Monday, October 20, 2014

LDS Public Affairs Unaware Of Any Proposed Changes To Temple Marriage Policy

A spokesman for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Public Affairs office has downplayed reports that the Church is contemplating a change to its current temple marriage policy. The change would only be effective in the United States, Canada, and South Africa. In a statement published by the Provo Daily Herald, spokesman Dale Jones submitted the following:

"Church leaders are well aware of the issues surrounding marriage and continue to examine them carefully, but we are unaware of any meetings where changes to temple marriage policies have been discussed".

This statement was prompted by a post on the This Week In Mormons website, in which Geoff Openshaw claims that temple workers, specifically in Bountiful and Rexburg, have been informed of a pending change at temple training meetings, and that there will be a public announcement in December with implementation beginning in January 2015:

However, it appears that this past weekend, in temple training meetings, workers were informed that a change is, indeed, on the way, and in the United States, prospective spouses will need to be married civilly (at a courthouse or wherever) before heading to the temple for their sealing, requiring them to present their marriage certificate (not just a provisional, to-be-signed license) at the temple office.

This change would put an end to the sometimes-awkward spectacle of non-member and less-active guests at temple wedding ceremonies having to sit downstairs while the ceremony takes place in the upper room. It would allow for friends and family unable to enter the temple to have full involvement in a wedding of their loved ones. A "ring ceremony" is a poor substitute for the real deal.

Note that the LDS spokesman merely said he wasn't aware of any impending changes; he didn't issue a flat denial. This indicates a strong possibility that at least some of the General Authorities find the present dichotomy awkward. This shows that the Brethren are indeed in touch with the membership, even if they react with glacial speed at times. It could also be in response to the current kerfluffle in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, where the city government is threatening to sanction a minister under local nondiscrimination laws with a 180-day jail term and $1,000 per day fine for refusing to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies. In that case, Donald Knapp and his wife, Evelyn, both ordained ministers of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel who also run the Hitching Post Wedding Chapel, have responded by filing a federal lawsuit and a motion for temporarily restraining Coeur d'Alene city officials from forcing them to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies. However, Coeur d'Alene city officials maintain that the Hitching Post Wedding Chapel does not qualify for a religious exemption because the Hitching Post is a for-profit company registered with the Idaho Secretary of State's office as a business, a limited liability company. So maybe the LDS Church might want to position itself to get out of the civil marriage business altogether if push comes to shove.

But for the time being, ministers who don't charge for weddings shouldn't have any problem. However, the day could come when that might change. After all, the LDS Church was threatened with disincorporation in the 19th century by the Federal government for its practice of plural marriage. If churches and ministers can be persecuted once, they can be persecuted again.


Anonymous said...

If true, this could help take the church out of some of the gay marriage debate. If they are no longer performing marriages, then the government might not be able to try and force them to marry gays. Seems like a smart move.

Dustin said...

This would be smart. Get out of the marriage business altogether and make it more about the sealings which is the one the matters anyway.

Do it now, before the lawsuit, for the other reasons mentioned and it will look less mean spirited than the day we pull out after being sued. There already is a lawsuit in London against a non profit church for not hosting a gay wedding, it's only a matter of time until the laws are challenged here in the name of discrimination.

Spencer Kenneth Jones said...

See what happens when people gossip and spread rumors?

Anonymous said...

I wonder: is it possible that excommunication for unchastity become a Civil Rights Violation. Either way, regardless of what effort may be necessary, get the marriage license outside and separate from the Temple sealing. Second, start thinking if your church is true enough to be worth being sued as a member. Persecution proves the true believers, if anything else.