LDS Church addresses rules regarding temple marriages

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A file photo of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Temple Square in Salt Lake City.

SALT LAKE CITY – Officials with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints addressed their rules regarding temple marriages as an organization is requesting change.

Under current rules, LDS couples in the U.S. and Canada who have their marriage ceremony outside of one of the church’s temples are required to wait one year before they can be sealed in a temple.

The group Family First Weddings is pushing for a change to those rules, and they are encouraging LDS Church leaders to reexamine the policy.

LDS Church officials said they are constantly examining such issues and that a change in the future is possible, but they said they want to be clear they are not announcing an immediate change in policy.

“Church leaders are well aware of the issues involved and continue to examine them carefully,” LDS Church spokesman Cody Craynor said in response to the issue.

Under current rules, many LDS couples choose to only hold a temple marriage ceremony in order to avoid the waiting period. Because entry into LDS temples requires a recommend, not everyone is allowed to attend those marriage ceremonies–which is part of the reason some are requesting a change to the policy.

57 comments

    • Tim

      More than 20 years later, I still get grief from my mother who was not able to attend. Had I been older at the time and realized, I would not have done it that way. I should have waited the year. Maybe a rule change will help others in my situation not have to make that kind of choice. If you pass the recommend interview, it shouldn’t matter.

  • Sarah

    New Zealand/Australia and a lot of other countries have the same rules. I believe part of the reason is because of the laws in the particular countries. Some don’t recognize a Temple marriage, so they require a civil wedding first. Then the couples can go and get sealed in the Temple pretty much straight away. But in countries where Temple marriages are recognized (Canada, USA, NZ, Australia etc), but people CHOOSE to be married outside the Temple, they have to wait a year.

    • PBradley

      Not quite true. In Australia, couples can be married in the temple without having a civil marriage first. That begs the question of whether this approach is correct or not. In my own case, my non-LDS siblings were quite offended that they could not attend my children’s weddings. They have never recovered from the offence. It does not reflect well on a family-centered church.

  • Kelly

    Christina, good question. I was wondering that too. I’m thinking maybe it is the availability of temples. Couples might have to wait a long time to get married while they saved money to travel, Don’t really know though. It could be difficult to stay chaste! lol

  • Susan Carroll

    AuntSue
    In many countries, marriages must be public to be valid, so couples marry in public first, and then go into the temple right after.

  • We were just fine without it!

    I don’t know what countries are allowing that, because all church policy are the same no matter where you live. My parents had a civil wedding and then a year later they were married in the NZ temple. I have a lot of relatives all over the world who are of the LDS faith and they say the same rule applies to them. Someone is trying to twist the church and it’s policy when I read this story.

    • NOway

      … Actually, My brother and sister-in-law are in Guatemala. Guatemala does not recognize the temple marriage- they were married civilly and sealed the same afternoon. That was this year. It is different for some countries.

    • lducoeur

      You’re absolutely wrong. I grew up in England and France and I can tell you for a fact that church policy is not the same there as it is in the US – in European countries and many others, temple marriages are not recognised as being legally binding, so to get sealed in the temple you first HAVE to have a civil ceremony, then within 24-48 hours go to the temple to get sealed. Fact.

    • noteverypolicyuniversalinldschurch

      Actually, in Mexico individuals always have a civil ceremony before entering the temple. This is done for legal reasons. All of my family members who are LDS and living in Mexico had a civil ceremony first and a temple ceremony after when they got married. There was no waiting period. This policy is not universal.

  • Matt

    Where in the bible did Jesus say that we had to be married in a temple or under a bridge or over there or this or that? It’s interesting that the LDS church mandates rules of a LAW that was fulfilled in JESUS alone not in a church not in a temple or anywhere else. JESUS is the law fulfilled there is no other place or way to be saved or married. What about a couple that loves Jesus but doesn’t follow the LDS faith is there no Salvation for them because if the LAW ? Interesting when we meet Jesus and look into his fiery eyes we will see how much time and efforts we waisted trying to be perfect rather than receiving his perfection through Grace.

    • chriswilsonsax

      Did Jesus attend the temple? What was it’s purpose?

      What was the purpose of Moses’ portable tabernacle? Why were only certain people allowed in certain parts of the tabernacle? Why was Jehovah so specific with Moses regarding how the temple was to be built?

      Why did Zacharias want to burn the holy incense in the temple?

      Why did Jesus chase the moneychangers out of the temple, saying that His father’s house had been made into a “den of thieves?”

      Why were there still temples that the Christians (including Peter, James, John, and the other apostles) attended after Jesus died?

      When you know the answers to these questions, you will start to understand why members of the LDS church build temples and why they seek to get sealed (married for time and all eternity) in them, and why such a ceremony occurs in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

      I know that temple marriages are desired by God for all of His children.

    • Jeremy

      Although the LDS religion has every right to believe and say the things they do, I am not against their ways, nor in full support of them. I am simply open to them. Just as I am open to any and every religion and way of life (as everyone should be!) I definitely see where you are coming from. I was raised Mormon. Now I consider myself spiritual (yes, still a Christian-belonging to no religion but the Universe/God/Higher self). This is one thing that always puzzled me. I see why they do it and why they believe it to be so important, however….. What if two Soul mates finally find each other on earth, are perfect for each other, have undying everlasting love for one another, and are spiritual in every way imaginable, but don’t get married/sealed in the temple? These two people (who have unconditional love for one another) won’t be able to make it to the highest level of heaven? and also won’t be guaranteed their eternal marriage (connection) to one another after death? All because they simply didn’t get married in a certain type of building? I just have a hard time believing that. God is love. Love is the most important force in existence. Love will not be divided just because the “proper” ceremony in a “certain building” did not take place.

      It doesn’t matter what religion you are. It doesn’t matter what a piece of paper says. It doesn’t matter where you get married. It doesn’t even matter if you get married at all. If two people love each other (and believe that they will be together after death), then so it will be. We are the only ones holding ourselves back.

      • David

        Correct Jeremy! Fortunately it is not up to us to decide where anyone goes when they die or what happens. Our loving Father in heaven knows us each individually and better than we know each other.

        So whether or not someone is baptised or sealed in the temple before they die, our Father in Heaven does not prevent anyone from enjoying the full blessings of the gospel and has prepared the way for EVERYONE to receive exhaltation. The church provides opportunites for people to enjoy further blessings here on earth while in mortality but everyone has the same potential and our judge is omniscient and merciful.

      • Hannah

        As a current member, I understand why you may not necessarily agree with the idea of temple marriage. However, the church doesn’t teach that people will be separated simply because they are not sealed in the temple. A temple marriage is only required to achieve the absolute highest level of “heaven.” This does not mean they will be sent to hell, separated from their spouse, etc. for not choosing to be married someplace else. I find it hard to believe that a loving God would separate a family who wants to be together. That being said, if two people wish to be sealed, even after death, such ordinances can be performed Earth.

      • Valerie

        It’s true love is everything–we just happen to believe that a covenant made with God and sealed with priesthood power binds on earth and in heaven. The only place on earth that can happen currently is in the dedicated house of God, the temple.

      • Kenneth Lee Smith

        Valerie, your comments are not appropriate to the subject being discussed. We are discussing the Temple rules, and how harmful some are; and therefore, they should be changed.
        Specifically at the moment, I want it made possible for non- recommend holders to be allowed to witness the wedding ceremony itself -where-ever it may be done.
        Clearly, this rule has no other reason than forcing people to make themselves Temple-worthy. i.e. conform. Conform or you don’t get in!

      • TElden

        Ken, isn’t that what so many people find objectionable–all those commandments that God gave us–all those things we have to comply with to get the blessings that God has promised for those who are obedient.

  • Ranae Murphy

    Weddings should never have the stigma of family pain. I believe in the temple wedding but also know that those that have families that cannot attend spread much more sadness especially if it is a parent. I’ve always thought they should be able to still do the wedding after as part of the reception. It would be nice to be able to do both however works best for their families.

  • Hip

    That isn’t necessarily true. Just because a couple doesn’t get married I. The temple doesn’t always mean they are unworthy to do so. In my husband’s case, he is worthy just fine to be married in the temple. However, his exwife, to whom he was sealed has moments when she wants to make things difficult and refused to sign a letter so he could get a clearance letter to be sealed to me. She wouldn’t sign it till about a month before the wedding. It takes 8 to 12 months to get a clearance letter from the First Presidency. Even if this policy was not enforced, it would still probably be a year before we could get sealed just because of all the paperwork it takes to get the clearance letters and to break a sealing.

    • Sheriti Crowther

      So if you get sealed to someone you will be with them for ever in the after life if you are seal in the temple. If you get divorce you can be unsealed. So what god say ok you changed you mind this piece of paper makes it so.

      • TElden

        No, Sheriti, free agency still applies. Just because you have been sealed to someone, after the resurrection, if you no longer desire to be with them, you will not be forced to be.

  • Elizabeth

    Most Bishops have no problem performing a ceremony at the reception for family & friends that didn’t make it to the temple or that are not church members…. That’s a nice compromise :)

    • Jeff

      This would be against the Church Handbook of Instructions, however, it does allow for a special meeting for those not able to attend during which they are told about the eternal nature of the marriage covenant. The COB is very explicit however, that no ceremony is performed, no vows are exchanged, and no other marriage ceremony should be performed after a temple marriage.

      If you aren’t a member or don’t believe…you’re OUT!

      • azskm10

        Not entirely true! My cousin recently got married and sealed in the temple. Her dad’s side of the family wasn’t able to enter the temple because they are not LDS. Before their reception, there was a simple ring ceremony so that those who weren’t able to be in the temple could still be apart of the wedding. It was presided over by her bishop.

  • snowgirl

    The rule applies to countries that have royalty, such as England. The wedding had to be public so that the Queen could attend if she wanted. That is why there is an exception outside North America.

  • Mungagungadin

    As a Mormon outside of Utah, It is the ignorance by the Mormons responding in the comments section that is the most alarming.

  • Grip

    This is a question of believing in God, Prophets, revelation and being obedient. “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” (Amos 3:7) My faith in God and that He has a Prophet on earth to receive and teach His revelations to God’s children provides total peace in my life.

  • Kenneth Lee Smith

    If the Church were to be sincere about changing the silly rule, without really changing it (to save face) , they would do this: Provide a “Marriage Room” within the temple, or adjacent to the Temple, where the marriage ceremony could take place, and a Temple Recommend would not be required of the guests. That part of the ceremony considered sacred (Endowment) could still take place as it is now.

    But you must understand the reason behind the current rule.
    Hint: The Carrot and the Stick”

  • Kenneth Lee Smith

    What, you don’t understand the ” Carrot and the Stick” thing?

    Picture a donkey pulling a little cart, and the peasant driver has installed a pole with a string holding a CARROT just out of reach, in front of the donkey. The driver also is holding a stick, and he beats the donkey pretty hard with it. The donkey goes along at a pretty fast pace – because of the Carrot and the Stick.

    The Church is the peasant driver ……… need I say more ?

  • Kevin J. Kirkham

    The policy is wrongheaded. It forces converts to exclude their non-LDS parents/grandparents/siblings, etc… from their special day. This happened to me and DESTROYED all missionary work/good will that I had previously built. At the very least, it should be eliminated for converts and children of converts. That would at least allow non-LDS parents/grandparents/aunts/uncles to watch someone get married. For people who have been LDS for generations, they understand the rules and if they aren’t able to go to the temple, it’s their own doing.

    The current policy is anti-family and anti-missionary work.

  • Aussie Ragdoll

    In Australia, the rule is you must be married by someone who is legaly licenced & there must be two witnesses to the marriage. As our Sealers are all licenced to perform marriages, & all ordinances in the Church have two witnesses, Temple sealings are legal marriages in Australia. In NZ however, the rules are different. Except for a very small window of time, the rules in NZ are that you must be resident in the country for three days prior to the wedding, & you must be married in a place open to the public. Because of this, you are married civilly & then sealed. I’m not sure of the time gap between the two ceremonies. In know that before the dedication if the Sydney Temple in 1984, Australians were married civily & flew to NZ to be sealed. Most people married on Saturday & were sealed on the following Tuesday. I knew a couple who were married on a Thursday evening, flew to NZ on Friday, staying in separate rooms until they were sealed on Saturday morning. Because of the distance & expense from Perth, Western Australia, to Sydney these rules remained in place for members in WA until they got a mini Temple closer to them (they have one of their own now). The timeframe between civil wedding in Aus to sealing in NZ was a maximun of a week. If you couldn’t get to the Temple by then, you would have to wait a year to be sealed.

  • Greg

    A lot of you have it right–the one year waiting period is nothing but a rule, a policy, but it is not a commandment, not doctrinal and even denies what Joseph said in D&C 111, the 1835 edition. “According to the custom of all civilized nations, marriage is regulated by laws and ceremonies: therefore we believe, that ALL marriages in this Church of Latter Day Saints should be solemnized IN A PUBLIC MEETING, OR FEAST, prepared for that purpose.” That particular section was removed by Brigham in 1876. Marriage was to be public. Sealings were to take place in the temple. Big difference. The current policy is very hurtful to family members not allowed to see the biggest event in their child’s life.
    Personally I believe it is to cement in the person’s heart that the church is greater than their families, regardless of what is preached.
    BTW. In the bible times everything about the temple was common knowledge, it is printed throughout the bible, and nothing of what was practiced back then is practiced now. (Not even baptism for the dead. Study it in depth, you’ll learn. And I once worked in the Provo baptistry) Only one temple was allowed on earth at one time to show that there is only one God. Temples and the sacrifices were to make one worthy to be near God but LDS temple require worthiness first, then temple.
    One last thing; if you ‘worthy’ LDS folks could actually study and learn about the church, the history, doctrines, lives of the leaders, etc, before opening your mouths in such shallow and generally meaningless explanations, it would be so much more enjoyable to read your posts. The pathetic drivel is so lacking in meaning or even spirituality. It’s like listening to programmed robots in an endless testimony meeting.

    • Ken Dahl

      Depending upon which side of the fence you’re on, “sometime the truth isn’t very useful.” Thanks for your insights, Greg.

  • Julia

    Mormonism is a cult like all other brainwashing ‘religions’. If you have to ask someone else for permission for something, or you can’t think for yourself whether something is right or wrong, you have given up your right to think for yourself and you have been brainwashed by your cult. Doing the right thing because you want to make sure you go to heaven isn’t very noble. Doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do is the only reason to be doing it. Religion is the opiate of the masses. The bible is the first book of fairy tales and Mary pulled off the biggest hoax in the world. Fools will fall for anything…….the majority fell for the fool in the white house with all his lies.

  • adventuresofanaussieragdoll

    What part of we being ‘subject to the laws of the land’ do you fail to comprehend? Apparently, all of it. Eric Anderson. As I have explained previously, in some countries (France, Monaco & Urugay to name three) where by law, civil law has precedence over religious law. Therefore, you -must- be married civilly (in France & Monaco at the local Town Hall) a full 24 hours before any religious ceremony. Therefore, a Temple Sealing is -not- a legal marriage. In US, Canada & Australia, because of how the sealing is performed (in Australia, by some one legally licenced & with two witnesses) the Temple Sealing -is- a legal marriage.

    It is not a ‘bureaucratic issue’. It is a legal issue & also one of faith & obedience. We have been asked to marry in the Temple from the start if it is possible (legally or financially for those without a Temple near by). We are promised blessings from doing as our Heavenly Father asks of us. If family & friends want to attend the sealing, then they know what they need to do in order for thst to happen. Why should we lower our standards for them? We should be requiring the higher standard of ourselves & hope that others will rise to meet it too.

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