A big change is likely coming to temple sealing ceremonies this year in the United States and Canada. A posting last Saturday in The Mormon Hub discussion group caught my interest right away. I’ve included the relevant portions of it here:
“Interesting HAPPY news today from a friend […] [his relative is] an area auditor for the church […] They shared with him that the church is getting out of the “wedding business”. They will be separating the civil marriage from the temple sealing. This is far enough along that they are disseminating this information now to regional area leadership. Basically preparing and letting leaders know it’s happening.”
While I consider this group a pretty decent resource, the Internet has been known to spread false information at times. So I decided to do some additional investigating. I quickly found a Salt Lake Tribune article from February 12, 2014, Is change coming to Mormon temple wedding policy? The article discusses the Church “may” remove the one-year waiting period between civil marriage ceremonies and a temple marriage. Under current Church policy, if LDS couples have any type of civil ceremony outside of the temple, they cannot be sealed in a temple for a year. After the change, faithful LDS members would now be able to have a civil wedding ceremony and their temple wedding, making it a more “inclusive” ceremony for those whose family members cannot enter the LDS temple sealing.
Putting the article in a completely different light, the LDS Church may have found it to be prudent to no longer perform civil wedding ceremonies. The obvious context is, of course, the legalization of homosexual marriage in many states, either through legislation or judicial decision. With Utah being only one of many states whose laws prohibiting same-sex marriage are embroiled in judicial proceedings, it seems like only a matter of time before the Church took some action on this subject. Already in Canada, an area where the Church would reportedly implement its new policy, religious institutions and clerics have been charged before human rights commissions and in courts because they have refused to participate in homosexual marriages, or have expressed ideological differences with the practice. Look for a future blog post about the legal challenges that have been brought in other countries, most notably England, Denmark and Canada.
So when will this change happen? According to another posting in The Mormon Hub, a couple with a September 2014 wedding date was told the change would happen before then.
Until then, we’ll wait with bated breath.
[Update 1/22/2015: As of this posting, the LDS Church has not announced any change that would bifurcate the civil and temple ceremonies. Hmmm. I think I’ll have to revisit this issue with my friends at the Mormon Hub].