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No, Mormon temples aren’t getting out of the marriage business

First Published      Last Updated Oct 21 2014 01:59 pm

It is a tad premature for Mormons to brace for a possible change in the LDS Church's temple wedding policies, including Monday's rampant Internet rumor that all members' weddings would have to take place first outside a Mormon temple.

"Church leaders are well aware of the issues surrounding marriage and continue to examine them carefully," LDS Church spokesman Dale Jones said Monday in a statement, "but we are unaware of any meetings where changes to temple marriage policies have been discussed."

Some Facebook posters speculated the move was imminent, claiming that the issue was addressed at recent meetings of LDS temple workers in Bountiful and Rexburg, Idaho.

The buzzed-about policy revision may have been embraced with great hope and enthusiasm by many because Mormon temple marriages can create tension in families.

Only Mormons with current "temple recommends" — attesting to their adherence to LDS teachings and practices — are allowed to enter one of the faith's 143 temples. The policy keeps out people of other faiths, no faith, even Latter-day Saints without recommends.

Right now, Mormon couples in many European and South American countries can have a civil ceremony and then, as soon as they want, go to an LDS temple to be united, or "sealed," in an eternal marriage.

Governments in many nations require all marriages to be public.

This two-step wedding day process is not available to Mormons in much of North America.

If LDS lovebirds in, say, Utah (or California or Connecticut or Canada) have any kind of wedding outside the temple — even if it's a simple vow before a justice of the peace — they cannot be sealed in a Mormon temple for a year. Thus, most choose to go only to the temple to be married and sealed at the same time.

For many families, that makes for an exclusive rather than inclusive celebration.

Critics of the policy believe if LDS couples first had a civil ceremony to which everyone was invited, and then were able to go immediately to a Mormon temple for a sealing, that would solve the problem of wedding day divisions.

Some members previously launched a letter-writing campaign lobbying for such a change.

Another potential reason for a change, some argue online, was to get The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints out of the wedding business — which might protect the Salt Lake City-based faith from any charge of discrimination in cases of same-sex marriage.

Peggy Fletcher Stack