Temple Weddings vs Civil Weddings

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In many European countries (perhaps elsewhere in the world), temple marriages are not recognised as legal marriages (or some sort of rationale along those lines). As a result many LDS couple sin those countries are married civilly first and later sealed in the temple.

Considering how young and scattered the Church is there (not counting all the Scandinavian and British converts that immigrated to the United States), it is probably ideal as well for those couples who have families and friends who are not members of the Church, since they can attend the wedding.

Why is this not done in the United States and Canada?

It is a regular if not common concern among converts or children of part member families who are getting married that their parent(s) will not be able to attend their wedding. It would seem that a civil marriage would avoid that problem.

Is there something inherently better with being married and sealed in the temple compared to being married civilly one day and sealed in the temple the next (or even later the same day)?

33 thoughts on “Temple Weddings vs Civil Weddings

  1. It’s because we don’t have to be married civilly, since Temple marriages are recognised. I wouldn’t have wanted to be married civilly anyway, I am glad we were sealed straightaway in the Temple. And our family who couldn’t attend, it doesn’t make much difference to them now.

  2. “And our family who couldn’t attend, it doesn’t make much difference to them now.” –

    If you only knew the pain that is routinely caused by this policy you wouldn’t have tossed off this statement.

    The policy of restricting marriages to recommend holders is a blight against the church.

  3. It doesn’t though. It was our brothers who were unable to attend the ceremony, and my brother who really wanted to be there was still able to be a part of the rest of our wedding.

    It is more important to me that I be sealed to my family forever, than it is that everyone see it happen. I feel the same way. I couldn’t watch my aunt be sealed in the temple, I couldn’t watch many of my family members be sealed because I didn’t havea recommend at the time. But the most important thing is the marriage covenant being made in the temple, not who gets to see it. One day people will understand. The Lord doesn’t create these policies (and yes, being able to enter the temple is part of this, as we need to be worthy, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly) to cause pain but to help us attain eternal happiness and progress.

    Marriages aren’t restricted to recommend holders, only sealings in the Temple. If someone chooses to be married outside the Temple, anyone can attend. But that marriage is only intact for this life, not for eternity, and my choice to be married in the Temple was so I could be and am sealed to my husband forever. It was and is more important to me. When my brother is able to be married forever, one day, he will understand. In the meantime, it hasn’t affected our relationship.

  4. “The policy of restricting marriages to recommend holders is a blight against the church.”

    The Church doesn’t restrict marriages to recommend holders. All of my brothers were married in meetinghouses and none of the weddings required a temple recommend from attendees.

  5. >>Is there something inherently better with being married and sealed in the temple compared to being married civilly one day and sealed in the temple the next (or even later the same day)? < <

    Among other things, the last time I heard anything about this there was a policy in place. If you were temple-worthy members and you chose to have a civil ceremony, you had to wait a year before you could be sealed in the temple. I know that’s going to incense some people but you have to remember, it’s about respect and sacred ordinances. Sealing is sacred. It’s not something to be taken lightly. It’s not something to be done as an after-thought. In some countries, like Australia, unfortunately the laws make a civil cermony first a necessity. However, those of us who live in the U.S. and Canada are lucky enough that we don’t have to do that.

    You know why I say we’re lucky? Because of what Kim said. He pointed out that in the countries where a civil ceremony is necessary, it’s necessary because the laws of that country don’t consider a Temple marriage to be valid. To non-members, who most likely feel that one church is just as good as the next, our insistence on the sacred sealing ceremony is just a quirk. “Oh those strange Mormons” they say and get all upset because we believe in something so strongly that we won’t bend it “to make everybody happy.”

    I say those of us in America and Canada should count our blessings and thank God that we live in a place where we can give temple marriage the prominence it deserves.

  6. I think that it is interesting that in Europe you can get married civily and go to the temple right after. In the US and Canada you have to wait a year.

    With SSM Mairage legislation, we may not be too distant from what Europe has…maybe 5 or 10 years.

  7. I found this thread on Times & Seasons very illuminating. Most of the people who married converts (and commented on the thread) actually regretted not doing the marriage civilly first and thus including the spouse’s family.

    Obviously, this isn’t an issue in most temple marriages, but I think we could be a lot more sensitive to the feelings of non-member families.

  8. >>I understand the policy, but why is it in place?< <

    As I said, it’s an issue of respect and reverence for the temple ordinance. The prophets have told us that God commands us to be married in this way because it is part of His plan. If you have a civil ceremony and then do the temple wedding as an after thought, you’re not giving it the weight and reverence it requires.

  9. That doesn’t make sense. How does forcing a perfectly worthy couple to wait a year to be sealed teach them respect for the sealing ordinance? If anything, it would teach them distaste.

    In my opinion, the youth of today view temple marriage the same way as missions were viewed a decade ago. It’s a rite of passage and something all your peers are doing. They don’t get sealed because they respect or revere the sealing ordinance.

    I did my best to change that mentality for the two years I served as a young men advisor, but I am doubtful, it made any difference.

  10. I have to agree with HarpingHeather, although I do knwo what youa re saying. There are many youth these days who don’t seem to quite understand the sacredness of Temple marriage. Actually many adults don’t (and this could be part of the reasons some divorces occur).

  11. Well it must have SOME effectiveness. And either way it’s the policy right now. I think it definitely is good for some people. Maybe not everyone needs it, but if it wasn’t “working” right now then it wouldn’t be in place.

  12. Didn’t you just admit that many youth today don’t seem to understand he sacredness of temple marriage?

    If no one else is going to jump into the conversation, I might as well talk to you about this over the supper table.

  13. The reason there is no waiting period in europe is because everyone has to be married by the state. The state does not recognize religious services. the consequence is that everyone gets married by the state and then they get married (1 day to 2 weeks later) by a religious authority if they wish.

    Some SSM proponents propose a similar solution for North America. One in which everyone needs to be unionized or married or whatever by the state.

  14. The following is clipped from a discussion called “Why Mormons are Christian” by Jeffrey D. Giliam at “Issues in Mormon Docterine.”

    Mormons practice a form of vicarious salvation known as baptisms for the dead, as did early Christians as recently promulgated by Prof. Jeffrey Trumbower. We have a strong reverence for the temple of the Lord. So did they. We have private ceremonies in which only members of good standing can participate. So did they.

    (The italics are mine.)
    Temple recommends are not something instuted by the church to make others feel unworthy. It is a practice which has been in Christ’s Church since the time of the Apostles.

  15. Hi,

    I need to chime in here concerning the situation in Europe. Contrary to what is being said, there are countries in Europe where a couple can get married in the temple without any preceding civil ceremony. For example here in Finland, where I live, people routinely go to the Stockholm Sweden temple to get married. However, if you opt for a civil ceremony first, you have to wait for a year for the temple sealing, as far as I’ve understood.

    And by the way, thanks for a nice blog, Kim!

  16. I don’t believe that anyone was saying every country in Europe was that way, but it could appear to have been implied from the comments. Thanks for the clarification.

  17. >>I don’t believe anyone said that temple recommends are issued to make others feel unworthy.< <

    No, but it has been said that the church keeps non-recommend holders out of the temple sealings for that purpose.

  18. >>Someone said it on here? Or you have just heard people say it in general?< <

    Several people said it, quite bitterly, here. Jeff Lindsay at Mormanity asked for ideas on helping non-LDS relatives deal with a temple wedding. What he got was mostly bitter complaints from people who seem to think that we ought to ignore our sacred laws for their convenience.

  19. I wouldn’t be so quick to label the policy as a sacred law. It’s nothing more than an administrative policy.

    A sacred law would be something like having to be baptised to get into heaven, or someone having to offer Himself as a sacrifice for our sins.

  20. You don’t think it’s a sacred law that only those who have recieved their endowments can witness and partake of the ordinances performed in the temple?

    The one-year rule for people not initially married in the temple is most probably policy but I was under the impression that endowments were in fact a sacred law.

  21. He’s not saying the sealing ordinance isn’t sacred, he is saying that it is policy top be allowed to enter the room and view it.

    Unendowed children are able to enter the sealing room to be sealed to their parents, and that sealing ordinance is also on the same level, but if it was a sacred policy, than those children wouldn’t be able to be in the room (but of course they have to).

  22. You just said it, though. They HAVE to be there because they are participating in the ordinance. They’re not standing on the sidelines watching. It’s different.

  23. Out of our 5 children, only 2 were sealed in the temple although the other 3 were married in a church meetinghouse. All of our children are members, but they CHOSE not to have temple recommends to be able to participate in the sealings of their siblings. As for our extended families, (hubby and I are only members in our own families) there were no discontentment or hurt feelings because they were not allowed in the temple. We had a large reception afterwards that they could attend if they chose to which some did.

    Our families know of our feelings of the importance of being sealed for all time and eternity and for having our children sealed to us. This day is for the bride and groom to progress to the next level of their lives. This has to be important to them. If they are going to start worrying about pleasing everyone they are doomed right from the start.

    It’s like picking a date for the wedding. With all of our kids weddings we got the same line “Can’t you pick another date we can’t make it for that one”. No. We couldn’t. We picked dates that the kids wanted and worked for the parents. Period.

    Because we are very open with our faith and our beliefs, our families were prepared for the sealings. Now on a side note, out of our 5 kids, the 2 that were sealed for all time and eternity in a temple with only worthy temple recommend holders there, are still married, 2 out of the other 3 no longer are. The 5th one just recently got married so that is yet to be seen.

    As I told my parents the day I was baptized, yes they were my parents and I did have to listen to them, but I also had a Heavenly Father and HE took priority. My blessings here on earth are temporary. My spirtitual blessings are permanent. It’s a no brainer in my books.

  24. Ok, I misread, Kim was referring to the year waiting period. That has not always been the case, and in certain circumstances has not been the same. THAT is policy, not a sacred law. If it was than even those living in countries where they have to be married civilly first is in effect, they would have to wait a year, but they don’t. I don’t know why it is a year, but obviously there are reasons for it at this time. I do believe that if the First Presidency decided to change that time limit they could. It isn’t a Doctrinal issue. The sealing ordinance is what is a sacred ordinance, not the time period for waiting.

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