Monday, February 16, 2009

Temple Recommends for the Disaffected

I'm still interested in everyone's reactions to yesterday's lesson on apostasy, but a post at Feminist Mormon Housewives entitled "Dear fMh: I Don’t Want to go to the Temple Anymore" caught my eye.

It's a heartbreaking story, and until I began frequenting the blog I had no idea so many women felt this way and thus refuse to enter the temple. Some say they only go in for baptisms or initiatory ordinances. More than a few women said they keep their recommend updated for the sole purpose of attending a child's wedding, and I thought...


If a person has already been through the temple once, surely the dress and the signs/tokens won't take them off guard; it's not as if they do not understand. We should also stop assuming those who refuse to enter the temple are somehow stained from sin and are "unworthy" to attend. We need to give these people the benefit of the doubt unless we know for certain they are out desecrating what many do feel to be sacred. This is a wedding. To deny mothers and fathers (or even sisters and brothers) attendance to a wedding because they don't pay their tithing or cannot/do not observe the Word of Wisdom (or more!) suddenly seems outlandish to me.

After all, when attending a temple wedding, one does not need to dress in the temple garb (Sunday dress is appropriate unless the couple feels otherwise) and no requirement exists for attendees to go through an endowment session prior to the sealing ordinance.

The attendees themselves are never placed under covenant, either.


So why can't we just allow disaffected family members a chance to attend their son or daughter's wedding? Issue a temporary, one time use recommend, much like the temporary recommends issued to youth who wish to perform baptisms for the dead.

Would a compromise of this degree be so bad?

(Really, would a one time use recommend be so terrible for even non-member family? What would be the harm? I'm hardly being facetious here, and "because it's sacred" won't satisfy this girl. What would happen? I guarantee everyone a family member rejected from their son/daughter's wedding harbors harder feelings toward the church than would happen if allowed to see something they don't possibly understand (and come on, it would be one thing). Let them have their own "interview" with the Bishop/Stake Pres where they can talk and then let them come if they promise to be good. But that's just me.)


Kengo Biddles said...

I haven't read the article, but I know that my ex-wife's sister-in-law was rubbed entirely the wrong way in the temple, to the point that her husband had to agree to having their names hybridized before she'd marry him.

My wife, on the other-hand, who was a borderline feminazi before her mission had absolutely no problem with the ceremony.

I think part of it is perception, to be honest, and a large part understanding.

Steve M. said...

Personally, my thought is that the Church should just do generally what it already does in some countries: Allow couples to be sealed in the temple shortly (or immediately) after they are married in a civil ceremony, rather than imposing a one-year delay between the two.

In some countries, the law requires that marriage ceremonies be held in a public place. In these countries, the Church permits couples to first marry in a civil ceremony outside the temple, and then get sealed in the temple without having to wait. Of course, in the United States, LDS couples who choose to civilly marry outside the temple must wait one year before getting sealed.

By completely doing away with the one-year requirement, LDS couples could participate in regular marriage ceremonies that are open to all friends and family members, and then get sealed in the temple shortly thereafter. This seems like a reasonable and workable approach that would not alienate non-member, inactive, non-traditional, or "unworthy" loved ones.

Personally, I would not be offended by separating the civil marriage ceremony from the temple sealing. The former is the "for time" marriage, and the latter is the "for eternity" marriage.

I know that some couples do a "ring ceremony," but I just don't think that this is the same thing. Indeed, non-member family members often recognize that the ring ceremony is usually a half-assed formality intended to appease them.

Lisa said...

Steve: That's another good idea. When my husband and I married, we were strongly discouraged from having a civil ceremony first and from having ANYTHING afterward, save a ring ceremony, to placate my family.

We did have a ring ceremony, and Eric said some amazing things, but it wasn't the same.

That said, I know my idea would exclude non-member family entirely even still...which is beyond difficult for them (seven years later and my mom laments still, understandably, being unable to attend my wedding).

They need to do something. Too many leaders and members see anything but a temple marriage as a compromise that mocks God and makes light sacred things. I don't necessarily believe it has to be this way.

If anything, we're alienating many more than we should.

T.J. Shelby said...

I agree with Steve. It's a great idea but they way I see it happening over the next few decades, largely influenced by Prop 8 litigation, is that the term "marriage" will be replaced with "civil unions" in all local, state and federal governments for any two citizens entering a partnership. "Marriage" will then return to the religious institutions where they belong.

LDS couples will receive a civil union for state and federal tax purposes and then receive a temple marriage/sealing for religious purposes.

Soxy Pirate said...

+ Infinity for Steve's comment and T.J.'s suggestion that "marriages" be returned to churches where they belong.

Kengo Biddles said...

You know, Steve, that "one year" requirement crap is ONLY in Canada and the US. In Europe, where civil marriages happen at the mayor's office and religious marriages in the temple, people are married at the mayor's office one day and the temple the next.

I think you're right on the money.

Steve said...

I've heard of people renting out the cultural hall of the wardhouse the afternoon after a temple ceremony and doing a ring ceremony so elaborate that it looks like the real thing (having a minister or an open-minded bishop, father giving the bride away, flower girls and ring bearers, you get the idea...) I could see it being something that might make the more devout among us uncomfortable at best, and I'd imagine some people in my family objecting to it and refusing to go, but if my inactive grandma had raised a stink about not being able to attend my wedding, I'd have been willing to go down that road. I don't see anything in it that mocks the temple ceremony.