Reader Question Box #2: “do mormons consummate their marriage in the temple”

Reader Question Box is a series where we answer questions that show up in our website traffic monitoring statistics. These are actual Google search terms that led people to us. Copious oddities are to be found in the search term logs, and some worthwhile questions. (Series introduction)

This is temple misinformation edition!

Question: “do mormons consummate their marriage in the temple”
Answer: No. Heck no. However, sometimes, as a result of nothing more than the hopeless naivete of some among us, we have been known to report a wedding being performed/officiated in the temple as having been “consummated” in the temple. Yes, we can in fact be that cluelessly naive.

Question: “manti temple hidden tomb”
Answer: You heard it here first, folks!

Question: “deragatory morman names”
Answer: Ironic misspelling award.

Question: “mocktails for kids”
Answer: No. Just no. What’s wrong with apple juice from a juice box? Whoever thought this is a cute idea is probably the same kind of person (a terrible one) who thinks high heels for babies and padded bras for 8 year olds are good ideas.

Question: “lds ward clerk sit on the stand”
Answer: How fantastic would it be if this question is coming from a newly-called ward clerk who aspires to puff himself up by sitting on the stand? No. Clerks do not sit on the stand. If you would like more beat-down, we have an entire thread devoted to demoting clerks and secretaries.

Question: “man is nothing which thing i had never supposed”
Answer: Dear reader, while I applaud your feminist awakening, that’s just a little harsh, don’t you think?

Question: “can mormons become masons?”
Answer: Dear reader, The church teaches that any honest work is pleasing to the Lord (except perhaps wine critic, which stirred up quite a debate). I see no reason why bricklaying and other construction jobs would be inappropriate for Mormons. (Update: here’s a non-cheeky answer, and a whole post/thread about the issue, if anybody actually wants to know.)


  1. I have seen ward clerks sit at the table on the reverse side of the room from the sacrament table. Not exactly on the stand with the bishopric, but at the front nonetheless.

  2. Kristen Says No says:

    #1 — Yeah, me too. All growing up I thought it was official.

  3. I’ve been a ward clerk where the Bishop asked me to sit weekly on the stand (opposite the sacrament table) and take attendance number from there. It’s the only ward in the 7 I’ve been in where that’d been done. (Not counting on my mission — I can’t remember those sacrament meetings well enough to say.) I hated doing it, but hey, Bishop’s call…

  4. When my husband was the clerk, the bishop asked him to sit on the stand to do the count and to catch him before he missed sustaining a calling or announcing a release.

  5. I recently attended a ward in rural Utah where the clerk sat on the stand behind the sacramnet table. It kinda made me feel a little nostalgic.

  6. When I became clerk I was asked to consummate my calling on the stand… wait…

  7. Clerks sitting opposite the sacrament table << deacons carrying the microphone to people who can't be bothered to walk to the pulpit on F&T days

  8. When I was much younger, it seemed like my dad was always the ward clerk, and the custom at the time was for the clerk to sit on the stand. That was fine until one day, the speaker in Sacrament meeting looked to my father for support for a point he was making. Poor dad was out cold, head back, mouth open. Mom was mortified.

    My patriarchal blessing said something about consummating my marriage in the temple. Never happened. We couldn’t figure out the logistics to make it work.

  9. What would a derogatory Mormon name be? Lemuel? Gadianton? Peter Priesthood?

  10. High heels for babies? Yuk. At least not for boys.

  11. I think the consummations in the temple goes back to the antis who used to say that we had orgies and the like in the temple. Considering those who work there, eeww!

  12. Derogatory Mormon names brought to mind Oral Roberts Smith, Pat Robertson Pratt, or Jerry Falwell Young.

  13. At my sealing, the sealer gave my wife and I the most beautiful candlestick salad.

  14. “can mormons become masons?” Do you think they meant masons as in “masonic order” or am I just stating the obvious?

  15. Bro. Jones says:

    Serious question: given the photos we’ve seen of the FLDS temple in Texas that DOES show beds…do they, uh, consummate their marriages in the temple?

  16. StillConfused says:

    #13 FTW!!!

    I always wondered what “solemnizing” a marriage in the temple means. Perhaps you smarty-smarts can enlighten me on that.

    I have always wondered if women can become masons… or if that is a guy only thing. I would take up brick laying just so I could join the masonic order.

  17. observer fka eric s says:

    @11 Jacob – Ahhhhh, those were the days! Stoopid antis ruin everything.

  18. My daughter just told me about a friend who was told unequivocally that “Mormons have sex in front of their parents on the altar” right after they are married.

    I also have a friend who freaked out her brother before he went to the temple for the first time by telling him not to ride the goat, to ignore the naked people and not volunteer to be the virgin. She didn’t correct herself until they were entering the temple.

    #16 – I tend to tell my wife jokes in church that I have to whisper, so I’m not sure we’ve solemnized our marriage yet.

  19. Sorry to have a serious comment, but I met a woman on my mission who was part of the Evening Star, I think it was called, which is the female part of Masonry.
    Yeah, my temple experience wasn’t nearly as cool as the antis made it out to be.

  20. When one of my mission companions was going through the temple for the first time, a temple worker came to him while he was in the celestial room and told him he needed to go to the sealing room to get sealed to his wife. All his life he had been told that the temple is “sacred not secret” and he had noticed that return missionaries always seemed to get married really soon after they came home (back in those days anyway). So for a moment he thought he was going to be sealed to some woman he didn’t even know. He said that he practically blurted out “But I supposed to go on my mission!” Turns out there was another guy with the same last name going though for the first time too and he was the one getting married. The temple worker saw his name tag and naturally assumed he was the one getting married.

  21. A Sister in my ward who had previously worked in the St. George Temple told me that there were a few rooms in the temple where people could stay after being sealed. This was back in the day when people had to travel long distances to get married so they wouldn’t have to find somewhere to stay the night.

    Can anyone confirm this story??

  22. I hadn’t seen a clerk on the stand for years and years, but recently went to a baby blessing in another city and saw the clerk up there at the clerk table (some old buildings have those), looking very important and pretending to take attendance and remote-desktop with MLS while, surely, playing Angry Birds.

  23. Oh. The second sentence of my last comment is referring to #17.

  24. mapman, I seem to remember hearing the same thing about the Logan temple.

  25. observer fka eric s says:

    Stuff like this may have something to do with the perpetuation of temple “consumation” rumors:

  26. #21 A few years ago I made a similar comment on a blog. We had just visited the St George visitors center days before and been told that story by a elder couple. Ardis Parshall responded saying there were no such accommodations. She’s the historian so I defer to her. If in fact there weren’t rooms available that is a story that doesn’t want to die.

  27. Someone once asked me about the “orgies” in the temple.
    I told him, “If that was true, I wouldn’t be out here talking to you.”

  28. MikeInWeHo says:

    The father of a friend of mine was president of the Salt Lake temple years ago. His parents lived in a small apartment inside the temple, and sometimes he would stay with them (he had a TR in those days). So there are (were?) beds, hypothetically, in some temples.

  29. Mommie Dearest says:

    Eastern Star is the women’s auxiliary of Masonry. Evening Star is the name of various and sundry businesses. ;-)

  30. Researcher says:

    Since I was just yesterday looking up some dates associated with the history of the St George Temple, I saw this at the major website for information about temples:

    “The battlements that surround the St. George Utah Temple once functioned as chimneys for numerous narrow rooms that lodged traveling guests.”

    I’m not sure what is meant by “battlements” and no sources are listed for the information. So: urban legend, or did the young couples traveling the Honeymoon Trail from Arizona really stay in on-site housing while they were in St George?

  31. Velikiye Kniaz says:

    The “battlements”, a.k.a. crenelations, are the castle-like termination of the walls of the pioneer temples. Rising slightly above the notched main walls of the Temple itself are the finial capstones that top the buttresses that add strength to the long walls of the temple. I believe that two of them on the north and south elevations of the Salt Lake Temple once were used as chimneys, but I have never heard of overnight accomodations in any of the temples, pioneer or later. Keep in mind that a building the size of any pioneer temple would have taken many coal/wood stoves to adequately heat the interior in the winter. The use of these buttress finials as chimneys would be a practical solution. From the journal histories that I have read, prospective newlyweds would find accomodations either with friends, relatives, the relatives of friends, or at a local inn or hotel. In pioneer Zion, accomodations could always be found among the Saints, however modest. I have never come across any mention of, “Sure looking forward to spending my first night before our wedding with LaVar in the temple!” What the purpose of those ‘many rooms’ could well be for were as offices for the Temple Presidency, the Stake President and the members of the High Council. The Salt Lake Temple has/had rooms for offices for the First Presidency, and I believe the members of the Quorum of the Twelve. I don’t know if they are used today. President Lorenzo Snow, refers to his office in the Temple, when he, as First Counsellor in the First Presidency, went there to put on his Temple robes and pray for President Woodruff’s recovery so that the Mantle of the Prophet might pass by him.

  32. I had a roommate at BYU who thought marriages were consummated in the temple. It fully explained why she was so nervous about the whole thing! (Don’t worry, we set her straight on the matter.)

  33. Thank you for the correction, Mommie Dearest. :) I was on my mission quite a while ago.

  34. Kevin Barney says:

    Mike #28, my recollection is that they didn’t actually live in the small apartment. It was there for them to be able to rest or take a nap. But yeah, there was a bed there, so who knows?

  35. Just when I start to think I’ve heard it all…

  36. Re: 28 & 34, We were given a private tour of the SL temple a few years ago and shown where the private quarters of Lorenzo Snow were which are now offices – but it was explained to us that for a while it looked a lot more like an apartment inside the temple and that Snow had lived there for quite some time. It still looks pretty cozy.

  37. Re: 36 — Yes, I’ve seen that room and heard the same about Lorenzo Snow.

  38. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 34 Our mutual friend remembers spending the night in there with them.

  39. “Someone once asked me about the “orgies” in the temple.”

    Me too. I responded, “Have you *seen* temple workers?! The average age is 73!”

  40. Kevin Barney says:

    No. 38, how cool would that be to spend the night in the SL temple?

  41. VeritasLiberat says:

    “do mormons consummate their marriage in the temple”

    I heard that this rumor got started because some little old lady tour guide confused the word “consecrate” with a similar word. :-)

  42. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 40 Maybe it fills up with dancing angels or something, kind of like the exact opposite of the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. Definitely something supernatural.

  43. I have been asked if Mormons are allowed to remove their garments in order to have sex. short answer…absolutely. facepalm. sigh.

    This was asked by a family member who had left the church in her teens and had talked with a now ex mormon sister who obviously either was confused or haivng fun with her sister.

  44. Nick Literski says:

    If you read the diaries of John D. Lee during the initial operation of the Nauvoo Temple, you’ll find that dancing and post-wedding parties were sometimes held in the Nauvoo Temple at night, and some attendees did go off into the side rooms to sleep, rather than walking home at midnight or later. (This also happened when Mormon leaders were acting as temple workers, with ordinance work taking place late into the night, btw.) Brigham Young was not pleased with how some of these people were behaving, and spoke of proper order. One of his complaints was about men “toying with their women.” While we can’t be certain what he was speaking of, I think it’s fair to say he may have been referring to sexual behavior taking place.

  45. Nick Literski says:

    I hit “post” too soon. My point was that this may have given rise to some of the “consummation in the temple” rumors.

  46. observer fka eric s says:

    @45 What is even more interesting about those times is that the WOW was still “counsel” status, and not a temple requirement. So I speculate whether there was booze involved. Hmm.

  47. @#18- We had some fun with my sister before her first time in the temple also. My brother told her to try not to laugh when she was naked on the donkey. He actually had her freaked out for a minute before some one set her straight.

  48. The LA temple worker’s locker room has two beds, at least on the women’s side. As several of you have pointed out, temple workers are really old, and sometimes they get tired and need to rest. I was suffering from a degenerated hip and on pain meds and sometimes I opted for a nap instead of lunch. When the stuff about the FLDS came out, I wondered if that is what their beds were for. #47’s brother ought to be slapped, but then I’m an old fuddy duddy.

  49. re: #20

    When I went through the SL temple for the first time the temple workers tried very hard to find my husband-to-be so he could take me through the veil. Apparently it was just too strange a concept that a woman might go through the temple just to go through, with no husband or mission waiting on the other end.

  50. The clerk used to sit on the stand because he needed to take notes and then send them to Church Headquarters in SLC. Today, all that is recorded is that a sacrament meeting was held. I have not seen a clerk on a stand in any of the wards in which I have attended in recent years.

  51. That’s interesting, Bruce! Thanks for the historical tidbit.

  52. StillConfused says:

    So I attended church in Vernal Utah today. It had the clerk’s table up on the stand. But in lieu of the clerk was a flower arrangement. (It was a small ward so maybe the flower arrangement was the clerk). But also, their sacrament table was on the left side (facing the stand). It seems like the older churches had the sacrament table on the left side and now they seem to be going more to the right side. Is there any significance in that?

  53. That’s one thing i love about church architecture. It has a memory that we as a people sometimes don’t have.

  54. Left Field says:

    I think the clerk’s desk has gone the way of the seventies’ bookstore, sacrament tables in the Junior Sunday School room, and filmstrip projectors in the library.

  55. I haven’t paid attention, really, since I moved to this general area, but in the ward I left just over a year ago, the clerk would walk down the aisles counting people – So if there’s a church-wide change to not counting people, it has been within the last year. Also, I thought that the money each ward got was according to their sacrament meeting attendance. How would they know if they didn’t count anyone?

  56. Left Field says:

    As far as I know, walking down the aisles to count noses is still standard operating procedure churchwide. But up until 25-30 years ago, the clerk also sat at a desk on the stand taking minutes through the meeting. I think he was supposed to record who gave the prayers, announcements, ward business, speakers, hymns, people who gave testimony, attendance, etc. I’m not sure if he made a summary of the content of sermons or who blessed and passed the sacrament. Any old clerks out there who can report? Perhaps Ardis has seen sacrament meeting minutes in church archives and can inform us of their content.

  57. That’s pretty much it, Left Field, except that they didn’t summarize sermon content, just the names of the speakers. The minutes are exceptionally sterile (in days past they were much more informative). I haven’t made a particular note of the date this changed, but suppose it occurred in about 1972 when they stopped recording the names of priesthood holders who performed ordinances and most other local detail. After recognizing the loss of 30 years of that kind of thing they’ve started recording some things again, but I don’t know what level of detail is gathered for current sacrament meeting minutes.

  58. I love it when commenters take a completely flippant post of mine and manage to make something informative and thoughtful out of it!

  59. #54 Our building has a sacrament table in the primary room, with a podium in the center and the piano on the other side. But, sadly, we do not have a clerk’s desk in the chapel.

  60. Cynthia, your post did not sound flippant to me. I consider myself reasonably informed about matters LDS, but I too had assumed that marriages were indeed consummated in the Temple (I think having read it somewhere). I assumed there was some important reason for this. In Catholic tradition, you are not really married until the moment you have sex (up to that point an annulment is easily obtained), so I naturally assumed that for LDS, especially given the importance of an eternal marriage and the ensuing very awkward limbo of already-sealed not-yet-consummated status it seems logical not to let any time pass between these two events. It would not have been irrational in polygamist times to need to establish unequivocally who was legitimately married to whom.

    In hindsight, I think maybe the scene in Dances With Wolves where Kevin Kostner gets married and then walks directly into the teepee with old women gathering around it listening probably contributed to this misconception. In any event, I love the idea of debunking search queries. I suspect most were made sincerely by people too embarrassed to ask.

  61. Thanks, Dan. The last two items were really the flippant ones. I was definitely playing silly with those.

    But I did suspect the first one is one that might actually be a point of confusion for some people. It should be noted that from what I understand (I haven’t been following it closely) it came out during Warren Jeffs’ trial that he did actually consummate his marriages in that temple they built in Texas. So that might get many people googling to see if that is just Jeffs being wacko (yes) or also part of the LDS practice (no).

  62. Left Field (#56), I was in a young single adult ward with a older (non-single) ward clerk who sat at a small clerk table on the stand and kept notes just as you describe. That was in the late 1990s. When I was called to replace him, I was asked to sit on the stand and take similar notes, which I did.

    Speaking of which, the name of the priesthood holder who ordains another to the priesthood is now kept as part of the regular membership records of the church. That is a relatively recent change, i.e. in the past decade or so. For a while it wasn’t.

  63. My current sacrament meeting-related responsibilities as ward clerk do not involve anything other than taking a head count. I have not come across anything else in the handbook or some of the church’s online training modules that require anything more than this.

  64. Why O’ Why, with an audience of this size are we stuck with this commenting template? I need “like” buttons and the option to reply to each comment. I’m laughing so hard and I want the people I’m laughing with to know it but I don’t want to keep scrolling up to find their number. ERRRRRRGGGGH!

  65. James M (#63), I don’t think is suggesting that it is common practice for ward clerks to do anything more during the meeting. It used to be, though. When I was growing up it was common for the ward clerk to sit at a full size table opposite the deacons and take these kind of notes every meeting. It certainly hasn’t been standard practice, however, for at least twenty years.

  66. Left Field (#55) “I think the clerk’s desk has gone the way of the seventies’ bookstore, sacrament tables in the Junior Sunday School room, and filmstrip projectors in the library.”

    We still have film strip projectors in the library (material center). We also have an overhead projector and the scriptures on cassette tape. No one has checked any of these things out in the 10 years I have been branch librarian, but I keep them around just in case. If anyone needs some old church VHS tapes, I will let you have them for a price (I need budget money for a new toner, they are expensive).

  67. @Kent way back at #14 (sorry missed that until now), the last two replies were very unserious. Does anybody know the actual answer to that question? (“Can mormons become masons?”) Seems like I heard kind of a rumor that it was “discouraged,” but I don’t really know.

  68. Kevin Barney says:

    Yes, Mormons can become Masons. I have a number of Mormon friends who are also Masons. People get confused about this because for many years the Salt Lake Lodge would not admit Mormons (against Masonic tradition), but they do now. The Church has never come down with an edict prohibiting becoming a Mason. Concerns are sometimes raised about whether people have enough time to be both a Mormon and a Mason, but there’s no bright line rule saying one can’t try. Also, someimes Mormons get confused about a question in the TR interview that was originally geared to fundamentalist groups, but some misinterpret it as referring to Masonry.

  69. Further to Kevin’s comment, while there was never an edict in the sense that your membership would be at risk if you disobeyed it, there was very, very strong counsel in the early 20th century not to join any “secret society” (which was how all lodges and fraternities and burial societies were listed in classified directories and newspaper columns at the time). I’d put the strength of official disapproval of lodges at the same level as the disapproval of face cards or “round dancing” in the same generation. You wouldn’t be excommunicated for it, but it Was. Not. Done. by practicing Mormons who cared what their fellow Mormons thought of them.

    I’ll put up a column on Keepa tomorrow with the wording from 1903 explaining the rationale against Masonry and other secret societies as of that date.

  70. Kevin Barney says:

    Thanks for the early 20th century perspective, Ardis!

  71. Coffinberry says:

    “Speaking of which, the name of the priesthood holder who ordains another to the priesthood is now kept as part of the regular membership records of the church. That is a relatively recent change, i.e. in the past decade or so. For a while it wasn’t.”

    Yes, it seems that the Church might be trying to reconstruct some of that information, or at least that’s what I gathered from a response from church HQ that I got a couple years of ago when I was trying to put together my sons’ priesthood lineage. I had gone over the lineage my husband had received from the brother who had ordained him, and it seemed to have some gaps in it so I wanted to make sure it was correct. I included in my message the lineage as we had it. This is the response I got back: “Thank you very much for the information that you provided. It helped me update some records. However it is the incorrect line of authority for [Coffinberry’s son]. I will have his correct line of authority mailed out today, along with his father [Mr. Coffinerry], for your records.”

    (then again, this could be a canned response… how would I know?)

  72. I’m nothing if not a century behind the times, Kevin.

  73. The role of secret societies in the Church, and insurance generally, needs to be the focus of a study.

  74. The question about whether Mormons consummate their marriage in the temple is really a theological one about what are the final acts necessary to complete a valid marriage. Christians traditionally held that sex was the final act, and I certainly appreciate that point of view. But I’m pretty sure its not the Mormon view. I’m pretty sure that Mormons hold that the marriage is perfected (in a legal or juridical sense) as of the pronouncement by the sealer and the termination of the temple ceremony.

    So, yes, for Mormons the temple ceremony consummates their marriage.

  75. I remember the clerk sitting at the front of the chapel growing up, and I graduated high school in ’95. I also used an overhead projector teaching Institute in Chicago around 2003-4, since there wasn’t a laptop projector available.

  76. Interesting perspective, Adam, thanks. Your comment meshes well with Dan Weston’s point about how he arrived at his conclusion that it might be true that we do that.

  77. Adam G., on some level, it doesn’t. I have a relative who was granted a very quick cancellation of sealing because no sexual activity took place between the couple post-sealing. This was probably 40 years ago or so, but the Church authorities at the time thought there was a significant difference between a consummated marriage/sealing and a non-consummated marriage/sealing.

  78. it's a series of tubes says:

    Some friends of mine were granted a quick cancellation on the same grounds. This was within the last decade.

  79. Gross. None of these questions have leading capitals and few have question marks. I’m no prescriptivist, but it seriously hampered the intelligibility.

  80. Charly, am I to assume, then, that your google search queries are always complete sentences, correctly capitalized and punctuated?

  81. @44: The practice of some people to live in the Nauvoo Temple is also mentioned in the William Clayton Journal. I guess some felt the Millennium was coming at any moment, of being in the Temple would keep them from having to move west, or ??? BY came down on that practice.

  82. Ben S.,
    interesting, and we’re all westerners after all, Hard to escape our culture. And our culture may even be right, for all I konw.

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