So maybe this is a little weird, but I’m reposting verbatim the contents of “Mormon Temple Wedding Changes: Say Hello to the Rest of the World, America,” which originates at This Week in Mormons today. I posted a link to this on my private FB page and people quickly told me the link has maxed out and they can’t read it. (They get a 508 Resource Limit is Reached message.) Since I had it opened from earlier in the day, I decided to put it up because I want others to be able to read their story. Forgive me for “stealing” hits, but I’m very excited about this. My entire family waited outside the temple the day I married. It was a heart-wrenching experience. Anyway, I’ll try to salvage a bit of my integrity by not advertising this post. If you read it here, pls later give them a hit. And lets hope this is accurate.
Here it is:
No more ring ceremony for you!
For years, many have wondered why The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not allow part-member families to hold a civil wedding and then permit the bride and groom to attend the temple immediately thereafter to get sealed. This practice is commonplace in every country in the world except the United States, Canada, and South Africa, where the Church has been granted authority to perform civil ceremonies in conjunction with the temple sealing. A one-stop shop for civil and eternal marriage. It’s nice. It certainly puts lots of emphasis on the day at the temple itself. And it’s also a perk available to a minority of Church members.
The past few months have seen the rumor/leak mill discuss whether the Church would change its policy to allow part- or non-member families the opportunity to see the actual, legal wedding. For many Latter-day Saints, denying their loved ones access to their wedding has been painful. For others in a similar situation, the pain and awkwardness have not been an issue. Every situation is different, to be sure. It’s none of our places to assume one way is better than another. For every, “My family understands why they can’t go in the temple, and they appreciate that something is so important to me,” there’s a, “My parents have been bitter for decades that they couldn’t see my wedding.”
However, it appears that this past weekend, in temple training meetings, workers were informed that a change is, indeed, on the way, and in the United States, prospective spouses will need to be married civilly (at a courthouse or wherever) before heading to the temple for their sealing, requiring them to present their marriage certificate (not just a provisional, to-be-signed license) at the temple office.
And to be clear, for couples wishing for the one-stop-shop, that will be going out the window. Civil-then-temple will be the only recourse. And on a related noted, bishops would likely no longer be allowed to perform civil ceremonies (though there’s some room to dispute this), nor would civil ceremonies be allowed on Church property (more likely).
This is a welcome change for many even if frustrating for some, and if it is truly coming, it is likely for two reasons:
- Simple compassion or rethinking of the status quo. The Church feels it’s fine to let civil weddings happen before the sealing. No harm, no foul. Everyone wins.
Or more likely:
- The battle for traditional marriage/for marriage equality (we’re covering our bias bases) will be decided in favor of the latter, and more sooner than later. While many of the fears of gay marriage opponents will not materialize, it’s a likely scenario that the Church refuses to recognize gay marriage and is thus stripped of its ability to perform marriages under the law. So the only marriages the Church will perform thereafter are strictly religious ones that have nothing to do with state institutions.
Whether it’s out of expediency or clemency, the change will likely be announced in December with a policy implementation in January 2015.
- Actual, legal weddings will take place at civil institutions, not at the temple. This applies to everyone, even to multi-generational Mormon families with nary a card-lacker among them.
- Temple sealings will not be recognized as a civil wedding under the law in the eyes of the state, at least not in the future. The Church could implement this policy while still retaining its ability to perform civil ceremonies, but better to be ahead of the change than to be forced to react to it.
Of course, none of this is official, and we are only working with the sources we have, so don’t hold our feet to the fire if something changes. Again, repeat: THIS IS NOT AN OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT.
There you have it. Thank you to the good folks at This Week in Mormons! Wow.
Post script: And now for the buzz kill in which the SL Trib reports a church spokesman says he’s “unaware” of any meeting. In the temple. Where he isn’t called to serve. Well, I’m going to be slow to give this hope up. And with gay marriage coming, doesn’t this seem to be the writing on the wall?