Our belief that a husband and wife may be sealed together in their marriage relationship for all eternity is one of our major selling points as a religion. This is sort of one of those Truman Madsen “Are Christians Mormon?” things, in that many average Christians believe that their marriage relationships will continue in some sense in heaven, even if that runs counter to official dogmatic theology. This is one of our selling points.
And it’s a really great concept if a man and woman live a long, happy marital life together. In that context the idea works great.
But of course many relationships don’t turn out that way. Remarriage and the specter of celestial polygamy is one issue. But I’m thinking more of cases of divorce or abuse or other such situations, where you really don‘t want to be bound to that person for ever and ever.
And my understanding is that in the contemporary church, generally the institution is loath to undo those sealing ties. If you’re a sealed but divorced woman, unless you have another marriage/sealing in the hopper, you’re unlikely to get a cancellation of your existing sealing. Usually the idea I hear expressed is that it’s not important to whom you are sealed, only that you are sealed. Any sealing is the important thing. And I have some questions about that:
1. Was the idea that any sealing is important, not specifically to whom you are sealed, the way this was understood historically, or is that a recent doctrinal innovation?
2. I’ve heard the expression that one is “sealed into the covenant”; what does that even mean?
3. We’re told not to worry about this stuff, that God will work it all out, that there’s no way we’ll be unhappy with the situation in heaven. But if I’m a woman who has suffered abuse from a husband, I’m thinking that is kind of cold comfort. In that situation our idea of temple sealings turns from a feature into a bug, does it not? I wouldn’t want to be tethered forever to my abuser, and the rhetoric we toss around to ameliorate that situation doesn’t strike me as really resolving the issue adequately.
What I’m getting at is that when things are going well and we’re happy with the spouse, then we conceive of a sealing as a joining of us together as a couple for eternity. And that’s great. But when things don’t go well, instead of breaking that offending seal we want to keep the seal in place but redefine it, as somehow amorphously binding us to the City of God and not specifically to a former spouse. And I don’t really understand what we mean by that, and were I in that position I’m not sure I’d find that rhetoric at all comforting.
In other words, this is an issue I don’t feel I understand, and so I’d like for you to school me on this if you would.