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?
8 thoughts on “If you can’t read it there, read it here.”
I have been waiting for this! I had a friend that discussed this in a temple presidency meeting about six months ago. I think it is a very smart move for the LDS Church if and when it happens.
I was an ordinance worker in the Salt Lake Temple in 2005 when the manner in which the initiatory ordinances are administered were changed. We were called into the Temple one Sunday in January under very hush-hush circumstances. My wife and I went with a little trepidation not sure what to expect. It was very unusual to have a meeting like this. When we got there, we were told that effective immediately, we were changing the manner in which initiatory work is done. This was out of the blue, there was no rumors, no indication something was up, just BAM, a big change.
I mention this because this story about training meetings in the Temple is so out of character that I think that there is no credibility to it. This isn’t the sort of thing that Church leadership would consult with rank and file temple workers about ahead of time. It’s not something that would require training in October for a change in January. In fact, the training for such a change would be to tell the administrative staff at the Temple to stop signing the documents.
Sorry to be a wet blanket.
So my friend that was in on an actual meeting lied to me that this very thing had been discussed?
I didn’t say that. I don’t know you, nor do I know your friend. Having spent LOTS of time in meetings in temples, I can tell you that I have been involved in discussions that didn’t result in a large change such as this. Heck, I’ve discussed this very issue myself during meetings in the temple. All I was saying is that this is nothing but rumors that should be given the proper weight.
In all due respect to your comment, Melissa, I have no way of weighing it. You’ve made an functionally anonymous assertion about something some unnamed individual told you about a meeting with some unnamed temple presidency at some unnamed temple. If it were all true, your friend would likely be unhappy with you saying anything about in the first instance because to do so would undoubtedly be a betrayal of their trust in you, and would reflect poorly on their ability to keep counsel in such situations.
This is far from a harmless rumor. If it is unsubstantiated and is not followed up with a change of policy in January (as has been rumored), then what has it accomplished? All I can see is that it gets people’s hopes up for a change that for all we know will not ever come and needlessly slams them back to earth if it doesn’t.
Think, for the moment, of a young person who has planned on getting married and sealed in the Temple in December. Perhaps this person has friends or family that cannot enter the Temple. She hears this story, and decides, “I’ll wait for January and this will work out!” But then the announcement doesn’t come, and she has found herself delaying her sealing in anticipation of some change that turned out to be nothing but rumor.
Now imagine that she has foolishly taken these rumors as true and made promises to these family and friends, and perhaps gone to the time and expense of making arrangements for a civil ceremony prior to a temple sealing. Perhaps she feels that she must go through with the civil ceremony at that point and must forego a temple sealing for a year as a result. Perhaps, through it all, she never does make it to the temple.
Do you honestly think that such a scenario is lost on the brethren? Do you honestly think that they would be so cavalier about how they go about discussing such a potential change as to give people incentives to delay these ordinances? I do not.
If it were a done deal, it would be done already. There wouldn’t be a delay, as there is no administrative reason I can possibly think of to delay implementation. All it takes is for the First Presidency to make an announcement and voila!, it’s done.
Well, you need to settle down just a bit! True you don’t know me but I assure you that this REALLY happened. You can take it for what it is worth, I guess. It was discussed in a meeting and was passed on in conversation. It wasn’t some big secret and certainly is not a betrayal of my trust that I mentioned it. But thanks for that jab! It just happened to be mentioned and we talked about how this would be a great change for the church. I personally feel that it would be a smart change. It happens in a lot of other countries so I don’t see it being that big of a deal for it to happen in the USA. You can make up all the scenarios you want to justify why it wouldn’t be good but that doesn’t mean it will never happen. It just might!
You miss my point entirely. I haven’t opined, at least not here, about whether or not I think that this would be a good or a bad change. I’ve merely pointed out that it strikes me as highly inconsistent with prior church practice for rumors to come out like this ahead of a big change. It doesn’t happen in my experience.The times I’ve heard such rumors in the past, they haven’t been true. My discussion above was to point out the potentially harmful effect that might result from a rumor such as this to gain traction if it’s not true.
No, I didn’t miss your point I just don’t agree with it. I don’t see a potentially harmful effect at all. If a person truly has a desire to get married in the temple, they will, whether or not the Church makes these changes or not. My daughter just told me how excited she was that if this change takes place she can get married on the beach and then still be sealed. It didn’t worry me at all because I am completely confident in her testimony of a temple marriage. And as far as this being a rumor, that is fine for you to think that but it is not a rumor for me, this was talked about months ago with my friend.
It makes sense that the Church would move in this direction. That is, it makes sense if the Church really wants to be somewhat relevant. It makes sense if the Church would like to stop the flow of people leaving the Church over issues like this.