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Temple Weddings

Inside buzz on Barack Obama’s latest thinking for Vice President? RINO Republican Senator Chuck Hagel. You heard it here first.

Blech.

Facebook has a group titled “One Million Strong for Barack Obama,” and so I’ve set up my own group, “One Dozen Strong for Jacques Cousteau for President.” The problem is that I now have 13 members, so I’m not quite sure what to do with this massive outpouring of support. Despite this sizeable momentum, Mr. Cousteau, as of this writing, remains dead and French, so the prospects are not good.

I brought this up in my biweekly Gospel Doctrine class in our ward, and then I segued in to the idea of what changes I would make as President of the LDS Church. The first thing I would do is show up at the church’s Semi-Annual General Conference wearing a powder blue shirt and sporting a tasteful goatee. I don’t understand why facial hair is the sign of the devil, or why pigmentation in Oxford shirts is the first sign of apostasy.

These, of course, are just two of the reasons why I’ll never be President of the Church.

But as I’ve thought about this, I realized there is one thing I would absolutely change immediately, and would like the church to change at its earliest possible convenience. And I don’t think this is as irrelevant as shirt color or facial hair, which are silly cultural affectations that make little difference in anyone’s lives.

I refer to the LDS Church’s unwillingness to allow a temple wedding to be immediately preceded or followed by a civil one.

The LDS Church considers marriage to be the most sacred covenant we can enter into in mortality, and Mormons believe that temple marriages are eternal, and that they bind a family together forever. As such, this ordinance can only be performed within the confines of the Holy Temple, which requires church membership and a high level of faithfulness to enter.

You know where this is going, don’t you? Family and friends who are not members of the church find themselves entirely excluded from the process. This drives a huge wedge through the families of converts, whose parents are almost always baffled as to why they can’t participate in the weddings of their own children.

Many have requested the right to be able to have a civil ceremony prior to the temple wedding, so that everyone can participate. But the Church, at least in the United States, demands that anyone who gets married in a non-temple wedding has to wait at least a year before they can have a temple wedding. So a couple is left with the choice of forgoing all the eternal blessings of a temple marriage for a year or alienating many of the people closest to them.

This causes so much unnecessary pain for everyone involved, and I honestly don’t understand why it has to be this way.

I should note this wasn’t a huge problem when I got married, as all four parents were faithful Latter-day Saints in attendance at the wedding. Although when I discussed this with Mrs. Cornell, she pointed out that two of her bridesmaids couldn’t actually come to the ceremony, and many of our younger brothers and sisters were excluded, too.

I have yet to hear a persuasive argument as to why this policy is in place. Some say a civil wedding cheapens or demeans the importance of a subsequent temple wedding, but that falls flat with me. A marriage is more than just the union of two people; it’s a binding together of families, as well as a public commitment to the community as a whole. Mormons, who treasure the importance of family relationships as much or more than any other people on earth, are often compelled to begin their lives together in a fashion that, right at the outset, drives their families apart. It just doesn’t make any sense.

Some then argue that it’s a hard doctrine, and sometimes the Lord demands our obedience whether we like it or not. And, believe it or not, I can accept that, and, in practice, I do accept it. I have no intention of leaving the church or picketing church headquarters over this. I raise it here for purposes of discussion, not to bring the Church to its knees.

But it’s important to point out that this is clearly an issue of policy, not doctrine. In Great Britain, where I served my mission, the government does not recognize the legality of a ceremony that is not held in public, so the law requires each LDS church member to be married civilly prior to their temple weddings. There are a number of countries where this is the case.

So if it can be done there, why can’t it be done here? Someone show me where I’m wrong on this one.

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