Wednesday, July 4, 2012

My Thoughts on the One-Year Waiting Period for Temple Sealings of Non-Temple Marriages

In my opinion, the waiting period that exists in countries that honor temple sealings as legitimate marriages grew out of an understandable desire to make sure of three things:

1) Unmarried couples who found out they were pregnant couldn't get married in the temple. That is more of a "punishment" mode, but I understand totally the idea of a "grace period" for repentance ("change of priority" in this case) to occur.

2) People who had no real testimony and commitment to the Church and/or the Gospel couldn't convert then get married in the temple immediately just to please a potential spouse. That is more of a "slow down the hormones" mode, and I understand that idea completely and have no problem with it whatsoever.

3) New converts couldn't make the covenants that are central to the ceremony without adequate time to understand them properly. That's more of a "protection" mode, and I also understand that idea and have no problem with it whatsoever.

I have no real issues with those general concepts and concerns, but I agree with many who believe that these restrictions shouldn't play a role in situations where otherwise worthy, mature and knowledgeable members are involved. I would love to see the rules relaxed to allow for a reasonable time frame between a civil marriage first and a temple sealing next anywhere in the world - say, a week or even a month to give time to travel to a temple, since that time frame is necessary in some situations. I also would love to see an open allowance (or even encouragement) of a civil ceremony following a temple sealing, if the desired emphasis needs to remain on the sealing being the "primary and original" ceremony. I understand that concern, and I have no real problem with it - but I also see no problem in a civil ceremony that does not imply in any way that the previous temple sealing was not "valid" as a marriage.

We allow couples to "renew their vows" without much concern, even if that is a bit unorthodox within Mormonism. Doing so a few days or weeks after the sealing, especially in order to include non-member family in a ceremony in which they can participate, really isn't any different at its core than doing it after 20 or 50 years.

Finally, since many countries require a civil ceremony to certify that a marriage is accepted by the government (and don't accept a temple sealing as acceptable on its own), and since members in those countries are allowed to marry civilly and then be sealed in the temple as quickly as is possible following the civil ceremony, I would have no problem allowing those same arrangements to apply in the United States - and anywhere else the waiting period currently exists. 


Matthew said...

It is clear that it is simply a policy, based on the differences between countries. I see no reason why it should be set up the way it is. It is unnecessarily divisive and hurtful when some members of a family are barred from the wedding.

Anonymous said...

Agreed Matthew. I live in a country where the only valid ceremony is civil. This in no way inhibits my perception of the sacredness of my temple marriage covenants-in fact it encourages me to see my covenants as distinct and sacred, a clear and intentional choice.

My husband's family very much wanted to share in his new found faith and being excluded from the temple sealing offended them deeply and understandably. I'm not suggesting it should be otherwise as I understand and subscribe to the concept of temple worthiness, but it enables me to understand how heartbreaking it must be to be entirely excluded from a relative's wedding.

With deep respect, I think all of your points to be culturally specific. I'm looking forward to change, without in any way wishing to diminish the sacredness of temple covenants.

Anonymous said...

My wife and I have come to the conclusion that if we had it to do all over again, we would be married outside the temple first so our wedding could be entirely inclusive -- no family members barred from attending -- and then be sealed in the temple later. A wedding should be the most inclusive time in anyone's life.

Anonymous said...

I joined the church, served a mission 14 months later, then was sealed in the temple about 8 months after my mission. My side of the family was excluded, yet I didn't then, and don't now, have any second thoughts about where I was married. I certainly would have been thrilled if they had joined the church and been at the temple when I was sealed. But I guess because I've performed about 1,000 civil ceremonies as an elected official, I have come to know that civil ceremonies aren't nearly what they're hyped up to be, even for non-members. Sure, you want to be all inclusive. But there isn't much reason to not have an active, well planned reception, dinners, etc that include everyone. Try as you might, a non-member is not going to understand the significance of being sealed. I know my parents, particularly my mother, was disappointed, but years later, as grandkids came into the picture and we lead exemplary (I hope) lives as members, she began to understand why we got sealed in the first place.

Papa D said...

Matthew, that's my main point - that the order of marriage and sealing is a policy, not a doctrine, and is not a uniformly enforced policy.

Anonymous, the First, I also know too many people who have been offended deeply by being excluded from ANY type of marriage celebration.

Anonymous, the Second, I believe we miss a HUGE opportunity to share the Gsopel with others when we exclude them entirely from what they see as the highlight of their lives as parents, family and friends - especially when we dont' do that in some parts of the world.

Anonymous, the Third, I don't believe civil marriages are "all that" - and I certainlny don't value them over temple sealings. Making the policy uniform throughout the world would not diminish the sacredness of the temple sealing in any way whatsoever OR make the civil marriage more special in any way whatsoever. I was sealed in the temple 6 weeks after I returned from my mission to my high school sweetheart, and I wouldn't change that for the world. However, none of our family was excluded due to religion.

Also, a wedding reception isn't the same thing as a wedding - and anyone who says it is hasn't been a parent looking forward to seeing a son or daughter "walk down the aisle". **Based on your own comment, you've never been that parent.** I'm not saying it's better to walk down the aisle than to kneel at the altar - not at all, in any way shape or form. I'm saying I don't see any doctrinal or theological reason to make someone choose one exclusively over the other, if family circumstances give us a PERFECT opportunity to break down stereotypes, share the Gospel and build inter-family relationships.

Seriously, why would it cheapen temple sealings to allow (NOT require) civil marriages to occur first?