Marrying Outside Of Mormonism

Interfaith marriages are often underrepresented in LDS discourse on dating, marriage, and eternal life.  Although I’ve often heard marriages like mine described as “backup” options, for me it has been a joy formed through much prayer, study, and lived experience.

I see the essential barrier to interfaith dating and marriage is a reticence in the Mormon faith to actively befriend and genuinely associate with people not in our religion.  We call them “non-Mormon,” but that term is so strange and so alienating;  both my husband and I deeply  dislike it.  “Non-Mormons” are not non-persons, or non-entities – they are good, faithful, and beloved children of God.  I think this labeling is born out of fear of “the world,” and continued emphasis on Mormons as a “peculiar people.”  While I can see some of the historic roots of this mindset, to me, it is bizarre.

I believe strongly, and have felt inspired multiple times in holy settings, that God does not define us as Mormon v. non-Mormon. If you look at the vast numbers of people who have walked this earth, and walk it today, not only is this distinction demographically nonsensical, but also deeply limiting to God’s capacity to love and bless and acknowledge his creation. I believe that our Heavenly Parents want all their children to return to them.  That method of return will be vast and varied.  It simply has to be, if you consider the dimensions of history and global populations and diversity of cultures.

If we widen out our concept of who we are as beloved sons and daughters of God, we can expand our own capacity to understand and love each other, across otherwise narrow religious and geographic and cultural boundaries. Boundaries that are ultimately rooted in prejudicial limitations of imagination and empathy in the natural man.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Growing up, my father often counseled us to have an “eternal perspective.” For me, this means seeking out higher truths. If we are actually invested in creating Zion on earth, why would Mormons, as a people, be so exclusive?

When I first met my husband, at graduate school in England, I recognized immediately that he was a deeply good, kind, and thoughtful person. He was raised by a faithful Catholic family in Germany, and was committed to Christlike charity. We dated for four years before we were married – largely because of lengthy periods of international long distance, but also because we were conscious that coming from two different faith traditions, we would need to seriously consider what we wanted our family to look like, including how our children would be raised. We didn’t want to enter into a marriage with these questions unanswered, and then feel resentful and sad later on.

We decided we would always attend church as a family, and that we would attend both Catholic mass and Mormon services. We decided that that the core similarities in our faith: a belief in God, a belief in the Atonement, the central message of Christ to love one another and center our lives around service, would be the paramount lessons we would teach in our home. We agreed that while our children would likely hear messages at church services from church leaders that disparaged our family arrangement, or were contrary to the teachings of the “other” church, we would reinforce the central messages to our children back at home, and ask them to pray, search scriptures, and seek truth for themselves.

We’ve stuck to this, 6 years into the marriage and 2 kids later. We have both had wonderful and enriching experiences in Catholic and LDS congregations. We feel closer in matters of faith than we did when we first met – in many ways we’ve grown to be more similar in matters of religion.

I realize I’m lucky, and there are certain circumstances that make my situation easy: my husband was raised with similar Christian tenets, is happy having his kids raised religiously, is happy to be involved in an LDS ward. I also have lived in places where we’ve been welcomed without question, especially our current home in Washington DC. Our families have been wonderful and accepting, and we’ve never felt any sincere pressure from anyone close to us to convert, either way.

I also realize there are challenges ahead: our kids are still very young, and we haven’t had to deal with tough questions or conversations with them yet. Our faith may warp and change. But at the same time, aren’t these issues in every marriage? I have many friends who were married in the temple, but now one member has left Mormonism, or changed beliefs, or their children have struggled with faith.  A mutual testimony of Mormonism at marriage isn’t a guarantee for a lifetime of stability and easy family life.  We’re all in this for the long haul, and life is complicated.  I believe compatibility, mutual respect, and genuine kindness are the most important things to look for in a marriage partner.

I wish that we encouraged Mormons to befriend and date outside the faith more often, starting in their youth.  I met my husband when I was 22.  I have never thought of him as a “last resort.” He is a person, a beloved son of God, capable of all the goodness and understanding Mormons too often ascribe only to people of our same faith.

Julianne Weis grew up in a big Mormon family in Orange County, California, and now lives in Washington DC with her husband and two kids. She works on issues of maternal and child health, primarily in sub-Saharan African countries.

 

Comments

  1. The biggest risk with Interfaith marriages if they never come around you will have to part ways at the eternities

  2. The non-Mormon line really struck me here. In college I dated a Lutheran, and we had many conversations about whether or not Mormons were Christians (he had been raised to believe we were a cult). In one of those conversations, he remarked “If you’re really Christian, why do you always introduce me as your ‘Christian’ or ‘non-Mormon’ friend? You’re constantly labeling me as something other, which makes you other too.”

    I winced because it was true.

  3. @Jon: The biggest risk in an intra-faith marriage is they leave the church and you’ll have to part ways in the eternities. I say that in half-jest. More seriously, Mormons have an incredibly expansive view of heaven and of work for the dead — I can’t believe in a God who would “punish” a Christlike, charitable, utterly in love couple on Earth with eternal separation just because one of them didn’t have the right sub-label of Christian.

  4. This is beautiful. The non Mormon label sticks with me. I will keep that in mind.

  5. Happy Hubby says:

    @jon :
    A prophet of God once offered me counsel that gives me peace. I was worried that the choices of others might make it impossible for our family to be together forever. He said, “You are worrying about the wrong problem. You just live worthy of the celestial kingdom, and the family arrangements will be more wonderful than you can imagine.” (https://www.lds.org/ensign/2016/08/the-hope-of-eternal-family-love)

  6. Julianne Weis says:

    Yes, Carolyn – I think the “non-Mormon” label is unnecessarily divisive, and really just weird!

    Jon, did you read my whole post? This is exactly the kind of thinking that I don’t think is helpful, and I don’t even believe. I have no illusions or even desires for my husband to “convert.” I didn’t marry him expecting that to happen. I believe fully that eternal marriage and the blessing of eternal family life will not and cannot be restricted only to people who enter the temple in this life. I feel that very strongly. I may be totally wrong, but I think it’s something Mormons need to pray about and study more expansively.

  7. Yes, Carolyn – I think the “non-Mormon” label is unnecessarily divisive, and really just weird!

    Jon, did you read my whole post? This is exactly the kind of thinking that I don’t think is helpful, and I don’t even believe. I have no illusions or even desires for my husband to “convert.” I didn’t marry him expecting that to happen. I believe fully that eternal marriage and the blessing of eternal family life will not and cannot be restricted only to people who enter the temple in this life. I feel that very strongly. I may be totally wrong, but I think it’s something Mormons need to pray about and study more expansively.

  8. I recently discussed this with my teens as LDS dating options are slim where we live and I wanted them to see that just because someone doesn’t attend YM/YW doens’t meant they are not worth dating. My kids agreed about the high quality of their friends/schoolmates. They have wonderful friends of the opposite sex, but dating those individuals isn’t an option because pretty much anyone they date outside of Mormonism is going to have an expectation of a sexual relationship. Which was only sort-of true when I was a teen. They are saying it is now very true, especially for LDS girls dating boys outside the church. (Surprise, surprise, LDS boys apparently have more control over the sexual boundaries of the relationship than girls.)

  9. bodensmate says:

    We have been taught often that there is forgiveness for every sin except sinning against the Holy Ghost. But somehow, when it comes to eternal marriage and family, many people believe there is simply no forgiveness or mercy extended to those who didn’t enter into the temple in this lifetime. Those two concepts cannot both be true at the same time.

    I have told my wife (non-mormon wife) many times that she saved my faith in the church. It would be impossible to explain that here, but she has been instrumental in restoring my faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I will always love her for that. She has told me many times she believes in eternal families, but she hasn’t accepted Joseph Smith as a prophet.

    Though I believe the ordinance of sealing is necessary for all who are exalted in heaven, I believe this ordinance will be made available to all who love Jesus Christ.

  10. Dog Spirit says:

    Lovely, thank you!

    ‘A mutual testimony of Mormonism at marriage isn’t a guarantee for a lifetime of stability and easy family life. We’re all in this for the long haul, and life is complicated. I believe compatibility, mutual respect, and genuine kindness are the most important things to look for in a marriage partner.”

    This is so very true. Underlying character is so much more enduring than beliefs.

  11. Aaron Brown says:

    Perhaps I’m feeling a bit curmudgeonly today, but my reaction to this post is to say that it sounds lovely if you reject Mormonism’s exclusivity claims, but considerably less so if you accept them.

    Normalizing the dating of non-Mormons by Mormons is likely to lead to more mixed-faith marriages, which means less temple marriages, which is exactly the outcome that modern Mormonism doesn’t want.

    Aaron B

  12. Something that always kind of puzzles me is when we lionize the early saints and then sort of shun part-member families, seemingly ignorant of the fact that the first generation that we think of as models of faithfulness were all from families that were not members of the church. That first generation we revere grew up in the traditions of the various Christian sects, and that didn’t somehow taint their faithfulness. In fact, if we are ignorant of those traditions, or if your knowledge is limited to a straw-man caricature, then we can’t really understand and appreciate the stories of the early saints.

    It can be a strength that being a member of the church is so all-encompassing that you kind of have to be all in, but it’s bad when that translates to a failure to recognize that what we have in common with non-members is a lot more than what separates us. Our ties to our family (and all fellow-travelers) in this life are deeper and stronger than our ties to the institutional church, notwithstanding the fact that the institutional church gives us access in this life to the ordinances that we believe make marriage permanent.

    I also think it’s important to recognize that with our belief in work for the dead, the fact that a couple that is sealed in this life has a relationship endures death doesn’t necessarily mean that a couple that isn’t sealed in this life doesn’t.

  13. If we don’t know God’s ways how can we say what will happen? We take it on faith. The intrinsic link between eternity and celestial happiness and temple marriage to a faithful member is a foundation stone to our religion. We take it on faith. Because, to me? Being separated at the eternities isn’t always a bad thing at all. I was married for 22 years to a non-Mormon. He was agnostic, had no religion at all and wanted none, but he respected God and believed in His power in our lives. My husband was a good man who like all of us, had faults and short-comings. At the end of his life things between us got bad. I was preparing for divorce when he died. Now a lot of my Mormon associates and friends ask me when I’m going to do his work. I tell them I’m not sure. I don’t want to be bound eternally to the man my husband was at the end. And having said that, how do I know what his eternal self is like? I don’t. Maybe that’s the crux of it all…who are they in eternal perspective? Are our spouses worthy eternity bound souls or like most of us, have flaws and obstacles to overcome? We have to take their worthiness on faith.

  14. I also think that the more you study history in general, and the history of your own family, the harder it is to continue to draw such a bright line between members and “non-members.” At least, it’s been my experience that the more I’ve considered the fact that nearly all the people that have lived and died in the world were not church members, and especially as I’ve learned about my own ancestors who lived before the restoration, the more I believe that the Lord doesn’t draw any distinction between church members and others in terms of their essential worth as a person or as a person worth having a relationship with, and will not, withhold any blessing based on membership status. To the extent that those blessings require priesthood ordinances, he will provide them to all his children in his own time.

  15. You and I are speaking the same language, JKC :)

  16. I think this is almost discussing two separate issues: 1 – befriending non-members and associating with people who, while not of our faith, hold to similar values and 2 – choosing who to marry. I think it’s certainly true that inter-faith marriages can and do work, and this blog highlights a particularly fine example of that, but it seems like it just adds another layer of potential disunity to a relationship that can already be tough to maintain. And that doesn’t even get to what Aaron B mentioned, that inter-faith marriages preclude, at least initially, a temple marriage, which is a necessary ordinance. I would hope that we don’t “shun part-member families”. In fact, aren’t they usually the focus of most of the ward’s fellowshipping efforts? Also, it’s obviously important to befriend everyone around us if we are truly to be as Jesus is. But I believe there’s a difference between that and choosing a spouse.

  17. And to Embeecee – phew, yes. It is complex, and we take so much on faith. Thank you for your comment.

    Aaron B, is that really what modern Mormonism wants? I have no idea – I am in no position to speak for a whole religion, even if I’m a part of it. I just know that my marriage has brought me happiness, I feel I was inspired to enter it, and I would hope that other Mormons who have a desire to marry (and it’s ok if they don’t have that desire!), consider expanding their view outside Mormonism. But I suppose you and I are just on different sides of this. Which is fine! More people disagree with me than not, and I’ve heard plenty of tut-tutting of my marriage from Mormons.

  18. Let’s assume I’d like a shorthand term for someone who is not a member. Not for “othering” purposes, mind you, but for actual descriptive purposes. “Non-Mormon” is apparently off the table. Do you have another term that doesn’t take 6 seconds to say?

  19. “I would hope that we don’t “shun part-member families”. In fact, aren’t they usually the focus of most of the ward’s fellowshipping efforts?”

    “Shun” is probably the wrong word. I don’t mean that we deliberately exclude them; it’s usually more that we feel like we don’t share enough with them and so we feel awkward around them, and so we just don’t naturally become friends with them the way we do with other ward members.

    But this gets at something important, I think. The point is that if they were truly incorporated into the ward, they wouldn’t need to made the object of a special fellowshipping effort–a well intentioned, but sometimes artificial, semi-enforced, top-down friendship. I’m not against fellowshipping efforts (I’ve often been a part of those efforts in ward council meetings and think they’re wonderful) but the fact that a part-member family is very often the object of those efforts demonstrates that they are very often not already welcomed into the ward the way members are.

    To be clear, I have no problem with encouraging kids to marry in the temple. But I do wish it didn’t have to come with looking down on those who don’t. Maybe that’s a hard needle to thread, but I think we have the tools to thread it.

  20. jimbob – my husband prefers “Catholic.” Can you just use a descriptor of what that person is rather than what they are not? But if you’re referring to a group, I don’t know! Maybe it’s a mindset shift?

  21. Carolyn,
    I agree. Given the incredible efforts that we know occur in this life and the next to bring all of God’s children into a covenant state, I really believe that a “Christlike, charitable, utterly in love couple on Earth” will gain salvation and exaltation in the long-term. I don’t think that God’s plan is one of failure.

    But I also believe that if someone (hypothetically-speaking) rejects a covenant relationship with Christ (as they grow and mature spiritually) no marriage will survive that decision.

  22. This is beautiful. I’m so glad you have been able to make this work so well. Now I really, really want to hear some equally beautiful success stories of marriages between Mormons and non-believers, or even Mormons and former Mormons (or, heck, any believers and non-believers).

    Thank you for posting this!

  23. Aaron Brown says:

    Jrpweis,

    We might not be as far apart on this as my comment probably made it sound. I’m not a big fan of exclusivist “one-true-church” claims or “one-right-path” claims myself. But I do think that Mormonism IS about those things. To the extent that my thoughts and feelings are at odds with those claims, I see myself as being at odds with Mormonism (something I’m ok with, fwiw).

    I’m not trying to shame those who think differently. Lord knows there are all sorts of areas where I think Mormonism ought to be able to accommodate views and approaches that many would argue are anathema to orthodox Mormon doctrine, properly conceived. Such is life.

    Aaron B

  24. Heptaparaparshinokh says:

    I see the essential barrier to interfaith dating and marriage is a reticence in the Mormon faith to actively befriend and genuinely associate with people not in our religion.

    I’m not gonna say that BYU is all or even most of the problem here, but it’s a big one. Taking people in their most intellectually formative years and putting them in an environment where questioning their basic beliefs can cause them to get kicked out of school is not going to produce anything but a large group of close-minded people and a small number of bitterly resentful ones. (And apart from a few wacky outliers like Oberlin, you very much do not see this on the cultural left, the hysterical protestations of George Will and Tucker Carlson notwithstanding. You’d be surprised at how behaviorally traditional even some pretty “woke” folks can be.)

    I am vastly stronger in my faith for all of the Jewish, atheist, and non-LDS Christian friends I made in college and with whom I had many wonderful and edifying conversations about spiritual matters.

  25. Thanks for the wonderful OP. My comment is somewhat tangential.

    I believe that the healthiest and most accurate way to understand a priesthood ordinance is as a performance that expresses our aspirations. These performances can guide us and inspire us, but we should not let them trap us. Whatever power the priesthood might have beyond this life, it certainly does not have the power to bind us against our will. I mention this because it makes me sad when I hear people worry that if they make the wrong decision about whom to marry (or not to marry) in this life, they will in some way be lost forever. All we can do is our best right now. If we make a mistake today, then we can fix it by doing our best tomorrow with God’s help.

    We have scriptures that exhort us to repent in this life. That’s good, because all we can do is our best right now. But we are wrong if that leads us to believe that mistakes can’t be fixed after we die. We know so very little about the eternities. It makes no sense that God, who loves us infinitely, would impose endless punishment for decisions we make today about a future that we can barely understand. All we can do is our best right now.

    There are lots of good practical reasons to marry within one’s faith. Fear of the binding (or excluding) power of priesthood ordinances is not one of them.

  26. Thanks for sharing this – I’ve been looking to hear others’ stories regarding interfaith marriages. I am newly married (not in the temple – though we are both LDS) and my new husband has decided that Christianity no longer works for him – he’s moving more towards meditative practices. We are now deciding how to move forward – can we raise children together successfully? It’s wonderful that you and your husband have a shared faith in God and Christ – I think that would make the difference for me, but I’m really digging deep for ways to make a family work now. And grieving the loss of what I thought would be an eternal family – I still hold on to the belief that it’ll all work out in the end. Eternal perspective and all. But it’s hard!

  27. My only comment is to look up the Topical Guide for “Marriage, Interfaith” and study those scriptures there.

  28. Loursat – I love this so much. It’s how I think of things too <3

    CC – that sounds so hard, and as I said in my OP, I realize my situation is actually much easier in some ways because of shared Christianity. But I too love meditation, and Daoist thought, and I wonder if you can still work to find the commonality with your husband, and focus on those commonalities – they may just be similar hopes/desires, not concrete beliefs. (If beliefs themselves can be concrete!) Sending hugs.

  29. On my own internal list of the people I’ve met who I consider to the “most Christian” or “most moral”, very few of them happen to be LDS. From my experience “non-members” are more faithful to their beliefs than LDS people are to ours. By and large I admire them more than I do members of my own faith.

    But we still have scriptural passages teaching that narrow is the path the leads to Eternal Life and that few will follow it, but that wide is the path that doesn’t and many will follow it. And our beliefs make ordinances a requirement for following that path. The percentages seem pretty bleek, so striving for the best is highly encouraged. So the idea of marrying someone without those ordinances is going to be very hard for many people to accept. I understand that those ordinances can be done posthumously, but that is a hard ask for people in “the one true church” to accept. How do you openly encourage people to be open to abandoning that path? If we all strive for the ideal of Eternal Life, how do you ask people to not strive for the ideal marriage? Telling people to stop striving for the ideal become problematic, no? If they stop striving for it in this life, then might they not stop striving for it (stop thinking of it as important) in the eternities as well?

  30. I’m reposting a comment I made on another post, because I think it’s applicable here:

    What if there was a way to seal children to living parents who haven’t been sealed to each other (i.e., one of the parents isn’t a member)? The promises made to children in the sealing are not contingent on anybody’s righteousness or church member-ness. Maybe this could open a path of “acceptable” interfaith marriages, where parents could be sealed to their children regardless of both being members.

  31. jaxjensen – but I don’t think I’ve abandoned some vision of eternal marriage by marrying my husband. I don’t think of it as not important. I don’t scoff at temple marriage. I just say that Heavenly Father is more expansive than we often consider, and I find it difficult to see eternal families be restricted to those who were joined in the temple in this life, right now, given the vastness of human history/current global population. I just can’t think of it in that way. This is why I tried to frame my OP as I did – that we should be expanding our conception of marriage, eternal life, the power of ordinances/the temple, and God’s blessings. It’s the only way mortal life and the eternities makes sense to me, honestly. I think “ideal” marriage is selfless companionship, working to better our families and our communities and our world through charity. I think we can strive for “ideal” marriage both in and out of the Mormon community. I think God will bless us all, that He looketh on the heart.

    I recognize that I am in the minority in this view! It’s why I wrote a post on it. I have really only ever heard the opposite of what I’ve said in public discourse by Mormons. But I have felt inspiration so strongly that points me in this direction, that I feel ok with being an outlier.

  32. I am married to a Lutheran. Being interfaith was a big deal to both of us, and we actually broke up once about it.

    Then (actually shortly after we thought we had worked things out and were engaged) I went through my faith crisis and went through oh, about ten years where I was still attending church but couldn’t say I believed any of it, including in God. I described myself internally as agnostic-leaning-to-atheist. (I do not describe myself that way any more, because of some spiritual experiences that have been put in my way, but that’s a different story.)

    All I can say is, I think God put my husband in my path. He took it in stride, admitted he asked a lot of the same questions (of course he didn’t have the LDS historical baggage along with it), and never stopped modeling a quiet, substantial faith for me. If I’d decided I was completely atheist I won’t say he would have been totally fine, but he would have worked with it. I know there are LDS who would also have worked with it, and maybe I would even have found one of them, but… I think the odds are a lot higher I would be divorced right now. (Or, more likely, never married)

    If you believe in temple ordinances, is it better to be married to a nonmember and have the temple ordinances done in the eternities, or to be single and have the temple ordinances done in the eternities? I feel like regardless of how fervently you believe in marrying in the temple, if those are the choices (see also: demographics), either way you have to put some faith in God and jump.

  33. As I’m sure you’ve realized more than anything, I concur with Jon above . . .

    “The biggest risk with Interfaith marriages is if the spouse never comes around, you will have to part ways in the eternities.” The paradox is figuring out which one “never comes around”, the Catholic or the Mormon?

  34. it's a series of tubes says:

    Whatever power the priesthood might have beyond this life, it certainly does not have the power to bind us against our will.

    Loursat, this is an important insight, and very well phrased. As a community, we’d be much better off if this concept was more widely understood. So many divorced temple-married women I know are deeply, deeply pained by the mistaken belief that they are somehow, against their will, still eternally bound to the man who has betrayed them.

  35. As someone pointed out, a very challenging issue is that at least in developed nations, many if not most people outside of our church expect to have sex before marriage, enough so that they might choose to break off a relationship rather than pursue an abstinence-based relationship until marriage. A wonderful friend of mine tried dating a man of another faith, and after several months he said “I’m not ready to accept Mormonism, you’re not willing to have sex, and I don’t think our relationship can progress without either of those endposts changing.” In my own life, I broke up one serious interfaith relationship after determining that I didn’t want to engage in the level of physical intimacy my partner expected; in part because of that bad experience, I chose to compromise my standards on chastity in the next serious relationship (although it did lead to marriage).

    Given the difficulties of the Mormon dating scene even in places like Utah, and the paucity of Mormon dating options outside that region, I’m not sure what advice to give that doesn’t sound like another version of “Just suffer in loneliness or stay in an awful temple marriage: it’ll all work out somehow in the eternities.”

  36. cahn said:

    “If you believe in temple ordinances, is it better to be married to a nonmember and have the temple ordinances done in the eternities, or to be single and have the temple ordinances done in the eternities?”

    This is a great question. I think about it frequently in regards to some of my awesome, single, LDS, female loved ones. I know they have given up on great guys simply because they weren’t Mormon.

  37. “[I]is it better to be married to a nonmember and have the temple ordinances done in the eternities, or to be single and have the temple ordinances done in the eternities? I feel like regardless of how fervently you believe in marrying in the temple, if those are the choices (see also: demographics), either way you have to put some faith in God and jump.”

    That’s really the question, isn’t it? I don’t find it hard to agree with the concept that a temple marriage is the ideal. My own temple marriage has brought me innumerable blessings. But I find it hard to believe that the Lord would have us give up the happiness (not just the pleasure, but the happiness) of love and marriage in this life when a temple sealing seems out of reach. Especially not if marriage and family is so important, and even a non-temple wedding still has the possibility of becoming a temple wedding.

  38. JKC – and a temple wedding also has the potential to be a non-temple wedding…. I am sure so many of us know temple marriages which have dissolved. Many of those were entered into early on, with the idea that “we’re getting married in the temple, and that’s all that matters!” Life is so much more complex than that, with so much more variation. We need to seek out GOOD marriages, with good partners we love. Initial marriage in temple doesn’t mean everything is now settled. And my marriage at city hall doesn’t also mean everything is settled either. I say again – I firmly believe things are bigger than this, and we have a very very limited understanding.

  39. Good point! Nothing is guaranteed. We build the marriage we’ll have in this life and in eternity not just in the moment of the ordinance, but every day, through how we live with our spouse.

    (Though I think that’s different from how sealings were originally taught, as though they really were a literal guarantee that could not be broken. But that’s a different subject.)

  40. Yes! Ay ay ay if we actually look at the early history of sealings….. not on this post for now :) But thanks for your supportive/understanding comments, JKC.

  41. John Mansfield says:

    It brings to mind Lehi teaching on if all things were an undifferentiated compound in one. And now that word “undifferentiated” is bringing to mind dedifferentiated sarcomatoid cells, but I’ve read a couple of biopsy reports lately, so that train of thought is unsurprising. It is not altogether a bad thing that everything is not the same as everything. Baptized being different from unbaptized, for instance.

  42. jaxjensen says:

    jrpweis, I don’t discount your marriage at all. But you are trying to “widen the way” that people are able to gain Eternal Life. You said God is more “expansive” and that we should “expand our conception of marriage.” I don’t disagree with that. I’m just pointing out that it is a hard sell among LDS people because we don’t view “the way” as expansive, but as narrow and limiting. We view it that way because the scripture describe it that way. In my mind there is no reason to think that an interfaith marriage isn’t within that narrow path (as I said, the best people I know are not LDS), but I believe that temple marriage is definitely within it (though no guarantee of successful navigation of that path).

    So I guess I don’t disagree with you, I’m just trying to explain why I see it as hard to preach such an approach to LDS people.

  43. jaxjensen – totally, I get it. I wrote this post to try and show a perspective Mormons are very skeptical of (I have had the range of comments thrown at me because of my marriage, so I know on a very personal level that it’s a hard sell ;) I have come to a different perspective, and maybe relating my experience will be helpful for someone out there, even if most don’t agree.

  44. CC: I feel the pain in your post. You married with a certain expectation from your husband and very quickly that has changed. Now you wonder how a family will work. I know what you are feeling, I have been in a similar situation, but yours is worse. Here is some advice, take it for what it is, friendly advice from someone with a fewer years left on this earth than what I have lived.

    Don’t have children with him. He is in the beginning of a faith transition and you have no idea where he will end up. He may come back to his roots (LDS) or he may move all the way to atheism and be very anti-LDS. You just don’t know. You’re newly married; you could ride it out for a few years and see where he lands. But it will be harder to separate as time goes on, not to mention the time lost. But if you have children with him, you are bound to him for life; thru your children. It is just the way it is. His final destination in his faith transition will greatly affect your children and right now that is one big unknown. Don’t take the risk. If you had 10 years and three kids it would be a different thing. But you have choses, until you have kids.

    Interfaith marriages are hard enough; but the more different the beliefs between you and your spouse, the harder the road. The one exception I have seen is if your spouse has no real religious beliefs, then they generally are amicable to the other spouse’s belief and can be very supportive.

  45. Question for you Jrpweis. You, of course do not have to answer.
    When it came to the birth of your children, did you have them baptized in the Catholic Church?
    This to me is when things get interesting in interfaith marriages. Interfaith marriages are easier when it is just you two. But after kids come, things change. There are expectations from both church communities and from both sides of the family. It is no longer easy to do both, your spouse may feel it is critical to have their child baptized just after birth for example.

  46. I’ll answer, Scott. (Though of course I would be very interested to hear jrpweis’s answer as well.) Both my children were baptized just after birth in the Lutheran church my family attends. My older child is going to be baptized in the LDS church this year. My other child is young, but I assume he will be baptized as well into the LDS church when old enough.

    My reasoning is that either the baptism has force or it does not (and I have read quite a lot on this — it’s not like Lutherans are like, “hey, infant baptism! Makes no sense! Let’s do it!” — it’s quite a bit more complicated). If it does, then let’s do it. If it does not, then what harm does it do? (Needless to say, I don’t really agree with Mormon when he says it’s an abomination. I think Mormon… didn’t have access to a lot of European post-Christ theology. Indeed, I found the experience very spiritually moving.)

    That’s a one-time thing. What I’ve found is more difficult is what to do every Sunday. Before we were married, I made it a condition that the kids would be raised LDS. Then I had my faith crisis and thought, well, that isn’t fair to have that as a condition when I don’t even believe it! So then I said, it’s OK if we raise them Lutheran. In practice, when we actually had kids, it turned out that my husband was actually pretty OK with me taking the kids for three hours. Then his Lutheran church said my older child should go to Sunday School there. So she goes to quite a lot of church on Sunday (less when they overlap, when she switches weeks).

    (Ironically, if my children did not attend the LDS church we would have left that Lutheran church already. This particular Lutheran church has very very few children (like, I think the closest child in age is maybe five years older than my older child?) and it’s in the death spiral where no one with kids wants to go to a church without any kids. I don’t either. But because they get social other-kid time at the LDS church we haven’t gone to look for a Lutheran church with more kids.)

    Now, when my son gets old enough to hold priesthood office (not to downplay the struggles of LDS feminists, but it’s actually easier to be “half” in if you don’t have to worry about priesthood blah blah) or the kids decide they want to go on missions… this might be hard. We’ll see.

  47. Thank you for writing this article, Julianne. I am a universalist Quaker in a mixed-faith marriage with a wonderful active LDS woman. I am also a former Mormon. Like you, we started dating when she was 23 – so relatively young.

    We have been together for nearly 10 years, and married for seven years now. I feel that our differing faiths are actually an advantage for both of us. We’re able to associate freely with people who are Mormon or who are not-Mormon, and we have each other to provide perspective and balance. This provides us with incredible social advantages. And our relatively successful mixed-faith marriage allows us to provide the kinds of advice you’ve provided in this column, which I feel is spot on.

    Our marriage is actually stronger because I’m the peace-loving and equality-seeking “hippie” (I come honest by it) who loves deeply and radically, and she reminds me of wider social concerns that maybe I don’t think about. And she’s the more structured one who sometimes needs me to remind her to apply compassion and love to her feelings. Our differences allow us to find a middle ground that neither of us could consider on our own. I love her deeply and am committed to her. I’m the agnostic person who looks at many things through a lens of doubt and skepticism, and she’s the faithful one that reminds me that sometimes I just need to trust – even when that’s hard for me to do. These differences do not hurt us or harm who we are – because we put each other first and we both have the flexibility to bend a little to reach compromise that works for both of us. And that helps us do so with other people as well
    .
    But I also have to applaud her bravery, and yours as well. I grew up Mormon and went on a mission, so I have the background to understand the culture. The simple fact of the matter is that Mormonism is lived in family and in community, and by choosing someone of a different faith, your partner doesn’t participate fully with you in your faith community. To make this choice – especially young – is truly an act of bravery, and of going against a lifetime of being told that there’s a certain ideal that your marriage will not truly fit. And yes – I know that thoughts like “God will work it out in the end” are comforting, but there are Mormons for whom that doesn’t work. I try to be as understanding as possible in realizing that different people have different priorities
    .
    One thing I’ve come to learn is that communication, shared values and an ability to compromise are strengths in every marriage, and any marriage that doesn’t have those things – even if they are performed in a temple – is going to lead away from happiness. (My first marriage – performed in an LDS temple – fell apart after a few years because it lacked these things – and all the escalation of anger led to a very bitter end.) But where these critical aspects are present, even if a “temporal marriage”, such a relationship can be a happy and supportive place for both partners. And those principles exist entirely outside the scope of religion. They are part of the personal DNA of successful relationships.

  48. Jon and others–It was one of the earlier prophets, Lorenzo Snow I believe, who said there will be few people who don’t accept the Gospel on the other side. Most everyone will. That is why we seal ALL the family of mankind together in temples. And we know missionary work in the hereafter is more successful than it is here. That is the great work that happens there. The following is my opinion and what I think. Ancestors there, from long ago, know what the truth is and have already accepted it or are waiting for it. People in every family know and they teach their newly arrived descendants. It is well organized.

    What matters most is a couple have the same core values. This life is very limited. We have our twenties to find someone and start a family. Premortally, we lived likely millions or billions of years. It only makes sense that in that time we made close enduring relationships that we just don’t remember in this life. When we cross the veil, we are told we will find we have more friends and family than we have made here. It follows that our eternal spouse should already be known , providing both prove worthy. Maybe they don’t always know one another in this life because we have different assignments here–but this life is temporary and short. Whatever relationships we had prior to mortality, I expect those will be eternal because they have always been. And so, if I didn’t find the right spouse in a billion years, it isn’t likely to happen in mortality between ages 20 and 30! lol

  49. And BTW , I’m a convert who didn’t find a Mormon to marry. I’m married 32 years now and to a non-member. We have one child agreed to be raised LDS and who just married in the temple–the first temple marriage.

  50. I think it’s certainly true that inter-faith marriages can and do work, and this blog highlights a particularly fine example of that, but it seems like it just adds another layer of potential disunity to a relationship that can already be tough to maintain.

    My experience has been the opposite: my Catholic wife does not care much about a lot of the hangups Mormons have with everyday facets of religious life like, say, media and Sabbath observance, which leaves me lots of space to be the Mormon I want to be (for better or for worse, but in my view for the better).

    Regarding the eternities, my own heresy is that my family will be no more separated than anyone else’s; I’m not going to circumscribe God’s grace by insisting that an ordinance must be performed in person or by proxy here on earth.

  51. Mem
    The terrestrial kingdom is going to be filled with people who rejected the gospel in life but later accepted it and other kingdoms are going to be filled with people who did not honor their covenants and will not be permitted to live as families. Now is the time to change things.

  52. John Mansfield says:

    During Gordon Hinckley’s time as a counselor in the First Presidency, he gave a few talks outlining the life a young latter-day saint should look forward to living. Some examples are “If Thou Art Faithful” Oct. ’84, and “To Please Our Heavenly Father” April ’85. I recall the fall ’86 Conference weekend when my missionary companion was thinking on what would be happening in Salt Lake that day that we couldn’t hear, and favored me with a couple minutes of a pretty good improvised imitation of one of those talks.

    Having served an honorable mission, he would return home, desiring to complete his education and looking forward to finding his companion to love and cherish for eternity. Trying to please his Heavenly Father, he would see that his courtship is kept unsullied. Again trying to please his Heavenly Father, he would be married worthily in the way which God has prepared for those who love him and those who desire his richest blessings—that is, in His holy house under the authority of His everlasting priesthood.

    That’s not the life every Mormon wants, of course, the one preached and promoted by church leaders. I can think of four converts to the LDS church I’ve known, three women and one man, who came into contact with the LDS church through their jack Mormon spouses. In the case of one, the wife thought the police vice squad had shown up to bust her husband’s poker game in their New Jersey apartment, and he laughed that no, those were the Mormon missionaries and he was a Mormon, and he welcomed them in. For the four that I am thinking of, the spouses’ conversion weakened the marriage. “If I’d known you were so religious, I wouldn’t have married you,” said the husband of one. It’s not for nothing that a given Mormon might prefer marrying someone who is not an actively participating member of the LDS church, and if the spouse becomes one, then the jack Mormon finds himself living with what he had been avoiding.

  53. Advocating that Mormons marry out of their faith is a good way to make Mormonism disappear. Just as is currently happening with American Jews. http://www.pewforum.org/2013/10/01/jewish-american-beliefs-attitudes-culture-survey/

  54. Marriage is difficult. Inter faith marriages between active lds and non lds are more difficult. Marriages over time are a series of compromises. With a non lds spouse there is simply more to complicate things. Tithing or no tithing? 3 hour church? Mom serve a time consuming calling? We get these types of posts from time to time in the bloggernaccle. 6 years and 2 little babies is simply too short to write a self congrat article. The real issues are coming soon.

  55. There seems to be a lot of Schadenfreude in some of these comments. I get it! I know many interfaith marriages fall apart, and I know it’s a source of sorrow and struggle for many. I hope I didn’t come off as too arrogant (but perhaps I did) in my original post. But what I shared is actually quite intimate, based on strong experiences of personal revelation and a great deal of study, prayer and thought – and it feels a bit cruel to have commenters discount that completely, and almost wait for my marriage to dissolve, or my husband and I to be separated in the terrestrial kingdom for all eternity.

    Anyway, to answer the query above – we did have both children baptized in the Catholic church as infants, and plan on them being baptized in the Mormon church at 8. I said in my OP that I recognize challenges are very much still to come: for me, I anticipate this primarily around the time of first communion/Aaronic priesthood for my son. My husband and I are fully cognizant of these issues and are ready to tackle them prayerfully, as a family. I meant in all sincerity that the last 6 years we’ve been married, we’ve grown much closer in matters of faith than I would have imagined. We are more unified than before, as we’ve both spent more time in each others’ churches. I recognize this isn’t everyone’s experience, but it is mine, and I think that’s worthy of being shared.

  56. Inter faith marriages between active lds and non lds are more difficult.

    Mine isn’t. At any rate, all the things you listed—Tithing or no tithing? 3 hour church? Mom serve a time consuming calling?—would have to be navigated by couples sealed in the temple too, and even revisited from time to time as life happens and people change.

  57. peterllc – right! I feel the same. And yes, those issues listed were also so minimal to me – and were easily worked out while we were dating. But I mentioned in my OP that I am lucky my husband is a religious person, so is cool with the 3 hours/tithing/calling aspect of things. He has participated in our wards in various callings too. I’m really confused by these comments! Surely we would have worked through things like this before entering marriage.

  58. I’m gonna say that all things being equal, sure, interfaith marriages are more difficult. There are things to navigate you wouldn’t have to navigate in an intrafaith marriage. The thing is, all things are not equal. I will take my interfaith marriage where we click at a 90% level (including a similarly high level on religion-in-general, faith, doubt, what it means to follow Christ, etc.) any day over an intrafaith marriage where we would have clicked at a 30% level.

    Tithing, 3-hour church, and time-consuming callings were things we had to talk about, but yeah, no more than a couple sealed in the temple would have to work through. (I mean, our tithing conversation was literally something like, “Hey, I’m paying tithing to my church.” “OK. I’m donating to my church too. Give me the receipts when you get them and I’ll add them to the tax pile.”) I also find it a bit weird the particular things that people are bringing up as issues.

    Mike W., I will gently suggest that the link you gave does not in fact prove your point, and in fact goes out of its way to say that it can’t assign cause/effect. I will also say that in my anecdotal evidence, my Jewish friends who married interfaith were already of no religion before they did that (and their parents were both Jewish). That being said, I don’t disagree with your point, and have considered that my kids are more likely to not stay LDS because they have another viewpoint to draw from. But that link doesn’t prove it. (Cause/effect is my pet peeve, sorry.)

    Bbell — how about 12 years in a couple of months, oldest kid is 8? Is that long enough for you that I can cosign this article? When is long enough?

  59. The crux for me is that we too often downplay the difficulties in same-faith marriages and expect the worst from interfaith marriages. Life is long without even contemplating the eternities. We put the cart before the horse in thinking that a temple marriage will mean that we can live happily with that person for the next 6 decades.

    The issue about expectations for premarital intimacy is a real issue depending on the person. If they are similarly religiously committed to abstinence, that can work, but honestly, most of the faiths that abstain before marriage are probably the least compatible with Mormonism because they are similarly rigid about their primacy.

  60. Peterllc and jrpweis: I am glad to hear that for you it was and is easy. I really am, this was not my experience and is not the experience of a lot of interfaith couples I know. So it is good to hear success stories now and then. Jrpweis, your husband sounds like a great guy and has his act together; you don’t see that in a lot of guys in or out of the church. He sounds like a real keeper. As for after this life; if you and your husband can stay faithful to Jesus Christ and have the Atonement of Christ work in your lives, and raise your children in truth and righteousness, I think you will be happy with what comes. Peterllc, same goes for you and your wife.

  61. Olde Skool says:

    Just to address a recurrent point in this comments section: Frankly, I think it’s ludicrous to define dating partners who are not LDS as generally hostile to premarital abstinence. Surely good communication and mutual respect between dating parties (which seems like it ought to be a baseline expectation before any consideration of marriage anyway) ensures that the wishes of each party with regard to the level of sexual activity in the relationship are honored. That has uniformly been my experience with my relationships with dating partners who were not LDS. And I should say that my dating partners who were NOT LDS were MUCH more respectful about what level of sexual activity I was comfortable with than any Mormon boy I ever hung out with. The moralizing vein about the sexual dangers of non-Mormon dating in these comments does not correlate with my lived experience in any way.

  62. Thanks, Scott J, that’s kind. I’m so, so sorry your experience was negative. I understand why my post may seem arrogant, naive, and misplaced against that. But I think we more often hear the negative than we do the positive, and I hope that for others, like many commenters on this thread, who have had positive experiences, my post can help them. It can be really hard to have church members consistently question your marriage – for me, that often comes from strangers/random ward members, not anyone who knows me closely. But it is still hard. I think we should trust that most people have come into situations with their eyes open, and mourn with them if things don’t work out. That goes to all kinds of marriages. Thank you again for your kind words. And yes, I love my husband dearly. I really really lucked out with him.

  63. Jrpweis: I really hate to hear when people question other people’s marriage like that, I never saw the point. If you are in the church on Sunday, member, non-member or whatever, that is a win for me, life is long and the eternity is longer, plenty of time for all of us to figure out what we need to figure out. A good spouse is harder to find and worth more than Rubies. The love for your husband comes thru your posts; your husband is a lucky man, be happy and stay strong.

  64. Are we going to ignore the fact that God uses the word “Gentile”? That’s very problematic.

  65. Did you mean Rom 2:10-11? Or Rom 10: 12-13?

  66. Wondering says:

    Why problematic? “Gentile” just means “everyone else.”

  67. I’m just uncomfortable with God himself using labels to identify members and non-members, or even using the nationalistic label of “Jew” or “Greek” for identification.

  68. Cahn. Teenagers. That is were the trouble really kicks in. The navigation gets more difficult. It really does.

  69. Why not encourage members of the Church marry non-members? Perhaps because the Church cares about intact families, to say nothing of making eternal covenants that preclude exaltation.

    “A 1993 study published in Demography showed that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) were the least likely of all faith groups to divorce: After five years of marriage, only 13% of LDS couples had divorced. But when a Mormon marries a non-Mormon, the divorce rate was found to have increased more than three-fold to 40%.”

    http://www.religioustolerance.org/ifm_divo.htm

  70. A lot of this hinges on the concept of exclusionary truth to be found only in the Mormon Church. Honestly speaking, most Mormons (including myself) believe that to some degree. But we also believe in an infinite and eternal atonement, which extends far beyond this life. Who are we to say that for a loving, faith-filled couple who raise great kids in two different faith traditions, that not being sealed in the temple in this life closes all those doors for them? If the atonement truly is infinite and eternal, then we have a very long time in our post-mortal life for us to figure things out one way or the other. Christ will never shut a door on us when we are on the other side knocking. And eternity is a very, very long time. Congratulations, jrpweis, for making this work, and sharing your insights. I am an eternal optimist, so I anticipate nothing but the best for your and your husband.

  71. Thanks, Scott J. Any marriage is a work in progress, of course, but so far the hard work for me is overcoming character flaws, not differing points of doctrine.

  72. Bbell: That makes total sense! Especially, I should imagine, with my son, with all the priesthood bits. (I don’t even know what hurdles there are, since I didn’t have any brothers.) And that reminds me that we never did talk about seminary. I guess we’ll see!

  73. Thank you for such a timely discussion. A few random thoughts.

    I think the number of active unmarried LDS young women is nearly double the number of active unmarried LDS young men. The choice to marry outside the faith or wait for marriage in the next life might be arithmetically real for maybe upwards of half of our young women. If most decide to remain unmarried and childless (avoiding adoption or artificial insemination as a single woman) then the next generation of active Mormons will be significantly smaller, even with high retention rates of youth which are also dubious.

    Without getting specific, all of these scenarios have come to pass in my extended family:
    -A person came from one of the blue-blood Mormon families related to apostles and married in the temple. Then they experienced a genuine conversion to another faith leaving their spouse in an interfaith marriage due to no choice of their own.
    -A sibling set of 4 sisters were raised in a strict LDS home and all rebelled and left the church
    as teenagers.They married irreligious husbands and lived somewhat riotous lives. At some point each husband became curious about the Mormon faith and they were prevented from further investigation by their own once-Mormon wives.
    -A person was raised in a place where the church is weak and there were few dating opportunities. They found an excellent partner not of our faith who is open and curious about our faith and who is unaffiliated with any religion. They attended several meetings and became friends with several ward members. And they were not impressed with what they experience and never joined (yet).. And they influenced their Mormon spouse that they have other things to do on Sunday. They may never voice the question, but their life shouts, why religion? Who needs it? And they may both be happy outside the faith.
    -A young man served a mission in the Far East. After the mission he went back and fell in love with an Asian girl. His family voiced strong disapproval of the interracial marriage. They married anyway and at first the church was what tied them together. But eventually the Asian wife left the church and took their children with her. The marriage remained intact. One wonders if family acceptance might have provided a bond strong enough to weather the storms of doubt and rejection.
    -One of my mother’s cousins became a polygamous wife but I won’t count that.

    I know of instances where bishops have told members of their ward to divorce their unbelieving spouse or their spouse in a faith crisis. (Specifically discouraged in the handbook). I know of a single’s ward bishop who sent a member of their ward back to their home ward because they were dating a non-LDS person more than a few times.They didn’t want anyone else to get any ideas.They had virtually no faith that they might be able to convert a dating partner of a ward member.

    The idea that good people who are not sealed in the temple are not going to be together as families in the next life is only taught by Mormonism. Other Protestant faiths teach that those who live so as to enter heaven will be there with their families, without the need of special sacraments or ordinances or sealings, Consider the old gospel song entitled ” Will the Circle be Unbroken.”

    The citation of 13% of temple marriages ending in divorce while 40% of non-temple marriages ending in divorce is extremely disturbing. Not only because the rate of temple marriages is falling. But it indicates there is something about being raised Mormon that makes us especially hard to get along with those outside of our narrow box. I would expect an excellent enriching youth program to result in fewer divorces among both groups, regardless of where they married.

    It is my (possibly false) impression that the road of the interfaith family is particularly difficult in the LDS faith in comparison to many other faiths. I will go so far as to say the majority of our curriculum is hostile to interfaith families. Think of all those lessons about the importance of being sealed together as a family and how that sounds to a youth whose parents are not going to be sealed and are not especially evil either. This is rather disadvantageous when children become teenagers and begin to become more independent. It puts us at a distinct disadvantage in retaining them.

    Big-tent Mormonism would not fear interfaith marriage especially considering the demographic disparity. Circle-the-wagons Mormonism would do everything to thwart interfaith marriages.

  74. Years ago I was talking to a single man in my ward. He was probably in his late 30s. He was dating LDS women but not feeling like he was having any success in finding someone that would seriously consider marrying him. He told me he talked to our Bishop who suggested he might need to broaden his dating pool to non-LDS women sympathetic to his values. This surprised me. My bishop was about as conservative as they get (I know because I sat with him in countless meetings). I imagine that the chances of children from an interfaith Mormon marriage ending up self-identifying as Mormons in adulthood is much, much lower. But I assume most that go into an interfaith marriage assume that to be the case.

    I have an acquaintance. I happen to know that his wife is on my ward’s roster. But hasn’t ever attended the ward in over 20 years, and as far as I know has refused contact (I’m not sure on this last point). I know he’s not Mormon. I’ve wondered if I should tell him I’m Mormon. The right opportunity has not come yet. I feel like I’m failing as a “missionary”, yet I remain somewhat pessimistic that a conversation about Mormonhood would mean anything to him.

  75. Jon- Yes, this life is the time to prepare to meet God–but each person does so according to the light they have. It will be fair and just. Terrestrial people include those who knew the church was true in mortality yet rejected it. The ones who didn’t know it was true in mortality but accept in the hereafter still qualify for Celestial glory. If not, there would be no reason to baptize the dead and seal them into families. Knowing means no doubt. Not just that they had heard of Mormons and thought it sounded too strange to be true so they never seriously looked into it.
    (And of course, Mormons should try their best to marry in the church. The author of this post was addressing what to do when one can’t.)

    From Neil Maxwell:

    Honorable Mortals
    Most Likely Will Accept the Gospel
    Neal A. Maxwell
    Surely those just and honorable mortals who have
    done so well here with the light they have received are
    the most likely to respond in paradise and the spirit
    world, when the fulness of the light of the gospel is
    given to them there.

    From Wilford Woodruff:
    Our Progenitors will
    Most Likely Accept the Gospel

    Wilford Woodruff
    Another principle connected with this subject I want
    to talk about. A man has married a woman, and they
    have a family of children. The man lays down in death
    without ever hearing the Gospel. The wife afterwards
    hears the Gospel and embraces it. She comes to the
    temple and she wants to be sealed to her husband, who
    was a good man. The feeling has been to deny this and
    to say, “No, he is not in the Church, and you cannot be
    sealed to your husband.” Many a woman’s heart has
    ached because of this, and as a servant of God I have
    broken that chain a good while ago. I have laid before
    every woman this principle and let her have her choice.
    Why deprive a woman of being sealed to her husband
    because he never heard the Gospel? What do any of us
    know with regard to him? Will he not hear the Gospel
    and embrace it in the spirit world? Look at Joseph
    Smith. Not one of Joseph Smith’s fathers or brothers or
    sisters were in the covenant when he received the keys
    of the kingdom of God and translated the Book of
    Mormon. They afterwards received it. Every brother and
    sister that he had, and his father and his father’s
    brothers, except Uncle Jesse Smith, embraced the
    Gospel. Now, suppose that any of these had died before
    they had the opportunity of entering into the covenant
    with the Lord through the Gospel, as his brother Alvin
    did; they would have been in the same position as Alvin,
    concerning whom the Lord, when Joseph saw him in the
    celestial kingdom, said: “All who have died without a
    knowledge of this Gospel, who would have received it
    if they had been permitted to tarry, shall be heirs of the
    celestial kingdom of God; also all that shall die
    henceforth without a knowledge of it, who would have
    received it with all their hearts, shall be heirs of that
    kingdom, for I, the Lord, will judge all men according to
    their works, according to the desire of their hearts.”
    So it will be with your fathers. There will be very
    few, if any, who will not accept the Gospel. Jesus while
    His body lay in the tomb, went and preached to the
    spirits in prison, who were destroyed in the days of
    Noah. After so long an imprisonment, in torment, they
    doubtless gladly embraced the Gospel, and if so they
    will be saved in the kingdom of God. The fathers of this
    people will embrace the Gospel. It is my duty to honor
    my father who begot me in the flesh. It is your duty to
    do the same. When you do this, the Spirit of God will be
    with you. (Messages of the First Presidency

    And here’s the quote from Pres. Snow: In 1893, President Lorenzo Snow, then president of the Quorum of the Twelve, declared in general conference his strong belief “that when the Gospel is preached to the spirits in prison, the success of that preaching will be far greater than that of the preaching of our Elders in this life. I believe there will be very few indeed of those spirits who will not gladly receive the Gospel when it is carried to them. The circumstances there will be a thousand times more favorable.” (Millennial Star 56:50.)

    And from Joseph Smith:

    All Must Hear the Gospel
    Before Final Judgment
    Joseph Smith
    • The great Jehovah contemplated the whole of the
    events connected with the earth, pertaining to the
    plan of salvation, before it rolled into existence, or
    ever “the morning stars sang together” for joy; the
    past, the present, and the future were and are, with
    Him, one eternal “now;” He knew of the fall of
    Adam, the iniquities of the antediluvians, of the
    depth of iniquity that would be connected with the
    human family, their weakness and strength, their
    power and glory, apostasies, their crimes, their
    righteousness and iniquity; He comprehended the
    fall of man, and his redemption; He knew the plan
    of salvation and pointed it out; He was acquainted
    with the situation of all nations and with their
    destiny; He ordered all things according to the
    council of His own will; He knows the situation of
    both the living and the dead, and has made ample
    provision for their redemption, according to their
    several circumstances, and the laws of the kingdom
    of God, whether in this world, or in the world to
    come. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith,
    p.220)

  76. Anyone remember when a “fifth-generation” female member married a ‘non-Mormon’ with the last name Bednar and they had a son who is now an apostle?

    If only she had avoided marrying such a man, risking her eternal progression in the process.

    We are all toddlers. Human in general need to grow up.

  77. How many of these couples “sealed” in the temple actually realize that until the union is sealed by the holy spirit of promise, it doesn’t matter that they were married in the temple? I personally believe this can happen in any number of wonderful, righteous unions.

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