Problematizing the Eternal Family

I was recently discussing the dilemma of a close LDS friend’s mother with that friend (“Bill”), and his mother.  Here’s the fact scenario: 

Bill’s parents divorced several years ago, after he and all his siblings were grown.  The divorce came unexpectedly, and was hard on much of the family religiously, psychologically, etc., etc.  Most of Bill’s many siblings are now less active or have left the Church entirely (the causes of this are complex in each case, but the divorce seems to have been a catalyst for most of them).  Bill and one of his siblings are still active in the Church.  Both of Bill’s parents are still active in the Church.  They are still sealed together in the Temple.  Bill’s father would like to reconcile with and remarry Bill’s mother.  Bill’s mother has no interest in doing so.  (Assume that she has her reasons, and that they are good ones).

In the last few years, Bill’s mother has been seeing someone.  She is in love with this man, and would like to marry him — a potentially likely outcome eventually, if she pursues the relationship.  Her love interest is not a member of the Church, and appears to have no interest in joining.  Bill’s mother would like to get married again, and in a perfect world, would like to get married in the Temple.  But this isn’t a perfect world.  She has dated various LDS men since her divorce, but she never hit it off with anyone.  She dated this one non-member, and fell in love.

Bill’s siblings have had varying reactions to this situation.  Some of the inactive or apostate children are fully supportive.  Presumably, others are unsupportive, but only because they’re unhappy that their parents got divorced to begin with.  Bill, who is active in Church, is supportive, since he believes the companionship is something his mother needs.  She appears to be truly in love with this man, and he is apparently a great guy.  The only other active sibling in the family is not supportive of the relationship, as he thinks that should his mother remarry, she should do so only in the Temple, since doing otherwise would be selling out and giving up on her true goals and values.

Question:  What would be the “right” decision for Bill’s mother?  Should she pursue the relationship with her non-LDS friend, or not?  If not, why not?  Of course, there may be no “right” answer to her dilemma in some cosmic sense.  But let’s assume remarriage to her former husband is not a serious option, and let’s also assume that God and/or the Spirit are not providing a definitive answer.  What is your reaction to this scenario in light of your understanding of Mormon theology?

You can say Bill’s mother should hold out for an LDS temple marriage, but doesn’t she already have one?  Marring a non-member will not give her an automatic temple divorce (and since her ex-husband probably wouldn’t want one, and she doubtfully has good cause to pursue one unilaterally, she probably won’t be getting one anyway).  In fact, come to think of it, could she even get a temple marriage again without her ex-husband’s approving of a temple divorce?  (I think the answer is "no," but someone correct me if I’m wrong).

Wouldn’t pursuing a temple-worthy LDS mate be more theologically problematic than pursuing a non-LDS mate?  At least if she marries outside the Temple, Bill’s “eternal family unit” will be unchanged, and those siblings who were unhappy with the divorce can take comfort that their parents’ temple sealing is likely to remain intact (assuming they care, which they may not).  Also, by foregoing a new LDS mate, she will be freeing up an LDS man who can then pursue finding a temple-worthy woman in the LDS singles’ market and start an eternal family of his own.

Note that if the roles were reversed, and Bill’s father were facing this dilemma, rather than his mother, the stakes would be different.  Bill’s father could just remarry another LDS woman in the Temple and there would be no theological complication with his “eternal family” structure.  The only “unresolved” issue would be the whole “polygamy-in-the-afterlife” question, which he can probably comfortably shelve by assuming he’s got an enduring Celestial marriage to both wives.

Of course, one way of resolving thorny “eternal family” dilemmas like this generally is to recast the post-Earth landscape as one of a big extended Celestial “family” where as long as we’ve all had the necessary temple ordinances with somebody, we’ll all be “related” and together in our Celestial bliss, never mind the details.  This sort of Celestial “Borg” paradigm, in which we’re all assimilated into one big happy Kolob Collective strikes me as a bit too easy and lazy, and I think it deliteralizes our theology of eternal “families” to the point that it renders the missionary marketing of LDS “eternal family” theology as a bit disingenuous.

What should Bill’s mother do, and how do your understandings of LDS theologies on the “eternal family” and/or “polygamy-in-the-afterlife” impact your thinking on this question?

Aaron B

Comments

  1. Aaron Brown says:

    Help, Steve E.! Please fix the spacing between paragraphs in my post! I swear I’ll never figure out how to make this work, and I’m about to throw my computer through the window! Aaaaargh!

    Aaron B

  2. to the point that it renders the missionary marketing of LDS “eternal family” theology as a bit disingenuous.

    uhhh…can you think of a theological paradigm where this isn’t the case?

    I would encourage any relationship that is “healthy”, especially if she is in love. It doesn’t get much better than healthy love.

    There is the option that she could be sealed for time only in the Temple to a faithful Mormon man, though if she wants the eternity part, this is less than satiating.

  3. The asymmetry in the treatment of divorced male members and divorced female members is not as large as you make it sound, Aaron. A divorced male member must get a “Sealing Clearance” in order to marry again for eternity in the temple, and the Clearance (like the Cancellation) must be approved by the First Presidency.

    Also, any worthy divorced female member who is ready to remarry another worthy male member may be married in the temple for Time only. Moreover, a worthy female member who is seeking to remarry for Time and Eternity my well be granted a Cancellation of Sealing. Of course, the First Presidency approves and denies cancellations, but the Bishop’s recommendation has a lot if influence. Nor is there any formal or informal requirement for onerous behavior on the part of the spouse, although it certainly does not hurt the situation if the female member is perceived to have been the victim in the failed marriage.

    In answer to your question, if she were my mother, I would counsel her to marry the non-member. Provided that she breaks no commandments and does not violate any of her obligations to her children, the most important thing is that she does what makes her happy. Presumably, even those who do not get divorces will be able to opt out of the eternal togetherness thing, so I just do not see why this is a terribly problematic issue for the notion of an Eternal family.

  4. Bob Caswell says:

    Aaron B.,

    Oh sure, I read this in good faith thinking I’d laugh part of the way through (I guess we’ll let you get away with one unfunny post every once in a while…). I was completely misled!

    No, actually, this is a discussion-worthy issue that I’ve never been able to figure out without speculation (that doesn’t sound good, does it?). Put my vote down for marriage with the gentile. If anything, women should have a get-out-of-jail-free-card (i.e. exaltation card or at least a free ice cream in one of those “lower” degrees of that upper kingdom) when put in this situation, as it’s completely unfair. I’ve never really understood the politics and/or inequality of women-having-issues-remarrying-in-the-temple-while-men-chalk-it-up-to-polygamy-in-the-after-life. In fact, it can be down right bothersome, as it really does us no good to pretend like our religion is anti-polygamy only to have new members cry in a corner for days when they find out about this gem of a quasi-doctrine.

    J Stapley,

    “uhhh…can you think of a theological paradigm where this isn’t the case?”

    Perhaps you could give examples of all these theological paradigms that are disingenuous, as I thought Aaron’s emphasis was somewhat unique (especially in the context of missionary work).

  5. You are correct – Bill’s mother cannot marry another man in the temple unless she obtains a temple divorce from her first husband, and unless he mistreated her in some way, it will be quite difficult to get. My mother obtained a temple divorce from my father, who treated her horribly – mentally and physically, and even then, the temple divorce was incredibly difficult to get – every child had to write supportive letters to the first presidency, interviews were conducted, etc.

  6. Bob Caswell says:

    “The asymmetry in the treatment of divorced male members and divorced female members is not as large as you make it sound…” and then, “Also, any worthy divorced female member who is ready to remarry another worthy male member may be married in the temple for Time only.”

    Arturo,

    It seems to me that there is a lack of symmetry here and that in very complex, emotional situations like this, any asymmetry is probably “large” asymmetry.

  7. Bob, you’re taking my remarks out of context in order to try to exaggerate the asymmetry. Even so, your quote strikes me as a bit silly, since it emphasizes a point on which there is complete symmetry. Specifically, Any worthy divorced male member who is ready to remarry another worthy female member may also be married in the temple for Time only.

  8. Bob Caswell says:

    Arturo,

    Whoa, whoa, back the truck up, no need to go into defensive you’re-silly-and-I’m-intelligent mode here… We’re only on the 7th comment. Your newly released public information of “…any worthy divorced male member who is ready to remarry another worthy female member may also be married in the temple for Time only.” was NOT part of your original comment. If it were, then yes, I would have been taking you out of context. As it is, I’m still willing to admit that each time I discuss this issue with a member of the Church, I get mixed wanna-be-authoritative answers. Yours always seem to be pretty good, but then again, you’ve been known to retract and/or alter past comments more so than any other blogger I’ve known. :-)

    The fact still remains that there is asymmetry in the situation, exaggerated or not. Care to disagree?

  9. Aaron Brown says:

    “Any worthy divorced male member who is ready to remarry another worthy female member may also be married in the for Time only.”

    Is this really true? I thought that it wasn’t, and if I’m wrong, this does obviously undermine the part of my post that dealt with the asymmetry between the sexes.

    “”uhhh…can you think of a theological paradigm where this isn’t the case?”

    Stapley — I’m not clear on what you’re saying. Is it that you think all LDS “theological paradigms” are disengenuous? Is it that you think all theological positions are more complicated than a simple missionary message will be able to convey? I don’t know what you’re trying to say.

    Incidently, the point of my comment may not have been clear. I was trying to preempt the potential rejoinder that “We don’t really know how these complicated “family” relationships are really going to work out in the next life, so as long as everybody’s sealed to somebody, everything will be peachy in the end.” I’ve heard this before, but I think our teachings about “eternal families,” as typically presented, must be saying something definitive about specific family units. Thus, I don’t think “we don’t know” or “it will all work out somehow” are sufficient answers to specific questions about how a given family’s post-Earth eternal structure will come out, particularly when a “correct” understanding of these issues might prove crucial to making certain family decisions in this life.

    Aaron B

  10. To clarify, I think that the Together Forever type message is if not disingenuous, utterly naive. I meant to say that that no reasonable theological underpinnings for sealing families (especially children to parents) are represented in such messages.

  11. I miss the funny Aaron. The one who claimed he would put the Bronzed Hornsman on his car as a hood ornament. Steve, you didn’t happen to check out his car while in Seattle, did you?

  12. I recently was sealed in the temple for the second time (after being divorced for about 8 years). I obtained a “clearance” from the First Presidency and my new spouse obtained a “cancellation” of her sealing to her former husband. My wife’s cancellation was not that complicated, but that is most likely because her Bishop requested a letter from her former husband wherein he agreed to the cancellation. I’m sure things can really escalate when the former spouse is not agreeable.

    As for my advice for Bill’s mother, it’s hard for me to imagine loving a person enough to marry them and then not want to extend that relationship into eternity. This may be the best relationship she has experienced in her lifetime. If she wishes to marry the non-LDS man, she should share all of the potential eternal implications and possibilities before they are married so he can’t say later on, “Why didn’t you tell me about that?”

    She can explain the eternal perspective in terms of how she truly feels about him. “If it were an option right now I would choose to be sealed for eternity”…..or “I want to get married and, if the relationship continues to be wonderful, I hope you will consider getting sealed in the temple…”.

    To me the biggest dilemma is not knowing in advance how things might work out in eternity. If I was Bill’s mother, I would not make such a major decision without confirmation through prayer. Once she receives a confirmation, she may still not know how things will work out in eternity, but at least she will know she’s not making a major mistake to go ahead and marry at this point in time.

    Of course, we do not know (from the information given so far) the depth of this woman’s conviction. If her feelings about the gospel and temple run really, really deep, her desire to marry this man may not be congruent with her true identity and big problems could surface later in the marriage.

    -B.

  13. First off, I thought that they discontinued the whole “for time only” ceremonies in the temple, I know of several people who were told that unless they were getting sealed they would need to get married elsewhere. Secondly I think that Bill’s mom should marry whom ever makes her happy. My mil is married to a non-member and he makes her very happy, and yes he is supportive of her attending church and all that comes with it.

  14. Bob Caswell says:

    “My wife’s cancellation was not that complicated, but that is most likely because her Bishop requested a letter from her former husband wherein he agreed to the cancellation. I’m sure things can really escalate when the former spouse is not agreeable.”

    Brent,

    Maybe you can help us out here… With your comment, are you implying that you didn’t have a need to get a cancellation letter from your former spouse like your wife did? In other words, is more required to make it happen for women?

    Please only answer if you feel comfortable; I don’t mean to pry.

  15. Arturo Toscanini (#3): “and does not violate any of her obligations to her children…”

    What obligations do you imagine she has to her grown children? My siblings and I are all grown. Most of us have grown children. While I enjoy her company, and consider her my best friend, and owe a good deal to her, I cannot think of a single thing in this life or eternity that my mother owes me.

  16. Moddy,

    For the record, my mother-in-law was divorced in civil court from my father-in-law but the sealing was never canceled. Even after they were divorced they remained close and got together for family events. My father-in-law passed away and my mother-in-law remarried a widower who was sealed to another woman. They were married for time only in the temple.

    As for Aaron’s question – it certainly is a complicated issue. The key will be for Bill’s parents to remain temple worthy regardless of what happens on earth. This could certainly be the case even if Bill’s mother married a non-member. Hopefully she will not let his disinterest in the church have an impact on her own committment.

  17. Funny Aaron’s car did not, in fact, have a bronzed hornsman, to my dismay. It was a bit of a beater car, however.

    So then, what is the problem with the eternal family? That we will be eternally bound to people we don’t like? Do we really think that is how God will reward righteousness? It seems to me that this temple divorce hubbaloo is a bit of a red herring, because we have no idea how personal relationships will take place “up there,” and it’s a bit weird/presumptuous for us to stake claims on the afterlife in this way.

    Here’s my problem: there are plenty of righteous people I don’t particularly like. If they go to heaven (and I surely will!), will we all have to hang out?

  18. Bob Caswell says:

    Steve,

    It seems like Aaron pointed out that if your “we have no idea how personal relationships will take place ‘up there'” is true, then we still have a problem because “…our teachings about “eternal families,” as typically presented, must be saying something definitive about specific family units. Thus, I don’t think “we don’t know” or “it will all work out somehow” are sufficient answers…”

    So do we need to change our teachings / doctrine or do we need to move past “we don’t know?”

  19. Note that if the roles were reversed, and Bill’s father were facing this dilemma, rather than his mother, the stakes would be different.

    Not necessarily. My wife’s father died when she was just an infant, leaving her mother a widow with three children. She married my wife’s “step”-father (but for practical purposes, my wife’s dad) about 8 years later, and has now been married to him for almost 20 years- almost four times as long as she was married to my wife’s father before he died.

    After they had been married for 10 years, they petitioned to First Presidency to get permission from them for her to be re-sealed to her new husband (my wife’s step-dad). My wife and all of her siblings had to write letters describing their feelings on the issue. The First Presidency granted its permission, and my wife’s mother and “step” father were sealed in the temple, despite her prior sealing to her deceased first husband. I think that the First Presidency actually annulled the first sealing to allow this to happen (OK- I’ll grant that this is different than what would happen if a man were widowed- no need to annul previous sealing there…)

    Anyway, my wife and her siblings are still sealed to her biological father (but not her mother…), her mother and “step” father are sealed to each other and to the children they had together after they got married, and I have a huge dilemma with the whole situation.

    The man who was sealed to his wife and died, his sealing was annulled POST-HUMOUSLY!! So what promise does a sealing have for men if that can happen? Has anyone else experienced or heard of a situation like that?

    And most importantly: if I die today (I’m 30) and my wife meets and marries someone else, and they decide they want to be sealed, and so they petition the First Presidency, etc., and get our sealing annulled, then where is my promise?

    I am an active member of the bloggernacle, but didn’t want to spout my wife’s situation to everyone. Those who know me will already know who I am, and those who don’t, just trust me that I am bona fide and honest about this one.

  20. coolfootlucy says:

    The messiness of the contemporary family has almost convinced me that there is no veracity to the whole temple sealing thing. Divorced women are told that they still need “sealing blessings” and therefore must apply for cancellation of sealings only before marriage. Yet people who don’t marry (say, Sheri Dew) have no “sealing blessings” at all, through no fault of their own. does this even make sense? Someone could meet and marry his wife within a month, barely knowing each other, and through a ten minute ceremony be sealed to her forever and ever. Yet a nice non-Mormon who drinks coffee and a temple-recommend holding woman can’t be sealed at all, even if they have loved each other for years.

    I still am a member of the church, and I believe in many aspects of it, but the permutations and combinations and hoops of the whole temple marriage thing makes me wonder if it’s all made up (and a way to fund the church coffers).

  21. Bob, good question. I think what’s important is for us to focus on preservation of family relationships with those that we care about — I believe the sealing power can accomplish this. But frankly, we don’t know a lot of details, and maybe we should teach that in the afterlife, things aren’t necessarily defined as our current interpersonal relationships are.

    Private — that is one messed up scenario. Posthumous retractions?? Again, the only way I can get my head around it is that somehow, those marriage relationships and our ties to each other must transcend the property-model relationships we have now. But man, there’s not much comfort there.

  22. coolfootlucy, that’s a pretty skeptical view. I don’t understand all that goes on in the church, but I refuse to ascribe motives of greed and deception the way that you choose to do. Sorry.

  23. It is pretty messed up. The clincher is that when my wife and her siblings wrote the letters, they did not really understand what they were asking for or the ramifications of it. They just wrote the letters because mom and dad needed them to get sealed in the temple.

    Now, all grown up, the three of them are somewhat put out by having so lightly written such important letters, without having been told of the ramifications of those letters. Since we are all married now, we wonder about how solid a glue our own sealings are, if they can just be unilaterally discarded after we die.

    Of course we believe in the efficacy of the sealing power, but still…

  24. Interesting situation, Aaron (and good post). I’m someone who believes that potential happiness in the next life should not trump happiness in this life. And I’m talking about happiness as the Church defines it – happiness and joy that comes from family and loved ones. Lest anyone misunderstand, I’m not suggesting that we go out and get tanked because that makes us “happy,” Word of Wisdom be damned.

    The Church teaches that family is so important and the source of great happiness. I think this woman should do what makes her happy. She has no obligation to her children or her former husband. The reality is, she’s probably already spent most of her life taking care of other people, including those children and that husband. It’s probably about time she looked out for herself.

    Lastly, I think these situations get out of hand with all the theological implications and Church policy after Church policy butting into each other. I’m usually one who loathes the “It’ll all work out in the end” stereotypical answer. (Sure, we know all about what truth is, the next life, who God is, etc., but when things get sticky, all of a sudden we don’t have a clue, but we just know God’ll fix it somehow.) But this time, I think it’s actually a decent answer.

    Whenever we’re worried about the rules or how it’ll work out, I believe in a very simple credo: God is not a jerk. We get too caught up in our theology and this and that and we forget that sometimes. God is not going to punish this woman or reward her any less for falling in love and being happy. If he did, he’d be a jerk. God’s not a jerk, therefore, he won’t punish her. How’s that for ironclad logic :)

  25. HL Rogers says:

    Private,
    I’m not so sure the outcome of the husband getting the post-humous shaft is a messed-up outcome. Assuming that post-mortal inter-personal relationships in some way resemble current relationships, I certainly would not want to stand in the way of my wife being happy (in this life or the next). If I am dead and gone and she far outlives me, who am I to demand my personal salvation through my sealing over her joy (it is after all what the gospel is all about). Plus, how much would you hate to be the guy still sealed to the wife in love with another man she was married to before her death. Talk about a third wheel up in heaven. Obviously my personal feelings on the matter don’t address the impact such a policy has on the strength of the sealing but I supopse we do have to assume some amount of inspiration from the 1st Presidency (that sounded more flippant than intended–only b/c it is a bit of an easy answer: well they know better and they made the decision isn’t altogether comforting as an answer to a sticky question).

    John H.
    I like the “God is not a Jerk” theology. Granted it can easily become an easy out (hey, I love getting drunk, it brings me great happiness, God would be a jerk to deny me such happiness and he’s not a jerk)–but it seems you could construct a logically consistent argument that could rule out such outliers.

  26. Hey John H, check your email — round one sent.

  27. HL-

    I agree with your utilitarian ideals. But when I put myself personally into those shoes it feels like it would be hard to be so self-sacrificing. I mean, I’m entitled to some happiness too, right, by having my spouse rejoin me in “heaven” after a premature death?

    And it would suck to be a “third wheel” up in heaven. :)

    But despite the utilitarian value of allowing “posthumous annulment,” what does that say to the people who cling to the idea of “family forever” and who live with the conviction that if they die they will have their spouse in the eternities?

    I only bring the whole situation up as another form of “problematizing the eternal family”.

  28. MaryMargaretRitchie says:

    I like this statement:
    “God is not going to punish this woman or reward her any less for falling in love and being happy. If he did, he’d be a jerk. God’s not a jerk.”

    I think I’ll have to repeat it as my mantra when I’m feeling bad about my life.

    I only wish I’d heard it when I wanted to marry my non-member boyfriend–who has still not married or joined the Church 20 years later–and was sterny discouraged from doing so by my parents and bishop.

    I’m in a horrible marriage now, and continue to pray that after this life I will be sealed to my former boyfriend (it’s in my will). God is not a jerk, and I should have married him first anyway. Nowadays, it’s not such a big deal to marry outside the temple, because we have the understanding that people can be sealed after death. Why is it such a big deal to get sealed in this lie if a loving God can rearrange the cards in the next life anyway? I don’t understand this. Any ideas, folks?

    A lurker, MMR

  29. In my opinion, if her children are grown, he is fully supportive of her church attendance and standards, he treats her very well, and she hasn’t had any promptings against the marriage then I think she would be ok in marrying this man.

    I have a sister who married a man with a previous temple marriage and when it came time that they wanted to be sealed his first wife’s opinion was asked (I’m not sure if it was received in letter or interview form) and after hearing that and I’m sure other information on the situation they were denied a temple sealing at this time. They got divorced a few years later.

  30. It certainly is a pain in the ass to defend the church on this blog…

    Marta: What obligations do you imagine she has to her grown children?

    None whatever. This is why I say “if she were my mother, I would counsel her to marry the non-member.” I think that you’ve misread me.

    Bob Caswell: Whoa, whoa, back the truck up, no need to go into defensive you’re-silly-and-I’m-intelligent mode here

    I thought you knew me better than that, Bob. I’m always in you’re-silly-and-I’m-intelligent mode.

    Bob Caswell: Your newly released public information of “…any worthy divorced male member who is ready to remarry another worthy female member may also be married in the temple for Time only.” was NOT part of your original comment. If it were, then yes, I would have been taking you out of context.

    You make it sound as if my saying it makes it so. I thought that such policies are basically public knowledge, and I consider it bad form for someone to parade public knowledge in front of others as though he were revealing the mysteries of the kingdom.

    Moreover, linking two separate thoughts from different paragraphs is not a good idea when your point hinges on their connection. Your doing so in post #6 takes portions of my comment out of context.

    Bob Caswell: As it is, I’m still willing to admit that each time I discuss this issue with a member of the Church, I get mixed wanna-be-authoritative answers.

    What I’ve said in previous comments and what I say below about temple marriages for Time are both straight out of the Chapter 8 of the Church Handbook
    of Instructions
    , pages 71 & 73.

    Bob Caswell: Yours always seem to be pretty good, but then again, you’ve been known to retract and/or alter past comments more so than any other blogger I’ve known. :-)

    I don’t know how to take this with the smiley. I’m certainly happy to admit when I’m wrong, no matter how bombastically I’ve stated my point (I am, after all, a shameless bombasticator). Stay tuned for an outright retraction in the following paragraph. But your attempt to impugn my credibility (so to speak) is a bit silly. I often make comments to clarify ambiguous pronouns. I’ve recently had to clarify my usage of the phrase “live sex acts” to indicate that I was using the term acts as it is used when one says “live circus acts” or “live musical acts” instead “criminal acts.” I’ve also had to recently clarify that the the BYU library’s numerous “books containing accounts of the temple ceremony” contained anti-Mormon accounts. Until I can afford to retain editors (hint: don’t hold your breath) to inspect my otherwise off-the-cuff remarks, you’ll just have to live with my muddled brain dumps. If you think that these clarifications make my pronouncements any less “authoritative,” then your using an odd definition of the term retraction.

    Even so, I hereby retract my statements stating that any worthy member may marry in the temple for Time only. My comments above were hastily written, and I made unduly broad (and therefore incorrect) statements. Specifically: Worthy, endowed couples can marry in the temple for time only (and bishops should encourage this) when the woman is widowed by or divorced from her sealed husband (provided, of course, that the laws of their country recognize temple marriages as legal marriages). Thus, men can only marry unsealed woman for Eternity. This means that the standards for men are stricter than the standards for women. Specifically, if a man cannot obtain a Sealing Clearance, then temple marriage is out of the question. If a woman cannot obtain (or chooses not to obtain) a Cancellation of Sealing, Temple marriage for time is still a possibility if she lives in a country whose laws recognize temple marriages as legal.

    Bob Caswell: The fact still remains that there is asymmetry in the situation, exaggerated or not. Care to disagree?

    In fact, I see no palpable asymmetry regarding temple marriage and divorce that works to the disadvantage of women. Of course, the required clearances are named differently: Men get “Sealing Clearances,” and women get “Cancellations of Sealing.” But if anything, the men have it harder than the women, for the reasons I point to above.

    As far as Cancellations of Sealing, it is normal Bishops to contact family members in every case. I know of an instance in which a man was denied a Sealing Clearance (it was his third marriage) and the bishop recommended that the clearance be denied. That bishop also obtained letters from the family that detailed their opinions on the matter, and he had several long conversations about it with both of the man’s previous wives.

  31. AT says: “I thought that such policies are basically public knowledge”

    The evidence from this and other threads suggests that there is widespread confusion and ignorance about these policies.

    Does anyone know of a source that clarifies these policies? Or is it all some kind of big secret?

  32. Ask your Bishop. The Handbook of Instruction, chapter 8, pages 71 and 73 are quite specific about this.

  33. anonymous says:

    To Private’s wife’s father to whom she is no longer sealed: Clone your wife so she can have it both ways.

    To Private’s wife: If you still want to be sealed to your biological father, clone yourself and decide which one of you wants to be sealed to your biological father and clone mother.

  34. Ah yes, the kind of “public knowledge” that is may not be published or disseminated to the public. Not to mention the mystery about how the first presidency decides to grant a cancellation or “clearance.”

  35. The Church’s current teachings about eternal marriage are directly descended from polygamy. The more you try to study the doctrines and practices of polygamy, the more of a mess it is, which does call into question our happy little ideas about eternal families.

    I see two possible resolutions:

    1. Eternal marriage includes “line marriages” like in Heinlein’s book “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress”. They’re group marriages, essentially. So the woman who remarries can bring her second husband into the eternal family unit, and the first husband who died and then fell in love posthumously with two more women can bring in those wives, and you have a marriage of five people, two men and three women. Why not?

    2. Our current ideas of what is “fair” or “just” are seriously skewed in the historical and eternal sense. How often during history has a woman had an important say in marriage, and a claim that she should be treated just like the man? Our current theology is an historical anomaly. The Bible, POGP, BOM and D&C all support the idea that men really are in charge, and the women should support them. Maybe that’s the way things are in the heavens. It would seriously suck, but maybe we’ll all be able to revert to that sort of thinking once we understand all truth.

    I’ve got dibs in on being a ministering angel.

    My vote for the original scenario is that the woman marries the non-member she loves.

  36. But anon,

    my wife IS still sealed to her biological father, whose sealing to his wife was post-humously cancelled by the First Presidency.

    That is an added level of perplexity. My wife is sealed to her biological father who she never knew (she was only 2 days old when his plane crashed), but she is NOT sealed to her mother or her step-father who raised her.

    Also, if a wife is sealed to her parents, and the husband is sealed to his parents, and the parents of the wife and the husband can’t stand each other, then whose family will the husband/wife be sealed to for eternity? I like the sealing on the husband/wife level, but when you start throwing parents and siblings into the equation, it starts getting very complex and in some ways, undesirable.

  37. Private: my wife IS still sealed to her biological father, whose sealing to his wife was post-humously cancelled by the First Presidency.

    I have heard that in such an instance, you would be pulled into the covenant of your Mom’s new sealing.

  38. Although I agree with Steve Evans that I don’t ascribe base and avaricious motives to the Church leaders for perpetuating this kind of confusion (advertent or inadvertent), this is one of those areas in the Church where it is best not to pay attention to the man behind the curtain, and just hope it will all work out in the end.

    “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.”

  39. HL — I find your third wheel comment amusing — isn’t this a reality that all LDS women possibly face if polygamous marriages are indeed part of the celestial kingdom?

  40. That may well be, JS, but in this situation that does not seem to be the case.

    Perhaps we (my wife and I) ought to clarify that, though. To do that, who in the world would we approach?

  41. btw, sorry for the threadjack… But it does go under the heading you set out for this thread…

  42. Seth Rogers says:

    The idea of Celestial polygamy never bugged me that much. Mostly because I don’t subscribe to the Hollywood myth that there’s just ONE other person on the face of the planet that you are meant for. I’ve always believed that the human heart has the capacity to love more than one person.

    However, I do think the theological equation contains a gender imbalance. Rather than discuss the original scenario, try this one:

    Faithful Mormon woman goes to college and meets a faithful Mormon guy. She’s 22 and he’s 25. They are married for a little over a year. No kids, no pregnancy. Husband is then killed in a car wreck.

    Five years later, she remarries to another faithful Mormon guy. Under church policy as I understand it, her former temple marriage to husband #1 is still in force. So marriage to husband #2 is “for time only.” Furthermore, I believe there’s a doctrine that any children born from marriage #2 are NOT sealed to husband #2, but are sealed to husband #1. I remember reading about how the Jews practiced this in the old testament (a widow was supposed to be married to the deceased’s brother and any children would be counted as the deceased’s posterity). That’s how I understand the LDS marriage scheme. Correct me if I’m wrong here. Back to the example:

    Decades pass. They have about 4 children. They lead good lives, and do everything expected of good Mormon parents. Now the woman in question feels a little discontented with the situation. While she loved husband #1, it was certainly a less mature love than what she feels for husband #2. Furthermore, she feels like the children she’s had belong to husband #2, not husband #1. After all, her current spouse did all the fathering.

    So there’s the scenario. The woman is put in a difficult position. Sure, we can “solve” this dillema by saying that once we’re all on “the other side of the veil” things will be much clearer. Perhaps with her new eternal perspective after death, she’ll be able to choose between her two husbands and things will be sorted out, so to speak.

    But this actually doesn’t solve the problem here. Why should she be forced to choose between two men she loves?

    Reverse roles: the young husband loses his newly wedded wife. If he remarries, he is faced with no such dilemma. He is permitted to be sealed to both his deceased wife, and his second wife (and all children resulting from both marriages). The man is not forced to make a choice. The woman is.

    I’m not going to venture an opinion on whether this difference is fair to women, but I would certainly assert that the scheme is unequal.

    Thoughts?

  43. AT – The information you posted about time-only sealings from the CHI chapter 8 was superseded by a letter that came out about 3 years ago. The new policy is no time-only temple marriages for anyone.

    Private – “And it would suck to be a ‘third wheel’ up in heaven. :)”
    Well, now you know what all those women feel like when they are sealed to men with other wives. :-) If polyandry doesn’t sound so great, does polygyny sound any better?

    Aaron – If Bill’s mom has a healthy relationship with her current boyfriend, would it be fair to tell her to forego spending the rest of her life with him? I certainly can’t see telling my mother to do something like that. A temple recommend doesn’t guarantee a wonderful spouse.

  44. Yes, it’s unequal. But you’re assuming that men’s rights in marriage should be equal to women’s rights in marriage. The Church doesn’t teach that the genders should be treated equally. I don’t think it’s fair either, but I don’t see much precedent in scripture, history, or modern revelation that requires equal fairness for both genders in marriage practices.

    Maybe there is something about men and the priesthood that makes them capable of carrying on multiple marriage relationships that women lack. The most obvious example is biological. A man can impregnate three women with his children within days. A woman can only bear the child of one man at a time. If children are the purpose of marriage and the harbinger of glory (eternal increase), then eternal marriage laws should favor the man having more than one spouse, while limiting the woman to one husband.

    The only reason we want it to be different is because of our current culture.

  45. Thanks for the clarification, LRC. It turns out that what I thought was overly broad was inadvertently correct. I hereby retract my retraction. (I’m not sure whether this means that I’m lucky or that I just can’t win.)

  46. I wonder how much the historical life span fits in.
    Until recently the mortality rate of women in childbirth was high. This combined with the larger number of children would have contributed to a shorter average lifespan for women.

    Because of the invaluable and necessary contributions of women in raising children and caring for the home, men would need a woman in the home. These two factors combined lead to higher remarriage rates.

    Socialization factors would have worked against female remarriage. Family ties were allowed to compensate for the lack of a male in the home.

    Just an undeveloped thought.

  47. AT — you just can’t win.

  48. Bob Caswell says:

    Arturo-

    Keep up the good work. By the way, I’d be interested in your bombastic thoughts of polygamy in the afterlife. Does it bother you (or is it just me?) that we talk of polygamy as having nothing to do with our Church when approached by investigators or the likes of Larry King when, in fact, we’re all over polygamy, just not in this life?

    Is it just that we wouldn’t baptize anyone if we said some form of the complete truth like, “No, no, polygamists? Those are the wierd people in southern Utah, NOT us, of course… Oh, but yeah, we’ll be doing that after this life, and we promise that’s not nearly as weird.”

  49. Janey, to the extant that the current policy on divorces comes from polygamy, it may well favor women. In polygamous Utah, women were granted divorces rather readily as long as their husbands weren’t out of town on church callings (Brigham Young did not like the idea of men returning from missions to find their wives divorced and married to someone else). According to Arrington’s biography on Young, much of the funds for the perpetual immigration fund came from the money that Brigham charged for the divorces he readily granted at $5 a pop. (Thus, when the Feds confiscated the perpetual immigration fund under the Edmunds-Tucker act, they were seizing money largely raised through the granting of divorces.) Men, on the other hand, were often denied divorces.

    There also seems to have been very little stigma associated with being divorced at the time. After a certain time (I’m at work, so I can’t look it up) Brigham himself only married divorced women. (Of course, there was quite a lot of politics surrounding the whole polygamy issue, so that many things varied depending on how many favors could be called in. But the actual divorce policy did seem to favor women.)

  50. A bit of a threadjack, but an honest question – I have a female ancestor born during the Apostasy who was married to three men (she never divorced, just remarried after ther husbands’ deaths). The question is, assuming that the wife and each of her three husbands all enthusiastically accept the gospel in the afterlife, who is the wife (and her children, assuming she had children with each husband – that bit is unclear from the records I have) sealed to? Her first husband? Her most recent? Is she sealed to all three in the temple, with the caveat that it will all be “sorted out” in heaven? And what happens to the men she doesn’t “choose”, assuming they were never married (actually, one of the men was previously married, but let’s not complicate things)? Anyway, just a question I was wondering about recently.

  51. Rosalynde says:

    Janey, I like your approach. I prefer not to cover up structural inequalities with cultural band-aids, and polygamy–whatever its practical permutations in Utah–is, quite uncontroversially, structurally unequal. Whether or not that’s a bad thing is, as you say, an open question.

    Chalk me up for the borg theory–I like easy and lazy, and plus it’s scriptural: “all covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations” have the potential to persist in eternity, on my reading. Call me crazy, but that seems to cover quite a bit more ground than the wife(s) and kids. I dearly love my husband and children, and I fervently expect to grow in relationship to them beyond death–but I don’t think those relationships are the primary object of the temple sealing, which, as I see it, only tells us that exaltation is ineluctably social.

  52. Hanna, that’s why I like Luke 20:27-36.

  53. Private –

    I believe it is in the Handbook, so a Bishopric member could look it up. Otherwise, a temple presidency member should know.

  54. How would the temple presidency know? Do they have their own special handbook? (I believe the question was who, if anyone, the children are sealed to if a marriage sealing is cancelled posthumously.)

    I wonder if anyone has done a study of the history of sealing policies. I would be very interested in such a study. I wonder if the materials would be available for a researcher to look at.

  55. Hanna: She will be sealed in the temple to all three, and it will be sorted out in heaven.

    Rosalynde: I think you’re overstating the case. Structurally, polygamy is just a one-to-many relationship between husbands and wives. There is nothing unequal per se about one-to-many relationships (just ask a DBA). Moreover, from the fact that polygamy is an unequal relationship, it does not follow that any particular part of polygamy is unequal (attempts to make such deductions run afoul the fallacy of division). Thus, from the fact that polygamy is an unequal relationship, it does not follow that polygamy divorce procedures are unequal.

  56. I would suggest that this whole thread is de facto evidence that coolfootlucy –

    “but the permutations and combinations and hoops of the whole temple marriage thing makes me wonder if it’s all made up (and a way to fund the church coffers).”

    – is dead on to something…

  57. Bob Caswell wrote:

    “Brent,

    Maybe you can help us out here… With your comment, are you implying that you didn’t have a need to get a cancellation letter from your former spouse like your wife did? In other words, is more required to make it happen for women?”

    The Bishop also had to get a letter from my ex-spouse, who has been inactive since before we divorced. From her viewpoint, the “authorities” were mainly concerned about:

    1) Whether I had any unresolved transgressions associated with the divorce
    2) Whether I was currently meeting my financial obligations to my children
    3) Whether my ex-spouse had any other objections

    Had she made any other objections, they would have been weighed against her “track record” with the church. Fortunately there were no objections expressed.

    The process is the same/similar for both men and women, but the woman’s situation is scrutinized more closely because she is actually nullifying a sealing blessing, whereas the man is not.

    Through this recent experience, I got the feeling that those who are REALLY familiar with the temple ordinances (long-time temple workers, GA’s, etc.) have a much greater understanding of the importance of things “sealed in heaven” than do the “attend-once-a-month” members.

    Also I think there is good reason why these sealing clearances and cancellations still need to be approved by the office of the First Presidency. In the case of the man whose sealing was cancelled posthumously, I would have a bigger problem with that if it hadn’t been approved by the First Presidency. I have faith that they have the ablity to access information that is not available to everyday folks. For example, it could have been made known to them that the deceased husband was in a situation in the spirit world where he was ready to “move on” with a different spouse. Or, possibly the “left-behind” wife provided information to the First Presidency (unbeknownst to the grown chldren) about something in her original marriage that she did not feel comfortable with.

    A note to “Private”: I do not mean to offend with any of my speculation here.

    -B.

  58. Arturo – you keep bringing up polygamy divorce procedures. I’m not sure what you’re trying to say about them. You seemed to be replying to a comment I made, but I didn’t mention divorce.

  59. I’m disturbed by Janey’s comments. Do Mormons really believe that women won’t have an equal say about who they can be married to? Or at least veto power?

    I must admit, all of this discussion about temple marriage, steeped in the remants of the practice of polygamy, is creeping me out. Sealing clearances and cancellations? I know I’m screaming into the void here, but why can’t the process to rearrange relationships be the same for men and women? Why should men be allowed to stay married to more than one women, even in the event of a civil divorce, but a woman doesn’t have this option?

    I guess I’m most disturbed because Mormons are still, in effect, “practicing” polygamy, then. So why aren’t Mormons out there with everyone else supporting alternative marriage rights? We can’t just sit back and let the gays and lesbians do our work for us. Let’s get started practicing polygamy now, if we’re going to practice it in the eternities.

    This thread has totally put me off my game this afternoon. My “head in the sand” approach to this question isn’t working today. And it’s such a nice day outside, too.

  60. Tess, my comments disturb me too. I do think women get veto power and choice over who they’re married to, but I think women just get one man, while one man can be married to several women. Yep, that creates lots of unfair situations and other sticky problems.

    Like I said, I’m going to be a ministering angel. There are some advantages to being single.

  61. Aaron B wrote:

    “Thus, I don’t think “we don’t know” or “it will all work out somehow” are sufficient answers to specific questions about how a given family’s post-Earth eternal structure will come out, particularly when a “correct” understanding of these issues might prove crucial to making certain family decisions in this life.”

    IMO the “we don’t know” is the most interesting aspect of this whole discussion. In the Church we place a huge emphasis on being sealed but we really don’t understand what “being sealed” will really mean in the eternities. I don’t think there is any other principle or concept in the church where there is such imbalance between the emphasis placed on it and our understanding of its eternal significance.

    When we are sealed to certain persons, does that mean that we will be excluded in some way from experiencing joy in relationships with those we aren’t sealed to ? I fear that we too often think that way.

    When we are sealed to a spouse or child, what Celestial activities or privileges will be included in that relationship that wouldn’t be included in a “non-sealed” relationship ? The obvious difference with a spouse would be the possibility of Eternal Progeny, but what about the parent-child sealing ?

    On a related note, both times that I have been sealed in the temple, the Sealer emphasized that the woman always has the last chance to “opt out”. Even if we are sealed, when I call my wife in the resurrection, she still has her freedom of choice whether or not to respond.

    For some time now I have compared temple sealings to making an airline reservation. If you don’t make the reservation in advance, you can’t expect to show up at the gate and get a boarding pass. Yet, you aren’t obligated to go on the trip either.

    -B.

  62. Hi, Janey-

    Thanks for your comments, I invariably enjoy reading them. None of this makes much practical sense to me, but the recurring theme is polygamy, polygamy, polygamy. If that is the case, we should be lobbying to practice polygamy as a legal alternative to traditional marriage. If you read the D&C and Official Declaration, they never flat out say the Lord says we shouldn’t practice polygamy, just that polygamy is illegal, and so the Church was forced to discontinue the practice. And apparently, polygamy is alive and well in the afterlife.

    So, if polygamy becomes legal, then we should be able to practice it again, right? I actually might enjoy having a sister wife, if she stayed home to clean the house and take care of the kids. On second thought, I’d think I’d prefer to join you as a ministering angel.

  63. Aaron Brown says:

    Rosalynde said:
    “I don’t think those relationships are the primary object of the temple sealing, which, as I see it, only tells us that exaltation is ineluctably social.”

    Well, you certainly have captured accurately what I meant by the “borg” theory. And to be honest, the only way I can make sense of all this, at times, is to reduce the issue, as I think you do, to one of an ill-defined sociality in the heavens. My problem is that I can’t help but notice how different this seems from the principle of “eternal families” that we actually teach our investigators as missionaries. Think about how much resonance all those LDS videos on eternal families would have if their message were merely “Hey guys, your family “sealing” is just a pass into the Celestial Kindgom, which is filled with lots of other “sealed” folks with whom you get to be social.” Not quite as catchy or emotionally significant, in my opinion.

    Aaron B

  64. Brent: “Even if we are sealed, when I call my wife in the resurrection, she still has her freedom of choice whether or not to respond.”

    So, she has the choice of responding to your call and being resurrected or of not responding to the call and ???? staying dead? waiting around a few more years to see if you come calling again? hoping someone else knows her new name?

  65. Bob Caswell: By the way, I’d be interested in your bombastic thoughts of polygamy in the afterlife. Does it bother you (or is it just me?) that we talk of polygamy as having nothing to do with our Church when approached by investigators or the likes of Larry King when, in fact, we’re all over polygamy, just not in this life?

    I just don’t know enough about post-mortality and about the relation of specific ordinances to post-mortality for the notion of post-mortal polygamy to have any meaning to me at all. I have no concrete idea of what life with an “Eternal Family” may be like, and I chuckle when I read scriptures to the effect that “my Father’s mansion has many rooms.” In fact, I find the eternal significance of physical ordinances in Mormonism to be altogether baffling. This leaves me without any grounds for getting worked up about post-mortal anything.

    For my part, I’m just a poor failing sinner, and I have enough problems without trying to stretch my mind around something as convoluted as the practice of polygamy in the early church. I struggle with my faith, and I struggle with my actions. Polygamy is just a drop in the ocean.

    That said, the practice of polygamy in Utah today (where churches have close to 100% of their membership practicing polygamy, child marriages are the rule, and welfare fraud & money laundering are rampant) bears very little resemblance to polygamy as practiced in the early Utah church.

  66. LRC RE: Brent: “Even if we are sealed, when I call my wife in the resurrection, she still has her freedom of choice whether or not to respond.”

    So, she has the choice of responding to your call and being resurrected or of not responding to the call and ???? staying dead? waiting around a few more years to see if you come calling again? hoping someone else knows her new name? ”

    OOPS. Sorry if it sounded like that. I didn’t mean to say that “calling” my wife would be the action that would bring about her resurrection. I don’t remember if I was ever taught that a husband would have the power to call his wife forth to be resurrected (it would have been easier to believe that when I was younger).

    My meaning was that when she is resurrected (by the grace and power of Jesus Christ), my wife will have her choice whether to respond to my call. Basically the message given in connection with the sealing ceremony was that I can’t mistreat or neglect my spouse during our time on earth and then expect to have a “guaranteed” Eternal companion in the resurrection.

    My feeling about Heavenly Father is that he will provide other options for those who choose not to be with an abusive spouse that they have been sealed to. The Millenium is a very good idea.

    -B.

  67. One of the reasons I think it’s kinda useless to have conversations speculating about this stuff is that I don’t think we’ll see people in the afterlife the same way we see them here. After we die, we’ll have all kinds of knowledge we don’t now, including who we all were during the pre-existence. I don’t think I’ll relate to my parents, or my children, the same way I do now. We won’t be looking through a glass darkly then, and I can only assume it’ll make a big difference in our relationships.

    I probably haven’t expressed myself as clearly as I’d like, but that’s what you get at 8:14 on a Friday night.

  68. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”

    1 John 3:2 (page 1557).

    When John wrote that he had received 40 days of instruction from the ressurrected Christ, had seen the heavens in open vision and had some significant personal experiences beyond what most of us probably have had.

    That was the extent of his certainty of the details, which I think is a good point.

    I’ve decided to make this my last post at bcc, but I think that we often do not know enough to come to full conclusions and while thinking about some of the issues, pondering and praying about them, can be a good thing, I think that too often that moves to flailing about and getting preturbed when we just do not know enough.

    We do not know the meaning of all things, but we know that God is just and that he loves his children. Let’s work from there.

  69. Aaron Brown says:

    “I’ve decided to make this my last post at bcc,”

    Pray tell, what’s this about?

    Aaron B

  70. I don’t know, but Stephen posted somthing similar on Dav’es Mormon Inquiry.

  71. As I have read and watched this thread develop and go back and forth, I thought I would try to clarify a few points.

    Private–As I have read your comments I sense a whole lot of concern that the wishes and desires of individuals are compromised by the decisions of others. For example, the husband who dies has his temple sealing “posthumously” annulled much to his chagrin in the afterlife. I would point out that this was done at his wife’s request. She could have married the second man for time only had she wanted, correct? I understand the consternation on that point, but isn’t it equally disconcerting for that man to see her loving another man more than him. My point is that our eternal happiness does not hinge on the obedience or, in this case, honest decision-making of our supposed eternal mate. This life is a time of probation and, unfortunately, we make mistakes that influence and affect people on the other side of the veil, but not to their eternal detriment.

    I also think the “God is not a jerk” mantra is applicable in this discussion as well. As has been expressed, this mantra is a catch-all that seems hollow, but “Men are that they might have joy.” In eternal terms, this is particularly evident and appropriate.

  72. KoalaBear says:

    It’s hard not to think God isn’t a jerk, especially if he prefers first-time marriages to occur in the temple at all costs, yet divorcees can marry whoever else they want to outside the temple without any repercussion. If “God will sort it out” why doesn’t he just “sort it out” when a never-married decides to marry a good non-member? Why the preaching and screeching against marrying outside the temple at all, if “God will just work it out” in the end?

  73. KoalaBear says:

    Oops. I mean to say it’s not hard to believe God’s a jerk when he requires first-time marriages to be in the temple, but later marriages can be wherever the hell you want.

    Who among us hasn’t taught–as missionaries–eager converts in sparse LDS populated-places, pleading with them to make sure they marry a member in the temple? Then our own celestial marriages last 20 years tops and we marry whomever we want “because it makes us happy.” I have convert friends in other countries who refuse to marry outside of the temple/church at all and here we are saying do what makes us happy! Indeed!

  74. Daniel the Burnt Sienna says:

    Going back to comment #56:

    …this whole thread is de facto evidence that coolfootlucy –

    “but the permutations and combinations and hoops of the whole temple marriage thing makes me wonder if it’s all made up (and a way to fund the church coffers).”

    – is dead on to something…

    CFLucy is dead onto something really stupid. Lucy, would you care to expound?

    The fact that we still practice polygamy really shook my faith at first, but I’ve gotten over it personally. If I were a woman, however, I think I would need some extra answers or reassurances. And I think it would only be fair to be very clear about our stand on this issue when we teach eternal marriage to investigators.

    This is a treatment of some historical aspects of polygamy and Church history, but it doesn’t address the fact that my cousin — and many other men in the Church — are currently sealed to two or more women.

    All of that said, I’ve had experiences, particularly on my mission, that have proven to me beyond any doubt that the Church is true and God wants people to join it. So that fact is going to inform my thinking about this and any other doctrinal puzzles…

  75. Some clarifications/comments, as I have extensive personal experience with much of the stuff being bandied about here:

    -Contrary to what Brent says, from all I have observed, cancellations of sealings for divorced members are VERY easy to obtain. There are definitely procedural hurdles to overcome, paperwork, etc., but I have NEVER heard of anyone who asked for one of these being denied. I think the FP hands these out like candy, which kind of makes sense if the former couple are already divorced civilly.

    -Clearance for a new sealing, however, can be quite difficult to obtain; my sense is only about 1 in 5 go through.

    -To “Private”: before you get your theological knickers too twisted about the injustice of your wife’s dad’s sealing blessings being revoked posthumously, you ought to check with your wife’s stepdad & mom to verify that the prior sealing was indeed cancelled. These sorts of things are hush-hush so I can understand why they were vague, but I have reliable reports of widowed female members getting sealed to subsequent spouses without cancelling their prior sealing.

    -Art & others re: “time only” marriages in the temple. The letter that came out in Nov. 2003 changed the policy of who can be married in the temple for “time only”. Now, “time only” marriages in the temple CAN be conducted, but only under two conditions: (1) both parties were previously married to now-deceased spouses, and (2) neither party has EVER been divorced. I personally would be happier if they didn’t do ANY “time only” marriages in the temple, since it has no religious standing in the Church. Someone can correct me if I’m mistaken, but I don’t believe a “time only” marriage has any additional theological significance than getting married at the Chapel of Love in Vegas would. (I am well aware of a differences in Mormon culture, however.)

    On a more general level, I think people are misunderstanding some fundamental concepts here.

    First of all, does anyone truly believe that two people (even if they remain married) who obviously are incompatible and unhappy together will be forced to live out that misery for “time and all eternity” just because they paricipated in a certain procedure, even if performed under proper authority?

    I have a testimony in the power and authority of the Priesthood, but a God that requires such an outcome is not a God I know or worship. It seems obvious to me that the outcome of this situation would either be (a) the couple, with the benefit of greater spiritual advancement and progress, actually do enjoy each other in the eternities, or (b) they are such onery cusses that one or both of them don’t make it to the Celestial Kingdom in the first place, at which point the question is moot, or (c) they will each be paired with someone more suitable, befitting a merciful God and the promises that the Celestial Kingdom is a place of unfathomable joy.

    I make a distinction between a temple marriage and a Celestial marriage. People who get married in the temple because they are horny and eager to have sex but lack the spiritual or emotional capability for a healthy marriage where children can be raised in a loving environment can have a temple marriage, but it is not a celestial one. Likewise someone who doesn’t really have a testimony and doesn’t live worthily but nevertheless gets married in the temple because that’s what all nice Mormon girls and boys are supposed to do, may have a temple marriage, but they don’t have a Celestial marriage.

    On the other hand, let’s say a black LDS man, pre-1978, marries a woman. Since he cannot hold the Priesthood, he cannot be sealed in the temple. But if he honors the covenants he has made, stays faithful to his wife and children and loves and honors them throughout his life, and is WORTHY to enter the temple (even if he isn’t allowed inside), then I say that man has a Celestial marriage, even if he doesn’t have a temple one.

    As a rejoinder to coolfootlucy who observes that “veracity to the whole temple thing” is called into question because of these issues, I would point out that the problems are created for the most part because we fallible mortals don’t seem to live up very well to the ideals the Lord has set for us. We wouldn’t even be having this discussion if this couple didn’t get divorced in the first place. Note all the wreckage that has caused, which none of the commenters has underlined. That’s understandable because it is so frightfully common, but the fact that we are instead preoccupied with byzantine questions about who is sealed to whom is a little disappointing, given how much pride so many here place on their intellectual and spiritual discernment.

    Jesus tells us that the only reason the Lord allowed divorce in the first place was because of the “hardness of your hearts” (Matthew 19:8). It’s obvious the Lord would prefer it didn’t exist, but He had to concede certain practicalities, because He is merciful (and not a jerk).

    I don’t have a testimony of mortal, fallen humans universally being capable of sustaining Christlike marriages. I DO have a testimony of the sanctifying, saving, and joy-producing power of the Sealing ordinance. Therefore, I believe that all of us should continue to strive to for the ideal sketched for us in the New and Everlasting Covenant and to live as best as we can with the promises of the next life, in this one.

    As to advice to this particular woman, she should do whatever will bring her a measure of happiness at this point. The real damage is already done, the significant failure (or chance for success) is long past. What marital arrangements she makes this late in life is akin to arranging deck chairs on the already-sunk Titanic.

    And maybe that is advice for all of us? Rather than wondering how many polygamous wives (or husbands) we’ll be able to arrange on the head of a pin, once we’re in the Celestial Kingdom, perhaps we should all be more preoccupied with making sure we get there IN THE FIRST PLACE?

  76. Well said, JSBinDC.

  77. Daniel the Burnt Sienna says:

    Ah, JSBinDC, there’s nothing so refreshing as a firsthand perspective.
    On that note, my parents fall into the first category you mentioned, of time-only temple marriages. You’re right; their wedding could have taken place elsewhere, and I agree in that I would rather see people do those weddings at the church instead, to give non-member friends and family members some exposure to the Church.

    Perhaps the Church allows time-only temple marriages like my parents’ as a sort of consolation for the sad thought of both of their spouses having kicked the bucket?…

  78. Bob Caswell says:

    “What marital arrangements she makes this late in life is akin to arranging deck chairs on the already-sunk Titanic.”

    That’s a little bit of a harsh assessment of someone you don’t even know… Damage may have been done, yes, but this isn’t murder or denying the Holy Ghost. Let’s give the woman the benefit of the doubt instead of assuming there’s no hope.

  79. Daniel the Burnt Sienna says:

    True, Bob, but I see his point. Unless you have as a starting point this woman’s strong desire to do what is right and arrive at a decision that will produce maximum personal growth in the Gospel, it kind of doesn’t matter who or what she marries, does it?
    I know that sounds harsh, but I know what it’s like to evaluate dating/marriage partners with varying degrees of concern for their impact on my spiritual well-being; it has always depended on where I am spiritually and what I want Gospel-wise at the time I get to know the person.

  80. CoolFootLucy says:

    I might be a skeptic, but I do have a testimony, and I also know a “buy-your-way-into-heaven” lookalike when I see one.

    Attendance at time-only marriages in the temple depends on all the guests’ and the couple’s being able to pay tithing to enter the temple. Same with sealings in the temple.

    But who doesn’t want to be with their families forever? Whether because of lust, peer-pressure or indoctrination, we’re conditioned to want to marry in the temple at the exclusion of friends and family who don’t qualify. Convert families in the “mission field” are told that this is a sacrifice that will net them eternal blessings in heaven.

    But if “God is not a jerk” and “He will sort it all out in the next life” anyway, why should it matter where we marry as long as that marriage survives and children are raised in a happy, healthy environment?

    It seems that the (relatively) wealthy Mormons often set a double standard for ourselves. Full of bravado, we tell non-members and hopeful converts that if they wait until they can marry in the temple they’ll be better off than marrying a non-member. Yet in the good old USA, what’s the shelf life of an eternal marriage these days? Ten years? Twenty? There are so many single people in Sao Paulo or Trinidad or Mexico who feel they are committing some kind of sin if they marry *for the first time* outside of the temple, or to a non-member (because the prophets and missionaries said so) yet we Mormons in America marry, divorce, remarry, and pick and choose whether or not it’s in the temple. Some young people in these countries or in rural America are even counseled to break up with their significant others if they are not members of the Church. Yet a divorced Mormon in America has the luxury of marrying whomever s/he pleases. Why?

    And why aren’t the temple marriage rules and permutations discussed in the Ensign or in Conference? At least make it clear so everyone’s on equal footing.

  81. Bob, it is a bit harsh & stern what I said, I agree. More than I perhaps meant. This particular woman may be blameless for her marriage’s failure, but I think everyone can agree that divorce is ALWAYS a failure. It’s seldom helpful for outsiders to apportion blame for failed marriages on one party or the other. It’s probably none of my business what this woman or her husband might have done to avert the wreckage that has been created. I have my own plentiful failures and failings to contend with. (But on the other hand, it’s probably none of my business who this woman marries this time around either. So if I am going to comment on the suitability of her impending marriage, why not on the suitability of her prior one as well?)

    At any rate, no matter who is or is not to blame, divorce almost always seems to inflict significant spiritual harm. And tragically, the lion’s share of that harm falls on those who least deserve it.

  82. Daniel the Burnt Sienna says:

    Lucy- I’m not trying to pick on you, but what are we to make of this quote:

    Yet in the good old USA, what’s the shelf life of an eternal marriage these days? Ten years? Twenty?

    Are you implying that a majority of temple marriages have a “shelf life,” that they have an expiration (divorce)? Do you have some kind of data to support this? How common do you think divorce is in the Church? How common do you think bad marriages are in the Church?

    BTW, I served my mission in one of these underdeveloped South American countries you referred to, and I’ve never seen a difference between what is taught here or there about temple marriage.

    As far as tithing, it’s just one of many commandments discussed in the recommend interview; the fact that you zeroed in on it reveals much more about you than about the Church. If the Church is an evil for-profit institution that sells some promise of heaven, then there must be some beneficiary to this financial windfall. Who is in on this predatory conspiracy? If you can identify just one person whose financial situation is enhanced by an increase in tithing revenues, I’ll concede your point. In fact, I’ll concede your point if you simply take a guess that’s not completely silly.

    Wanting something to be so does not make it so.

  83. CoolFootLucy says:

    Tithing seems to be the only common denominator here. First polygamy is *required* for exaltation. Then it’s *being sealed to one spouse* (with a near-impossible “temple cancellation” clause). Now temple “cancellations” are handed out like candy (another commenter’s phrase, not mine) and are relatively easy to come by. IN my ward alone, there are more divorced/remarried couples than couples with their original spouses. But as long as they pay their tithing, God will beat them with a few stripes and they’ll be exalted at last.

    As for the teachings in other countries, most of my friends in South America would be surprised to know that there are many young couples who don’t have the “faith” enough required to marry in the temple first. Some of these are faithful women in their 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond who will never marry because they take temple marriage so seriously.

    But here, people don’t seem to. It’s just another place to get married.

  84. alamojag says:

    I was reading the D&C yesterday, and was stuck my the imagery of the language Joseph used–that of sealing being a “welding link” between generations. With this thread in mind, I imagined a tangled chain. When talking about who is going to be sealed to whom, the image to me was that that issue is one that will probably take some time to completely untangle, but the important thing is that each link in the chain be linked to SOMETHING, or in this case, to somebody. Will I want to be sealed to my wife in the next life? Certainly. Will she want to be sealed to me? Well, as has been said, “God is not a jerk,” but sometimes I am.

  85. CoolFootLucy says:

    If the important thing is that we are sealed in some form of a chain, why to spouses? Why to children? Why not do as the early Church leaders did and seal male friends to each other? Or our servants (housekeepers, anyone?).

    Why are we asked to make a commitment that expands to the eternities after dating someone for three months and marrying them after five? It’s really easy to judge couples who divorce when our marriages have eeeeettteeeernal significance, but what if people are generally goodnatured, if immature, and just do what seems right to them at the time? Why does it all have to be so complicated?

    In the (real) world, there are millions of happy marriages and even amicable divorces. People cut each other slack because we realize we’re all human. HOwever, in our search to become more-than-human, Gods, even–we go to the temple thinking that it has to last forever, even though we barely know the spouse to begin with.

  86. Daniel the Burnt Sienna says:

    Lucy, I know a lot of married people who are very happy in their often-difficult marriages; I’ve heard many of them say how instrumental their marriages, and the marital problems they’ve had to work through, have been in their spiritual development. It’s something they express in testimony, along with other spiritual truths they have come to know from personal experience.

    That said, what informs your tendency to minimize or ignore the adverse effects of divorce? Why do you personally feel a need to focus on the most confusing aspects of this doctrine and assert some kind of parity between temple marriages and any other relationships?

    What leads you in the direction you’re going intellectually, when so many other people arrive at completely opposite conclusions about all of these things? Do you have a different experience than they? A different set of facts? What have you experienced that they have not, and what do you know that they don’t?

  87. CoolFootLucy says:

    Quote: “Why do you personally feel a need to focus on the most confusing aspects of this doctrine…”

    Answer: Because that’s what this thread is about. Isn’t it confusing for a divorcee to have to worry about whether to marry someone she loves just because it won’t be in the temple? Why should she give it another thought?

    On second thought, Daniel, maybe you’re right. It is simple. Here’s the easy solution to all of this mess:

    a) Young and single? Marry whomever you love, wherever you’d like. Temple, chapel, back yard or front room. God is not a jerk. He’ll work it all out in the end.

    b) Young and divorced? Marry whomever you love, wherever you’d like. God is not a jerk. He’ll work it all out in the end.

    c) Older and never married? What are you waiting for? Marry a member, non-member, whomever, wherever, whatever. Just get started on a marriage journey. Especially since you might be too old to have kids anyway. Who cares. (Repeat after me, folks: God is not a jerk. He wants you to be happy…).

    d) Older and divorced or widowed? Marry whomever you love, wherever you want. God is not a jerk. He’ll work it all out in the end.

    So there you have it. Since God really is all-powerful, He’ll work things out in the end. I doubt He’s so petty as to restrict exaltation entrance to those who happened to continuously be blissfully in love. After all, if belligerent partners can be exchanged for more tolerable ones in the next life, as some suggest, why have the sealing ordinance in the first place? How much can it mean when it can be “cancelled” because two imperfect people divorce on earth?

    There’s no need to bother with marrying in the temple in the first place, or after a divorce, when Heavenly Father is so merciful and unjerklike as to grant us whatever we want in the next, including a more compatible model for eternity.

  88. Heck CFL, why get married? That’s just paper! Why get baptized? Meaningless! God’s a nice guy, he’ll make sure we’re taken care of.

    Your stance is unfortunately untenable and doctrinally unsound. That may, however, mean little to you, since God will work it all out in the end.

  89. CoolFootLucy says:

    Well, if you want to get technical…

    Only baptism into our religion is valid. No other baptism can get you into the Celestial Kingdom, and there is no other authority by which one can be legitimately baptised. No other church’s priesthood has that right or power. Heavenly Father does not accept other kinds of baptisms.

    Yet other churches, states, etc. have the power to marry people and God defers to THEM. He allows and accepts these marriages, when they’re nothing more than common-law marriages, doctrinally speaking.

    But, yes, you’re right: God will sort it all out in the end.

  90. alamojag says:

    This is a difficult issue, but there are some things that are so important that they must be done. Sealing is one of them. Sure, as CoolFootLucy says, God defers to marriages performed by other authority, but not for the sealing power. A common-law marriage is still a common-law marriage (interesting perspective, Lucy), and must be done with the proper authority.
    My best friend from my mission was killed in a car accident on the way to his wedding reception. What does his wife do, since they were only married (and sealed) for a few hours? Is it fair to her to be sealed to somebody she never shared her life with? I don’t know her, having lost all track in the more than 20 years that have past.
    On the other hand, is it fair to him to potentially lose a sealing simply because of the unfortunate timing of his death? Hard questions. But there is some comfort in knowing that a sealing has taken place, and even if she gets some kind of posthumous “unsealing”, he still did everything in his power to be obedient in his lifetime.

  91. This may seem too simple, but I think the key is the welding link that JS talks about. Ultimately it may not matter who we went through the sealing ordinance WITH, just THAT we went through it. The physical act may be useful for us in the way that rituals are: as mnemonic devices, as rites of passage, etc. The acts we go through in the temple, if repeated, become imprinted in us and I think that imprinting is important in our learning and development. Like the sacrament, as a repetetive ritual, slowly carves a space within our brains, so do temple ordinances. You could think that the ordinances we go through are meaningless essentially because God could render us clean from our sins without our being immersed in water; God could seal us without our going into the temple. But He knows that physical acts and shows of obedience can become powerful presences in the minds of those who do them. We are mortals and dwell in a physical world. God gives us physical ways of interacting with Him as a help to us. (I don’t know about you all, but I know that the physical presence of my temple garments has kept me from temptation more than once in a way that a covenant that I carry around only in my heart could; I am a weak mortal. Someday I will hopefully will not have to rely so much on the physical.)That is why it is possible, I think, to hold temple marriage and the like in high regard and make it a primary goal but to at the same know that God can pull some switcharoos later.

  92. Candellabra says:

    How can it not matter to whom we are sealed? Why don’t home teachers get sealed to their home teachees, then, or why don’t people just get sealed to each other on their 20th birthdays? Why is Sheri Dew still single, if she can just get sealed to Elder Scott any old time she wants and then divorce him and get married to a nonmember outside of the temple? If it doesn’t matter **to whom*** we’re sealed why is sealing a marriage and family ordinance????

  93. Candellabra,

    I must not have made my point very well. We are sealed in family units because we learn through being in family units things we perhaps couldn’t learn otherwise. The sealing we’ve gone through serves as a physical reminder of the promises we’ve made to our spouse and God. This physical reminder, if we take it seriously, can help us to be better covenant-keepers. But ultimately, this sealing is still a tool for us and not something that God can’t fiddle with later on based on choices made by those who have been sealed. This is kind of what I was trying to get at with my talk about physical reminders in my previous comment. I just didn’t go all the way.
    We don’t seal ourselves willy-nilly (though, it’s true, people did in the early Church) because the sealing isn’t ultimately the important thing; it’s the learning and growth that comes from the sealing.

  94. CoolFootLucy says:

    I’ve finally put my finger on the sealing issue and what bothers me. It’s so technical, and almost impersonal. Sometimes as LDS we like to make fun of, or at least refer to, other religions and their “vain repetitions”. Yet a ten minute ceremony sealing couples or families in the temple even though technically they’re NOT sealed (i.e. sealing has to be ratified by the holy spirit of promise) is supposed to have enough power to be eternally meaningful.

    IMO, it would be more meaningful if people got sealed after they’d been married for years, when they KNEW they wanted to spend eternity with each other, not just after a few weeks of necking and a hasty proposal when the semester is about to end or when the guy’s about to graduate.

  95. the sealing isn’t ultimately the important thing; it’s the learning and growth that comes from the sealing.

    So exactly what growth and learning is Sheri Dew missing out on, and all the other worthy singles who are doing great things with their lives and following God’s will for them?

    We are sealed in family units because we learn through being in family units things we perhaps couldn’t learn otherwise.

    Does that mean 99% of the good people of the earth who marry and have children don’t learn or grow very much from the experience? Because less than 1% of the world’s families are currently sealed. Those others may be in family units, but apparently they’d be learning and growing so much more if they were only sealed, whatever that means (it seems that none of us really knows!…even though we all purport to have a testimony of the sealing power).

    I’m with coolfootlucy in thinking that something is afoot.

  96. I don’t think those relationships are the primary object of the temple sealing, which, as I see it, only tells us that exaltation is ineluctably social.

    I also agree with this statement, and would take it quite a bit further: temple sealing is only about being in the same social club as the other elite church members.

  97. Here’s my own private sealing conundrum: When my wife and I got sealed in the temple, the sealer kept calling my wife Sharon by mistake (instead of Shannon). My older brother was one of the witnesses, and he tried to correct the sealer, but the sealer insisted that he’d said “Shannon” and kept on saying “Sharon.”

    It was pretty humorous at the time, but now I wonder: Are my wife and I actually sealed together? If not, are our children sealed to us? My wife’s maiden name is not uncommon; will I discover in the afterlife that I’m sealed to some chick named Sharon that I’ve never met before? And what if she turns out to be a terrible shrew? If, on the morning of the first resurrection, my wife finds out that she isn’t sealed to me, will she be relieved?

    I find it odd to be asking for information instead of offering it, but any wisdom that you BCC’ers can impart will be greatly appreciated by me and my family.

  98. Lurker Three says:

    Who do gay people get sealed to? Especially if they are converts and there are no other members of the church in their families?

  99. Arturo, you will not believe this, but the EXACT thing happened to me as well. My wife Sumer (pronounced “summer”) was referred to several times as “Misty.” Further, the sealer offered helpful tips on having a nice hot meal and a clean house waiting for me after work.

    No one bothered to correct him, poor soul. Now Misty and I enjoy connubial bliss!

    My take on the situation (joking aside) is that it doesn’t really matter, so long as the sealer was in fact referring to the couple in front of him. Now, if he had some other Sharon in mind for you, then come the afterlife, look out!

  100. No, God isn’t a jerk. He just has favorites. The ones he’ll surround himself with in the CK Upper Level are straight couples who have good social skills and are either in love with each other or just have great sex and don’t want to break up. The ones he likes the least are gays who can’t get sealed to anyone unless they become straight. Any other kind of couple–married too quickly but hate each other after 40 years; married and divorced; married and separated; divorced but no sealing cancellation–will just have to “trust he’s not a jerk” and “wait until the next life” to “see how it all turns out.” Ai yi yi.

  101. Arturo Toscanini:

    “… will I discover in the afterlife that I’m sealed to some chick named Sharon that I’ve never met before? And what if she turns out to be a terrible shrew? If, on the morning of the first resurrection, my wife finds out that she isn’t sealed to me, will she be relieved?”

    What does it say on your Sealing Certificate? You may want to make sure you keep it with you when you “move on”… ;)

  102. Arturo Toscanini:

    “… will I discover in the afterlife that I’m sealed to some chick named Sharon that I’ve never met before? And what if she turns out to be a terrible shrew? If, on the morning of the first resurrection, my wife finds out that she isn’t sealed to me, will she be relieved?”

    This actually doesn’t sound any more ridiculous than the current sealing practices and policies. Maybe you ARE sealed to someone else and just don’t know it…

  103. D. Fletcher says:

    I don’t know who D is, but D ain’t me, just making sure you all know this.

  104. Steve Evans says:

    D. Fletcher, no problem — that other D doesn’t hold a candle.

  105. B,

    You said: “So exactly what growth and learning is Sheri Dew missing out on, and all the other worthy singles who are doing great things with their lives and following God’s will for them?”

    I just want to say for the record that I am a single Mormon and often have very little hope that I will ever be otherwise. I think I am capable of a lot of learning and growth in various capacities. I am not capable, however, of the specific type of learning and growth that comes from living a joint life with another human being. Sometimes I think that this just plain sucks, and other times I rejoice in the different types of experiences I am blessed to have as someone who does not have the responsibilites of a family. I was not suggesting that people who have not been sealed can’t learn and grow, and I don’t know how you got that idea. I was saying that for people who are sealed in marriages, the sealing itself is not as important as what they do with it. I am in favor of sealings because I believe that making covenants through a temporal action that you can remember serves as a tool in helping you remember these covenants. This obviously does not always work, because people can choose to forget or not live up to these covenants. The act of sealing is for us; God will do with it what he will.

    You also said: “Does that mean 99% of the good people of the earth who marry and have children don’t learn or grow very much from the experience?”

    I don’t understand how you would think that I was suggesting this. This was a reply to a criticism of an earlier statement of mine; I had said that it didn’t as much matter who you were sealed to as that you were sealed (which I admit to not explaining very well) and somebody asked why then we don’t just get sealed to any old person. My reply was that we are sealed in family units because they offer a special type of learning and growth that God seems to value. Family units have the potential to offer growth and learning that God seems to value regardless of if they are sealed together; it is because of this potential that we are sealed in families. The sealing does not grant families this potential, though the sealing can indeed enhance it.

  106. Steve, that’s very funny. I guess with so many old geezers doing sealings, these kind of mistakes are rather common.

    There are, however, undoubtedly many instances where faulty genealogy has led people to be sealed together by proxy to people that they’d never met in mortality. I wonder if they get as big a kick out of flubbed up ordinances in post-mortality as we do here. (Idea for a bad Mormon joke: A spirit walks into a bar and says, “You’ll never guess who I just got sealed to…”)

  107. Bob Caswell says:

    “I find it odd to be asking for information instead of offering it…”

    Arturo-

    It’s ok, once in a blue moon, when you’re not the ultimate source of knowledge, you are always welcome to ask your questions here… :-)

  108. Daniel the Burnt Sienna says:

    In April 2001, Elder Scott said this:

    Throughout your life on earth, seek diligently to fulfill the fundamental purposes of this life through the ideal family. While you may not have yet reached that ideal, do all you can through obedience and faith in the Lord to consistently draw as close to it as you are able. Let nothing dissuade you from that objective. If it requires fundamental changes in your personal life, make them. When you have the required age and maturity, obtain all of the ordinances of the temple you can receive. If for the present, that does not include sealing in the temple to a righteous companion, live for it. Pray for it. Exercise faith that you will obtain it. Never do anything that would make you unworthy of it. If you have lost the vision of eternal marriage, rekindle it. If your dream requires patience, give it. As brothers, we prayed and worked for 30 years before our mother and our nonmember father were sealed in the temple. Don’t become overanxious. Do the best you can. We cannot say whether that blessing will be obtained on this side of the veil or beyond it, but the Lord will keep His promises. In His infinite wisdom, He will make possible all you qualify in worthiness to receive. Do not be discouraged. Living a pattern of life as close as possible to the ideal will provide much happiness, great satisfaction, and impressive growth while here on earth regardless of your current life circumstances.

    And in October 2003, Elder Packer said this:

    The great plan of happiness enables family relationships to last beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants, available only in the temple, make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally. Marriage, the family, and the home are the foundation of the Church. Nothing is more important to the Church and to civilization itself than the family!
    For some all is not complete in mortal life, for marriage and a family of their own have passed them by. But the great plan of happiness and the laws which govern it continue after death. Watched over by a kind and loving Heavenly Father, they will not, in the eternal pattern of things, be denied blessings necessary for their exaltation, including marriage and family. And it will be sweeter still because of the waiting and the longing.

    Elder Scott’s quote suggests that if you are unable to marry for one reason or another, you will experience comparable blessings of growth and development by doing the best you can to approach the ideal.
    Elder Packer’s quote seems to support the Borg theory, that things will work out and “it will be sweeter still because of the waiting and the longing.”
    There are some people for whom marriage comes very easily and naturally; other people (like me) wrestle with the process well beyond our twenties. I think I will be getting married in the next couple of years, and it will probably be “sweeter” to me than it was to my little brother, who had no problem marrying literally the first girl he met off his mission (they are still very happy). But I can also see how it would take a lot of faith to trust in what Elder Packer said for those who don’t realize marriage in this life.

  109. Now_I'm_Confoozed says:

    But what do those GA quotes mean for people who have never been married, or who have been married in the temple but are divorced and/or have received a cancellation of sealings? Are they also counseled to “live for…pray for…” marriage in the temple? Or like
    Bill’s mother–as everyone on this thread agrees–whould they just marry whomever makes them happy?

  110. Now_I'm_Confoozed says:

    Oops. Let me try again.

    But what do those GA quotes mean for people who have already been married, or who wilfully/purposefully marry outside of the temple without any reasonable chance of spouse conversion, or who have been married in the temple but are divorced and/or have received a cancellation of sealings? Are they also counseled to “live for…pray for…” marriage in the temple? Or like Bill’s mother–as everyone on this thread agrees–whould they just marry whomever makes them happy?

    If someone knowingly marries a non-member or someone who’s not temple worthy and then “lives for…prays for” the spouse to change, that’s already a recipe for disaster. We all know we don’t marry someone to change them.

    And in the case of Bill’s mother, she’s already had her “temple sealing.” The Church’s policy is to NOT cancel the sealing until a woman is about to remarry in the temple so she doesn’t lose her “sealing blessings” (whatever those are). So if she already has “sealing blessings” it doesn’t matter who she marries…at all. She already has all the ordinances she’ll need to be exalted. Case closed.

    So to recap:

    Singles need to hold out for marriage in the temple (even if they could be perfectly compatible with non-members) or if they don’t, they should compromise their relationships by praying for the spouses THEY CHOSE to join the church even if those spouses don’t want to.

    Those who have already married in the temple already have “sealing blessings” so it doesn’t matter who else they get married to.

  111. Bob Caswell: It’s ok, once in a blue moon, when you’re not the ultimate source of knowledge, you are always welcome to ask your questions here… :-)

    I thank you, Bob. And, what’s more, my family thanks you.

  112. An Onlooker says:

    Is the procedure more important then, than the temporal and eternal consequences of an action? At which point do we say “Heavenly Father will work it all out”? When we are young and dating? When we have divorced and made mistakes? When we’re inactive? When we’re coming back to Church? When we’re bored and tired? Why are there so many rules and outcomes for people in different circumstances? Why don’t they teach about these options in YW instead of insisting we **all** marry in the temple, especially since God will work it all out in the end?

  113. They don’t teach about all of these things because the ideal is temple marriage and people seem to be afraid of talking about confusion and contradiction with the youth of the Church.

  114. An Onlooker says:

    So then the question becomes, at which point (besides reading blogs, having conversations with more liberal Mormons, etc.) do people begin to learn and realize that there are many options, and [b]contrary to what is taught officially[/b] none of these options are critical to exaltation and they’re essentially/ecclesiastically meaningless because God is not a jerk and He judges the heart and not the ordinances?

  115. I guess when they develop their own personal relationship with God. Then they are beholden to something greater than just a church norm/structure and hopefully choose to try to be obedient to what God has asked them to do for their own sakes.

  116. An Onlooker says:

    Ah, but what ***has*** God asked us to do as a church? Marry in the temple? Everyone? Even if you’ve done it once (or twice) before and are now divorced?

    Either sealing is an exalting ordinance or not. It seems the contemporary Church doesn’t care whether or not it is; God will work things out because “God is not a jerk.”

  117. Arturo, re: your conundrum. At first, I thought you were joking, making a subtle but immensely clever point about worrying too much about forms and too little about principles. I realize now you were serious. But it reminded me of a point Joseph Smith made. I was just going to cite it, but I now think it would be edifying to quote it in full:

    “The idea that some men form of the justice, judgment, and mercy of God, is too foolish for an intelligent man to think of: for instance, it is common for many of our orthodox preachers to suppose that if a man is not what they call converted, if he dies in that state he must remain eternally in hell without any hope. Infinite years in torment must he spend, and never, never, never have an end; and yet this eternal misery is made frequently to rest upon the merest casualty. The breaking of a shoe-string, the tearing of a coat of those officiating, or the peculiar location in which a person lives, may be the means, indirectly of his damnation, or the cause of his not being saved. I will suppose a case which is not extraordinary: Two men, who have been equally wicked, who have neglected religion, are both of them taken sick at the same time; one of them has the good fortune to be visited by a praying man, and he gets converted a few minutes before he dies; the other sends for three different praying men, a tailor, a shoemaker, and a tinman; the tinman has a handle to solder to a pan, the tailor has a buttonhole to work on some coat that he needed in a hurry, and the shoemaker has a patch to put on somebody’s boot; they none of them can go in time, the man dies, and goes to hell: one of these is exalted to Abraham’s bosom, he sits down in the presence of God and enjoys eternal, uninterrupted happiness, while the other, equally as good as he, sinks to eternal damnation, irretrievable misery and hopeless despair, because a man had a boot to mend, the button-hole of a coat to work, or a handle to solder on to a saucepan.

    “The plans of Jehovah are not so unjust, the statements of holy writ so visionary, nor the plan of salvation for the human family so incompatible with common sense; at such proceedings God would frown with indignance, angels would hide their heads in shame, and every virtuous, intelligent man would recoil.” (TPJS, pp. 220-221)

    But the conundrum Arturo mentions is a perfect case that calls into question the meaning and purpose of any physical ordinance. For on the one hand, if we say that it is still valid, then at what point does an ordinance become invalid–and if there IS no point, when why bother with physical ordinances at all? But on the other hand, certainly not all the forms and procedures are completely proscribed–for instance, if one is baptized and has extra long fingernails that protrude during immersion, does the entire person go to hell, or just the fingernails?

    I don’t have the complete answer to this question, but the short answer is, this is why we have witnesses. There is certainly a minimum standard of proper performance, but I don’t know what it is. The witnesses are there, really, to make sure the ordinance is performed properly, so that if, years later, the person says, “I wasn’t really baptized,” or, “they did it wrong,” the witnesses can say, “no, it happened correctly” and reassure the person.

    So Arturo’s real problem is the witnesses didn’t do their job; they should have insisted the ordinance be performed properly. I think this is an important function because people anchor their faith to ordinances. Anything that damages that faith, from improperly executed ordinances or unworthiness of the person performing them, is damaging to the faith. In Arturo’s case, it is mild, and in the midst of this discussion about divorce, heartening. To hear some tell it, Arturo’s eternal marriage is well past its shelf life and instead of worrying that he’s going to be stuck with a total shrew, he should be hoping that “Sharon” is a Claudia Sheiffer lookalike with a heart of gold.

    You can always petition to have ordinances performed again, and whether to do so depends on how much your faith is being damaged on a daily basis.

    That’s not the ONLY reason why it’s important to perform ordinances properly and worthily. Every time I go to the temple I ponder anew the mystery of the connection between the immortal and the mortal, the spiritual and the physical. It’s a deeper mystery than I can fathom, why certain gestures and words performed in a certain way should matter. I suspect it may have something to do with the idea expounded in D&C 93:33, that spirit and matter are inseparably connected, and apart we cannot receive a fulness of joy.

    Though I don’t understand it fully, I do have a testimony that those physical ordinances ARE important and in fact essential.

  118. I think we’ve come to an impasse. I really don’t know what you think about this whole thing, and it seems like you’re just baiting me and I’m not in the mood. I have no idea why exactly God wants us to go to the temple for certain ordinances, because I do not understand the mind of God. I only know that I have had some of my more clear communications with God within the temple and therefore I am willing to believe the prophets when they say the temple ordinances have power. I think we learn what this power is for ourselves as we act and choose. And I really don’t believe such statements as “either sealing is an exalting ordinance or not.” It can be an exalting ordinance and be necessary, but God is the Exaltor and can supercede. For now, perhaps we are a bit like Adam who offered sacrifices before he knew what on earth they were all about. I am not going to pretend that all of this is easy for humans. I myself seriously doubt that I will be sealed to a spouse in this lifetime. I hope for that but if other things happen, I’ll figure out what it is God wants me to do.

    And I think the contemporary mainstream Church for sure thinks sealing is an exalting ordinance, without the number of caveats the people here at BCC would grant.

  119. JSBinDC, I actually was joking.

  120. AT — so the story didn’t happen to you after all?

  121. Jordan (private) says:

    re: comment 75- To “Private”: before you get your theological knickers too twisted about the injustice of your wife’s dad’s sealing blessings being revoked posthumously, you ought to check with your wife’s stepdad & mom to verify that the prior sealing was indeed cancelled. These sorts of things are hush-hush so I can understand why they were vague, but I have reliable reports of widowed female members getting sealed to subsequent spouses without cancelling their prior sealing.

    I know this thread is just about dead, but this is the first chance I’ve had since last week to check up on the discussion.

    First of all, know that my “theological knickers” aren’t getting twisted over this- I am just curious about what it all means.

    Second, I know for certain that the sealing was cancelled.

    And third, I do trust in the fact that “God is not a jerk” but still have to wonder what it all means, since it has been a concern of my wife for some time.

    Overall, I think the discussion here has been helpful in providing insight both to the original question and to my piggybacked question. Thanks!

  122. RE, God not being a jerk and working it all out in the end:

    We can always, especially if we are particularly smart but willfully blinkered, come up with reducto ad absurdum examples that make all this eternal marriage and sealing stuff seem a little silly.

    As opposed to starting with the ways eternal marriage might be a problem and then looking at its comcomitant difficulties, let’s instead start from the principles behind eternal marriage and the sealing covenants, and look for ways this might be helpful in this life as well as the next. For I believe that God operates in a way that maximizes our joy and growth in THIS life AS WELL AS the next. (DC 29:34, for instance.)

    It is both common sense and valid social science to say that children are best raised in an environment where parents are committed to each other and where the relationship is stable. It is less obvious, but shouldn’t be, that the parents themselves also fare better in such an environment.

    It should also be obvious, but isn’t always, that such stability is enhanced when the person you marry shares your faith and commitment. If it isn’t obvious when you get married, it will when you have children.

    Therefore, from a purely temporal point of view, your chances of having a happy marriage, and of building a stable environment to rear children within, are enhanced if the person you marry has demonstrated his or her commitment to that same ideal by having been endowed in the Temple and sealing the deal with a marriage covenant made in the same place.

    Does that mean that everyone who follows those procedures is going to have a happy and stable marriage? Of course not. I could hit half a dozen “eternally married” couples who aren’t worthy of the name with my empty Sacrament cup any given Sunday.

    I don’t know what advice to give someone who has little to no opportunity to marry someone like that, but is presented with plenty of honorable and enticing opportunities outside it. I *do* know that there is a lot of spectacularly bad advice being given in this Church by people who really don’t know what they’re talking about. Don’t get married, or fail to get married, just on someone else’s sayso. You’re the one who last to live with the person the rest of your life (and eternity!), for Heaven’s sake. Having just said not to follow anyone’s advice, my advice to a woman contemplating marrying a non-member is to consider carefully the man as he is, NOT as you hope him to be. To any man considering marrying a non-member, I say, do not assume that your spouse will be content with you staying in your faith once you are married.

    But Celestial Marriage is still an ideal, and a proper and useful ideal, I think. There are too many temple married people who are now divorced, but there are fewer of them than the national average.

    That’s why saying, “if it all works out in the end, why worry about what choices you make now” is a reducto ad absurdum. God gives us the ideals, and we aim for them as best we are able. Insofar as we strive for those ideals, we will grow and be blessed. When we fall short through our own mistakes, rather than seek to cover up or justify our sins (for instance, by pointing out how other people are even more hypocritical or messed up than we are), we should repent of them. If we haven’t had the opportunity to marry in the Temple, or aren’t capable of it yet, we can continue to grow and progress. The same thing goes if you’re married, really, since it is hardly the end of the road so far as spiritual progression goes. And if we are unequally yoked or abused or miserable, then that “best we can” may mean divorce, or it may mean growing and changing in ways that are frightening but necessary. Some, like Abraham, might be long dead before the promises made to them are fulfilled. Not fair, but hey, anywhere Abraham is, is pretty good company indeed.

    I think I just said the same thing Richard G. Scott did, only not as well.

  123. Ghostly figure says:

    There is no “magic” in “being sealed in the temple.” Wherever you are on that continuum, work towards a wholesome, integral family unit. The worst outcome of the “eternal marriage/sealing/must-marry-in-temple” directive is that some people just never get married (or think they are unmarriageable) because there is a lack of “worthy” and compatible partners for everyone, especially the older the singles become.

    There is no nobility in remaining single on principle. I have no idea why Sister Dew and others like her just don’t date nonmembers and start (or help rear) families since it’s *family* that’s so important, not remaining ice princes and ice princesses until death.

  124. So is it better to be single and lonely in life if there are no compatible LDS temple-worthy partners? This seems to be what the consensus is, unless one has married (i.e. sealed in the temple) at least once, and then the option is open to marry whomever makes one happy.

  125. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that if you can’t find a suitable Mormon partner, marrying a non-member who loves and supports you (and your activity in the Church) is preferable to the single life.

    I think there should be a cut off age of, say, 32, so that after age 32, you’re free to go explore the other fish in the sea if you haven’t met your eternal companion in the Mormon church.

  126. I think Pres. Hinckley has said something to this effect, for women only, though…

  127. It would be great if they said that in Conference or if it were in print somewhere. Too many people’s lives have been wasted being single for no reason (or the reason that they should marry in the temple or not at all so as not to forfeit “eternal blessings”).

    So I guess the theory is that after 32, you get sealed to someone and if that person doesn’t join the Church here or in the afterlife, you lose him and are “given” someone else in the Celestial Kingdom. Tough choice.

  128. Well, I don’t think it’s that tough of a choice, since we’re not exactly sure how these sealings and such will work after we die.

    However, practically speaking, there are lots of great non-Mormon guys out there, but it probably would be hard to find a guy in his late 20’s or 30’s who would respect a Mormon woman’s dating standards. No sex before marriage (that means no sex while engaged, either) is a pretty high standard.

  129. I think it becomes a tough choice when your patriarchal blessing says something about marriage within a temple. It’s hard to let something like that go. And definitely it’s hard to get a non-Mormon guy to even go on a date with you if he knows you don’t believe in pre-marital sex.

  130. I think it’s just as tough a choice (or actually worse) as Bill’s mother’s choice is. Here Bill’s mother–already sealed in the temple–has been agonizing over whether to marry a non-member whom she’s dated for years. And she HAS all her ordinances.

    Of course it’s a tough choice for an active LDS woman over say, 32 (why that age, btw?). I’m sure it’s hounded the Sheri Dews of the Church, who probably wish they’d thought to date outside the Church when they were younger.

    We who grew up in President Kimball’s generation learned early that *nothing* outside of temple marriage was ever acceptable, and there would be eternal consequences for those who didn’t have the faith to stay single until death if need be.

    But what wasted lives.

  131. I think it’s insulting to say that those people led/lead wasted lives. They led/lead lives of conviction and sacrifice. They made choices that you would not have made, but that doesn’t make them the wrong choices.

  132. Sorry. I guess wasted in the sense that depending what decade they were born in, the rules are different. If there is such a tacit or definite rule about single women over a certain age be having no stigma marrying outside of the Church, older singles who thought they were doing Heavenly Father’s will were cheated; they could have chosen differently and “filled the measure of their creation” so to speak.

    And I do think man was not meant to be alone, and it’s a waste to cloister oneself if there are wonderful people to marry “in the world” who they’re discouraged from dating or marrying.

  133. Seth Rogers says:

    A lot of you seem to be assuming that these still-single Mormon men and women would have been able to find a good spouse “if only the Church had allowed them to seek outside the faith …”

    That’s a pretty big assumption.

  134. Huh? You mean they’re unmarriageable losers or freaks? Of course not! It’s hard to find “worthy mates” in the Church, but there are thousands of suitable mates outside the LDS church!

  135. I think “thousands of suitable mates” might be a *bit* of an overstatement. Definitely, the pool of potential mates is larger once you get outside the Church, but that doesn’t mean they are suitable. It’s hard to find a good man these days (ask Carrie Bradshaw).

    Anyway, to Minerva’s point, I think we should respect the choices of those who remain single for whatever reason. Marriage may not be the right choice for everyone given the circumstances.

    32 was just an arbitrary age I threw out there. Don’t people start getting kicked out of singles wards at 32?

  136. I think it’s 30, but there are people still in singles wards at 40 and over. And there are singles wards in Salt Lake for the 40 and older crowd (never-married and divorced/widowed).

    What I’m trying to say is: just like the post-1980s Church where all of a sudden birth control is now okay, there’s a huge generation of women coming up for whom it is/will be no big deal to marry a non-member or marry outside of the temple first. Especially if there’s an over-32 or ”
    “whenever you get tired of being thought of as a spinster” rule. But people Sheri Dew’s age would never have dared to do that, because *they* were taught that wilful marriage outside the Church and especially outside the temple had/has eternal consequences.

    People in the 70s and before would never have dreamed of using birth control. It was considered almost as bad as abortion. Nowadays the only huge Mormon families are blended families. And there are people my parents’ age (seventies) who finally, are vocal about not knowing that they could have used b.c. and still been on God’s (or the Church’s) good side. They thought they’d be breaking temple covenants to not “multiply and replenish the earth” as much as they could. But now that’s changed.

    It’s the same principle. If there has been a policy change that reflects a doctrinal change, it would be nice if everyone knew, so people could get on with their lives. I still know single people who would love to get married but refuse to date non-members because “the GAs have counseled not to”.

  137. I realize that a lot of LDS singles (and divorcees and widows) are held hostage by the doctrine, and can understand why some choose to be single. Here are some situations I personally know of:

    1. A 24 year old widow who can’t find dates because guys in her age bracket want to be *sealed* to their wife first instead of getting married outside the temple. This may have changed, but when she was widowed it was not possible for her to marry someone else in the temple.

    2. Singles who go inactive for a time so that they can relax about some of the stress they get about needing to marry in the temple.

    3. Divorcees who worry about who their kids are sealed to.

    4. Divorcees who wonder why they’re still sealed to the person they’re divorced from! What does the ordinance mean if not “marriage”?

  138. These are interesting comments. In case any one is paying attention to this thread anymore, I’d like to hear an answer to #4 of that last post.

    Why is it that divorced couples are still technically “married” in the temple? A good friend of mine is in this situation right now. He was divorced from his first wife, and he remarried a few months later in the temple, but his first wife is still technically married to him, because she hasn’t gone through the sealing cancellation process. It has been about ten years since their divorce, and his first wife is still sealed to him. I’m not sure if she’s still active in the church, so she may not care enough to go through the process to cancel her temple marriage, but it’s a strange situation to be “married” to someone you have been divorced from for 10 years.

    And I hear it’s different for women, that they can’t get married to another man in the temple without cancelling the sealing, but the man can get married in the temple with a “clearance”. Is it harder to get a cancellation? It seems like it would be, but why this difference between men and women?

  139. anonymous says:

    My parents were sealed in the temple. They later divorced. My father was excommunicated. He is no longer sealed to anyone. My mother applied for a cancellation and was denied and told to reapply if and when she wished to be sealed to someone else, but that in the meantime, although she is not sealed to my father, she is sealed to a generic “worthy priesthood holder”.

  140. A Nonny Mouse says:

    But what happens when the divorced spouse *is* worthy (i.e. not excommunicated, disfellowshipped, still a priesthood holder)? And how can someone be sealed to “a generic person”?

  141. A Nonny Mouse says:

    Now this really gets complicated. If a woman is sealed to a generic person because her husband was excommunicated, (1) what happens if her husband is rebaptized? Does he automatically reassume the “husband” position? Does he have to remarry her, or can he still be considered her eternal companion? (2) if she marries a worthy temple holder and has to cancel her sealing to Nobody first, does that Nobody to whom she’s sealed just disappear into a black hole? (3) Don’t two people have to agree to a sealing and go through the sealing ordinance together? How can someone be sealed to a Nebulous Other without (a) knowing who that person is and (b) consent? oh, and (c) being sealed to her himself?

  142. Well, no wonder why there is so much secrecy around what happens in the temple. It’s hard to make sense out of any of this, so I guess it’s better to tell people just not to talk about it, rather than go around confusing everyone even more.

    I wonder what percentage of the Mormon population knows or cares about this stuff. It’s disturbing to me, but I guess most people just don’t worry about it and take it all on faith that it will work out in the end.

  143. It’s always pounded into our heads about how important the ordinances are but I’d love to just once see an article in the Ensign magazine outlining all the challenges and circumstances about temple marriage. Too many people are blindsided and IMO it contributes to people going inactive, leaving the Church, feeling cheated/lied to or just plain confused and wondering whether the Church is just making up rules as it goes along.

  144. It’s not just the ordinances that are baffling. Most things about the gospel that just don’t make any sense at all when you think about them. Let’s choose something simple, like the fact that mortals will live alongside resurrected beings during the millennium. This will make it almost impossible for mortals to obtain gainful employment, since resurrected beings won’t need sleep, health care, or sick days, and they won’t apply for workmen’s comp or need to retire. If individuals grow up as mortals and then get twinkled upon death, will the millennium make mortality into an extended adolescence? And then what will happen to its probationary value?

    Temple ordinances are just the tip of the iceberg, folks.

  145. It’s not just temple ordinances that boggle the mind. Very few things in the gospel make much sense when you think about them. Take, for example, the fact that mortals will live alongside resurrected beings in the millennium. This cannot possibly work. Just to chose a simple problem, there will be no way for mortals to obtain gainful employment, since resurrected beings won’t require health insurance, workman’s comp, sick days, retirement benefits, etc. Will this cause mortality to become an extended adolescence? And if so, what will be the probationary value.

    Temple ordinances are just the tip of the iceberg, folks.

  146. A Nonny Mouse says:

    It’s all well and good for things we have no control over or things we don’t choose to do not to make sense, but when the Church expects people to live worthy of a recommend, make an appointment at the temple to get sealed to someone without even knowing what “sealing” really means–especially since it’s probably only the top 15 who know about all the different issues about cancellations/divorces/clearances, etc.–that’s a different thing entirely.

    It’s not analagous to the futuristic 1,000 years of peace or the afterlife from which no-one but Noah/John the B. et al have returned.

    In the case of marriages, we’re talking about the act of committing to another person and to a principle that has repercussions into eternity. Not to know how it all works and what happens if the marriage fails is not ethical.

  147. I don’t think the church is making up the rules as it goes along, but it would be nice to see what the rules are. Maybe they are in the Handbook? Maybe these rules should be explained to people in a temple prep or marriage prep class.

    I think even if we know what the rules are, there has to be some room for the GA’s or sealers or whoever is in charge to exercise their discretion as guided by the Spirit and based on the particular couple or person.

    It’s strange that this Church is founded upon personal revelation, but the culture is all about rules and fitting into a “one size fits all” approach to the gospel. I’ve never been able to figure that out.

  148. A Nonny Mouse: In the case of marriages, we’re talking about the act of committing to another person and to a principle that has repercussions into eternity. Not to know how it all works and what happens if the marriage fails is not ethical.

    Not ethical? Surely this is an overstatement. Every morally significant act you take has eternal consequences. Do you expect all of these consequences to be explained to you? Is it unethical that we don’t understand the eternal consequences of taking the sacrament vs. not taking the sacrament weekly? The point isn’t that the sacrament is like marriage. The point is that none of the gospel–not one bit of it–makes any sense once you start considering the impact outside of mortality as we know it. You’re straining at gnats here.

    Moreover, if you expect the gospel to make much sense at all, then you’re setting yourself up for a lot of dissapointment.

  149. A Nonny Mouse says:

    Of course I expect things of eternal significance to make sense. Why else do prophets tell old Mormon spinsters to hold out to the next life to marry? They stress that “no blessing will be denied” those who don’t marry in the temple. So these women go to their deaths never waking up with a spouse, bearing children, or other things. According to the GAs *this makes sense* because the opportunity cost warrants such a sacrifice.

    And people make marriage decisions based on teh idea that being married for all eternity *makes sense*. This is the point.

  150. If it doesn’t make sense, people (like Bill’s mom or singles who don’t want to remain abstinent for the rest of their lives) should just marry outside the temple if they feel like it and let God take care of things.

    It obviously doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. What’s that rule called again–you know, where the simplest of the options is usually correct?

  151. My Opinion says:

    My opinion?

    The Church realized that with more and more people getting divorced, they’d have to find ways to appease tithe-paying, temple-going members who they might lose to inactivity, discouragement or worse. So they started gradually by:

    1. In the early 80s allowing women whose husbands weren’t members to get their endowments. This had never been done before, but it helped convert women and women who just wanted to marry outside the Church to retain ties to the temple. The Church wins by keeping a faithful female member and maybe gaining a convert.

    2. Then in the early 90s the temple covenants were softened to appease sensibilities of (primarily female) members who didn’t want to promise to “obey” their husbands.

    3. Then sometime after that the rules of temple divorces, sealings, etc. started to materialize. Before the 1990s it was understood that your eternal family was in jeopardy if you didn’t live up to your covenants. Now, you can appeal for this or that and never have to bat an eye over your “eternal family unit.”

    4. The lawsuit that enabled people resign from the Church instead of being excommunicated. Interesting question: does the Church see these people as still having these “sealing blessings”?

    5. Finally, women are allowed (after their own deaths) to be sealed to all the husbands to whom they were married in life. No more fear about marrying outside of the temple, because in this scenario, the woman can pick her favorite to live with eternally.

    All of these changes have only caused more problems for members on this side of the veil. Children who don’t know who they’re sealed to (and leaders who give different answers), people who serially divorce and still have “sealing” ties to the people they’re divorced from, single people who see all of the craziness and just marry outside of the church anyway since the divorced people seem to have an advantage and it makes no sense to be a martyr.

    LOLOLOL. Whatever happened to “whatever shall be bound on earth shall be bound in heaven?”

  152. The sad truth is that most people woouldn’t pay tithing if their temple recommends didn’t require it. And you can’t be sealed to your loved ones forever and ever without going to the temple (and being temple worthy by paying tithing).

    A lot of people are peer-pressured into temple marriage, temple worthiness, etc. A lot of other people truly want to do what they feel the Lord requires of them by marrying in the temple, making sure that everyone in the family stays temple worthy, etc.

    But life happens, people aren’t perfect, and sometimes couples divorce. Who’s to say who’s sealed to one another, if sealings can be invalidated by unworthiness, divorces, death and remarriage, a corpse not coming out of the grave when called.

    Maybe only those who’ve had their calling and election made sure and their second anointing ordinances are the ones who are “really” sealed. Maybe the sealing ordinances don’t really kick in until then. Is that’s what’s called the Holy Spirit of Promise?

  153. Occam’s Razor: when you have two competing theories which make exactly the same predictions, the one that is simpler is the better.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occam's_Razor

  154. Eureka: “The sad truth is that most people woouldn’t pay tithing if their temple recommends didn’t require it.”

    That’s not just unsupportable, that’s a horrible presumption to make. I deny that statement.

  155. Well, at the risk of being too cynical, I think Eureka is onto something. Some people need a more tangible reason to pay tithing than the fire insurance theory (or that it is one of God’s commandments).

    It would be interesting to see just how many people continued to pay tithing if it were not a requirement to get into the temple. I’m sure many people would be tempted to fudge a little on their 10% number – if not stop paying outright.

    As it is, I agree with Steve – it’s an unsupportable conclusion to say that *most* people wouldn’t pay tithing if it weren’t a temple recommend issue. I don’t agree that it’s a horrible presumption to make, though. Money is very important to people, and if there were any way to rationalize not paying their fare share, many people would take it. As it is, the Church is clear. You need to pay your tithing to be worthy to go to the temple. No ifs, ands or buts.

  156. Eureka The sad truth is that most people woouldn’t pay tithing if their temple recommends didn’t require it.

    People sacrifice and give a great deal in the church, and almost none of it depends on getting a temple recomend. People do their home teaching. People do their visiting teaching. People magnify their callings. None of this is required to obtain or to keep a temple recommend.

    If tithing weren’t required, some would stop paying a full tithe because it would be easier for them to rationalize. But I think that one can make a reasonable case that most people would continue to pay it.

  157. Right on, AT.

  158. How much does it cost to go HT/VT these days? And how good are the percentages in YOUR ward?

  159. That’s a specious comparison at best. Are you really arguing that the only commandments mormons keep are the ones that can keep them out of the temple?? You’re better off sticking with the rest of your comment and abandoning your earlier assertion, IMO.

  160. Not trying to be specious. The comment was made that people make all kinds of sacrifices, such as home teaching and visiting teaching. My comment was intended to show that these programs don’t have a money-sacrifice component the way tithing does. I stick by my opinion, and you obviously have a right to yours.

    People obey commandments all the time for all kinds of reasons; some good and some bad. When people are kept from marrying in the temple or witnessing their loved ones’ weddings in the temple, you bet they’re going to pony up the cash. Have you never heard people say “I’d better get current on my tithing so I can attend so and so’s wedding?” I have.

  161. Money is different. Asking someone to give their time to go Home Teaching is easy – you go whenever you can find the time – and your temple recommend isn’t going to be taken away if you don’t go. If Home Teaching *were* a requirement, then you can be sure that it would get done a lot more readily than it is now.

    Therefore, I agree with Eureka’s general point that many people wouldn’t pay their tithing if they didn’t have to. Most people are lazy and selfish. Even Mormons. They aren’t going to do something that doesn’t benefit them directly and immediately unless they have to. And they are going to do the bare minimum to get by. Asking people to give up money that they would rather spend on their families or themselves is asking people to make a huge sacrifice.

    I think there needs to be a tangible reason to pay tithing, or people wouldn’t pay. Then the Church wouldn’t have enough money to build the kingdom. What’s so offensive about that?

  162. Eureka’s initial point was that most people wouldn’t pay their tithing if it weren’t required for a temple recommend. This is very different from saying that many people would stop paying their tithing. We can debate over how many people might quit paying tithing (and never arrive at an answer), but I think that one can make a reasonable case that it would not constitute a majority.

  163. I didn’t go to the temple for a long time for other reasons, but I kept paying my tithing all the way through. I have never thought of tithing as my admission price to the temple. So I’m one example against Eureka’s assertion.

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