married your choices should be between you and your husband, not you and the outside world or family. If we can’t go, what matters most is committing to your husband and your own (future) posterity.”
    I questioned why my husband was being so stubborn. He was the “utah mormon” and couldn’t possibly understand my anguish of not being able to have “everyone” there.
    I then gave my now husband my decision, and we “eloped” to the temple. Meaning, I chose a temple at a destination outside of either state where family lived so neither family could claim “favoritism” and where we could honeymoon and not feel “pressured” by family.
    Turns out, I have 7 brothers and sisters who are all married. Only one sister could come to my wedding. I asked my father who divorced my mother after 27 years of a temple marriage to “be there” even though he couldn’t “give me away” which I too dreamed of.. even growing up in the church.
    Both my spouse and I “left” family behind, and told them they could come if they paid there way. For me, it was no different than eloping because those who did come where not allowed to wear white.. but I have many family members who are “dissapointed” they didnt get to see me married.(and at a destination wedding at that) yet, I would not trade my temple marriage for the world, even if I still have doubts and the whole hindsight 20/20 thing.. My wedding day was beautiful because i committed my life to my husband, and to God in Heaven, with all the same commitments loyalty, love, monogamy, and any other “vow” that would have been given, except my commitments went beyond anything I could ever imagine to write, to express my deep love for my husband.
    Not to mention I didn’t have to go 20,000 dollars into debt to still have family argue over why I picked one state over another or why they could or could not go in..

    AS far as “using” temple marriage as a “missionary opportunity” would kill the day worse than not having family there at all.
    It would completely take away from the nature of having a wedding, not to mention..
    Half the world already thinks mormons are trying to take over.. they would just assume “opening the ceremonies” would be a ploy to get them to join.. and they still wouldn’t want to come or be there.
    and there is a huge difference between SECRET and SACRED. I also find religion to be “sacred” and I have no need to “flaunt it” by including 12 dozen starving missionaries to my reception list just to “explain” why mormons do what they do. First no one would want to listen to it, unless they are ready to hear it. so…..
    Because I “eloped” to the temple post re-activity and being found worthy, the day was mine, I picked my own destination, and i have a deep appreciation for the firm foundation of being married. And I return to the temple often.. because the day did go fast. And I like to feel like a “bride” again, and remember the promises I made, that truely in my heart of hearts makes me happy. Not everyone else. p.s. for those who question the old WWJD? Christ has commanded us, to have families and to go forward and BE HAPPY!
    I have considered cancelling my “ring ceremony” because neither family can agree on how it should be held. Its my wedding day, not there’s. I regret that I could not “stand” there surrounded by family and friends, but what matters most is, I felt it was essential to be married in the temple as part of a family unit for myself and any future children.
    this wasn’t an easy feat.. again my parents divorced and even temple divorced, I left the church for 10 years and even used to abhor the song “families can be together forever” but I knew without the temple I would not be happy. Even if I agree with some of the “strangness” of ceremonies.
    sorry for flogging the dead horse..

  68. I am a 47 year old reformed/recovering feminist. My husband and I joined the Church 9 years ago. We were married civilly 18 years ago and it was all about the ‘party’. Matter of fact, at the time, neither of us admitted to each other that we didn’t really thing it would last and it really didn’t matter in our minds because divorce was the norm in both of our families. Sad…but true.

    Now…The gospel and the Church saved our marriage. We were sealed 8 years ago. One year after our baptism. The Eternal significance was profound and sacred.

    Sacred….we think nothing of allowing the Hopi to exclude outsiders from the Kivas and sacred ceremonies. Other religions have their ‘sacred’. By the way, casting your pearls before swine is from Jesus Christ about ‘sacred things’ and includes all of us. There is a level of sacred with things pertaining to Jesus and the Gospel and to G-d. Most people forget that and just say, “What would Christ do?” he would NOT cast his pearls before swine.

    It does not mean we are perfect or without sin if we have a Temple Recommend. It means we are striving to life by eternal principles, gospel principles and a moral life. Obedience to G-d is not easy, but much IS required. Does that mean it is FAIR?

    Well, as I told my students and my own children….LIFE is NOT FAIR. It is not meant to be. Our children are loved equally, but are not the same. Nor are they punished the same for everything based upon age, understanding, circumstances, etc. The same goes for all of us.

    Temples do not exclude anyone except those that CHOOSE to be excluded by their own choices. Preachy??? Maybe, but long before I joined this church I realized that there must be a level of respect for other peoples ‘sacred’ whether we agree or not. I would LOVE to go to a Hopi ceremony, know Hopi secrets, and be in a Kiva, but I must get over it because it is not MY sacred space. It is theirs.

    I like what someone else said about the day being about the couple and their relationship with G-d. Those that are offended by the couple’s choices on their day must realize it is NOT about them.

    1. I know the biblical passage. But the commenter, Cheryl, wasn’t including everyone. The swine were those without a recommend….

  69. I don’t mean to be too in your face, but I’m not sure I agree with this. Anyhow, thanks for sharing and I think I’ll come to this blog more often.

  70. I had the exact same problem with my family – I’m a convert and my husband’s family was all mormon. So my family got to sit in the waiting room watching his family prance by and go up to see the Sealing.

    You can’t imagine the grief I got from my family about how rude the temple workers were to them and how terrible my in-laws were too.

    To my family’s credit – they weren’t exagerating. My husband’s father was a monster at our ring ceremony and our reception. My family was asked to leave the temple waiting room and walk across temple grounds to another waiting room – that wasn’t INSIDE the temple. My family was really offended since the Temple President had told them they could wait in the waiting room – then they’re being shuffled around and treated like leppers.

    It was a fiasco – now 4 years later – I’m divorcing my jerk of a husband.

    If I ever marry again – I’m going to elope. The whole wedding thing is a nightmare of stress.

    I’ll never do it again.

  71. i too am a convert, my wife is a convert and none of our combined families are members. We grappled with this question as well when preparing for our temple marriage. I think the ultimate question that every body here is really asking is: What is more important, the cultural value(i.e. temporal) or the eternal value. I think that those commenting on this issue are assuming that the church leaders came up with this idea on their own, rather than with revelation from our Heavenly Father. If church leaders came up with it, then fine: change the practice, or forego temple marriage altogether. If temple marriage and the practice therein comes from Heavenly Father, do we really want to argue with him? Questioning is fine, I question all the time. My wife and I recently lost our first and so far only son, and I feel reassured by the hope and promise that we are an “eternal family.” If temporal families can’t get around the difficulties inherent in the temple (that non-members can’t attend) that is not our responsibility as faithful members, or as church leaders, to resolve such difficulties; it is God’s responsibility.

  72. If people have a hard time “getting over” not being able to attend sealings in the temple (whether it’s their son, parent, sister, daughter, etc.), then that’s their problem and not that of the temple or the church or the leaders of the church. My entire family could not attend my sealing ceremony and that’s because I made the decision to be sealed there. The temple is a sacred place that should only be entered into by people who are ‘worthy’ to be there and people who understand the sanctity of it. Anyone who says otherwise needs to work on their own personal faith and testimony. We cannot bend our beliefs and standards to match those of the worlds. Honestly people – you’re just being ‘weeded out’ before the 2nd coming and you need to look into your heart and try to understand why you’re feeling the way you are. The prophet and leaders of the church know what’s best and know what Heavenly Father has commanded – obviously you do not.

  73. Oh Mandy.Surely the point is that in other cultures(as here in the UK)we can be married in a civil ceremony before a temple sealing later in the same day,rather than being forced to wait a year-although DH and I chose to wait for a year after his baptism and our engagement in order to be married in the temple.We want to include our entirely no mo family in our eternal family,and want to be included in theirs.Really,what would be the point otherwise?

  74. There’s nothing particularly special or sacred (to me) about the LDS ceremony.

    As one who has left the Church, I now face the prospects of never getting a chance to ever attend a wedding. With 2 daughters married in the temple (incredibly hurtful to suggest answering a dozen temple recommend questions makes one worthy over a faithful fathers 20 years of service to his children), 5 more active in the Church, I find the practice mind bogglingly cruel and perverse. (I have one inactive daughter so there is hope)

    Of course there’s nothing about this in the missionary discussion when they teach you about the Church. They’re in such a hurry to get you “baptized” and you’ll learn about it later.

    Hate is not a strong enough of a word to describe my feeling for this organization.

  75. I want to thank those who have defended the position of Temple marriage such as Mandy and Ethan. I have a similar story to many of you, I have non LDS family members and those who have started down the path, but let go of the rod. As I have read your anguish about the harsh feelings generated by the exclucive inclusion of those holding temple recomeds into the sealing ceremony I share the emotion. My father in particular harbors nothing but contempt for the church to the extent that on the night before I went into the MTC, he called me and asked me if I had been “brain washed” and offered to let me come and live with him in Phoenix as well as put me through school at no cost to me. After I came home I was faithfull for a few years and even lived in the SLC downtown area. I took great joy in the pretty brides posing for pictures and imagined that one day I would be one of them. Contrasted to the image of the simple sealing cerimony was my cousins wedding, a 20,000.00 party whose empty vows of “till death do you part” left me with a hallowness I will never forget.

    After I became inactive in the church I still dreamed of being sealed in the Temple. Feeling the promptings to return I bounced in ad out of activity for about a decade until 2 years ago when I began returning to church. I was engaged to a man at the time, non LDS, and my activity was a definate sore point in our relationship. While the question of my religious affiliation was not the only reason we seperated, it was a major one. Since then I have been in school and have returned to the Temple, and consider the seperation the best decision I made in my life. I response to the origional item by Heather on the point of the “limited” recomends that are issued to the youth to do baptisms, they are strictly limited to their movement within the walls of the Temple to the areas specific to what they are there to do, namely the font area and the dressing rooms and confirmation rooms directly adjacet. In my estimation the MOST sacred ordinance performed in the Temple is the sealing cerimony and inclusion of family members who do not meet the MINIMUM requirements as are presented in the recommend interview would diminsh the feeling of sacredness and communion witrh the divine in both the Temple in general and the sealing rooms in specific.

    The ordinance in particular is designed to untie the family, not to tear it apart and the turmoil caused by persons who do not understand the nature of the covenants is regretable. Bur for ME, I am TOTALLY WILLING to cheese off ALL of my family who can not be there!!!!!!

    As I was at the side of my greatly beloved grandmother as she was passing through the veil this January, I was greatly relieved that I would see her again and the we would have the opportunity to be truly a family for time AND ETERNITY! Because love is forever and relationship can be too!

  76. Anyone know where you can get a ring that says for time and all eternity?? Hubby and I where sealed 15 years ago in DC temple and just got simple bands.  They where very inexpensive but meant so much.  I’ve lost weight and mine fell off somewhere and I have never found it and miss it dearly.  Please let me know if anyone knows where to find them.  I can’t find em anywhere.  Thenk you

  77. Wow! I’m a convert to the church.  As an investigator to the church, I often asked why do you do this?  You do you do that?  About a year after joining the church, I became engaged to an LDS member.  I had been a member for only a year, and various Ward members brought up the discussion about MY TEMPLE wedding.  I am open to ideas and suggestions, but when it comes to my life and personal decision, they are exactly that… my life, my decisions.  CTR is a mormon thing, and I decided to Choose the Right.  I obtained my

    patriarchal blessing.  I was clearly told that I would be SEALED in the Temple, and not that I would marry in the temple.  I made that distinction immediately.  Being a convert, I AM the only LDS member in my family.  I know exactly what each one of you is talking about.  I completely understand.  I’m not in Utah, and I’m not a typical Mormon.  Therefore, I sat down with the young Mormon I was engaged to and explained to him.  “I understand that as a Mormon and as a Return Missionary, your goal is to have a temple marriage.  As a convert to the church and the only member in my family, I am not prepared to do that.  On the few occasions when I have thought about what my wedding day would be like, I have thought of friends and family.  My patriarchal blessing indicated that I would be sealed in the temple.  That is the only thing I am certain of.”  He looked at me and clearly replied, “I love you, I want to marry you.  I don’t care how or where we get married, as long as I get to be with you.”  We invited our friends and family (Mormon and Non-Mormon) and had a wonderful simple wedding and reception.  Our Ward bishop attended our wedding which was conducted by a local Justice of the Peace.  Five years later, just before our anniversary, I went to the temple for the 1st time.  On our 5th Anniversary, we were SEALED in the Dallas Texas Temple with our Bishop as our witness.  Our four year old son, was sealed to us at that time.  My son has stated to me on several occasions, “Mom, I remember when I was sealed to you.  I remember how I felt when I was able to go into the temple.  I remember what it felt like and I want to go back.  I want to feel like that again.  I’m glad you waited to go to the temple, because that gave me the change to be there.  I was able to remember, and it gives me the desire to want to go back.  I can remember the love and peace that I felt.”

    I may be Mormon, but I do have free agency.  I have the ability to make my decisions.  My bishop does not know what is best for me.  He may counsel and explain the church’s point of view, but in the end EACH of you has the right, ability, and option to make that decision for yourself. 

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